The Periodic Table Turns 150

The periodic table turned 150 this month. The product of Russian chemist Dmitri Mendeleev, who discovered the Periodic Law on March 1, 1869, it holds a very special place in the memory of nearly everyone who felt a spark of excitement in their first chemistry class. Likewise, it holds a very special place in chemistry, marking a major scientific milestone, where a new sense of order and understanding of the natural world was put down on paper in a highly efficient and logical manner.

Marking the 150th anniversary of the periodic table, this year has been dubbed the International Year of the Periodic Table of Elements (IYPT2019) by the United Nations General Assembly and UNESCO. In celebration of IYPT 2019, we rounded up a few interesting articles and links you might enjoy.

The oldest periodic table?

Ever wonder where the oldest periodic table is? And would you be surprised to learn that  you probably wouldn’t recognize it as a periodic table at first glance? Apparently there are two pretenders to the title of oldest. A Viennese version, which now resides in Scotland, has been declared the oldest version by some, but a potentially earlier version is held in Russia, as one might guess.

Who’s in charge of additions to the periodic table?

You may know a bit about how researchers use particle accelerators in the hopes of establishing the existence of yet another element, but it’s the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) who has the last word on additions to the official version of the periodic table. You can read more about the IUPAC and what they do, as well as see the most recent version of the table, which was released in December 2018. 

What does Einstein have to do with gold?

What chemical engineering wouldn’t fall in love with the orderliness of the periodic table? But orderliness isn’t the real point, it’s the logic behind the table. Despite being devised well before anyone really understood what was inside an atom, the organizing logic of the table still stands. Here are a few interesting and random facts about some of the table’s elements, including why gold has its beautiful color.  

To me, the periodic table is...

Have fond memories or a funny story from the early days of chemistry? Maybe the periodic table unlocked the first clues that science was for you. Share with us in this Engage conversation your stories, memories, and thoughts about the periodic table.