Saturday, November 18, 2006

Cheese Science

Missing a day at the Cheese Factory allowed for the creation of the periodic table of elements.

UCLA Chemist Provides New Insights into one of Science's Icons and its History

Mendelev, who called himself the Newton of chemistry, conceived the periodic system while writing a textbook, "The Principles of Chemistry," and spent at least four years refining the periodic table. He also developed the Russian oil industry, served as director of the Russian institute for weights and measures and was a consultant to Russian cheese factories. On the day he devised the periodic system, he was supposed to inspect a cheese factory, Scerri said, and decided not to go; Mendelev sketched his first periodic table on the back of an invitation that day, Feb. 17, 1869.

Mendelev produced the first version of a full periodic table that included most of the known elements, even though the background ideas may have been developing over a period of about 10 years, Scerri said. The first published periodic system of Mendelev's contains divisions into main and subgroups. Significantly, there are several vacant spaces in the table, and in this first publication, Mendelev made several predictions, anticipating many unknown elements -- far more predictions than any of the co-discoverers of the periodic system.

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1 comment:

Eric Scerri said...

Thanks for citing my work Eugene.

Readers may be interested in knowing that I have recently published a book on the periodic table,

The Periodic Rtable. Its Story and Its Significance, Oxford University press, New York, 2007 (346 pages) 70 illustrations, which sells at a rather reasonable $ 35.00.

Two entire chapters are devoted to Mendeleev, the undisputed champion of the periodic table. Other chapters consider the extent to which physics, including quantum mechanics are able to explain or 'reduce' the periodic table.

Eric Scerri
UCLA, Dept of Chemistry