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Each week on TestTubePlus, we pick one topic and cover it from multiple angles. This three-episode, mini-series is going to be taking a deeper look at the periodic table of elements. Over the course of the next three shows, host Trace Dominguez will be talking about how it came to be and changed the course of modern science and chemistry. To kick the series off, the first episode looked at how the table came to be, and what it might have ended up looking like if things didn't fall into place quite the way they did. In the third episode, Trace will describe who's "in charge" of the table, why some elements have such crazy names, and what happens is a new element is discovered. Today's episode focuses on why Dimitri Bonavich Mendeleev, the eccentric Russian scientist who first published the periodic table, was such a visionary.
Mendeleev was born in Siberia in 1834 with 16 brothers and sisters. By the time he was just16, he won a spot to study at his father's former college in Saint Petersburg. Four years later, he was making a name for himself by publishing research papers. Also was also making a name for himself by having an uncontrollable temper. By 21, he got a job teaching science, but returned to academia to for a masters in chemistry at University of St. Petersburg, which he was awarded by the time he was 22.
In 1860, he moved to Germany to work for Robert Bunsen (the inventor of the Bunsen burner, among many other things. That year, Mendeleev attended the first-ever international conference on Chemistry which took place in Germany. The conference focused on the standardization of chemistry, and that's when Mendeleev got inspired in classifying the elements. Fearing that Russia was trailing behind in chemistry, he spent 61 days writing a 500-page textbook on Organic Chemistry, which later won the Domidov Prize. Seven years later, at 33, he was awarded the Chair of General Chemistry at the University of Saint Petersburg, and was frustrated by the lack of chemistry texts for his students. This prompted him to write another textbook, "Principles of Chemistry". At the time, chemistry was a patchwork of observations and discoveries. Mendeleev was certain that better, more fundamental principles of chemistry were needed. This is what motivated him to organize the elements into the periodic table Mendeleev's breakthrough periodic table rose above the others being published around the same time was because he didn't try to consolidate all known elements, he left room for new discoveries (and predicted the properties those elements would have). It organized elements by atomic number, instead of atomic mass. Another strength of his table was how one can tell the characteristics of an element just by looking at its position on the table. The horizontal rows on the table are periods, 1 through 7, while vertical columns are groups, 1 through 18. All elements of the same row share similar chemical and physical properties because they have the same number of electrons in their outer shell. Even if we don't have an element to fill that space yet, we'll know what that element will do because of where it falls on the table.
TestTube Plus is built for enthusiastic science fans seeking out comprehensive conversations on the geeky topics they love. Each week, host Trace Dominguez probes deep to unearth the details, latest developments, and opinions on big topics like boobs, porn, the ocean, stereotypes, fear, survival, dreams, space travel, and many more.
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Dmitri Mendeleev (FamousScientists.org)
"Dmitri Mendeleev was passionate about chemistry. His deepest wish was to find a better way of organizing the subject. Mendeleev's wish led to his discovery of the periodic law and his creation of the periodic table - one of the most iconic symbols ever seen in science: almost everyone recognizes it instantly: science has few other creations as well-known as the periodic table."
Moseley's Periodic Table (Corrosion Doctors)
"Mendeleev ordered his elements in order of their relative atomic mass, and this gave him some problems. For example, iodine has a lower relative atomic mass than tellurium, so it should come before tellurium in Mendeleev's table - but in order to get iodine in the same group as other elements with similar properties such as fluorine, chlorine and bromine, he had to put it after tellurium, so breaking his own rules."
The Origins of the Periodic Table (MentalFloss.com)
"To be fair, Mendeleev's thought process also appears to have been a little bit different than Meyer's. After noticing several patterns, he decided to create a card for each of the 63 known elements that would include the symbol, atomic weight, and chemical and physical properties. He arranged the cards on a table in order of atomic weight and grouped elements with similar properties."
History of the Development of the Periodic Table of Elements (BPC.edu)
"Before written history, people were aware of some of the elements in the periodic table. Elements such as gold (Au), silver (Ag), copper (Cu), lead (Pb), tin (Sn), and mercury (Hg). It wasn't until 1649, however, until the first element was discovered through scientific inquiry by Hennig Brand . That element was phosphorous (P). By 1869, 63 elements had been discovered."