The United Nations announced 2019 as the International Year of the Periodic Table of the Chemical Elements to highlight its first publication in 1869. The periodic table as we know it today was designed for the first time by Russian scientist Dmitri Ivanovich Mendeleev.
The periodic table is not just a typical wall decoration in secondary school science classrooms but it is also an exceptional tool for scientists to understand and even predict the properties of all elements
The announcement of the United Nations will help to increase the profile of how chemistry can provide solutions to global challenges in agriculture, education, energy and health.
This year marks the 150th anniversary of the first publication of Mendeleev's periodic table. Since its inception, the periodic table has been the center of many alive discussions and is now considered one of the most important and influential successes of modern science that reflects the essence not only of chemistry but also of the physics, biology and other disciplines ".
The genius of Mendeleiev is in the recognition that, at that time, all the elements were not yet known, so it left empty space on the table for unobserved elements. At this time, only 63 items had been identified. The properties of five other elements (the gaps that were sharply added to complete the table) were determined by the table.
The Mendeleiev table has been the protagonist for decades, but some scientists have tried to organize all known elements. Already in 1789, Antoine Lavoisier established a list of 33 elements and tried to unblock the secrets of chemical elements and classify them according to their properties.
Scientists like Alexandre-Emile Beguyer of Chancourtois, John Newlands and Julius Lothar Meyer proposed a different way of organizing the elements. An helix, a letter, a cylinder and even a spiral were proposed to visualize the arrangement of the elements, but none seemed to be perfect.
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The discovery of some of these elements in the following years confirmed the Mendeleev predictions and revealed the brilliance of the Periodic Law, as Mendeleev called his table.
They have discovered fifty-five elements from the first scheme of Mendeleev, and all of them were incorporated into the existing classification according to their atomic mass. Of course, they have the properties provided by the incomplete table that explains why Mendeleev's attempt to sort the items was so successful and survived the centuries.
Item 101 was called mendelevium to honor Mendeleev's contributions. This is actually an even rarer distinction than winning the Nobel Prize: only 50 scientists have elements named after them, while 180 chemists have received a Nobel Prize in chemistry.
In 2016, four elements were still to be discovered according to the gaps in the periodic table. With the addition of nihonium, moscovium, tenness and oganesson, the periodic table is complete.
Or is it?
Appoint 2019 as the International Year of the Periodic Table can publicize the importance of chemistry in our lives, stimulate our curiosity for science and encourage the interest of scientists to discover even more elements.
Alexandra Gelle, PhD in Chemistry, McGill University, The Canadian Press
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