Dmitri Mendeleev

The name of Dmitri Mendeleev has long been etched on my mind. Today would have been his 182nd birthday. He was the inventor of the Periodic Table of chemical elements. As a teenager I was fascinated with chemistry and part of that reason was the knowledge that there were 103 chemical elements (since then new ones have been discovered and we are now up to element number 118 although the higher number ones are all generated artificially and have an extremely short ‘half life’). I was intrigued by the notion that all matter held in the universe is made up of different combinations of these elements. Another fascination was the thought that by systematically arranging the elements according to their number (the number of protons in an atom) into a table, one could predict the existence and properties of yet to be discovered elements. A further thought, which is more in the realms of science fiction or alchemist dream is if we can transform one element into another.

PeriodicTableBoilingPoint

I was reminded of this, this morning, when I opened my Internet browser and there was an image of good old Dmitri staring me in my face. Checking out why Google chose to do this, I found its explanation: “Russian chemist Dmitri Mendeleev, born February 8 1834 and honoured with a Google Doodle to celebrate what would have been his 182nd birthday, published his first version of the periodic table in 1869, years after multiple scientists had attempted to order the elements”. Credit goes to Google for one of its better decisions (amidst some pretty poor ones) and one is what caused it to change the image on their homepage. That early interest gripped me and helped change my life. It led me to go to university to take a degree in chemistry and after teach the subject to school children. While that was a long time ago, the fascination still remains. But for the fact my wife may have other ideas, a picture of the Periodic Table (aka above meme) is still one I would like to adorn my study area!

Thank you Dmitri; your legacy endures and you remain my hero!

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