The Periodic Table: an anniversary of organisation

The United Nations has designated 2019 as the International Year of the Periodic Table to celebrate one of the most significant achievements in science. Next month it will be 150 years since the Russian scientist Dmitri Mendeleev took all of the known elements and arranged them into a table (pictured).

The Periodic Table of the Elements is to many a masterpiece of organisation in the face of complexity. The tendency to group and organise is irresistible and it is the Periodic Table that highlights the benefits of doing so. Within 100 years of the appearance of Mendeleev’s Periodic Table in 1869, it is thought that around 700 different versions were published – each seeking to balance observable physical properties and theoretical atomic structures in ever more insightful ways.


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