The Chemical Table: An Open Dialog between Visualization and Design
January 22, 2019 10:48 AM   Subscribe

A classroom chart bearing an early version of the periodic table of elements has been discovered in a University of St. Andrews chemistry lab. Printed in 1885, the chart is thought to be the the world’s oldest classroom periodic table, before the discovery of germanium in 1886. This is not the oldest table of elements, but one of the oldest in a form most commonly recognizable.

Key milestones in charting elements: Mendeleev published his periodic table of all known elements and predicted several new elements to complete the table in a Russian-language journal. Only a few months after, Meyer published a virtually identical table in a German-language journal. Mendeleev has the distinction of accurately predicting the qualities of what he called ekasilicon, ekaaluminium and ekaboron (germanium, gallium and scandium, respectively).

The 18 column modern format is a variation on Mendeleev's table that is attributable to Horace Groves Deming, who included it in the text book General Chemistry (Archive.org, 2nd edition, 1923).

There are various variations on this table format, and a number of alternative periodic tables that look nothing like what Mendeleev created, including James Franklin Hyde's 2D Curled Ribbon Periodic Table, George Gamow's 3D Wound Ribbon Periodic Table. In total, The INTERNET Database of Periodic Tables includes 945 entries, though this includes discoveries of all the elements, as well as cheeky tables of things other than actual elements or chemicals (Simpson's Periodic Table, courtesy of Oscar Meyer, and Adult Periodic Table, for two random examples). But it also tracks new attempts to update the Periodic Table structure, such as the 2019 Empirical Periodic Table, and the UCLA Periodic Table (proposed by students in 2019).

Title via the academic paper The Chemical Table: An Open Dialog between Visualization and Design, by Francis T. Marchese.
posted by filthy light thief (10 comments total) 31 users marked this as a favorite
 
Thanks so much for this wonderful clickhole!
posted by ouke at 10:53 AM on January 22


And is this one at the Mendeleev museum in St Petersburg the biggest one?
posted by ouke at 11:04 AM on January 22


Outstanding post, FLT — flagged as fantastic!
posted by darkstar at 11:46 AM on January 22


Thanks!

Bonus web resources: Periodic Table dot com, which has a LOT of information in various forms; and the fancy, dynamic ptable dot com.
posted by filthy light thief at 12:44 PM on January 22 [2 favorites]


I love that ribbon table! I now finally understand the Lanthanides.

flt, Theodore Gray, in addition to the website, has also made an actual table
posted by q*ben at 12:59 PM on January 22 [2 favorites]


Ah, good call on that!

As seen previously ... almost 12 and a half years ago (I feel so old ;))
posted by filthy light thief at 1:36 PM on January 22


I'm reminded of a Kim Stanley Robinson novel where Indian scientists produce a mandala-shaped periodic table.
posted by doctornemo at 1:57 PM on January 22


As seen previously ... almost 12 and a half years ago (I feel so old ;))

Ahem
posted by vacapinta at 2:05 PM on January 22 [4 favorites]


This is not the oldest table of elements, but one of the oldest in a form most commonly recognizable.

Decades ago I saw a cartoon of two guys in togas, one of whom is motioning to a nearby wall on which is written:
EARTH
AIR
FIRE
WATER
The explaining dude says, "I call it the periodic table of elements."
posted by ricochet biscuit at 2:15 PM on January 22 [2 favorites]


This is wonderful, thank you!

Since 2019 marks the 150th anniversary of Mendeleev's periodic table, it has also been declared the International Year of the Periodic Table of Elements. Woo-hoo!
posted by invokeuse at 9:15 PM on January 22 [1 favorite]


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