Dmitri Mendeleev, the Russian chemist who published what is regarded as the first widely recognised periodic table, has been celebrated with his own Google doodle on what would have been his 182nd birthday.
The inventor formulated the periodic law – which states that elements can be arranged by their mass and be organised into groups that share similar chemical and physical properties.
Mendeleev’s “eureka moment” came when he realised that there was a system underpinning the properties of all the elements. As a result, not only was he able to organise the known elements into a table, but – crucially – he realised that some elements existed that had yet to be discovered.
He published his Periodic Table – in all its incomplete beauty - in 1869.
The table consists of 118 elements, which are organised by their atomic numbers.
An atomic number counts the protons within the nucleus of an atom which - along with neutrons - make up the majority of the weight of an atom.
It is divided into periods (the rows) and groups (the columns). Six of the groups have their own name – perhaps the most well-known of these being the noble gases (group 18).
Here are five facts you might not know about it (despite all those hours spent in science class) and Mendeleev himself:
The periodic table gained four new elements in one day
On 4 January, it was confirmed that elements 113, 115, 117 and 118 would be added to the table’s seventh row to make it complete after they were verified by the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry on 30 December. They have been worked on since at least 2004, when studies began showing the discovery and priority of element 113. But they have all now satisfied the strict tests to be admitted to the periodic table. They are yet to receive their final names or symbols.
Mendeleev wasn’t the only one working on a Periodic Table.
The German physician Lothar Meyer published – in 1964 – an early prototype version of the Periodic Table in which he grouped together elements with similar chemical and physical properties. By 1868 he had identified 53 elements, but this version was not published until 1895 – nearly three decades after Mendeleev’s version. Despite being a bit late to the party, Meyer is widely recognised as having made an important contribution to the development of the table.t.
A lot of them are man-made
Ninety of the elements are found naturally. Of the two dozen or so that aren't, the first to be made artificially was Technetium. This was discovered in 1937 by Carlo Perrier and Emilio Segre and was named after the Greek for artificial - technetos. It is one of the elements used as the radioactive part of the tracers put into the human body during medical tests.
Mendeleev hasn’t had the final say
Ever the tinkerers, scientists have been trying to improve upon Mendeleev’s version of the table. Perhaps one of the most interesting is the one conceived of by the German philologist Theodor Benfey, who created a two dimensional spiral in 1964. Benfey’s version is designed to illustrate the disproportionate distance between elements at opposite ends of Mendeleev’s version (consider the standardised map of the London Underground network, which while the best version to understand London’s sprawling Tube network, bears little resemble to the physical distances between the various stations).Paul Giguere’s three dimensional periodic table is more complex yet. But neither of them – nor the multitudinous other versions - have managed to dislodge Mendeleev’s from school textbooks.
Science news in pictures
Science news in pictures
1/18 Vegetables grow well in soil from Mars
Scientists have taken a leaf out of the script of The Martian by showing how easy it would be to grow your own veg on the Red Planet. In the hit Ridley Scott film, a stranded astronaut played by Matt Damon uses his botanical skills to cultivate potatoes. Now his success has been emulated by researchers in the Netherlands who harvested tomatoes, peas, rye, rocket, radish and cress raised on simulated Martian soil supplied by Nasa
2/18 Ancient Roman 'leisure complex' unearthed in Jerusalem
An ancient Roman estate complete with its own wine press and bathhouse has been unearthed in Jerusalem. A series of buildings dating back at least 1,600 years were discovered underneath the city's famous Schneller Orphanage which operated on the site from 1860 until the end of the Second World War, when it was turned into an army base. The ruins were discovered by archaeologists from the Israel Antiquities Authority who were excavating the site ahead of building new flats for the city's Orthodox Jewish community
3/18 Scientists discover possible new species of deep-sea octopus nicknamed 'Casper'
Scientists believe they may have found a new species of octopus likened in appearance to Casper, the friendly cartoon ghost. Researchers with the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration made the discovery by chance as they searched the seabed on an unrelated mission collecting geological samples. Teams were operating an unmanned submarine on the Pacific Ocean floor at depths of more than four kilometres (two-and-a-half miles) in the Hawaiian Islands when they spotted the unusual creature
4/18 Black hole captured eating a star then vomiting it back out
Astronomers have captured a black hole eating a star and then sicking a bit of it back up for the first time ever. The scientists tracked a star about as big as our sun as it was pulled from its normal path and into that of a supermassive black hole before being eaten up. They then saw a high-speed flare get thrust out, escaping from the rim of the black hole. Scientists have seen black holes killing and swallowing stars. And the jets have been seen before.But a new study shows the first time that they have captured the hot flare that comes out just afterwards. And the flare and then swallowed star have not been linked together before
5/18 'Male and female brains' aren't real
Brains cannot be categorised into female and male, according to the first study to look at sex differences in the whole brain. Specific parts of the brain do show sex differences, but individual brains rarely have all “male” traits or all “female” traits. Some characteristics are more common in women, while some are more common in men, and some are common in both men and women, according to the study
6/18 Dog-sized horned dinosaur fossil found shows east-west evolutionary divide in North America
A British scientist has uncovered the fossil of a dog-sized horned dinosaur that roamed eastern North America up to 100 million years ago. The fragment of jaw bone provides evidence of an east-west divide in the evolution of dinosaurs on the North American continent. During the Late Cretaceous period, 66 to 100 million years ago, the land mass was split into two continents by a shallow sea. This sea, the Western Interior Seaway, ran from the Gulf of Mexico to the Arctic Ocean. Dinosaurs living in the western continent, called Laramidia, were similar to those found in Asia
7/18 Asteroid to skim past Earth on Halloween 2015
A huge asteroid is set to skim by Earth on Halloween, just three weeks after it was first spotted. The rock is travelling through space at 78,000 miles per hour, and will fly past the Earth at a distance of only 300,000 miles – only slightly further away than our moon, and easily close enough for Nasa to class it a potentially hazardous object. The asteroid is bigger than a skyscraper
8/18 Life on Earth appeared hundreds of millions of years earlier than previously thought
Life may have come to earth 4.1 billion years ago, hundreds of millions of years earlier than we knew. The discovery, made using graphite that was trapped in ancient crystals, could mean that life began "almost instantaneously" after the Earth was formed. The researchers behind it have described the discovery as “a potentially transformational scientific advance”. Previously, life on Earth was understood to have begun when the inner solar system was hit by a massive bombardment from space, which also formed the moon's craters
9/18 Earth could be at risk of meteor impacts
Earth could be in danger as our galaxy throws out comets that could hurtle towards us and wipe us out, scientists have warned. Scientists have previously presumed that we are in a relatively safe period for meteor impacts, which are linked with the journey of our sun and its planets, including Earth, through the Milky Way. But some orbits might be more upset than we know, and there is evidence of recent activity, which could mean that we are passing through another meteor shower. Showers of meteors periodically pass through the area where the Earth is, as gravitational disturbances upset the Oort Cloud, which is a shell of icy objects on the edge of the solar system. They happen on a 26-million year cycle, scientists have said, which coincide with mass extinctions over the last 260-million years
10/18 Genetically-engineered, extra-muscular dogs
Chinese scientists have created genetically-engineered, extra-muscular dogs, after editing the genes of the animals for the first time. The scientists create beagles that have double the amount of muscle mass by deleting a certain gene, reports the MIT Technology Review. The mutant dogs have “more muscles and are expected to have stronger running ability, which is good for hunting, police (military) applications”, Liangxue Lai, one of the researchers on the project. Now the team hope to go on to create other modified dogs, including those that are engineered to have human diseases like muscular dystrophy or Parkinson’s. Since dogs’ anatomy is similar to those of humans’, intentionally creating dogs with certain human genetic traits could allow scientists to further understand how they occur
11/18 Nasa confirms Mars water discovery
Nasa has announced that it has found evidence of flowing water on Mars. Scientists have long speculated that Recurring Slope Lineae — or dark patches — on Mars were made up of briny water but the new findings prove that those patches are caused by liquid water, which it has established by finding hydrated salts.
12/18 Bees in the Rocky Mountains are evolving shorter tongues
With warmer summers, flowers in the Rockies have become shallower and more suited to shorter-tongued bees
13/18 The majority of the UK public believe in aliens
The titular alien character from 2011's 'Paul' - a poll has found the majority of the public in Britain, Germany and the US believe that intelligent life is out there in the universe
14/18 Researchers discover 'lost world' of arctic dinosaurs
Scientists say that the new dinosaur, known as Ugrunaaluk kuukpikensis, “challenges everything we thought about a dinosaur’s physiology”. Florida State University professor of biological science Greg Erickson said: “It creates this natural question. How did they survive up here?”
15/18 Scientists find exactly what human corpses smell like
New research has become the first to isolate the particular scent of human death, describing the various chemicals that are emitted by corpses in an attempt to help find them in the future. The researchers hope that the findings are the first step towards working on a synthetic smell that could train cadaver dogs to be able to more accurately find human bodies, or to eventually developing electronic devices that can look for the scent themselves.
16/18 The Syrian civil war has caused the first ever withdrawal from the 'doomsday bank'
Researchers in the Middle East have asked for seeds including those of wheat, barley and grasses, all of which are chosen because especially resistant to dry conditions. It is the first withdrawal from the bank, which was built in 2008. Those researchers would normally request the seeds from a bank in Aleppo. But that centre has been damaged by the war — while some of its functions continue, and its cold storage still works, it has been unable to provide the seeds that are needed by the rest of the Middle East, as it once did.
17/18 A team of filmmakers in the US have made the first ever scale model of the Solar System in a Nevada desert
Illustrations of the Earth and moon show the two to be quite close together, Mr Overstreet said. This is inaccurate, the reason being that these images are not to scale.
18/18 Academics claim a full bladder makes for a better liar
People lie more convincingly if they have a full bladder, according to research by academics at California State University. Iris Blandón-Gitlin's team asked 22 students to lie to a panel of interviewers. Half were given 700ml to drink before the interview and the other half, just 50ml. The students with the full bladders showed fewer signs that they were lying and their untrue answers were longer and more detailed, meaning interviewers were less able to detect that they were telling porkies. PM David Cameron has previously attested to giving speeches on a full bladder.
Terry Pratchett fans have got involved
After the death of the author Terry Pratchett, tens of thousands of fans signed a petition calling for a an element in the periodic table to be named in honour of him. Element 117 has been given a temporary symbol of Uus, but a petition instigated by Dr Kat Day, a chemist, blogger and self-proclaimed “huge” Pratchett fan, wants 117 to be named octarine [Oc] as a tribute to Pratchett, who passed away aged 66 from Alzheimer's disease in March 2015. Octarine is the colour of magic in the late author's Discworld series.