The International Year of the Periodic Table, proclaimed bythe United Nations to begin January 2019, coincides with theone hundred and fiftieth anniversary of Mendeleev’s publishedPeriodic Table. The Periodic Table marked the comingof age of Chemistry. Mendeleev’s genius lay not in the discoveryof the fact of periodicity, but in his interpretation of itas a fundamental principle, allowing for concrete hypothesesto be tested. His predictions of the properties of elements-tobe,as well as presentation in a simple and easy to understandchart were contributing factors to make it his lasting legacy.The success of the Periodic Table was a triumph of the valueof understanding chemistry based on theory over merely dependingon empirical observations and an ability to relatesuch theory to experiments. Mendeleev’s discovery emergedout of the difficulties he encountered in teaching chemistryand, interestingly enough, it continues to serve that purposetoday. The Periodic Table is taught worldwide early on inscience education. Regardless of scientific technicalities, thePeriodic Table will always stand as a symbol of the beauty inthe simplicity of nature, an order that permeates a seeminglychaotic world of elements with deep scientific and philosophicalunderpinnings. In this article, we trace the origins of thisepoch-making discovery, his life as well as the times in whichMendeleev lived and worked and the present and future impactof his discovery.
Volume 27 | Issue 8