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Development of the Periodic Table

Today we’re going right back to the basics, focusing on the history and development of the Periodic Table. So, whether you’re currently studying the periodic elements, or you’re an established scientist wanting to learn more about its background, read on for more information!

What is the Periodic Table?

The Periodic Table, also known as the Periodic Table of Elements, is a chart displaying information about all the chemical elements. These chemical elements are pure substances and the chart contains basic information that scientists use to quickly look up each element’s properties, such as mass or electron number.

It is organised by various grouping methods that show the relationships and similarities between the elements. For example, groups, which are shown in vertical columns in the table, categorise the elements by number of electrons in the outermost shell. Elements in the same group often look and behave similarly. The elements are also categorised by periods, shown in the horizontal row, and blocks, which are often colour coded.

How the table is organised can be used to understand relationships between the various element properties. It can also help predict chemical properties and behaviours of new or undiscovered elements.

Who invented the Periodic Table?

The first recognised version of the modern Periodic Table was published by a Russian chemist called Dmitri Mendeleev. By recognising patterns in the properties of chemical elements, he not only corrected the then-accepted properties of the chemical elements, but also correctly predicted the properties of eight elements that were yet to be discovered!

Mendeleev’s Periodic Table was published back in 1869, with only 60 elements included.

How many elements are in the Periodic Table?

Today, there are 118 elements arranged in the Periodic Table. These are the elements that are officially recognised around the world. This is after four newcomers – Nihonium, Moscovium, Tennessine and Oganesson – were added in 2016.

Why is this all so important?

The Periodic Table is key to understanding the pure substances that are important in everyday life – from the composition of the foods we eat on a daily basis, to the once-in-a-lifetime scientific breakthroughs made by research teams.

It goes beyond simply displaying information, as it’s also used as a prediction of how elements will react. This is thanks to Dmitri Mendeleev’s application of Periodic Law, which states that the elements - when listed in order of atomic number - fall into recurring groups, so that elements with similar properties will occur at regular intervals. This principle is how Mendeleev predicted the properties of future elements and it’s still the basis of how we understand chemical reactions today!

For anyone wanting to learn more and memorise key elements of the Periodic Table, why not look into the Goodfellow Mr Material App? Ideal for students, teachers, researchers, or anyone who has a general interest in science, it’s available free at both the App Store and Google Play.