| By Tracie Moy |
I wanted to make a joke about sodium, but then I thought, Na.
2019 was proclaimed the International Year of the Periodic Table (IYPT) of Chemical Elements. It’s also the 150th anniversary of the discovery of the periodic system. A Russian scientist, Dmitri Mendeleev, was instrumental in its finding. He understood that the relationship between all the elements could be demonstrated through a single ordered system. Mendeleev changed an unfocused and speculative branch of chemistry into a logical science. He found that when all the known chemical elements were arranged by atomic weight (increasingly), the table displayed a pattern within elemental groups.
Structurally, the table is an arrangement of the chemical elements into periods (horizontal rows) and groups (vertical columns).
According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) office in Brazil, “The IYPT 2019 is an opportunity to reflect upon many aspects of the periodic table, including its history, the role of women in research, global trends and perspectives on science for sustainable development, and the social and economic impacts of this field.” The periodic table is essential not only to chemistry, but plays a role in physics, biology, and many other scientific disciplines.
Universities across the globe are celebrating this achievement with a myriad of activities. The Wayne State Department of Chemistry in Detroit, Michigan, (along with neighboring universities) set the world record for the largest periodic table at 195,000 square feet! And let’s not forget that Neil deGrasse Tyson is a fan!