February 5, 2013
Early Periodic Tables of the Elements: Classification, Visualization, and the Periodic Law
Chemical Heritage Foundation, Brown Bag Lecture | Visit site »
Location: Chemical Heritage Foundation
The periodic table of the elements is a visual representation of the periodic law, the classification scheme that lies at the heart of chemistry. The table we are all familiar with did not assume its shape until the early to mid-20th century. In the decade before the 1869 discovery of the periodic law by the Russian chemist Dmitri Mendeleev and in the decades following, scientists created (and are still creating) their own visual representations of the periodic law. This talk will look at some of these early tables, including Mendeleev’s own, exploring why different forms were thought to be better than others for visually representing the classification of the elements.
Ann Robinson is a former academic librarian and is currently a Ph.D. candidate in history at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. She has a B.A. in history from the University of California, San Diego; an M.L.I.S. from San Jose State University; and an A.L.M. in the history of science from Harvard University’s Extension School. She is writing a dissertation currently titled “Creating a Symbol of Science: The Standard Periodic Table of the Elements” that explores chemical pedagogy, visualization and graphic representation, classification and organization, and the role of national and international scientific organizations in relation to the periodic table of the elements.