Dmitri Mendeleev

Dmitri Mendeleev

Anyone who has ever taken Chemistry has studied the periodic table. Most people who have memorized the elements on the Periodic Table have probably not given any thought to who might have created it. In 1869, Dmitri Mendeleev published the very first periodic table. Although there were a few people who attempted to create a period table, none of these tables were as effective as Mendleev’s version. Of course there was a rough period table proposed by Lothar Meyer in 1864. This periodic table was created in 1868 and was published in 1870. Mendeleev’s table was the most accurate and complete of all of them. He included elements and weights such as barium, bromide, calcium,chlorine potassium, and strontium. Since its creation, the table has been been expanded and revised over the years. He later claimed he had envisioned it in a dream.

“I saw in a dream a table where all elements fell into place as required. Awakening, I immediately wrote it down on a piece of paper, only in one place did a correction later seem necessary.”

~ Dmitri Mendeleev

He not only created the Periodic Table, Mendeleev also created the Russian Chemical Society.

Dmitri Mendeleev was born on Feburary 8, 1834 in Tobolsk Governorate, Russian Empire. His father, Ivan Pavlovich Mendeleev, was a teacher of philosophy and fine arts. Mendeleev was the youngest of more than a dozen children. Ivan Pavlovich Mendeleev lost his teaching position when he became blind. His wife, Maria Dmitrievna Mendeleeva, mother of the period table inventor, had to go to work to support the family by restarting the family glass factory, shortly after Ivan Mendeleev’s death. That worked out until Dmitri Mendeleev was 15 when the factory burned down. As a teenager, Mendeleev was educated at Main Pedagogical Institute in Saint Petersburgh, Russia. For a couple years after graduation, Mendeleev suffered from Tuberculosis but had recovered. As a 21-year-old, in 1855, his textbook called Organic Chemistry had won the Domidov Prize, making Dmitri Mendeleev a major leader in the world of Russian chemical education. Mendeleev earned a masters degree in Chemistry in 1856.

The Nobel Award was established in 1901 to honor Alfred Nobel who invented dynamite. When Mendeleev did win England’s highest award, Copley Medal from the Royal Society of England, it was in 1905. By 1906, Mendeleev was considered for the Nobel Prize, but was turned down because his periodic table was considered too old. It is believed that one of the judges of the Nobel Prize in 1906 had a grudge against Mendeleev and instead wanted the award to go to Henri Moissan who had discovered fluorine.

Antoine Lavoisier, known as the father of modern chemistry, had inspired Mendeleev’s development of his period table. He classified the elements into such groups as Earths, Non Metals, Metals, and Elastic Fluids. Lavoisier was mostly known for creating gunpowder and recognizing the combustibility of oxygen.

John Dalton had originally established abbreviations and symbols for chemical elements. Many of the symbols in his periodic table for the substances seemed a bit awkward. For example, originally, his symbol for Hydrogen, was a large circle with a dot in the middle. It was eventually replaced by a capital H. While none of his abbreviations and symbols are used for the substances he created them for, he did inspired the need for the elements to be easily identified by abbreviations instead just of writing out the entire words.

John Dalton and Antoine Lavoisier proved that all inventors aren’t completely on their own when it comes to discovering new things. Once Mendeleev was inspired by Dalton and Lavoisier, Mendeleev was able to create the first truly usable period table that involved assembling the elements in ascending order by weight and properties. His period table was without the noble gasses that had yet to be discovered and eventually added to the table after his death in 1907. Dmitri Mendeleev had the foresight to understand that more elements would be discovered and eventually added to the table. He was also able to predict some of the elements that would soon be discovered, such as boron. Mendeleev followed his father into a teaching position, only he taught Chemistry. At 33, charismatic lecturer and teacher was awarded the Chair of General Chemistry at his alma mater, Saint Petersburg where his father had previously taught. The Chemistry teacher never gave up an interest in learning and had attended many conferences including one about gasses. No matter what the gas, if they contain the same amount of pressure and volume, the molecules are the same. In 1893, Mendeleev was awarded the title of Bureau of Weights and Measures Director. The chemist is credited with improving the standards for vodka, and he was awarded for it in 1894.

Personally, on April 4, 1862 right after he wrote his first book about the the spectroscope Dmitri Mendeleev proposed to Feozva Nikitichna Leshcheva. The couple married three weeks later at the Nikolaev Engineering Institute’s church in Saint Petersburg. They divorced nine years later after having a daughter named Olga from that marriage. Nearly 20 years after he married his first wife, he wed Anna Ivanova Popova. Mendeleev had four children from his marriage to Anna Popova Mendeleev. A couple of years before his death from influenza, Dmitri Mendeleev was awarded a membership in the member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. Despite many scientists who have worked on their own period tables, prior to Mendeleev, he’s gone down in history as the father of the Periodic Table.

During January of 1907, Mendeleev fell ill from influenza and succumbed to it on Sunday, January 20,1907, just 6 days before he’d have turned 73. His students carried around some large copies of the Periodic Table to honor their beloved teacher. Mendeleev was interred at Literatorskie Mostki Saint Petersburg Cemetery, part of Volkovskoye Memorial Cemetery. Since his death even though he wasn’t accepted as a student when he applied in Moscow, they honored him with D. Mendeleyev University of Chemical Technology of Russia. A chemist developed a synthetic chemical was named mendelevium, with the initials md. In Russia, outstanding sceintists have won the Mendeleev Golden Medal since 1998. Finally, there’s a large lunar crater called Mendeleev, located on the far side of the moon.