Biography, Fun Facts, Gallery, Quoes and Works of Dmitri Mendeleev

Dmitri Ivanovich Mendeleev was born on February 8, 1834, in Verkhnie Aremzyani, a small village near Tobolsk in Siberia, Russia. He was the youngest of 14 children in a family that experienced significant hardship. His father, Ivan Pavlovich Mendeleev, was a teacher who went blind and lost his position, plunging the family into poverty. His mother, Maria Dmitrievna Kornilieva, was determined to provide for her children and reopened a glass factory that her family had operated.

Despite their financial difficulties, Maria was committed to Dmitri's education. After the family glass factory burned down, Maria took Dmitri to Moscow and then to St. Petersburg to ensure he could attend school. He enrolled in the Main Pedagogical Institute in St. Petersburg in 1850, graduating in 1855 with high honors.

Dmitri Mendeleev on postcard 1902

Academic and Professional Career:

Early Career and Studies Abroad: Mendeleev's early career involved teaching and research. He received a government scholarship to study abroad in 1859, spending time in Heidelberg, Germany, where he worked with famous scientists like Robert Bunsen and Gustav Kirchhoff. During this time, he conducted significant research on capillarity and the behavior of liquids.
Return to Russia and Professorship: Upon returning to Russia in 1861, Mendeleev became a professor of chemistry at the Saint Petersburg Technological Institute and later at Saint Petersburg State University. He was known for his engaging and thorough lectures, which made complex scientific concepts accessible to students.
Contributions to Chemistry: Mendeleev's research spanned various fields, including the study of gases, the behavior of solutions, and the development of new chemical processes. His work on the Periodic Table was driven by a need to organize the elements for a chemistry textbook he was writing.

Development of the Periodic Table:

Initial Concepts and Creation: In the 1860s, Mendeleev was compiling a textbook titled "Principles of Chemistry." He sought a systematic way to arrange the 63 known elements. By examining the properties and atomic weights of the elements, he noticed recurring patterns. In 1869, he published his first version of the periodic table, which arranged elements by increasing atomic mass and grouped them by similar properties.
Predictions and Validation: Mendeleev's periodic table left gaps for elements that had not yet been discovered, such as gallium (eka-aluminum), scandium (eka-boron), and germanium (eka-silicon). His predictions about the properties of these elements were later confirmed with their discoveries, validating his periodic law and the structure of his table.

Later Career and Contributions:

Industrial Chemistry and Innovations: Beyond theoretical work, Mendeleev made practical contributions to the Russian chemical industry. He conducted research on petroleum and its derivatives, which led to advancements in the petrochemical industry. He also developed new methods for producing smokeless gunpowder.
Education and Advocacy: Mendeleev was a passionate advocate for education and science. He supported the establishment of new scientific institutions and promoted the importance of science in education. He was also a proponent of women's education and supported female students in his classes.
Nobel Prize Controversy: Mendeleev was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Chemistry three times but never received the award. This omission remains a notable point of contention in the scientific community, given his significant contributions.

Death and Legacy:

Final Years: Mendeleev continued his scientific work and research until his death on February 2, 1907, in Saint Petersburg, Russia. His later years were marked by a continued dedication to scientific inquiry and education.
Legacy: Mendeleev's periodic table revolutionized chemistry and remains a fundamental tool in scientific research and education. His ability to predict the properties of undiscovered elements demonstrated the power of scientific theory and the periodic law. The element mendelevium (Md), with atomic number 101, was named in his honor, underscoring his lasting impact on the field of chemistry.

Fun Facts about Dmitri Mendeleev

1. Polyglot: Mendeleev was proficient in multiple languages, allowing him to engage with scientific literature from different countries and collaborate internationally.
2. Travels and Collaborations: His extensive travels across Europe to study and collaborate with other scientists enriched his knowledge and contributed significantly to his groundbreaking work.
3. Educational Reformer: He played a pivotal role in reforming the Russian educational system, emphasizing the importance of incorporating science and technology into education.
4. Innovative Hobbies: Mendeleev had diverse interests, including agriculture. He conducted experiments with fertilizers and crop rotation techniques to improve agricultural productivity.
5. Efficient Packing: Mendeleev was known for his meticulous and efficient packing methods, which became legendary and are sometimes humorously cited as the inspiration for modern packing techniques.

Notable Quotes by Dmitri Mendeleev

1. “It is the function of science to discover the existence of a general reign of order in nature and to find the causes governing this order. And this refers in equal measure to the relations of man—social and political—and to the entire universe as a whole.”
2. “Elements which are similar as regards their chemical properties have atomic weights which are either of nearly the same value (e.g., platinum, iridium, osmium) or which increase regularly (e.g., potassium, rubidium, cesium).”
3. “There is nothing in this world that I fear to say.”
4. “Without order, our science is nothing but a miserable collection of facts.”

Major Works of Dmitri Mendeleev

1. "Principles of Chemistry" (1868-1870): This comprehensive two-volume textbook laid the groundwork for modern chemistry. It introduced Mendeleev's periodic table and his classification of elements based on their properties and atomic weights. The book was widely translated and became a standard reference in the field.
2. "An Attempt at a Chemical Understanding of the World Ether" (1905): In this work, Mendeleev explored the concept of aether, a medium once thought to fill space and transmit electromagnetic waves. Although the aether theory was later disproved, Mendeleev's inquiry reflects his broad scientific curiosity and willingness to explore new ideas.
3. Periodic Table of Elements (1869): Mendeleev's periodic table organized the elements by increasing atomic mass and highlighted the periodicity of their properties. This work fundamentally changed the field of chemistry and remains a vital tool in scientific research and education. His ability to predict the properties of undiscovered elements showcased the power of his periodic law and the accuracy of his predictions.

Mendeleev's life and work exemplify the pursuit of knowledge and the profound impact of scientific discovery on society. His periodic table not only organized the elements but also predicted the properties of undiscovered ones, demonstrating the power of scientific theory and foresight. His legacy continues to inspire scientists and educators worldwide, highlighting the enduring importance of his contributions to chemistry and science.