Essays and Papers for IYPT
The International Year of the Periodic Table
This section includes papers on the History of Chemistry and the Periodic Table.
Click on one of
the titles below to read an essay on the history of chemistry or to be directed to the text of an original paper related to the Periodic Table.
Some of the following links are to papers or web sites compiled by Carmen Giunta in the Department of Chemistry at LeMoyne College.
These are PDF files
and require Acrobat Reader
The Origins of the Elements
Forging the Elements How were the elements formed? This is a segement from the NOVA program Origins: Back to the Beginning. Watch the entire program (55 minutes) or just select the Forging the Elements chapter about 34 minutes into the video). There is also an excerpt titled The Elements: Forged in Stars (about 4 minutes long).
An Illustrated History of Alchemy and Chemistry from ancient times to 1800. Emphasis is on discovery of elements and development chemical processes.
Want to try a modern version of an alchemical experiment? An Experiment in Alchemy: Copper to Silver to Gold with an explanation of the process. (Note: This is designed as a laboratory procedure.)
The Splendor Solis A translation of the 1582 alchemical manuscript attributed to Solomon Trismosin with color photographs of 22 plates, explanation of the pictures, Trismosin's Alchemical Wanderings, Trismosin's Alchemical Process, and explanatory notes.
Element Symbols A historical approach to modern element symbols
Robert Boyle: Excerpts from The Sceptical Chymist (1661)
Although Boyle was successful in showing the four element theory (Earth, Air, Fire, and Water) and the Tria Prima theory (salt, sulfur, and mercury) could not explain chemistry as it was known at the time. While he is considered to be the first to define an element in "modern" terms, he was unable to provide specific examples of elements as the technology of the day had not progressed to the point of isolating and identifying elements.
Antoine Lavoisier: Preface to Elements of Chemistry (1789); discusses chemical nomenclature and the definition of element
Jöns Jacob Berzelius on chemical symbols and formulas (1814)
Johann Wolfgang Döbereiner: 1829 paper on triads of analogous elements and their classification
J. A. R. Newlands, The Periodic Law This is the complete text of Newlands' book, published in London in 1884, containing all of his published papers on the Law of Octaves, the Periodic Law, and relations between the atomic weights, published in 1863 through 1878. In 1887, Newlands received the Davy Medal from the Royal Society in recognition of his contribution to the periodic table.
J. A. R. Newlands, On The Law of Octaves, published in Chemical News, vol. xii, p. 83, Aug, 1865 and reprinted from page 14 of The Periodic Law.
Dimitri Mendeleev generally gets major credit for his discovery of the Periodic table.
Mendeleev's 1869 paper on the Relationship of the Properties of the Elements to Their Atomic Weights
Excerpt from Mendeleev's 1871 paper on periodicity of the elements. This focuses on the properties of the predicted element eka-boron, now known as scandium.
Mendeleev delivered the Faraday lecture on the Periodic Law in 1889. This is the text of that lecture.
Was Mendeleev influenced by music in developing his periodic arrangement? Music of New Spheres by Daniel Luzon Morris, from Chemistry, 42, No. 11, pp 10-12, December 1969
The Study and Laboratory of Dmetri Mendeleev I visited this museum at the St. Petersburg State University in 2000. What was supposed to be a 30 minute tour turned into 2 hours as I discussed the life and works of Mendeleev with the Museum Curator. She was kind enough to allow me to wander through Mendeleev's office with minimal attendance. Needless to say, we parted as friends.
View a mosaic of Dmetri Mendeleev constructed from photographs taken at his study and laboratory at the St. Petersburg State University.
Julius Lothar Meyer, co-discoverer of the Periodic Table
From his 1870 paper: A table of most of the known elements arranged to show family resemblances and a figure showing atomic volumes varying periodically.
Excerpts from Meyer's 1870 paper.
Lewis Reeve Gibbes, worked out a version of the periodic table between 1870 and 1874. Although he gets no credit for discovery of the periodic table, his story illustrates how multiple individuals can make discoveries when there is sufficient information available to them.
Glenn T. Seaborg, Extending the Periodic Table
Island of Stability A video from NOVA explaining how heavy elements are made. This is a link to the NOVA website
A suggested periodic table up to Z ≤ 172, based on Dirac–Fock calculations on atoms and ions, a paper by Pekka Pyykko, Physical Chemistry and Chemical Phyics, 2011, 13, 161-168
The Elements A song by Tom Lehrer recored in 1959 and originally published on the recording An Evening Wasted with Tom Lehrer. This version comes from HallofWisdom in Seattle
Course Notes: A historical look at the Periodic Classification
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