Monday, 7 January 2019


Via Digg, the United Nations has declared 2019 to be the Year of the Periodic Table in recognition of the moment of insight that Dmitri Mendeleev had one hundred-fifty years ago in 1869 when he committed each of the sixty-nine then known distinct chemical elements on note cards and arranged them by properties in such a fashion as to predict, forecast the existence of yet unknown substances that would later fall neatly in place.
Not to discount the genius of the moment, the development of the familiar design was a lengthy process with many alternate proposals, visual cul-de-sacs (see also here, here and here) and effort that draws off the research and inspiration of many that came before and tried to communicate some essential quality about the building blocks of Nature. In addition to the symbolic chemistry that John Dalton proffered in 1803 to help limn his modern Atomic Theory, the Conversation takes a look at the other stages and versions—with some more radical deviations—that culminate with the iconic and instantly recognisable classroom model.