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Dmitri Mendeleev

1834 - 1907

Dmitri Mendeleev, 1834 - 1907, Russian chemist

Dmitri Mendeleev, 1834 - 1907, was a Russian chemist who developed the modern Periodic Table of Elements.

  • Nationality
  • Russian

  • Subject
  • Chemistry

  • Fields
  • Periodic Table, elements, chemical properties, physics

  • Distinctions
  • Known as 'The Father of the Periodic Table'.

    Davy Medal, 1882, Royal Society.

    Copley Medal, 1905, Royal Society.

    Foreign Member of the Royal Society (ForMemRS), 1892.

    He was a contender for the Nobel Prize in 1906, but was ousted by what are now considered personal grudges by members of the Nobel Committee, and Mendeleev died the following year.

    A crater on the Moon is named in his honour.

    Mendelevium, Z = 101, A = 258), discovered in 1955, is named after him.

    The National Metrology Institute in Saint Petersburg bears his name and a statue of him stands outside.

    Several other institutions and place names in Moscow and other places in Russia use his name.

    The Russian Academy of Sciences awards the Mendeleev Golden Medal annually (since 1998).

  • Posts
  • Professor of Chemistry at the Saint Petersburg Technological Institute (1864-) and Saint Petersburg State University (1865-1890), developing Saint Petersburg into an internationally recognised centre for chemistry research.

    Director of the Bureau of Weights and Measures, 1893 - 1907.

  • Publications
  • Book on the spectroscope, 1861.

    PhD dissertation "On the Combinations of Water with Alcohol", 1865.

    Tentative System of Elements, a later publication of Mendeleev's original draft paper to the Russian Chemical Society on 6 March 1869, The Dependence between the Properties of the Atomic Weights of the Elements.

    A Chemical Conception of the Ether, 1904, a booklet suggesting the existence of an interstellar 'ether gas' which was lighter than hydrogen, produced by the sun. (NB: the presumption of the existence of the ether was debunked by the Michelson-Morley experiment and Einstein (explaining how EMR may travel through empty space) in this period.)

  • Theories
  • Mendeleev is most famous for his development of the Periodic System of Elements, known as the Periodic Table, first published in 1869.

    Predicted the properties of till then undiscovered elements. Although he used different names, the elements he successfully predicted were (year of discovery in brackets): gallium (1875), scandium (1871), germanium (1886), rhenium (1926), technetirum (1937), protactinium (1900), hafnium (1923).

    Mendeleev investigated the geologic formation of petroleum, built the first oil refinery, and proposed the use of petroleum as a feedstock for petrochemicals.

  • Experiments/Discoveries
  • Investigations into the properties of petroleum. Mendeleev helped build the first oil refinery in Russia.

Mendeleev was able to use his Periodic System to predict successfully the existence of 'missing' elements, and their expected properties.

Dmitri Mendeleev, 1834 - 1907, Russian chemist
Dmitri Mendeleev, 1834 - 1907, Russian chemist

Mendeleev's Periodic Table

In his paper submitted to the Russian Chemical Society on 6 March 1869, The Dependence between the Properties of the Atomic Weights of the Elements, Mendeleev describes the elements in the original classification by atomic weight and valence. He proposed 8 characteristics for the Periodic System:

  1. The elements exhibit a periodicity of properties when ordered by atomic weight.
  2. Similarity of properties occur between elements if they have either similar atomic weights, or their atomic weights increase by regular increments (horizontal rows).
  3. There is a correspondence in valency and certain chemical properties between groups arranged by atomic weight (vertical columns).
  4. The lower atomic weight elements are the most widely diffused.
  5. The atomic weight determines the character of the element, in the same way as the size of a molecule determines the characteristics of a compound.
  6. It is possible to predict the existence of unknown elements from this pattern.
  7. Atomic weight will increase in correspondence to position in the table (actually not necessarily the case: atomic number increases regularly, but atomic weight can vary due to the large number of isotopes, particularly with very large elements).
  8. Certain characteristic properties of elements can be predicted from their atomic weights.

Mendeleev was also a pioneer in the petrochemicals industry. He is reported to have commented: "Burning petroleum as a fuel would be akin to firing up a kitchen stove with bank notes."

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