Dimitri Mendeleev 1834-1907

Dimitri Mendeleev, a Russian chemist from the mid-18th century dedicated his life to the study of the chemical world around him. His life accomplishments include numerous textbooks on organic chemistry, the discovery and prediction of several elements, and perhaps his most important work, the creation of the periodic table of elements, “one of the most iconic symbols ever seen in science” (The Doc). Through these influential works Mendeleev transcended through history as one of the founding fathers of chemistry.

Early Life

Mendeleev had humble beginnings, born on February 8th 1834 in Tobolsk, Siberia, to his father, a “Russian literature” professor, and his mother, who “owned and operated a glass works” (Chemical Heritage Foundation). At age 13 Mendeleev’s father died, and just two years later the glass factory burnt down. When he was 16 Mendeleev moved to Saint Petersburg to study at his father’s college. “There, Mendeleev trained to be a teacher” (The Doc.) In 1856, aged 22, Mendeleev was awarded his master’s degree in chemistry. (The Doc.) From 1859-1860 Mendeleev worked in “Heidelberg, Germany, where he had the good fortune to work for a short time with Robert Bunsen at Heidelberg University” (The Doc).

Chemistry Career

In 1860 Mendeleev attended “the first ever international chemistry conference,” it was here that Mendeleev started working on his periodic table (the Doc.) In the following years Mendeleev started to spread and publicize his ideas. Not long after, Mendeleev frantically wrote “in just 61 days… a 500-page textbook: Organic Chemistry.” (The Doc). In 1871 he released his second text book “Osnovy khimii (Principles of Chemistry)” (Chemical Heritage Foundation).

In 1869 Mendeleev “succeeded in arranging all known elements into one table” (Chemical Heritage Foundation). This marked the start of Mendeleev’s ever-growing periodic table of elements. Mendeleev, and most chemists at the time, saw chemistry as just “a patchwork of observations and discoveries”, he wanted to some way to logically organize all of chemistry (The Doc.) Mendeleev wrote the names and properties of the 65 known elements on playing cards and spent hours configuring them. He based his configurations on elements having similar properties and atomic weight. During sleep the exact pattern came to him and two weeks later he published “The Relation between the Properties and Atomic Weights of the Elements” and thus the principals of periodic table were born (The Doc).

Mendeleev's Periodic Table of Elements

Reactions to Mendeleev's Discovery

At the time of its release, the periodic table was hugely influential to the scientific community. Because of its arrangement, the table both checked existing properties of elements and predicted the properties of future ones. Mendeleev used this to his advantage to discover numerous elements during his life, but more importantly he corrected scientists who measured elements atomic weight incorrectly based on his prediction. Upon recalculating the weights scientists found the Mendeleev was right, “Now scientists everywhere sat up and paid attention to his periodic table” (The Doc). Even today, with few modifications, Mendeleev’s table is still holds true. Every element since its creation has followed its rules, and chemists still use his table to accurately predict the physical and chemical properties of new elements.

Mendeleev went on studying chemistry. “In 1905 the British Royal Society gave him its highest honor, the Copley Medal” (The Doc). On February 2nd 1907, Dimitri Mendeleev died in Saint Petersburg to influenza.

Works Cited

"Dmitri Mendeleev." Famous Scientists. famousscientists.org. 1 Sep. 2014. Web. 1/29/2017 <www.famousscientists.org/dmitri-mendeleev/>.

"Julius Lothar Meyer and Dmitri Ivanovich Mendeleev." Chemical Heritage Foundation. Chemical Heritage Foundation, 05 Sept. 2016. Web. 29 Jan. 2017. <https://www.chemheritage.org/historical-profile/julius-lothar-meyer-and-dmitri-ivanovich-mendeleev>.

Dimitri Mendeleev. N.d. N.p.

The Principles of Chemistry. 1901. Gerstein-University of Toronto, Toronto.

Mendeleev's Periodic Table. N.d. N.p.

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Aidan McCreary


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