Interactive Periodic Table of Elements Shows How the Elements Get Used in Making Everyday Things

“The dis­cov­ery of the peri­od­ic sys­tem for clas­si­fy­ing the ele­ments rep­re­sents the cul­mi­na­tion of a num­ber of sci­en­tif­ic devel­op­ments, rather than a sud­den brain­storm on the part of one indi­vid­ual,” writes Eric Scer­ri at Sci­en­tif­ic Amer­i­can. And yet, while sev­er­al sci­en­tists over the course of the nine­teenth cen­tu­ry invent­ed sys­tems for clas­si­fy­ing the ele­ments, “ask most chemists who dis­cov­ered the peri­od­ic table and you will almost cer­tain­ly get the answer Dmitri Mendeleev,” notes the Roy­al Soci­ety of Chem­istry.  That’s for good rea­son, since the basis of the table we know today came from the design Mendeleev cre­at­ed in 1869.

This past March saw the 150th anniver­sary of his achieve­ment, which has hard­ly remained a his­tor­i­cal arti­fact. Every gen­er­a­tion has its table. Mendeleev’s rudi­men­ta­ry begin­nings have tak­en on new shape and have been sup­ple­ment­ed with anno­ta­tions and illus­tra­tions in eye-catch­ing col­or in text­books and on class­room walls around the world. It’s only fit­ting, then, that the 21st cen­tu­ry has its dig­i­tal ver­sions of the table, like the inter­ac­tive design by Boe­ing soft­ware engi­neer Kei­th Enevold­sen.

The Inter­ac­tive Peri­od­ic Table of the Ele­ments, in Pic­tures and Words, adapts itself to dif­fer­ent learn­ing styles while pro­vid­ing stu­dents of chem­istry, of all ages and lev­els, instant facts about each of the ele­ments it illus­trates. Click on Pal­la­di­um, for exam­ple, and you’ll learn about its role in pol­lu­tion con­trol. The non-cor­rod­ing hard met­al absorbs hydro­gen and is used in lab­ware, elec­tric con­tacts, and den­tistry. Rhe­ni­um, we learn, is a dense met­al used in rock­et engines, heater coils, and elec­tric con­tacts, among oth­er things.

Oth­er “seem­ing­ly obscure” ele­ments we may nev­er have heard of, like Gal­li­um and Tan­ta­lum, influ­ence our dai­ly lives “quite a bit, it turns out,” as Lacy Cooke writes at Inhab­it, serv­ing as com­po­nents in LEDs and mobile phones. We gath­er such facts at a glance, as well as the oth­er end­less­ly use­ful func­tions of the table. Enevold­sen fur­ther adapts his designs for home or class­room use with print­able PDFs, includ­ing a ver­sion with only words and a sim­pli­fied table with only pic­tures. Begin­ning stu­dents may be thrilled to find print-your-own ele­ments cards, as well as oth­er peri­od­ic-table-relat­ed visu­al aids like Atom­ic Orbitals, a col­or-cod­ed chart that “shows what atoms look like.”

The group­ings on the peri­od­ic chart so famil­iar to us today came about when Mendeleev “real­ized that, by putting [the ele­ments] in order of increas­ing atom­ic weight, cer­tain types of ele­ment reg­u­lar­ly occurred,” the Roy­al Soci­ety points out. But his “real genius… was to leave gaps for undis­cov­ered ele­ments. He even pre­dict­ed the prop­er­ties of five of these ele­ments and their com­pounds.” Enevoldsen’s inter­ac­tive table makes for an easy for­mat to update. When new ele­ments are named, he adds them to his charts imme­di­ate­ly.

Peri­od­ic tables like Enevoldsen’s may only bare­ly resem­ble Mendeleev’s spare orig­i­nal, but the Russ­ian chemist’s clas­si­fi­ca­tion sys­tem still pro­vides the orga­niz­ing prin­ci­ples by which we under­stand the fun­da­men­tal ele­ments that make up the mate­r­i­al world. View and down­load PDF copies of all of these high­ly infor­ma­tive, and up-to-date peri­od­ic tables here. Or pur­chase posters/prints here.

via Inhab­it

Relat­ed Con­tent:

The Map of Chem­istry: New Ani­ma­tion Sum­ma­rizes the Entire Field of Chem­istry in 12 Min­utes

A Peri­od­ic Table Visu­al­iz­ing the Year & Coun­try in Which Each Ele­ment Was Dis­cov­ered

The Peri­od­ic Table of Ele­ments Pre­sent­ed as Inter­ac­tive Haikus

The Peri­od­ic Table of Endan­gered Ele­ments: Visu­al­iz­ing the Chem­i­cal Ele­ments That Could Van­ish Before You Know It

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

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