Facts About the Periodic Table

Here are some facts about the Periodic Table.

  • The periodic table is an arrangement of the chemical elements. It is organized based on chemical properties, atomic numbers and the configuration of electrons.
  • Although there were earlier efforts to organize the elements, the periodic table was devised and arranged by a Russian chemist, Dimitri Mendeleev. He came up with the idea in the 1860s.

  • Mendeleev’s table arranged the elements in order of increasing atomic weight. However, the modern periodic table arranges them by atomic number, from lowest to highest.
  • In 1863, there were only 56 known elements and a new one was discovered about once every year. Today there are over 110 known elements and if more are discovered, the table’s layout will have to be changed.
  • 90 of the elements in the table occur in nature, while the others are all man made. One of these is technetium, the first element to be created artificially, every form of which is radioactive.
  • Each element has a 1,2 or 3 letter designation; for example, oxygen has the symbol O. The letter J is the only letter that does not appear anywhere on the periodic table.
  • The columns in the table are used to separate groups of elements. The elements in a group often have similar properties and often have the same arrangement of outer electrons.
  • One of the elements in the table, francium, is one of the rarest in the world. Scientists guess that at any one time, there are only a few grams of francium on earth.
  • Since Mendeleev’s table was introduced, there have been an estimated 700 alternate versions of the periodic table. Some of these were circular, triangular, or pyramid shaped.
  • The periodic table is useful because it is a quick reference guide to the elements. It easily displays different properties and is used by students, scientists and chemists.
  • Tom Lehrer wrote a song about the periodic table called The Elements in 1959. The lyrics feature the 102 known elements when they were written. Check it out below.