Happy 150th birthday to the periodic table!

The United Nations has declared 2019 to be the International Year of the Periodic Table (#IYPT2019) and the Nature journals have published collections of content to join in with the celebrations.

Jun 28, 2019
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Dmitri Mendeleev was not the first person to try to bring some order to the chemical elements, but it is his 1869 chart that is seen as the origin of the periodic table as we know it today. To coincide with the 150th anniversary of Mendeleev's formulation, 2019 has been designated as the International Year of the Periodic Table.

To mark this important year for chemistry, the January 2019 issue of Nature Chemistry featured a collection of articles exploring the limits of the periodic table. There are the 'elements' that didn't quite get a place at the table when they turned out not to be what their discoverers thought they were and let's not forget the elements of science fiction, deliberately created to entertain audiences. And just what is the heaviest naturally occurring element on Earth (the answer is not simple), and how do we discover more elements beyond the 118 that neatly fill seven rows of the current periodic table? The Editorial in the issue also looks back at the early history of the periodic table and the In Your Element essay about moscovium was written by none other than Yuri Oganessian, one of only two people who have had an element named after them during their lifetime (the other was Glenn Seaborg).

The In Your Element feature at Nature Chemistry came to an end in the March 2019 issue in which Anne Pichon wrote about element 101; appropriately named for the man who started it all, Dmitri Mendeleev. We covered all 118 elements and also let in the two heavy isotopes of hydrogen: deuterium and tritium. The In Your Element series is now on hiatus until someone creates element 119... But fear not, there are plenty of other things to consider when it comes to the periodic table — including whether it would be better to turn the entire thing upside-down! And of course, some elements are becoming more and more scarce, although perhaps we should expand the periodic table by including all possible isotopes?

All of the 2019 periodic table content at Nature Chemistry is rounded up in a handy collection that also includes related content from our archives. Of course, we're not the only journal gathering around the table; Nature put together a collection of content back at the end of January and that can be found here. There is also an interactive version of the periodic table — put together by Claire Hansell — that you can explore by following this link. You will find interesting snippets of information about the elements, some papers from our archives, a link to each In Your Element article we've published and also some Nature journal editors talking about their favourite elements.

And of course, we're only halfway through the #IYPT2019, so remember to check back for more content related to the periodic table as the year progresses!

Stu Cantrill

Chief Editor, Nature Chemistry, Springer Nature

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