Saturday, July 20, 2013

“…. I have only one Mendeleev”

Dmitri Mendeleev, the scientist who designed the modern periodic table, had rivals- At least six of them, who were designing Periodic tables of their own. When Mendeleev's table was complete, there were gaps in the table. These gaps were elements that were not yet discovered. But Mendeleev was so sure of the table, that he was known to taunt "Look harder, you chemists and geologists and you will find them." Mendeleev had even predicted the atomic weights and densities of these undiscovered elements. When some of these predictions came correct people were mesmerized. During this time, none of the noble gases (Argon, xenon, etc) were discovered. In 1890's when these gases were finally discovered, scientist only had to add an extra column to the table, to make place for the gases. In Mendeleev's table it could be easily done and now the table came to be widely accepted. Why did Mendeleev not keep a blank column? - Mendeleev denied that noble gases existed and he also refused to believe in atoms !! He refused to believe in anything he could not see with his own eyes and atoms for Mendeleev were an abstraction- a handy way of doing the accounting to design the Periodic table.
A few years later, Mendeleev now famous, divorced his wife and wanted to remarry. The local church required that he had to wait for seven years. So he bribed the local priest to go on with the nuptials. By law now Mendeleev was a bigamist, but his fame had made the law wary about arresting him. When a local bureaucrat complained to the tsar about the double standards applied to the case- the priest was defrocked. The tsar reportedly said "I admit, Mendeleev has two wives, but I have only one Mendeleev."

1 comment:

  1. Aarina9:13 am

    I have only one "you" who is able to throw light on such a range of topics! Thank you for being a part of me!