Periodic Table Gallery

An exciting time for chemistry

Two new elements, flerovium Fl and livermoreium Lv have been approved for entry in the Periodic Table of the Elements! They were formerly known by blander names—ununquadium and ununhexium. In honor of the event, I assembled a gallery of periodic tables, but let me tell you more about the table first.

The chemical elements are arranged from top to bottom, in order of lowest to highest atomic number. (Atomic number is the same as the number of protons.) There are 118 elements. 98 are naturally occurring, and 14 occur naturally in decay chains of those 98, up to and including californium. The remaining six elements are lab synthesized.

timmurtaugh via Flickr

Periodic Tattoo

Why is it periodic?

Table rows are “periods” and table columns are “groups.” Some groups have specific names, e.g. the noble gases, occupying the last column on the right. Some rows do too, such as the lanthanides and actinides on the bottom two rows.

The table is also periodic because its inventor, Dmitri Mendeleev, intended for it to be updated periodically, as new elements are found. So Mendeleev’s design had a dual use: for describing how the elements relate to each other, as well as for inferring the properties of new and not yet found elements.

One scientific concept to rebuild civilization

The children’s Periodic Table on the U.S. EIA website has the basics. It links to Los Alamos National Lab’s (LANL) Periodic Table.

Photo of Los Alamos National Labs chemist with period table

Actinides at LANL

Here is a great quote from a recent LANL news story by David Hobart, Actinide Analytical Chemistry, History of the periodic table…and my history with it:

As the legendary physicist Richard Feynman put it, “If some universal catastrophe was to engulf the world and humankind could retain only one scientific concept to rebuild civilization, what would it be? The chemist’s answer is almost invariably the Periodic Table of the Elements.

A few more periodic tables

  1. an interactive periodic table, in Latin
  2. Josh Duck’s functional Periodic Table of HTML5
  3. a version emphasizing rare earth elements

Chemical philately

While writing this, I realized that 2011 had been designated as the International Year of Chemistry (IYC). Many countries chose to commemorate IYC 2011 with a memorial postage stamp. The United States did not participate, well, not with a postage stamp. Several European countries focused only on the 100th anniversary of Madame Curie’s Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1911. Macedonia did participate, with this beautiful stamp.

Remembering chemistry

Macedonia commemorates IYC 2011

IYC Stamp Odyssey

I followed along with IUPAC member Daniel Rabinovich in his own year of discovery, as he documented chemistry-related philatelic activities around the world. I like the title of his presentation at the 2012 American Chemical Society meeting in San Diego, “IYC 2011 Stamp Odyssey”.

Silly periodic table humor

Chemistry as a career choice

I had a lively (and contentious) chat in the comment section of an American Chemical Society post, Lifetime Fan (An Undergrad Gets Inked). It eventually led to a response by the CEO of the American Chemical Society, Madeleine Jacobs.

Published in: on 24 March 2012 at 9:02 am  Comments (8)  
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8 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. A new and exciting chemistry tattoo was just been spotted! This is a heavily inked tribute to the American Chemical Society, with a very detailed photo! For your viewing pleasure, please see A lifetime ACS fan gets inked.


  2. Hmmm,at least it’s cool!I was wondering if we’ll ever see a meme table?I’d get that!


    • I am certain that you get this (you know all about the stuff of fiber optics and predecessors)! I have an entire gallery of really stupid periodic tables, most of which are too silly to even be called meme’s. I need to find some dark corner of the web to post them though. Thank you for visiting today!


  3. I remember years ago, I had a periodic table which had photos of all the elements (even though some were simply powder in a tube or, in one case, an equation on paper). I believe I may be able to find a photo of part of it somewhere… Really amazing one, apparently common in high schools in the US. Really pretty too!
    BTW, if you need a place to host them periodic tables… I am sure I can 🙂


    • Hi Bobby!
      You might be referring to this periodic table, which was the highlight of “The Most Beautiful Periodic Table Displays in the World” collection by Theodore Grey (The Red Green & Blue Company). It is, or was, on display at DePauw University in Indiana. Here is an example, click the image for a full size version on imgur
      periodic table sample by Theodore Grey

      Each element is represented by a real sample, other than the radioactive or highly unstable elements. Maybe your table was a photograph of this, element by element? I would love to see that!


  4. Hi! It’s been a while!

    This is only marginally related, I hope you don’t mind, but what do you think about the new science/discoveries related to the Higgs boson?


  5. Ellie, one of the pix in this post goes to a dead link. perhaps you can fix it, if the picture is still extant


    • Thank you for letting me know, Mike.

      I finally found the photo and corresponding link. I’ll update my post, but might only be able to link to the photo, as Los Alamos National Labs considers that image to be under copyright. I thought LANL work would be in the public domain, similar to other US government work…?


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