Research Seminar June 3rd: Michael Gordin - From the Black Variant to Newtonium: Dmitrii Mendeleev's Periodic System of Chemical Elements

Research Seminar June 3rd: Michael Gordin - From the Black Variant to Newtonium: Dmitrii Mendeleev's Periodic System of Chemical Elements. The seminar will take place in Gilman 449 at 18:00.

02 June 2019

Michael Gordin 

Department of History, Princeton University 

From the Black Variant to Newtonium: Dmitrii Mendeleev's Periodic System of Chemical Elements

The United Nations has declared 2019 the International Year of the Periodic Table (IYPT) in commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the chemical classification formulated in February 1869 by Dmitrii Mendeleev (1834-1907). The emphasis on that year is overly confining in two senses. First, it begins the story too late: Mendeleev’s table was the sixth arrangement of elements in that decade; starting with him excludes the chemical context that allowed for such a proliferation of classifications. Second, it ends too early: Mendeleev continually tinkered with his system over the course of his long life, repeatedly reinterpreting its scientific rationale and significance. This talk will address this second problem by exploring the many different incarnations of the periodic system from his earliest drafts to his failed attempt to predict the properties of the luminiferous ether in the early years of the twentieth century.

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