Dmitre Mendeleev was fascinated by patterns.  Figuring out patterns is the basis of scientific thought, of scientific research.  He understood that the existence of patterns in nature was not just limited to those found in the base elements of nature but could also be applied to human behavior and the universe itself.  Although he recognized the extension of this order in nature, his passion was chemistry and it was in determining patterns in this field that he left us his greatest legacy.

The discovery of the elements mapped to significant periodic table development dates (pre-, per- and post-). Sandbh, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wiki Commons

Mendeleev laid much of the groundwork for the modern periodic table. Sandbh, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wiki Commons

Despite suffering from anger management issues in his younger, University years, Mendeleev became a dynamic teacher and lecturer.  He was also an avid chemist and became enamored with organizing the huge number of discoveries and observations in the field of chemistry.  Chemical principles revolve around the elements of the universe.

Ministry of Communications of the USSR. The design of the stamp by V. Pimenov. Steel engraving by I. Mokrousov. Scanned by Dmitry Ivanov. (From a personal collection.) [Public domain], via Wiki Commons

Ministry of Communications of the USSR. The design of the stamp by V. Pimenov. Steel engraving by I. Mokrousov. Scanned by Dmitry Ivanov. (From a personal collection.) [Public domain], via Wiki Commons

He became fixated on organizing these elements in a logical way and revealing the secrets that might lie within.  He put each element, of the 65 known, on a card along with all of its known properties including atomic weight.  He could see some importance in this weight but its exact relevance eluded him.  With the cards spread out on his desk he fell asleep, and awoke knowing the patterns found within the properties of these elements.  His subconscious mind had done the work for him!  With this knowledge he created the Periodic Table of Elements. Using his table, he predicted the existence of 8 new elements even predicting their properties based on the patterns inherent in his table.  There were some elements that did not fit the patterns in his Periodic Table and he correctly determined that the atomic weights of these elements had been determined incorrectly. Thus, they did indeed fit the patterns in his table.  Mendelevium, element 101, is named in his honor.

“Dmitri Mendeleev.” Famous Scientists. famousscientists.org. 1 Sep. 2014. Web. 1/27/2015.

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