Today’s Google Doodle: Dimitri Mendeleev

In the first volume of Principles of Chemistry Mendeleev discussed only eight of the then known sixty-three elements. He finished with the halogens, including chlorine and iodine. When he began the second volume he found that he needed to organise the remaining elements and by discussing the alkali metals such as lithium, sodium and potassium.
 
Mendeleev was debating whether to deal with the alkaline earth metals like calcium and barium next or go to elements such as zinc which have some properties in common with the alkaline earths. The other group were elements like copper and silver which seemed to exhibit variable valencies.
 
But on 17 February 1869, Mendeleev formed his version of the periodic table. That date and the next two or three can be said to mark its birth. Elements were always on his mind and he had cancelled a visit to a local cheese co-operative. At some point in the day he took the invitation from the cheesemonger and scribbled his calculations on the back of it.
 
He set them out by atomic weights, halogens, then alkalis and lastly the alkaline earth elements. Voila! The glorious thing that is the Periodic Table, beloved of teachers and bane of students is born at that very moment!
 
It might be worth noting that Mendeleev was encouraged by his parents to seek divine as well as scientific truth.
 
In short, listen to your parents and give the cheese platter a miss. Who knows, you too may end up with a Google Doodle on your 182nd birthday!

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