A scientist accidentally found the oldest version of the periodic table

Sometimes you can discover truly amazing and incredibly valuable things, conducting a General cleaning of the room, is where the most cleaning is never really done. Don’t believe? Just ask the doctor of chemistry Alan Aitken of St. Andrews University (Scotland), who in 2014 spent a month of my life to put in order a warehouse of the faculty of chemistry, which is not properly cleaned since its opening in 1968. Among all the mess that has accumulated there for many years, Aitken found a bunch of folded training tables. What was the surprise of the scientist, when all of this stuff before his eyes appeared a unique relic of scientific history.

When Dr. Aitken has launched one of the folded tables, he found the front is one of the earliest versions of the periodic system of chemical elements. At the top of the table was placed the inscription in German: “Periodische Gesetzmässigkeit der Elemente nach Mendeleieff”, which means “the Periodical system of elements by Mendeleev”. Because the table lay in the back room for many years, it has become very fragile. In that moment, when the Aitken it was first launched, the paper has come off a few pieces, but the main text was not affected. The poor condition of the paper gave scientists to understand that it is a real artifact.

The detailed analysis table and its history has confirmed this conjecture. Yes, the table was very old. According to the University, it was created in 1885. Further study showed that it can be officially considered the oldest known educational tables of the periodic system of chemical elements.

Russian scientist Dmitri Ivanovich Mendeleev published his first scheme of the periodic table in 1869, in the article “Correlation of properties with atomic weight of elements” (in the journal of the Russian chemical society). In 1871, the table was amended. Discovered a table in the Scottish University is very similar to the amended version, but with some important differences.

“Discovered at St. Andrews University is an early example. The table has annotations in German, and in the lower left corner, signed “Verlag V. Lenoir & Forster, Wien”, — pointing to the printer, who worked in Vienna from 1875 to 1888. Another signed “Lith. von Ant. Hartinger & Sohn, Wien” indicates lithographer, who, as it turned out, died in 1890. In the course of the identification of the origin of the table, the University has asked for help and advice to many international experts. The study suggests that the earlier edition of this table, it seems, does not exist. Professor Eric sherry, an expert in the field of the history of the periodic table of the elements, University of California at Los Angeles believes that this table was compiled between 1879 and 1886 years. On this conclusion he pointed out the items contained therein. For example, gallium and scandium, opened in 1875 and 1885 there are, and germanium, which was discovered only in 1886 – is absent”, — reported in a press release from St. Andrews University.

Subsequent analysis of old financial reports of the University showed that Thomas Purdy, a Professor of chemistry who worked at the University from 1884 to 1909, acquired the table through the German academic catalogue in October 1888. And the table was made in Vienna in 1885.

After establishing the date of manufacture and place of production of the table the leadership of St. Andrews University took the decision on the preservation of this amazing relic of scientific history for posterity. To this end, the University turned to his team of restorers. The necessary funding was obtained from Scottish National endowment for the preservation of manuscripts.

Observing the greatest caution, to further prevent damage to the paper, the team of restorers brushes clean the table he accumulated during the long years of neglect dirt and dust. The paper was otmechena table also caution has been detached from a heavy linen backing. The work was also used deionized water, which scientists have restored the color of the text. And with the help of Japanese paper kozo and paste from wheat starch experts were able to restore the line breaks in paper.

After the restoration of the University staff created a full-size replica of the grid, which now shows at St. Andrews University. The original table was placed in safe storage in a room with controlled temperature and humidity.

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