Today I sit in the Hotel Baltschug Kempinski in Moscow, exploring a corner of this planet I have not before with my father – so please accept my apologies for making this a brief one. I will create a more comprehensive post bringing in some of this experience after I journey to St Petersburg and then back to London. Being in a new place it got me thinking about Russia and science – Russia has a long and proud history in so many things so does it with science?
In doing my research the Kalashnikov rifle – an invention of Russian design was listed near the top of the Russian inventions. This is not something in light of recent world news I think anyone should be particularly proud of – and I could never champion weaponry in this truly terrifying environment we have created so I dug a little deeper and I found a good one!
The periodic table! Much better. The periodic table was invented by this Russian – Dmitri Mendeleev, who lived from 1834 to 1907.
This scientist has well everything you would want in a scientist. He looks the part, he is unbelievably smart and has some great quotes (you will come to realise I really like).
“I saw in a dream a table where all elements fell into place as required. Awakening, I immediately wrote it down on a piece of paper, only in one place did a correction later seem necessary.”
Mendeleev put together all of the known elements into the table, which is in itself a massive achievement however what is even more amazing is that in doing this he was actually able to correctly predict new elements which were perviously unknown. The periodic table is in fact the single most important chemical reference we have… You can work out all sorts from it and you can know quickly how many electrons, protons and neutrons are in the element, you can work out how many atoms of that element make up a finite quantity of an element and work out what will happen when two elements come together. The more you get to know the table, the more you can do with it – and the more information you can extract from it. To be honest with very basic knowledge you can extract and make sense of some very complicated information. Kids start using this table at incredibly young ages and it is still relevant to even the most advanced of chemists.
Russians – I know you have done loads for science! I just think this one is quite neat, so thank you Russia!