The History and Evolution of the Periodic Table

The History and Evolution of the Periodic Table


The periodic table is one of the most iconic images of science and a cornerstone of chemistry. While most of us recognize it’s importance, not everyone knows the history and evolution of the periodic table.

In this article, you’ll learn about the many contributions to its evolution, from Dmitri Mendeleev to Glenn Seaborg. We’ll look at the history of the periodic table, from its earliest roots to its modern version, and explore the periodic trends that make it so useful. Finally, we’ll discuss the recent additions of the H-block elements and Rutherfordium and Dubnium.

The History of the Periodic Table

The periodic table is one of the most important scientific achievements of all time, and it has a rich and fascinating history. It was first theorized in Ancient Greece that elements had distinct properties and should be grouped together in certain ways.

However, it wasn’t until the early 19th century when the true potential of the periodic table was recognized.

The modern periodic table is credited to the Russian chemist Dmitri Mendeleev, who published the first version in 1869. Before Mendeleev, chemists had been classifying elements based on their atomic weights and properties.

Mendeleev created a more logical system that was based on the properties of elements and their relationships to one another. Mendeleev’s table was revolutionary because it showed that elements could be organized in rows and columns based on their atomic number.

Mendeleev was so confident in his findings that he predicted that new elements would be added to his periodic table, and he was right. He even left gaps in his table for element that had yet to be discovered.

As new elements were found, they were placed in appropriate places in Mendeleev’s table. This helped to reinforce the idea that elements could be organized into a logical system based on their properties.

The periodic table has evolved over the years, as new elements have been discovered and the understanding of atomic structure has improved.

In 1913, the scientist Henry Moseley discovered that elements could be further organized by their atomic number. This led to a more precise version of Mendeleev’s periodic table, which is still used today.

The periodic table has played an essential role in science for more than a century, and its evolution is an ongoing process. While the basic structure of the table has remained the same, new elements have been added and new insights have been gained.

The periodic table is an invaluable tool for understanding the properties of elements, and its evolution offers a fascinating glimpse intothe history of modern science.

The Evolution of the Periodic Table

From its inception by Dmitri Mendeleev in 1869, to its further advancement by the contributions of Henry Moseley and Glenn Seaborg in the early 1900s, the periodic table has been an invaluable tool in the study of chemistry.

In this section, we will explore the discoveries and modifications that have been made over time to the periodic table, allowing for a greater understanding of chemical elements and the universe.

Dmitri Mendeleev

Dmitri Mendeleev

Was a Russian chemist who is credited with being the first to publish a version of the periodic table in 1869. He was an incredibly influential figure in science and is considered the “father of the periodic table” due to his contribution to its evolution.

He noticed that when elements were ordered by atomic weight the properties of the elements seemed to follow a repeating pattern. He organized the elements into seven vertical columns and each of these columns had similar chemical properties.

This insight revolutionized the way the elements were understood and opened the door for further evolution of the periodic table. His work ultimately revolutionized and advanced the way chemistry was studied and taught worldwide.

Henry Moseley

Henry Moseley

Was a British physicist who is credited for helping to deepen our understanding of the periodic table. He was born in 1887 and first became interested in physics at the early age of 14. He studied mathematics and physics at Oxford and embarked on a career in research soon afterwards.

In 1913, Moseley was able to make an incredible discovery that would shape the evolution of the periodic table as we know it today. He found that the properties of an element are determined by the atomic number of that element, not the atomic weight as previously thought.

This revelation helped us to organize elements in a more logical order; one that is based on nuclear charges rather than atomic weights. Moseley’s observations also made it possible to predict the existence of unknown elements. His breakthrough was a major step in the evolution of the periodic table and has shaped our understanding of the elements.

Glenn Seaborg

Glenn Seaborg

Was a Nobel Prize-winning American chemist and proponent of the evolutionary nature of the periodic table. He suggested that the table be extended so as to include elements beyond uranium, which held its place as the last element in the periodic table until 1939.

In 1951, Seaborg and his colleagues were successful in isolating two additional elements, protactinium and neptunium, as well as two additional transuranic elements, which are elements that are heavier than uranium.

Seaborg later made significant contributions to the discovery of plutonium, americium, curium, berkelium, and californium. All of these elements are now included in the periodic table, thus reflecting the evolution of the periodic table that Seaborg proposed.

Modern Periodic Table

The modern periodic table is an essential tool for understanding, studying, and organizing elements. Its evolution began in the mid-1800s and has continued since then.

In 1869, Russian chemist Dmitry Mendeleev presented the first version of the periodic table, which was organized based on elements’ atomic weights. Mendeleev’s table had the elements organized in vertical columns, which we now call groups, and the horizontal rows, which we now call periods.

Mendeleev’s work laid the foundation for the modern periodic table, but more development was necessary before the table became the educational powerhouse it is today.

In 1913, Henry Moseley used X-ray spectroscopy to determine the atomic number of each element, rather than their atomic weight. This made it possible to group elements into the periodic table according to their atomic number, rather than by atomic weight—a change that revolutionized the table’s organization.

With the addition of new elements, the periodic table of elements has expanded to 112 elements, with the addition of the 118th element, Nihonium, in 2016.

The periodic table further evolved in 2013 with the addition of the seventh row, known as the seventh period. This period made it possible to include the lanthanide and actinide series, which are groups of elements with similar chemical and physical properties.

Today, the periodic table has become an important part of studying chemistry, physics, and materials science for both students and professionals. Its evolution has been essential to understanding the properties of different elements, and it will continue to expand and evolve as scientists discover more elements.

H-Block Elements

(Groups 13 to 18)

The evolution of the periodic table continues with the addition of the H-block elements. Groups 13 to 18 of the periodic table are known as the H-block elements because of the presence of the letter ‘H’ in the first element of each group on the periodic table.

This block of elements is significant because it includes the period of elements that look very different from each other due to the presence of the d-block elements which allow for different chemical combinations.

The elements in this section are known for their very high reactivity and are often used in catalytic reactions and industrial processes. The addition of the H-block to the periodic table further helped to explain the structure of the table and the properties of the elements.

Rutherfordium and Dubnium

Are two synthetic elements discovered in the late 20th century. Both elements were the result of the evolution of the periodic table and scientific knowledge. Rutherfordium, element 104, was first synthesized in 1969 at the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research in Dubna, Russia (therefore the element’s namesake).

Dubnium, element 105, was discovered in 1970 also at the Joint Institute in Dubna. Due to the relatively short timeline of their discovery, there is still much to be discovered about these two elements and how they fit into the overall evolution of the periodic table.

Periodic Trends

Since the discovery of the periodic table, scientists have identified several trends, or patterns, in chemical properties that have evolved over time. For example, it is observed that elements in the same group tend to have similar chemical properties, and elements that appear vertically tend to have similar physical and chemical traits.

In addition, the reactivity of elements increases from left to right and from bottom to top. This is due to the increase in the number of electrons found in different elements, which affects the chemical behavior of these elements over time.

The evolution of the periodic table has allowed scientists to understand how these trends are organized and how they can be used to predict the behavior of different elements.


The periodic table has come a long way since its first conception. It has grown, developed, and evolved to become a cornerstone of modern chemistry, allowing us to better understand the elements, their properties, and the structure of the atom.

Through the work of brilliant scientists such as Dmitri Mendeleev, Henry Moseley, and Glenn Seaborg, the periodic table has been updated, expanded, and sharpened to a finer degree. The modern periodic table goes beyond its initial iteration, featuring H-block elements, such as Rutherfordium and Dubnium, and further exploring the trends of periodicity.

By understanding these trends, scientists have been able to relate elements to each other and to the world around us. All in all, the periodic table has been an invaluable tool for chemists, and its history and evolution are an incredible testament to the progress of science.

Leave a Reply

Back To Top