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Principles of Chemistry

Mendeleev, Dmitrii:The Principles of Chemistry, Longmans, London, 1891.

Mendeleev, already a renowned chemist, was appointed the chair of the chemistry department at the University of St. Petersburg in 1867. Unable to find a proper text for his students, he decided to write his own.

Mendeleev, Dmitrii: The Principles of Chemistry, Longmans, London, 1891

He derived his basic plan for his book from Gerhardt's theory of types, whereby elements were grouped by valence in relation to hydrogen. The typical elements hydrogen (1), oxygen (2), nitrogen (3), and carbon (4), were listed first, followed, in the same order, by the halogens (1) and alkali metals (1). Mendeleev's work towards The Principles of Chemistry led him to the periodic law, which he formulated in March 1869: 'Elements placed according to the value of their atomic weights present a clear periodicity of properties'

Based on this work Mendeleev was able to compose the first periodic table (as shown in the preface to Volume I), which remains strikingly similar to the first modern periodic table, devised by Moseley in 1914. Mendeleev was able to successfully predict the discovery of as yet undiscovered elements that would fit in according to his law, as demonstrated by the specific gaps he left in his table. First published in Russian in 1868, the English edition is based on the fifth Russian edition. "The periodic law is the focus of the work; beginning with the third edition it is more prominent because it had been verified experimentally. Mendeleev rewrote each edition, including all new scientific data-particularly confirmations of the periodic law-and reanalyzing difficulties that had arisen to hinder its confirmation (inert gases, radioactivity, radioactive and rare-earth elements)"

The following pages are selected excerpts from this major component of modern chemistry. See for yourself how modern Mendeleev's vision of chemistry was 150 years ago.

Mendeleev's Periodic Principles

See also: Development of the Periodic Table, de Chancourtois, Dobereiner, Mendeleev, Moseley, Newlands, Seaborg