Dmitri Mendeleev was the youngest of at least 14 children in his family. They lived in Tobolosk, Siberia. His father, Ivan, was the director of a gym and his mother, Marya, came from a family that introduced glass and paper making to Siberia. Mendeleev’s father died while he was still young, and Marya had to work. Luckily, her family was able to get her a manager’s position at the Korniliev glass factory at Aremziansk. Dmitri was educated at his father’s gym in Tobolosk, where he showed a high interest in physics and mathematics.
Also, he was taught many things about glass and glass blowing from the family factory. His brother-in-law, Bessargin, taught Mendeleev about current science topics. When Mendeleev was 14, his mother had already noticed his gifted abilities in Science and wanted to help him get a good education. All that changed when the family factory burnt down. Within a few months, Dimitri’s mother and sister had died from tuberculosis. Significant Accomplishments Mendeleev’s most significant accomplishments were his discovery of periodic law and the making of the periodic table.
He had a great interest in the elements, which up to his time were distinguished by only one basic property, which had been proposed by John Dalton in 1805, that each element as a characteristic atomic weight. Mendeleev wrote the elements out on cards, atoms had their atomic weights and were set out in columns in order of atomic weight. He was unclear what to do with hydrogen, the lightest, and left it out. Periodic Table Scientists had identified over 60 elements by Mendeleev’s time. (Today over 110 elements are known. ) In Mendeleev’s day the atom was considered the most basic particle of matter.
The building blocks of atoms (electrons, protons, and neutrons) were discovered only later. What Mendeleev and chemists of his time could determine, however, was the atomic eight of each element: how heavy its atoms were in comparison to an atom of hydrogen, the lightest element. “I began to look about and write down the elements with their atomic weights and typical properties, analogous elements and like atomic weights on separate cards, and this soon convinced me that the properties of elements are in periodic dependence upon their atomic weights. –Mendeleev, Principles of Chemistry, 1905, Vol. II The value of the table slowly became clear, but not its meaning. Scientists soon recognized that the table’s arrangement of elements in order of atomic weight was challenging. The atomic weight of the gas argon, hich does not react readily with other elements, would place it in the same group as the chemically very active solids lithium and sodium. In 1913, British physicist Henry Moseley confirmed earlier suggestions that an element’s chemical properties are only roughly related to its atomic.
What really matters is the element’s atomic number–the number of electrons its atom carries, which Moseley could measure with X-rays. Ever since, elements have been arranged on the periodic table according to their atomic numbers. The structure of the table reflects the particular arrangement of the electrons in each type of atom. Only with the development of quantum mechanics in the 1920s did scientists work out how the electrons arrange themselves to give the element its properties.
Summary Dmitri Mendeleev lived a hard life and his hard work reflects on it. He created the periodic table, which changed the way we look at elements of all forms. It positively affects all forms of science. Personal Opinion In my own personal opinion, Mendeleev was a genius. For one person to think up the entire periodic table is staggering. And he did live a hard life, but he used it to his advantage to learn everything and anything he could from whoever would teach him.