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Dmitri Mendeleev (1834 – 1907)

Chemist and inventor

Have you ever wondered who came up with the periodic table that you have to know by heart? That would be Dmitri Mendeleev, the Russian chemist and inventor.

Dmitri Ivanovich Mendeleev was born on the 8th of February 1834 in a Russian village. He had many brothers and sisters (the exact number is not known), and his father was a teacher of politics, fine arts, and philosophy.

His family fell into hard times when Mendeleev was 13 years old, his father went blind, lost his job and eventually passed away, and his mother’s glass factory burned down in a fire.

His family fell into hard times when Mendeleev was 13 years old, his father went blind, lost his job and eventually passed away, and his mother’s glass factory burned down in a fire.

When he was 15 years the family shifted homes and once he graduated, Mendeleev caught tuberculosis (which is a dangerous infectious diseases which starts in the lungs but affects the rest of the body too. It is spread through air when the infected person coughs or sneezes) and moved away from his family.

After he recovered, he returned to his family in St Petersburg when he was 23 years old. He was a very knowledgeable man and knew much about geology, chemistry, physics, economy, and chemistry.

All his knowledge in chemistry made him realize that there was some sort of order to the periodic elements and he was one of the first modern scientists to talk to other scientists and work with them towards his invention.

Over thirteen years he collected enough data from all scientists whom he arranged into a table depending on their chemical properties. This was how he created the modern periodic table of elements.

Once he arranged the elements in the table, he left three blank boxes for three unknown elements, which had not been discovered at that time. These turned out to be germanium, gallium, and scandium.

His discovery was so great that he was nominated for the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1906. But because of a very influential member in the Nobel Committee who did not like Mendeleev, he never won the prize, and it went to Henri Moissan instead.

Besides his work on the periodic table, he worked a lot towards improving the agricultural technology, oil refining, and mineral recovery in Russia.

He was also among the first members who established the Russian Chemical Society, and because of his connections and previous work with other scientists from around the world he managed to widen communications between scientists is Europe and America.

He also studied various gasses at different temperatures and this work helped him to build a differential barometer to help him in his studies of the weather systems.

He continued to study the chemical properties of certain liquids when heated and devised a formula of the uniformity of the expansion of gasses, introduced the metric system to Russia, and invented a smokeless powder called ‘pyrocollodion’.

During his lifetime, he published many books and academic papers on chemistry and made over 250 notes on various research findings scientific matters.

His most famous publication was a book called “Organic Chemistry” which he published when he was just 27 years old.

This book won him the Domidov Prize and people considered him an expert in the area of Russian chemical education.

In honour of all his great work, the moon crater “Mendeleev”, the periodic element 101, and the radioactive substance “Mendelevium” were all named after him.

He married twice and had 6 children by his 2 wives.

He contracted the influenza in 1907 and died that year in St Petersburg at 72 years.