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Major Update to Periodic Table of Elements Completed

By Kenneth Barbalace
[Thursday, August 03, 2006]
It was delayed by my Google disaster on July 27th, however; I have completed one of my periodic updates to my Periodic Table of Elements. Every time I do one of these updates I wonder what I was thinking to put a periodic table on my site to begin with back in 1995. Updating and validating existing data on my periodic table takes a tremendous amount of work and over the years I've built up quite a collection of books and charts related to chemistry and the periodic table. I even have two books in Russian on this topic (I made my wife go through those).

One of the most important things I have learned about compiling my data has been to rely on or at least validate against printed sources like books and charts rather than rely on other online periodic tables. In part I do this because they often times used my table as their primary reference so in effect I would be validating my data against a partial copy of my data (not very wise). I have also found that data errors abound in periodic tables especially those published on websites due to clerical errors and omissions. Even books have errors but with enough printed references one can usually isolate out most bad data.

Some of the interesting things I learned during this update are:

1) The IUPAC (International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry) has now officially named elements 110 (darmstadtium ? Ds) and 111 (roentgenium ? Rg).

2) Contrary to popular belief plutonium has been found in nature. In fact, in 1970 Dr. Darleane C. Hoffman discovered traces of naturally occurring primordial plutonium-244 in Precambrian bastnasite. This means that plutonium is the heaviest element to have been found in nature on Earth. That should be of some use as a trick question on a chemistry test somewhere.

3) Although credit for the discovery of platinum is typically given to Antonio de Ulloa of Spain in 1735 or Wood in 1741, platinum (which can be found as pure/native nuggets) had been known to and used by the pre-Columbian Indians in South America long before its "discovery". This was one of many instances I found where social political or academic intrigue usurped the true discoverer or first user of an element. Zinc is another example where a European scientist took claim for discovering an element that had been known to and/or used by non-European people. Zinc had been known about in India and China since before the 1500s even though most sources try to credit Andreas Marggraf with its discovery in 1746.

I actually found the intrigue surrounding the discovery of some of the elements to be quite fascinating and I may delve into this side of the elements more in future updates. I have also having someone work on an article that helps explain why one can sometimes look at three our four highly reputable sources and get three or four different answers for a single data point on a given element. The inconsistency that is common with certain data points can be one of the more frustrating part of validating data.

If you haven't checked it out already, take a look around my periodic table of elements, it is one of the most comprehensive on the Internet (although I don't have any photos of elements yet) and I'm always working on adding data points not found on other online tables. Visit Periodic Table of Elements


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