Thursday, November 1, 2012

And the Winner is...

Dmitri Ivanovich Mendeleev (1834-1907) was a Russian chemist famous for creating the first periodic table of elements.  He was born near Tobolsk, Siberia to Ivan Pavlovich Mendeleev and Maria Dmitrievna Mendeleev and had between 11 and 17 siblings (depending on source).  Mendeleev was a professor when he arranged the 63 known elements by increasing atomic mass and grouping them by similar properties in 1869.  His great insight was he predicted the existence of three elements he named  ekasilicon, ekaaluminium and ekaboron (germaniumgallium and scandium) and left spaces on the table for them.

Other achievements of Mendeleev include the investigation of the thermal expansion of liquids and the composition of petroleum.  In 1893 he was appointed Director of the Bureau of Weights and Measures where he developed new standards for vodka production (must be 40% alcohol by volume).

Though Mendeleev received many awards throughout his career including the Copley Medal from the Royal Society of London, he was never awarded a Nobel Prize due in part to rivalries with other scientists of the time including one with Svante Arrhenius. Mendeleev probably got the last laugh, however, since he is more known now than any of the others that were jealous of him plus he has a crater on the Moon named in his honor.

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