A history of the periodic table.

The state of the universe.
July 19 2005 8:15 AM

Elemental

Is it time to revamp the periodic table?

1_123125_2093564_2122917_2122918_2122942_slideshow_launchmod

Click here to see a slide show. Oxford ecologist Philip Stewart has designed a new periodic table of the elements, and it's a hit. American schools are placing orders daily for Stewart's table, and the Royal Society of Chemists recently sent a copy to every British secondary school. Stewart's is the only remake to achieve widespread adoption since Dmitri Mendeleev invented the original periodic table in a fit of brilliance in 1869.

Mendeleev's table, a celebrated example of the visual display of quantitative information, transformed chemistry (and triggered imitations cataloguing everything from breakfast cereals to sex positions to neo-nerds). The table inspired thinkers including Primo Levi and C.P. Snow. "I could scarcely sleep for excitement the night after seeing the periodic table," Oliver Sacks wrote in his 2001 memoir Uncle Tungsten.

Advertisement

What can we expect from Stewart's new version—and is it time to scrap Mendeleev's old one? Click here for a slideshow about the periodic table.

Jon Lackman is writing a doctoral dissertation on the use of invective in art criticism.

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Blacks Don’t Have a Corporal Punishment Problem

Americans do. But when blacks exhibit the same behaviors as others, it becomes part of a greater black pathology. 

I Bought the Huge iPhone. I’m Already Thinking of Returning It.

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

Lifetime Didn’t Think the Steubenville Rape Case Was Dramatic Enough

So they added a little self-immolation.

Two Damn Good, Very Different Movies About Soldiers Returning From War

Medical Examiner

The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola 

The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.

Students Aren’t Going to College Football Games as Much Anymore, and Schools Are Getting Worried

The Good Wife Is Cynical, Thrilling, and Grown-Up. It’s Also TV’s Best Drama.

  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 20 2014 11:13 AM -30-
  Business
Business Insider
Sept. 20 2014 6:30 AM The Man Making Bill Gates Richer
  Life
Quora
Sept. 20 2014 7:27 AM How Do Plants Grow Aboard the International Space Station?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 4:58 PM Steubenville Gets the Lifetime Treatment (And a Cheerleader Erupts Into Flames)
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Sept. 19 2014 12:00 PM What Happened at Slate This Week? The Slatest editor tells us to read well-informed skepticism, media criticism, and more.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 20 2014 1:52 PM Julian Casablancas’ New Album Sounds Like the Furthest Thing From the Strokes
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 19 2014 6:31 PM The One Big Problem With the Enormous New iPhone
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 20 2014 7:00 AM The Shaggy Sun
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.