National Periodic Table Day — Why Should We Care? — InsideSources
On Friday (February 7) we have the opportunity to toast the periodic table, but we actually have two other competing national day choices if the periodic table isn’t feeling inspiring. We could raise our glass to National Fettuccine Alfredo Day or alternatively to National Send-a-Card to a Friend Day.
I love fettuccine alfredo as much as and probably more than the next guy, but I can’t relegate Periodic Table Day to second place behind creamy pasta. Yes the pasta provides pleasure, but its longer-term impact is mostly felt around the waist.
National Send-a-Card to a Friend Day falls short for multiple reasons. Between social media, emailing and texting, only Luddites mail physical cards. Also once our gratitude goes beyond acknowledging mom and dad with a designated day, there is no limit to the places we can go — pets, spiritual leaders, artists, bosses, neighbors, maybe even kooky relatives. This holiday sets a precedent that is both fatiguing and destructive to our productivity.
On the other hand, there are bona fide reasons to celebrate Periodic Table Day and not just because the competition is weak. An explanation of the periodic table is needed before one can appreciate what the table has given to our world.
The periodic table is a matrix comprising seven rows (“periods”) and 18 columns (“groups”). It organizes chemical elements by atomic number horizontally and electron configuration vertically. In so doing we are able to assign like properties to groups, which then helps chemists in predicting certain behaviors.
Back in 1869 when the periodic table was created, its inventor, Dmitri Mendeleev, was able to identify gaps that led him to predict 10 elements that hadn’t yet been discovered. He was right about eight of them.
Today, the periodic table hangs in science classrooms worldwide and is used as an easy reference. A quick glance helps users in all sorts of ways — from understanding an element’s properties to anticipating certain reactions and identifying new possible elements.
Visually, a viewer will notice 94 natural elements making up the core of the table. Two detached rows were added on the bottom for synthesized elements made in laboratories or…