Foundations of Chemistry

, Volume 9, Issue 3, pp 235–245 | Cite as

A century on from Dmitrii Mendeleev: tables and spirals, noble gases and Nobel prizes

  • Philip J. StewartEmail author


Mendeleev’s failure to represent the periodic system as a continuum may have hidden from him the space for the noble gases. A spiral format might have revealed the significance of the wide gaps in atomic mass between his rows. Tables overemphasize the division of the sequence into ‘periods’ and blocks. Not only do spirals express the continuity; in addition they are more attractive visually. They also facilitate a new placing for hydrogen and the introduction of an ‘element of atomic number zero’.


Mendeleev Periodic system Tables Spiral representations Element of atomic number zero Chemical education 


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of OxfordOxfordUK

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