Foundations of Chemistry

, Volume 12, Issue 1, pp 5–15 | Cite as

Charles Janet: unrecognized genius of the periodic system

  • Philip J. StewartEmail author


Janet is known almost exclusively for his left-step periodic table (LSPT). A study of his writings shows him to have been a highly creative thinker and a brilliant draftsman. His approach was primarily arithmetic-geometric, but it led him to anticipate the discovery of deuterium, helium-3, transuranian elements, antimatter and energy from nuclear fusion. He recognized the (n + ℓ) rule well before Madelung and correctly placed the actinides. His controversial treatment of helium at the head of the alkaline earth elements might be less provocative if his system were taken in one of its spiral representations.


Janet Periodic system Tables Spiral representations Antimatter Madelung rule 



I am most grateful to Monsieur Loïc Casson, an authority on Janet, for his tirelessly repeated and invaluable help, also to Monsieur R Schuler at the Direction Générale des Services du Département de l’Oise, who supplied copies of Janet’s key papers with the compliments of the Société Académique de l’Oise and the Musée Départemental de l’Oise.


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Plant SciencesUniversity of OxfordOxfordUK

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