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Charles Janet: unrecognized genius of the periodic system

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Abstract

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.

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Notes

  1. Janet invariably referred to his table as ‘helicoid’ (hélicoïdale). He later took to sometimes adding the adjective ‘stepped’ (scalariforme). Calling it the ‘left-step’ table reverses his priorities.

  2. BBFH: the paper by the Burbidges et al. (1957) detailing the theoretical steps by which the elements were formed. For this work, Fowler received the Nobel Prize in Physics, 1983, but Hoyle did not, although he had initiated the work.

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Acknowledgements

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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Stewart, P.J. Charles Janet: unrecognized genius of the periodic system. Found Chem 12, 5–15 (2010). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10698-008-9062-5

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