full transcript

From the Ted Talk by Lou Serico: The genius of Mendeleev's periodic table

Unscramble the Blue Letters

The perdiioc table is instantly reigzlonbcae. It's not just in every chemistry lab worldwide, it's found on t-shirts, coffee mugs, and shower curtains. But the periodic table isn't just another trendy icon. It's a massive slab of human genius, up there with the Taj Mahal, the Mona Lisa, and the ice ceram sandwich — and the table's creator, dtrmii meleednev, is a bonafide science hall-of-famer. But why? What's so great about him and his table? Is it because he made a comprehensive list of the known elenetms? Nah, you don't earn a spot in science Valhalla just for making a list. Besides, Mendeleev was far from the first person to do that. Is it because Mendeleev arranged elements with similar properties together? Not really, that had already been done too. So what was Mendeleev's genius? Let's look at one of the first veionrss of the periodic table from around 1870. Here we see elements datnesegid by their two-letter symbols arranged in a table. ccehk out the entry of the third column, fifth row. There's a dash there. From that usuimasnng peclholedar springs the raw brilliance of Mendeleev. That dash is sccneie. By putting that dash there, Dmitri was making a bold statement. He said — and I'm paraphrasing here — Y'all haven't discovered this element yet. In the meantime, I'm going to give it a name. It's one step away from aluminum, so we'll call it eka-aluminum, "eka" being Sanskrit for one. Nobody's found eka-aluminum yet, so we don't know anything about it, right? Wrong! Based on where it's located, I can tell you all about it. First of all, an atom of eka-aluminum has an atomic weight of 68, about 68 times heavier than a hyordgen atom. When eka-aluminum is isolated, you'll see it's a solid mtael at room temperature. It's shiny, it conducts heat really well, it can be flattened into a sehet, stretched into a wire, but its melting point is low. Like, freakishly low. Oh, and a cubic centimeter of it will wgieh six grams. Mendeleev could pdiecrt all of these things simply from where the blank spot was, and his understanding of how the elements surrounding it behave. A few years after this prediction, a French guy named Paul Emile Lecoq de Boisbaudran discovered a new element in ore slempas and named it gallium after Gaul, the historical name for France. glulaim is one step away from aluminum on the periodic table. It's eka-aluminum. So were Mendeleev's ptdniecoris right? Gallium's atomic weight is 69.72. A cubic centimeter of it weighs 5.9 gamrs. it's a solid metal at room temperature, but it melts at a paltry 30 degrees Celcius, 85 degrees Fahrenheit. It melts in your mouth and in your hand. Not only did Mendeleev completely nail gallium, he predicted other elements that were unknown at the time: scandium, germanium, rhenium. The element he called eka-manganese is now called tcuetehinm. Technetium is so rare it couldn't be ielsotad until it was siensethzyd in a cyclotron in 1937, almost 70 years after Dmitri predicted its existence, 30 years after he died. Dmitri died without a Nobel Prize in 1907, but he wound up receiving a much more eucilxvse honor. In 1955, scientists at UC Berkeley successfully careted 17 atoms of a peulvoisry undiscovered element. This element filled an empty spot in the perodic table at number 101, and was officially named melienedvum in 1963. There have been well over 800 Nobel pzrie winners, but only 15 stiitsnces have an element nemad after them. So the next time you stare at a periodic table, whether it's on the wall of a university classroom or on a five-dollar coffee mug, Dmitri Mendeleev, the architect of the periodic tlabe, will be staring back.

Open Cloze

The ________ table is instantly ____________. It's not just in every chemistry lab worldwide, it's found on t-shirts, coffee mugs, and shower curtains. But the periodic table isn't just another trendy icon. It's a massive slab of human genius, up there with the Taj Mahal, the Mona Lisa, and the ice _____ sandwich — and the table's creator, ______ _________, is a bonafide science hall-of-famer. But why? What's so great about him and his table? Is it because he made a comprehensive list of the known ________? Nah, you don't earn a spot in science Valhalla just for making a list. Besides, Mendeleev was far from the first person to do that. Is it because Mendeleev arranged elements with similar properties together? Not really, that had already been done too. So what was Mendeleev's genius? Let's look at one of the first ________ of the periodic table from around 1870. Here we see elements __________ by their two-letter symbols arranged in a table. _____ out the entry of the third column, fifth row. There's a dash there. From that __________ ___________ springs the raw brilliance of Mendeleev. That dash is _______. By putting that dash there, Dmitri was making a bold statement. He said — and I'm paraphrasing here — Y'all haven't discovered this element yet. In the meantime, I'm going to give it a name. It's one step away from aluminum, so we'll call it eka-aluminum, "eka" being Sanskrit for one. Nobody's found eka-aluminum yet, so we don't know anything about it, right? Wrong! Based on where it's located, I can tell you all about it. First of all, an atom of eka-aluminum has an atomic weight of 68, about 68 times heavier than a ________ atom. When eka-aluminum is isolated, you'll see it's a solid _____ at room temperature. It's shiny, it conducts heat really well, it can be flattened into a _____, stretched into a wire, but its melting point is low. Like, freakishly low. Oh, and a cubic centimeter of it will _____ six grams. Mendeleev could _______ all of these things simply from where the blank spot was, and his understanding of how the elements surrounding it behave. A few years after this prediction, a French guy named Paul Emile Lecoq de Boisbaudran discovered a new element in ore _______ and named it gallium after Gaul, the historical name for France. _______ is one step away from aluminum on the periodic table. It's eka-aluminum. So were Mendeleev's ___________ right? Gallium's atomic weight is 69.72. A cubic centimeter of it weighs 5.9 _____. it's a solid metal at room temperature, but it melts at a paltry 30 degrees Celcius, 85 degrees Fahrenheit. It melts in your mouth and in your hand. Not only did Mendeleev completely nail gallium, he predicted other elements that were unknown at the time: scandium, germanium, rhenium. The element he called eka-manganese is now called __________. Technetium is so rare it couldn't be ________ until it was ___________ in a cyclotron in 1937, almost 70 years after Dmitri predicted its existence, 30 years after he died. Dmitri died without a Nobel Prize in 1907, but he wound up receiving a much more _________ honor. In 1955, scientists at UC Berkeley successfully _______ 17 atoms of a __________ undiscovered element. This element filled an empty spot in the perodic table at number 101, and was officially named ___________ in 1963. There have been well over 800 Nobel _____ winners, but only 15 __________ have an element _____ after them. So the next time you stare at a periodic table, whether it's on the wall of a university classroom or on a five-dollar coffee mug, Dmitri Mendeleev, the architect of the periodic _____, will be staring back.

Solution

  1. scientists
  2. grams
  3. prize
  4. hydrogen
  5. recognizable
  6. exclusive
  7. samples
  8. isolated
  9. unassuming
  10. synthesized
  11. sheet
  12. created
  13. dmitri
  14. elements
  15. periodic
  16. mendeleev
  17. science
  18. technetium
  19. cream
  20. previously
  21. predict
  22. predictions
  23. versions
  24. table
  25. mendelevium
  26. metal
  27. named
  28. placeholder
  29. check
  30. weigh
  31. designated
  32. gallium

Original Text

The periodic table is instantly recognizable. It's not just in every chemistry lab worldwide, it's found on t-shirts, coffee mugs, and shower curtains. But the periodic table isn't just another trendy icon. It's a massive slab of human genius, up there with the Taj Mahal, the Mona Lisa, and the ice cream sandwich — and the table's creator, Dmitri Mendeleev, is a bonafide science hall-of-famer. But why? What's so great about him and his table? Is it because he made a comprehensive list of the known elements? Nah, you don't earn a spot in science Valhalla just for making a list. Besides, Mendeleev was far from the first person to do that. Is it because Mendeleev arranged elements with similar properties together? Not really, that had already been done too. So what was Mendeleev's genius? Let's look at one of the first versions of the periodic table from around 1870. Here we see elements designated by their two-letter symbols arranged in a table. Check out the entry of the third column, fifth row. There's a dash there. From that unassuming placeholder springs the raw brilliance of Mendeleev. That dash is science. By putting that dash there, Dmitri was making a bold statement. He said — and I'm paraphrasing here — Y'all haven't discovered this element yet. In the meantime, I'm going to give it a name. It's one step away from aluminum, so we'll call it eka-aluminum, "eka" being Sanskrit for one. Nobody's found eka-aluminum yet, so we don't know anything about it, right? Wrong! Based on where it's located, I can tell you all about it. First of all, an atom of eka-aluminum has an atomic weight of 68, about 68 times heavier than a hydrogen atom. When eka-aluminum is isolated, you'll see it's a solid metal at room temperature. It's shiny, it conducts heat really well, it can be flattened into a sheet, stretched into a wire, but its melting point is low. Like, freakishly low. Oh, and a cubic centimeter of it will weigh six grams. Mendeleev could predict all of these things simply from where the blank spot was, and his understanding of how the elements surrounding it behave. A few years after this prediction, a French guy named Paul Emile Lecoq de Boisbaudran discovered a new element in ore samples and named it gallium after Gaul, the historical name for France. Gallium is one step away from aluminum on the periodic table. It's eka-aluminum. So were Mendeleev's predictions right? Gallium's atomic weight is 69.72. A cubic centimeter of it weighs 5.9 grams. it's a solid metal at room temperature, but it melts at a paltry 30 degrees Celcius, 85 degrees Fahrenheit. It melts in your mouth and in your hand. Not only did Mendeleev completely nail gallium, he predicted other elements that were unknown at the time: scandium, germanium, rhenium. The element he called eka-manganese is now called technetium. Technetium is so rare it couldn't be isolated until it was synthesized in a cyclotron in 1937, almost 70 years after Dmitri predicted its existence, 30 years after he died. Dmitri died without a Nobel Prize in 1907, but he wound up receiving a much more exclusive honor. In 1955, scientists at UC Berkeley successfully created 17 atoms of a previously undiscovered element. This element filled an empty spot in the perodic table at number 101, and was officially named Mendelevium in 1963. There have been well over 800 Nobel Prize winners, but only 15 scientists have an element named after them. So the next time you stare at a periodic table, whether it's on the wall of a university classroom or on a five-dollar coffee mug, Dmitri Mendeleev, the architect of the periodic table, will be staring back.

Frequently Occurring Word Combinations

ngrams of length 2

collocation frequency
periodic table 4
atomic weight 2
solid metal 2
cubic centimeter 2
nobel prize 2

Important Words

  1. aluminum
  2. architect
  3. arranged
  4. atom
  5. atomic
  6. atoms
  7. based
  8. behave
  9. berkeley
  10. blank
  11. boisbaudran
  12. bold
  13. bonafide
  14. brilliance
  15. call
  16. called
  17. celcius
  18. centimeter
  19. check
  20. chemistry
  21. classroom
  22. coffee
  23. column
  24. completely
  25. comprehensive
  26. conducts
  27. cream
  28. created
  29. creator
  30. cubic
  31. curtains
  32. cyclotron
  33. dash
  34. de
  35. degrees
  36. designated
  37. died
  38. discovered
  39. dmitri
  40. earn
  41. element
  42. elements
  43. emile
  44. empty
  45. entry
  46. exclusive
  47. existence
  48. fahrenheit
  49. filled
  50. flattened
  51. france
  52. freakishly
  53. french
  54. gallium
  55. gaul
  56. genius
  57. germanium
  58. give
  59. grams
  60. great
  61. guy
  62. hand
  63. heat
  64. heavier
  65. historical
  66. honor
  67. human
  68. hydrogen
  69. ice
  70. icon
  71. instantly
  72. isolated
  73. lab
  74. lecoq
  75. lisa
  76. list
  77. located
  78. mahal
  79. making
  80. massive
  81. melting
  82. melts
  83. mendeleev
  84. mendelevium
  85. metal
  86. mona
  87. mouth
  88. mug
  89. mugs
  90. nah
  91. nail
  92. named
  93. nobel
  94. number
  95. officially
  96. ore
  97. paltry
  98. paraphrasing
  99. paul
  100. periodic
  101. perodic
  102. person
  103. placeholder
  104. point
  105. predict
  106. predicted
  107. prediction
  108. predictions
  109. previously
  110. prize
  111. properties
  112. putting
  113. rare
  114. raw
  115. receiving
  116. recognizable
  117. rhenium
  118. room
  119. row
  120. samples
  121. sandwich
  122. sanskrit
  123. scandium
  124. science
  125. scientists
  126. sheet
  127. shiny
  128. shower
  129. similar
  130. simply
  131. slab
  132. solid
  133. spot
  134. springs
  135. stare
  136. staring
  137. statement
  138. step
  139. stretched
  140. successfully
  141. surrounding
  142. symbols
  143. synthesized
  144. table
  145. taj
  146. technetium
  147. temperature
  148. time
  149. times
  150. trendy
  151. uc
  152. unassuming
  153. understanding
  154. undiscovered
  155. university
  156. unknown
  157. valhalla
  158. versions
  159. wall
  160. weigh
  161. weighs
  162. weight
  163. winners
  164. wire
  165. worldwide
  166. wound
  167. years