Celebrating 2019, the International Year of the Periodic Table of Chemical Elements

As told by Natalia Tarasova: ISC Governing Board member; co-chair of the International Management Committee for the International Year of the Periodic Table of Chemical Elements 2019; Chairholder of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Chair in Green Chemistry for Sustainable Development at Mendeleev University of Chemical Technology of Russia; and in 2015-2017 President and in 2018-2019 – past President of the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC).

After the Big Bang, the universe cooled sufficiently to allow the formation of subatomic particles, and later atoms. Giant clouds of these elements – mostly hydrogen, with some helium and lithium – later merged through gravity, forming early stars and galaxies. Their descendants can still be seen twinkling on a clear night.

As we continued to progress throughout human history and humankind, scientists tried to figure out a way of systematically arranging all of these elements. 1869 is considered as the year of discovery of the periodic system, and Dmitri Mendeleev was a major discoverer. 2019 marked the 150th anniversary of the periodic table of chemical elements and was therefore proclaimed the ‘International Year of the Periodic Table of Chemical Elements’ by the United Nations General Assembly and UNESCO.

The periodic table of chemical elements is one of the most significant achievements in science, capturing the essence not only of chemistry, but also of physics, medicine, earth sciences and biology.

Though there have been numerous debates among science historians regarding the name of the person who first established the periodic table, Mendeleev was the first to recognize its ability as a predictive system – it has the ability to forecast the properties of elements to be discovered. This led to numerous key discoveries, making it one of the most significant achievements in science development.

“The periodic table of elements symbolizes the role of modern science in sustainable development.”

Throughout 2019, the International Year held worldwide events and activities that addressed different aspects of the periodic table – from scientific to educational and historical, as well as the modern state of arts in the periodic table.

Illustration: iypt2019.org

Next up: International Year of Basic Sciences for Sustainable Development 2022 ▶