Even On His 180th Birthday, Mendeleev Is Still Predicting New Elements

If Dmitri Mendeleev was alive, we’d be wishing him a happy birthday today. He’s not — and thank goodness, because he’d be a 180-year-old science-zombie. But Mendeleev’s periodic table of the elements is a scientific treasure, one that’s still predicting elements we haven’t yet discovered. Talk about prescient.

As this fun little cartoon from TED-ed points out, Mendeleev’s periodic table is a ubiquitous sight in schools, on T-shirts, and in non-scientific spoofs. But the real deal is more than just an image: it’s a deep and elegant organisation of the elements. This simple chart is so powerful, it can predict the density, conductivity, and melting point of elements that haven’t been discovered yet.

In the 1870s, when Mendeleev devised his periodic table, there were only 56 known elements. Today, there are 118, and still countless more to be discovered. Yet, Mendeleev’s table has room for all of them. Amazing. Happy birthday, Dmitri! [TED-ed via NPR]