The Periodic Table of Elements

How many elements are listed on the periodic table?

And the answer: 118.    

Each of the 118 elements on the periodic table has its own chemical symbol, just one or two letters that represent the element’s name. The first is H for hydrogen, while #118 is Og, for Oganesson.

Photo credit: Double sharp

The periodic table is an essential tool for scientists to discover new qualities about life as we know it. Dmitri Mendeleev, a Russian chemist, first introduced his periodic table of elements in 1869, yet it wasn't the first attempt to organize the elements according to periodic properties. Two decades prior, a German chemist named Julius Lothar Meyer published an incomplete periodic table with the work he and Mendeleev had completed so far. Ultimately, both chemists completed invaluable work for their field that resonated for centuries to come.

When Mendeleev put his periodic table in order, he left several vacant spaces. By evaluating elements' characteristics relative to those which surrounded it, Mendeleev was able to predict the discovery of several more elements. For example, Mendeleev predicted the existence of "eka-silicon," which would fit into a gap next to silicon. The element germanium was later discovered – its properties were found to be similar to the predicted ones and confirmed Mendeleev's periodic table.

Of the 118 elements currently in the periodic table, 94 are found naturally on Earth. The remaining 27 elements after uranium were not created by stars but by scientists in a lab. This is due to the fact that some elements are produced in trace amounts by the decay of other elements, but even the long radioactive decay chain is not enough to produce the ultra-heavy elements at the end of the periodic table. The periodic table would have ended altogether if scientists had not pushed the boundaries of natural physics and ventured deeper into the world of super heavy elements.

Learn more about the periodic table below.

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