Language Selection

English French German Italian Portuguese Spanish

Periodic table's design gets an elemental challenge

Filed under
Sci/Tech

For more than 100 years, the periodic table has been a symbol of the intrinsic organization of matter and a mainstay of science classrooms everywhere.

Many people have attempted to better the arrangement of the 111 fundamental elements, but no one has been able to supplant the original, created in 1869 by Russian chemist Dmitri Mendeleev with 63 known elements.

Now, a challenger has arrived: Ecologist Philip Stewart of the University of Oxford in England has designed a table that is fueling intense interest.

What makes his table distinct is its galaxy design. "It should be looked at like a work of art as much as a work of science," says Stewart, who was inspired by a design he saw at an exhibition devoted to rebuilding after World War II.

"I always thought it had a galaxy look to it; then I had the idea to put it on a starry background."

It also remedies the traditional table's shortfalls. The traditional table arranges the elements in rows and columns. From left to right, the atomic number — the number of protons in the nucleus of an atom — increases. Chemically similar elements are grouped in columns.

The new design has the elements spiral out from the center of neutronium in increasing atomic number. The elements form spokes that correspond to the original table's columns.

The rare earth elements are left out of the traditional table and relegated to footnotes or printed below the table. In Stewart's, they join their neighbors, tracing starry arcs of increasing atomic number.

Another design improvement corrects the original table's problem of elements that are actually neighbors being artificially separated.

Teachers hope the design will inspire young scientists, but there is debate over its usefulness.

Full Story.

More in Tux Machines

Linux 4.0-rc2

So rc2 missed the usual Sunday afternoon timing, because I spent most of the weekend debugging an issue that happened on an old Mac Mini I have around, and I hate making even early -rc releases with problems on machines that I have direct access to. Even if it only affected old machines that actual developers are unlikely to have or at least use. Today I got the patch from Daniel Vetter to fix it, so instead of doing a Sunday evening rc2, it's a Tuesday morning one. Go get it. It works better for the delay. Other than that little one-liner i915 fix? Not much, actually. It's been a very quiet week, for being this early in the release process. Sure, 3.19-rc2 was even smaller, so it continues a trend, but that was the xmas week. I hope this low volume is just because the 4.0 merge window itself was somewhat calmer than most recent releases. But I suspect the real reason is that the driver and networking trees from GregKH and davem are pending, and didn't make rc2. We'll see. Anyway, the shortlog is appended, and testing is appreciated, Linus Read more

6 Linux-y announcements from Mobile World Congress

I earlier wrote about how Linux invaded CES 2015. The domination continues at Mobile World Congress, which kicked off this week in Barcelona. Here are some of the major announcements from MWC that show that Linux has become an unstoppable force. Read more

Jolla shows off Sailfish tablet, promises ultra-secure phone

Jolla released Sailfish OS 2.0, showed off the first tablet to run the OS, and announced plans with SSH to develop a security-hardened version of Sailfish. Read more

New Ubuntu Phone Separates the App from the Data

As CIO Journal has noted, Mr. Shuttleworth envisions the rise of an Ubuntu-powered phone that runs desktop grade applications and plugs into peripherals such as large displays and keyboards. In other words, he is working to achieve true mobile-desktop-laptop convergence — the only computer you need, in your pocket, all the time. He tried to raise $32 million to fund development of such a phone, known as the Edge, in a widely publicized crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo. The campaign ended in 2013, short of its goal. Read more