Posts Tagged ‘mendeleev’

Sanskrit and Plutonium

July 31, 2009

Everyone who remembers chemistry at school knows the periodic table. And has atleast heard of Mendeleev, the Russian chemist who came with the idea of arranging the elements in the form of table. His table had only those elements that were known at that time (1860’s). However, Mendeleev’s genius lay in the fact that he not only guessed that there were more elements to be discovered but also indicated their positions in the periodic table. It is important to note that Mendeleev arranged the elements in the periodic table based on their atomic mass. (The modern table is arranged based on atomic numbers) To name the new elements, that didn’t exist then, he borrowed some words from Sanskrit. Apparently. his friends Otto was teaching Sanskrit in St. Petersburgh Univ.. Thanx to his influence, Mendeleev got interested in Sanskrit and found a way of using it.  He learnt that Eka, Dvi, Tri meant one, two, three.  He named the missing element that had to be in the row after Boron as EkaBoron; meaning that this element should be one element after Boron.  Other missing elements named similarly were EkaAluminum, DviTellurium, TriManganese and many more.  These elements were later found and renamed as Gallium, Polonium, Rhenium, respectively. This and much more about Plutonium, Uranium, the atomic bomb,  and lots of science is described in an interesting way in the book ‘Plutonium, History of the worlds most dangerous element’ by  Jeremy Bernstein.


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