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Dmitri Mendeleev (1834–1907)

Dmitri Mendeleev was a Russian inventor and chemist most famous for his invention of what is today universally recognized as the periodic table of elements. Born in Verhnie Aremzyani near the town of Tobolsk to a large and religious family, Mendeleev pursued his scientific studies in Saint Petersburg, where he would later become Professor of Chemistry at the Saint Petersburg Technical Institute and Saint Petersburg State University in 1863. Controversies in his love life went against the strictures of the Russian Orthodox Church, resulting in his failure to be elected to the Russian Academy of Sciences, despite his already established international renown. In 1893, he was appointed Directory of the Bureau of Weights and Measures, implementing new standards of vodka production which remain in force to this day. In 1905, he was elected to the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences and widely expected to be the recipient of a Nobel Prize the next year, a victory thwarted by personal animosities toward Mendeleev on the part of certain members of the Nobel Committee. An idiosyncratic character, his legacy was assured by his correct prediction of several yet-to-be discovered elements based on his quantitative measures, a feat which accounts as well for the inclusion of his writings in the Cahiers pour l’Analyse alongside an assessment by Gaston Bachelard. His name survived his death in 1907; the radioactive element 101 mendelevium is named for him. His impact on modern science is registered as well by a crater on the moon that bears his name.

In the Cahiers pour l’Analyse

Dmitri Mendeleev, ‘Similitude des éléments et loi périodique’, CpA 9.14 [HTML] [PDF] [SYN]
Gaston Bachelard, ‘La classification des éléments d’après Mendéléeff’, CpA 9.15 [HTML] [PDF] [SYN]

Select bibliography

  • Principes de chimie, trans. E. Achkanasi and H. Carrion. Paris: B. Tignol 1897.
  • The Principles of Chemistry, ed. A.J. Greenaway, trans. George Kamensky. London: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1891. [Part Four of a 1901 edition of this book, published by F. Collier and Sons, New York is available at:]
  • Mendeleev on the Periodic Law: Selected Writings, 1869-1905, ed. William B. Jensen, Mineola, NY: Dover Books, 2005.