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Vol. 31 No. 3
March-April 2009

Stamps International |

See also www.iupac.org/publications/ci/indexes/stamps.html


175 Candles and Counting

Much has been written about the renowned Russian chemist Dmitri Ivanovich Mendeleev (1834–1907) and the key role he played in the development of the modern periodic table. However, Mendeleev’s contributions to science clearly extended beyond the realm of chemistry and ranged from the formulation of the definitive standards for the production of vodka (1894) to the introduction of the metric system (1899) in Imperial Russia. His influence was felt in fields as diverse as agriculture, physics, mineralogy and the oil industry and he was one of the most influential chemical educators of his time.

Illustrated herein is a souvenir sheet with a single stamp issued in Russia on 6 February 2009 to celebrate the 175th anniversary of Mendeleev’s birth (which, according to most sources, actually occurred on 8 February 1834). Partially shown in the background is a colorful representation of the periodic table that resembles Mendeleev’s 1905 version of the iconic chart, with the coinage metals incorporated into group I, and zinc, cadmium, and mercury placed with the alkaline earth metals. However, it is puzzling that radioactive elements such as francium and technetium, discovered long after Mendeleev’s death, are also featured in this periodic table. In addition to a few pieces of glassware and a mineral sample, the sheet prominently displays a late–19th century precision balance, a clear tribute to Mendeleev’s many contributions to metrology. This is also reflected in the name of the D.I. Mendeleev Institute for Metrology in St. Petersburg, one of the largest institutions in the world dedicated to all the theoretical and practical aspects of the science of measurement.

For a description of the different versions of Mendeleev’s periodic table, see: Laing, M.J. Chem. Educ. 2008, 85, 63-67.

Written by Daniel Rabinovich <drabinov@uncc.edu>.


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