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Year of the Periodic Table

ICTP joins international celebration launching UN initiative

ICTP researcher Sandro Scandolo introducing two imaginary elements to the Periodic Table at the launch of the International Year of the Periodic Table of Chemical Elements
ICTP researcher Sandro Scandolo introducing two imaginary elements to the Periodic Table at the launch of the International Year of the Periodic Table of Chemical Elements

11/02/2019

ICTP joined in the celebration launching the International Year of the Periodic Table of Chemical Elements. The Year was officially inaugurated at UNESCO headquarters in Paris on 29 January with a programme of conferences and debates highlighting the relevance of the Periodic Table in addressing relevant challenges for sustainable societies, in fields as diverse as health, food security and energy.

The celebration included a lecture by Ben Feringa, 2016 Nobel Laureate in Chemistry, as well as a presentation of the latest synthesized elements by Yuri Oganessian, who played an important role in the synthesis and study of the heaviest – and newest – elements from 104 to 118. Other topics included applications for sustainable development, educational outreach, and the origins of elements.

Sandro Scandolo of ICTP's Condensed Matter and Statistical Physics section represented ICTP for a panel session on the Periodic Table and the Sustainable Development Goals. His presentation showcased how some chemical elements are central to ICTP research, and introduced two new imaginary elements to the Periodic Table: Educatium--'Ed' ("element zero, the basis of all our knowledge") and Researchium--'Rs' ("element 119, the future, the unknown, what lies ahead of us"). Underscoring the importance of these two elements to ICTP's core mission, he stated, "Guaranteeing appropriate access to advanced education and research is not a luxury, it is a necessity to give countries the chance to focus on their own priorities."

The year 2019 is the 150th anniversary since Dmitry Mendeleev discovered the Periodic System. In 1869,  Mendeleev realized that when organizing the known elements by atomic weight, certain types of elements occurred regularly. This system indicated that there is a link between the structure of an element and its properties, and showed gaps between known elements, allowing Mendeleev to predict the existence of elements that were still unknown, which was soon verified with the discoveries of gallium (1875), scandium (1879) and germanium (1887). The Periodic Table of Chemical Elements remains one of the most significant achievements in science, capturing the essence not only of chemistry, but also of physics and biology. It is a unique tool, enabling scientist to predict the appearance and properties of matter on the Earth and in the rest of the Universe.

The International Year of the Periodic Table of Chemical Elements is led by UNESCO together with the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC), the European Association for Chemical and Molecular Science (EuCheMS), the International Science Council (ISC), the International Astronomical Union (IAU), the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics (IUPAP) and the International Union of History and Philosophy of Science and Technology (IUHPST).


 

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