In this authoritative Very Short Introduction to the periodic table, Eric Scerri presents a modern and fresh exploration of this fundamental topic in the physical sciences, considering the deeper implications of the arrangements of the table to atomic physics and quantum mechanics. Scerri looks at the trends in properties of elements that led to the construction of the periodic table, and how the deeper meaning of its structure gradually became apparent with the development of atomic theory and quantum mechanics.
Eric Scerri presents the intriguing stories of these seven elements - protactinium, hafnium, rhenium, technetium, francium, astatine and promethium. The book follows the historical order of discovery, roughly spanning the two world wars, beginning with the isolation of protactinium in 1917 and ending with that of promethium in 1945. For each element, Scerri traces the research that preceded the discovery, the pivotal experiments, the personalities of the chemists involved, the chemical nature of the new element, and its applications in science and technology.
The periodic table is one of the most potent icons in science. It lies at the core of chemistry and embodies the most fundamental principles of the field. The one definitive text on the development of the periodic table by van Spronsen (1969), has been out of print for a considerable time. The present book provides a successor to van Spronsen, but goes further in giving an evaluation of the extent to which modern physics has, or has not, explained the periodic system. The book is written in a lively style to appeal to experts and interested lay-persons alike.