National Periodic Table Day

National Periodic Table Day is celebrated on February 7th every year and is designed to recognize the first table of elements created during the 19th century. Although Johann Dobereiner attempted to organize the elements, it was not until 1863 that English chemist John Newlands published the first-ever table of elements. He divided the 56 elements of the time into 11 groups and arranged them according to the elements’ atomic weights.

The History of National Periodic Table Day

This holiday was first celebrated on February 7, 2016. This is when Mr. David T. Steineker, an author, chemistry teacher, and inventor, decided to celebrate the table of elements. Mr. Steineker recognized the importance of the table of elements and dedicated a day to it. From that point on, the holiday has been celebrated annually.

The History of the Periodic Table

No one can properly discuss the history of the periodic table without first recognizing the work accomplished by Johann Dobereiner. This German chemist laid the groundwork for the periodic table of elements. His experiments with hydrogen ignition on contact with powdered platinum led the Swedish chemist J.J. Berzelius to develop catalysis, and he showed that in each triad of elements, the mean of the lightest and heaviest elements approximated the atomic weight of the middle element. This would lay the groundwork for Johann Dobereiner’s periodic table.

In 1864, English chemist John Newlands suggested that when the elements were ordered according to atomic weight, any given element showed properties similar to those of the elements placed eight places behind and eight places ahead. He organized these into a list that he called the Law of Octaves.

When Newlands presented his original periodic table, he left empty spaces for missing elements, but the version he published in 1866 did not have these open slots. As a result, other chemists either openly mocked him or raised objections about the table on the basis that it couldn’t accommodate new elements. The Chemical Society even refused to publish his paper.

The poor reception of his table does not diminish the achievements it managed to accomplish. It was the first time anyone used a series of ordinal numbers to organize the elements and is widely seen as setting the stage for the modern periodic table.

Celebrating National Periodic Table Day

This holiday can be celebrated by spending some time thinking about the history of the periodic table or by engaging in periodic table trivia with friends and family. It’s also a good day to use the hashtag #NationalPeriodicTableDay to let everyone know that you’re a big fan of chemistry.

When is it?
This year (2024)
February 7 Wednesday
Next year (2025)
February 7 Friday
Last year (2023)
February 7 Tuesday
Education & Reading, Science