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New Graphical Representation of the Periodic Table 140

KentuckyFC writes "The great power of Mendeleev's periodic table was that it allowed him to predict the properties of undiscovered elements. But can this arrangement be improved? Two new envisionings of the periodic table attempt to do just that. The first uses a new graphical representation that shows the relative sizes of atoms as well as their groups and periods. The other uses the same kind of group theoretical approach that particle physicists developed to classify particles by their symmetries (abstract). That helped particle physicists predict the existence of new particles, but may have limited utility for chemists who seem to have discovered (or predicted) all of the elements they need already."
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New Graphical Representation of the Periodic Table

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  • Re:Call me a cynic.. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by annodomini ( 544503 ) <lambda2000@yahoo.com> on Tuesday October 06, 2009 @05:51PM (#29663517) Homepage

    I like this one [wikipedia.org] a lot better.

    Anyhow, having new designs for representing the periodic table is not a bad thing. Sometimes seeing the same information presented in different ways can help visualize it. I approve of people trying to improve the display of the elements and their periodic relationships, even if as a general purpose reference I'll probably stick with the tried and true table.

  • Re:Call me a cynic.. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anachragnome ( 1008495 ) on Tuesday October 06, 2009 @06:28PM (#29663887)

    I think you are like me--a visual thinker.

    Some people quite simply comprehend things more efficiently when the information is supplied in a context that is comfortable to them.

    An example of this I used to use as an automotive mechanic was alignment angles of the steering and suspension systems. They can be related numerically, or graphically, but there is a third context that is what I tried to teach the younger mechanics in the shops I worked at--spatial. Some mechanics had a very difficult time translating numbers to making a car go in a straight line (it can be far more difficult then one might imagine). I tried to make correlations between the numbers and, say for instance, the angle the front struts actually lean forward and backward equaling -/+ caster changes--to attempt to get the image of the strut in their mind 3-dimensionally. When they could imagine visually the changes the numbers represented, it all fell into place--they understood it.

    These changes to the table simply make it more accessible to people that think more visually. While it may work well for some, it may not for others. And that is just fine. Use what works for you.

  • by tygt ( 792974 ) on Tuesday October 06, 2009 @06:35PM (#29663951)
    While the representation of the modern table can be considered cumbersome, it has a number of benefits - it's easy to see at a glance how various elements are related to each other (such as the noble gasses, the 1A metals, etc). Granted the circle arranges elements in groups as well (radially), but see if you can quickly find a specific group of elements... right, there you go, the traditional table does make that easier. Another thing that I like about the traditional table is that I can draw the table out from memory and fill it in quite a ways mainly by the shape of it and via associative memory (much as I can find the names of the 50 states by filling in a blank map of the USA). The circlular table doesn't have the same raw appearance; it has too much symmetry to give me any other clues about where what should go where.

    That said, though, jogging one's memory isn't the best use of a table; given one put in front of you it'd be nice if its organization alone gave you information. I suppose that the circular representation could do this, with perhaps a few labels.

    Of course this circular representation isn't all that new; the Chemical Galaxy [wikipedia.org] has been around for a number of years now and has a similar structure.

  • Re:Still not right (Score:4, Interesting)

    by stephanruby ( 542433 ) on Tuesday October 06, 2009 @06:50PM (#29664093)

    Actually, I wish all Science diagrams would be as entertaining as that one.

    Now on a more serious note, it would seem this guy just worked off this existing wheel [mayanperiodic.com] design without giving a proper citation (the credit goes to Clumma on that technologyreview.com blog for finding it). And he didn't improve on that wheel design (except for the new cooler looking black background) his copy is much worse than the original (quite unreadable). It's no surprise he developed it while working for Microsoft. It sounds like he took a page out of Microsoft's playbook.

  • Re:Huh (Score:3, Interesting)

    by AliasMarlowe ( 1042386 ) on Wednesday October 07, 2009 @03:50AM (#29667261) Journal
    Looking at the 1951 Longman version http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/5/54/ChemicalGalaxy_Longman_1951.jpg [wikimedia.org], it would seem that Microsoft's researcher has "innovated" to the usual Microsoft extent: backwards (the ancient spiral arrangement is superior from many points of view).

"If the code and the comments disagree, then both are probably wrong." -- Norm Schryer