Monday, January 20, 2014

This Day in Science History - January 20 - Alexandre-Emile Béguyer de Chancourtois

January 20th is the birthday of Alexandre-Emile Béguyer de Chancourtois. Béguyer de Chancourtois was a French geologist who was the first to organize the elements on a chart by increasing atomic weights. His graph was plotted on a cylinder where the circumference corresponded to 16 units, or the weight of oxygen. A spiral graph was wrapped around the cylinder where elements with similar chemical properties would line up vertically on the cylinder. This gave the impression of the properties of elements had recurring properties or "periodicity".
Béguyer de Chancourtois presented his work to the French Academy of Sciences, who in turn, published his paper in their journal. The publication left out his graph and was difficult to understand. The graph was republished in a geology journal and did not attract the attention of the rest of the chemical world. His discovery would get more attention ten years later when Mendeleev published his well known periodic table of the elements.

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