Celebrating the Periodic Table

15 January 2019

To celebrate the International Year of the Periodic Table 2019, SCI have started a blog series about our favourite elements. Here we look at how SCI was instrumental in the the launch one of the initiative’s organisers, the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC).
Cassie Sims

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), supported by IUPAC, has declared 2019 the International Year of the Periodic Table (IYPT2019). The Periodic Table of the Chemical Elements is one of the most outstanding scientific achievements in history and is one of the most recognisable scientific images that exists. It serves as a powerful tool for chemists and physicists to use when understanding the elements and their interactions.

The periodic table was discovered in 1869 by Dmitry Mendeleev, making 2019 its 150th anniversary. The original periodic table was revolutionary as it enabled scientists to predict the discovery of new elements, and since its conception, many more have been discovered or synthesised. To mark the anniversary of the periodic table UNESCO and IUPAC have teamed up with a variety of partners to launch this initiative. The year will be celebrated with a variety of outreach events and activities worldwide.

We are celebrating the year by launching a weekly blog series about our favourite elements, starting with carbon, which could be called the element of life. Carbon can be found in every living creature on Earth in a variety of different forms – from the backbone of your DNA to the taste receptors in your tongue – and is one of the most-used elements by industry, whether as an energy source or to create materials such as graphene. 

carbon coal

The first in our Periodic Table blog series - carbon - is up on sciblog.com now. Image: Pixabay

IUPAC is a neutral scientific organisation that is the world authority on chemical nomenclature and terminology, including naming new elements in the periodic table. They were established in 1919 in Paris, France, stemming from a predecessor body, the International Association of Chemical Societies (IACS). IUPAC was a collaboration between chemists from across industry and academia, much like SCI, who shared the need for an international standardisation in chemistry.

SCI is proud to have been involved in the creation of IUPAC. In 1919, delegates from the Society of Chemical Industry were invited by Paul Kestner, President of the French ‘Société de Chimie Industrielle’ to attend a meeting in Paris, from which an Inter-Allied Federation of Chemical Societies was initiated.

Kestner later visited the Society of Chemical Industry in London, UK, where, only a week before the signing of the armistice, he spoke at a society meeting, and said: ‘This Federation of the Associations of Chemistry of the inter-allied countries might come to be, nay, it would most certainly be, one of the greatest accomplishments of the human mind.'

At the meeting, he also toasted the London section, saying that ‘it would be the honour of the London Section of the Society of Chemical Industry to have been the environment in which so many great ideas would have had their birth’.

In a presidential address on the eve of the definitive consecration of the union (IUPAC), Kestner spoke of the brotherhood of the English and French societies, and the uniting over their associations of pure and applied chemistry. The IUPAC has now grown to an organisation of a much bigger scale and importance to chemistry than they could have imagined, and SCI is honoured to have been part of the conception of such a reputable organisation.

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