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The INTERNET Database of Periodic Tables

There are thousands of periodic tables in web space, but this is the only comprehensive database of periodic tables & periodic system formulations. If you know of an interesting periodic table that is missing, please contact the database curator: Mark R. Leach Ph.D.

Use the drop menus below to search & select from the more than 1100 Period Tables in the database:

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Béguyer de Chancourtois' Vis Tellurique

The French geologist , Alexandre-Émile Béguyer de Chancourtois was the first person to make use of atomic weights to produce a classification of periodicity. He drew the elements as a continuous spiral around a metal cylinder divided into 16 parts. The atomic weight of oxygen was taken as 16 and was used as the standard against which all the other elements were compared. Tellurium was situated at the centre, prompting vis tellurique, or telluric screw.

Many thanks to Peter Wothers – and courtesy of the Master and Fellows of St Catharine's College, Cambridge – comes a high quality image of the original 1862 formulation. Click here, or on the image to enlarge:

Watch Peter Wothers 'unravel' and show Prof. Martyn Poliakoff this first periodic table at 17min 50sec into the YouTube video below:

Some more information:

Chancourtois' original formulation includes elements in their correct places, selected compounds and some elements in more than one place. The helix was an important advance in that it introduced the concept of periodicity, but it was flawed.

It has been suggested that Chancourtois called his formulation a telluric helix because tellurium is found in the middle. However, most elements are found as there their 'earths' – tellus, telluris – or oxides, which for a mineralogist would have been highly significant.

The formulation was rediscovered in the 1889 (P. J. Hartog, "A First Foreshadowing of the Periodic Law" Nature 41, 186-8 (1889)), and since then it has appeared most often in a simplified form that emphasizes the virtues and eliminates its flaws. [Thanks to CG for this info.]

See also:

A three dimensional models of the telluric helix:

There are representations of the 1862 formulation at the School of Mines at ParisTech:

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What is the Periodic Table Showing? Periodicity

© Mark R. Leach Ph.D. 1999 –

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