Home Podcasts THMG143 – The Periodic Table, Part I

THMG143 – The Periodic Table, Part I


In this episode, Mike and Bob explore the periodic table of elements to give you the foundational knowledge you need to work smarter.

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Complete Show Notes

3:30 Why is the Periodic Table of Elements Important?

  • Many people in the hazmat field don’t completely understand the periodic table and why it matters to us
  • It’s briefly mentioned in classes, but its importance isn’t completely fleshed out
  • The purpose of this episode (and next week’s episode) is to make the periodic table and why it matters to us easy to understand

8:30 History of the Periodic Table

  • Created in 1869 by Russian chemistry professor Dmitri Mendeleev
  • However, there were some precursors:
    • In 1789, Antoine Lavoisier came up with a loose grouping of elements
    • In 1829, Johann Wolfgang Dobereiner started to group the elements by chemical properties
    • This system was further refined by Leopold Gmelin in 1843
    • In 1857, August Kekule and many others brought us to the final version used by Mendeleev

10:15 General Information on the Periodic Table

  • Contains 118 elements
  • We can quickly identify an element either by its letter abbreviation or its atomic number
  • New elements are discovered and added every now and then
  • The first 94 elements are naturally occuring
  • Nothing after Einsteinium (99) has ever been found in concentrations larger than microscopic amounts of around 300,000 atoms

12:55 Organization of the Periodic Table

  • Horizontal lines are referred to as rows, while vertical lines are referred to as groups or families
  • Thick line that looks like a staircase on the right side divides the metals from the non-metals – metals are on the left-hand side, while nonmetals are on the right-hand side
  • Elements on either side of the line are metalloids or semiconductors (which have properties of both metals and nonmetals)
  • Two rows below the chart are referred to as the lanthanides and actinides – most of these elements are synthetic (made in laboratories)
  • Chart allows us to make broad generalizations about elements (i.e. higher elements are usually gasses, while lower elements are usually solids)
  • Each box has very specific information about the element, such as its:
    • Name
    • Atomic mass – number of protons and neutrons in the nucleus
    • Atomic number – number of protons in the nucleus (gives element its unique characteristics)
    • Atomic weight – atomic mass in relation to a reference point (keep in mind that atomic weights are averages)
    • Elemental symbol – shorthand of the long (and often unpronounceable) name of the element

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