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13 Jan 1:54pm

The Guardian view on the periodic table: better living through chemistry | Editorial

The Guardian
The creation of modern chemistry in the 19th century was a forgotten intellectual revolution that made today’s world possibleThis year marks the 150th anniversary of the discovery, or invention, of the periodic table of the elements, one of the most important, if least dramatic, of all scientific breakthroughs. Chemistry has a bad reputation among non-chemists, perhaps because it is the first place in science where a schoolchild comes up against the stubborn complexity of nature. The organising principles of physics appear simple; evolution makes biology appear a well-ordered process, at least until it’s examined in detail. But chemistry is awkward and lumpy. There are endless facts to memorise, and there are few obvious and intuitively pleasing answers to questions such as why the periodic table has eight columns and not seven or nine. There is not even a hero figure like Darwin, Newton or Einstein whose story can dramatise our understanding of the subject. If there were, it would be
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