Archive Gallery: The Exciting Growth of The Periodic Table

PopSci discovers the elements, one by one

The periodic table of elements, organized thoughtfully from hydrogen to ununoctium, is a tribute to the accomplishments of modern chemistry and physics. Since Dmitri Mendeleev developed an early version of the now-ubiquitous layout in 1869, discovering a new element has been a surefire way for a scientist to grab a place in the history books–and in the pages of Popular Science.

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Showing just how fundamental the elements are to modern science, the third-ever issue of PopSci, from August 1872, included a lengthy essay outlining the history of the “different sorts of matter,” predicting correctly that scientists might continue discovering elements for “centuries to come.”

But it hasn’t all been fame and glory. PopSci announced in 1926 that the first American had identified a new element, only to declare later that “illinium” was a fake. Oh, and there was that time in 1931 when we proudly reported that scientists could pack up and go home: all the elements had been found!

Check out this week’s archive gallery for more super-nerdy chemistry drama.