But Hofmann is not the most reflective or sentimental scientist. Unlike Oliver Sacks, who approached the periodic table with almost religious awe, Hofmann's Teutonic, matter-of-fact attitude belies no emotional stand on his opportunity to christen the next element. In fact, when asked what the periodic table meant to him, Hofmann replied, "the periodic table means a way to organize elements by proton number and related chemical properties." That's like answering, "What does your wife mean to you?" with "she means I get to file a joint tax return."