An inventor and a chemist, Dmitri Mendeleev was a Russian born scientist who was born in Siberia. It is not known how many siblings Mendeleev had, but it is thought to have been as high as 17. His father was a teacher of arts and politics, but after becoming blind, his mother was forced to work within the family’s glass factory. His father passed away at the age of 13 and when the family factory burned down, Mendeleev focused on his education.
Although times were troubled for this family quite often, the outcome benefited the world of science in countless ways over the years. Here is just a brief look at the inventions of Dmitri Mendeleev.
1. The Periodic Table
The more accurate term would probably be that Mendeleev invented a more accurate Periodic Table, but it is his work that has brought about the modern table that is still used today. It is often considered his greatest achievement and in 1863, there were just 56 known elements. New ones were being discovered about once per year, but Mendeleev didn’t know that work was going on. He arranged elements by their atomic weight and discovered 8 new elements because of his arrangement through prediction. He also corrected some of the data that had been placed in other tables with his own.
2. The Metric System in Russia
Although not every area of the world utilizes the metric system, it is a global standard of measurement. It wasn’t being used in Russia, however, until Mendeleev introduced the system to his country. It was needed for exact measurements for his studies and experiments.
Mendeleev was commissioned by the Russian Navy to develop a smokeless powder that would allow them to become more effective on a battlefield and increase the safety of powder transportation at the same time. Pyrocollodion was developed to be an alternative to traditional gunpowder, but it was rejected because it wasn’t cost effective and could spontaneously combust. It also leaves little to no tace of being burned afterward. Here’s a fun fact: the natural ingredients that make up pyrocollodion can be found in cigarettes.
4. 80 Proof Vodka
Russians give Mendeleev credit for coming up with the 80 proof standard for vodka, or to have the drink be 40% alcohol, but this isn’t actually true. The Russian government came up with the 80 proof standard when Mendeleev was 9 years old. It is still a good story, however, and is based off of a dissertation that he gave once about the combination of alcohol and water.
5. Highly Ionized Iron
There was a spectacular solar eclipse in the summer of 1869 and while scientists were observing it, they noticed a new green emission line in the spectrum of the corona. Mendeleev had always believed that there were two elements lighter than helium and hypothesized that this green spectrum could be one of them. In effect, however, what was discovered was highly ionized iron, not a new element as many scientists were guessing.
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