Who discovered most of the elements on the periodic table?
(Lansing State Journal, January 22,1993)



An element is a substance made up of only one kind of atom.  It is therefore impossible to break up an element into parts that have different chemical properties.

To classify the different elements by their chemical properties, Dmitri Mendeleyev created the periodic table in 1870.  The periodic table is a list of all of the elements found in nature or made in the laboratory.

The list is arranged into groups of elements that behave in similar ways.  There  are not 109 elements that have been isolated and identified.

Most elements (92) are found in nature and it is uncertain who discovered them.  We know that some elements such as copper, gold and iron have been known since prehistoric times.  Most of these were not isolated in their purest forms until the last 200 years.  By 1830 about 50 elements were known.

Many of the heavy elements were named by their discoverer.  For example Marie Curie named polonium after her home country of Poland.

Henry Cavendish discovered hydrogen in 1766 and also discovered that water was composed of hydrogen and oxygen.

Sir Humphry Davy discovered six elements in the table: boron, sodium, magnesium, potassium, calcium, and barium.


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