Skip to main content

Chemistry Department to Celebrate 150 years of the Periodic Table With New Periodic Tables in the Benson Science Building


Chemistry department to celebrate 150 years of the periodic table with new periodic tables in the Benson Science Building

On Feb. 14 at 4 p.m. in W140 BNSN, the chemistry department will join in on the celebration of the International Year of the Periodic Table of Chemical Elements (IYPT 2019) as proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly and UNESCO. To honor this momentous discovery and the installation of new electronic periodic tables in the BNSN lecture halls, Dr. Steven Wood of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry will deliver a seminar on the periodic table’s history and uses, entitled “The Periodic Table—150 Years of Serving up the Elements in an Orderly Fashion—with Style,” on Feb. 14 at 4 p.m. in W140 BNSN.

“I was always bothered by the fact that each of the three periodic tables we had in the lecture halls were way out-of-date,” said Wood. “They were new when the building was built over 20 years ago when we had about 106 elements; now there are 118. I just felt like the tables needed to be up-to-date because it really says something [about BYU’s chemistry program] if you are up-to-date or out-of-date.”

The new periodic tables are the latest addition to the Benson Building, which already has an interactive periodic table in the main hallway with samples of every known stable element on display. In consultation with BYU Chemistry and Biochemistry faculty, UNRIVALED., the Ogden-based company who also constructed the interactive periodic table, custom built these periodic tables for the three lecture halls in the building. The new tables feature a set of multi-colored LED lights behind each elemental symbol, that are controlled via a tablet, allowing the important aspects of the table to be highlighted and displayed in a number of different ways.

“Before, we would take a laser pointer and have to circle elements, which wasn’t very effective in large classes,” said chemistry professor Dr. Roger Harrison. “Now, I will be able to go to the table, leave it highlighted, leave it up there, keep talking, and come back…. It will be more convenient to teach with. These new tables will be a much better way of answering questions in class.”

The IYPT 2019 is meant to honor the 150th anniversary of the first periodic table Dimitri Mendeleev created in 1869. Often called the Father of the Periodic Table, Mendeleev is credited with organizing the elements into the first version of the modern periodic table, which is still widely used in many sciences today.

The Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry has a strong research history at BYU. It has had remarkable success in many areas including calorimetry, macrocycles, cancer therapy, and chromatography.