The Periodic Table: A Very Short Introduction

Front Cover
OUP Oxford, Oct 27, 2011 - Science - 147 pages
Here, Eric Scerri looks at the trends in properties of elements that led to the construction of the periodic table, and how the deeper meaning of its structure gradually became apparent with the development of atomic theory and quantum mechanics, so that, as Scerri puts it, one science, physics, arguably came to colonize another, chemistry, although such a view is resisted by chemists. Scerri shows that quantum mechanics is absolutely central to chemistry, as it underlies the behaviour of all of the elements and their compounds, and therefore underpins the structure of the periodic table. Concluding with an overview of the huge variety of periodic tables that have been proposed in the print media and on the Internet, he explores the debated question of whether there is an optimal periodic table and what form it might take. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

What people are saying - Write a review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - PDCRead - LibraryThing

This book does what it says on the cover, and is a summary of the development and discovery of the periodic table. Scerri writes about the people that discovered the elements that go to make up the ... Read full review


1 The elements
2 A quick overview of the modern periodic table
3 Atomic weight triads and Prout
4 Steps towards the periodic table
5 The Russian genius Mendeleev
6 Physics invades the periodic table
7 Electronic structure
8 Quantum mechanics
from missing elements to synthetic elements
10 Forms of the periodic table
Further reading

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2011)

Dr Eric Scerri is a lecturer in chemistry as well as history and philosophy of science at the University of California, Los Angeles. He is the author of three books, The Periodic Table: Its story and its significance, (OUP, 2007), Collected Papers on the Philosophy of Chemistry (ImperialCollege Press, 2008), and Selected Papers on the Periodic Table (Imperial College Press, 2009). He has authored over 100 articles in peer-reviewed journals and many articles in popular science magazines including Scientific American, American Scientist, Cosmos, and Chemical Heritage, among others.He is the editor of the Springer journal Foundations of Chemistry.

Bibliographic information