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History of Science

Examples of major events in science and how they have shaped the field.

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Crystal Ball

Crystal Ball

Credit: Laura Guerin
Source: CK-12 Foundation
License: CC BY-NC 3.0

A fortuneteller peers into a crystal ball to predict the future. Of course, crystal balls don’t really work. But does that mean you can never predict the future?

Why It Matters

  • In 1869, a Russian chemist named Dmitri Mendeleev showed that if you have a good enough tool to use, you really can predict the future.
  • Mendeleev devised what has become one of the most widely recognized tools in science, the periodic table of the elements. But Mendeleev’s periodic table was far more than just the basis of a well-known chart.
  • Watch this video to see why Mendeleev’s invention was a stroke of genius—and how it let him predict the future! http://ed.ted.com/lessons/the-genius-of-mendeleev-s-periodic-table-lou-serico

What Do You Think?

At the link below, learn more about Mendeleev and his periodic table of the elements. Then answer the following questions.

  1. How did Mendeleev devise his table? What was it based on?
  2. How was Mendeleev’s periodic table like a crystal ball?
  3. What elements did Mendeleev predict using his table?
  4. How successful were Mendeleev’s predictions?
  5. Why was Mendeleev’s periodic table such an important contribution in the history of science?
  6. Mendeleev failed to win a Nobel Prize for his periodic table. Instead, he received a type of recognition that is even more special and rare. What was it?
  7. Do you ever use scientific tools that help you predict the future? Explain.

Image Attributions

  1. [1]^ Credit: Laura Guerin; Source: CK-12 Foundation; License: CC BY-NC 3.0

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