|Born: 18 Feb 1834 in Verkhnie Aremzyani, Russian Empire
Died: 2 Feb 1907, St Petersburg, Russian Empire
|Fields: Physics, Chemistry
Dmitry Ivanovich Mendeleev was a Russian chemist and inventor, credited with the creation of the first version of the periodic table of elements in the 1860s. German chemist Lothar Meyer’s table of elements was published only a few short months after Mendeleev’s, so there are some who consider them independent co-creators. Despite that, the bulk of the credit is still given to Mendeleev. He was in line for a Nobel Prize for the table, but was passed up for Henri Moissan and his work on separating flourine from its compounds. It is widely believed that Svante Arrhenius had a grudge against Mendeleev over the latter’s criticism of his dissipation theory, resulting in Arrhenius using his influence over the Nobel Committee to get majority vote for Moissan.
Even though Mendeleev’s greatest claim to fame is the periodic table, he made a number of other overlooked contributions to chemistry and the world of science in general. Science historian Lev Chugaev described him as “a chemist of genius, first-class physicist, a fruitful researcher in the fields of hydrodynamics, meteorology, geology, certain branches of chemical technology (explosives, petroleum, and fuels, for example) and other disciplines adjacent to chemistry and physics, a thorough expert of chemical industry and industry in general, and an original thinker in the field of economy”. Mendeleev was one of the first to conclude that petroleum comes from deep underground and is credited with the introduction of the metric system into the Russian Empire.
The chemist has had several Russian universities named after him, as well as one of the craters on the Moon and the radioactive chemical element mendelevium with the atomic number of 101. The Mendeleev Medal was introduced by the USSR Academy of Sciences in 1962 and has been carried on by the Russian Academy of Sciences after the fall of the Soviet Union. The medal is awarded for achievements in the field of chemical science.
1906 Nobel Prize in Chemistry nominee