Mendeleev Dmitri Ivanovich (1871-1938)


Dmitri Ivanovich Mendeleev was a famous Russian chemist and inventor. Dmitri Ivanovich Mendeleev is the creator of the first version of the Periodic Table of Elements. Using the table, he predicted the properties of elements yet to be discovered. The Russian chemist and science historian L.A. Tchugayev has characterized 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." Dmitri Mendeleev was a President of the First Exam Board in Chemistry Faculty of Kiev Polytechnic University.

Dmitri Mendeleev was born on February 8, 1834 in Verhnie Aremzyani village near Tobolsk. In 1850 Dmitri Mendeleev entered the Main Pedagogical Institute in Saint Petersburg. After graduation, an illness that was diagnosed as tuberculosis caused him to move to Crimea in 1855. He became a teacher of science in the Simferopol gymnasium №1. He returned to Saint Petersburg in 1857 with fully restored health.

Between 1859 and 1861, he worked on the capillarity of liquids and also the spectroscope in Heidelberg. In the late August 1861 he wrote his first book on the spectroscope. Mendeleev devoted much study and made important contributions to the determination of the nature of such indefinite compounds as solutions. In another department of physical chemistry, he investigated the heat expansion of liquids, and devised a formula similar to Gay-Lussac's law of the uniformity of the expansion of gases, while as far back as 1861 he anticipated Thomas Andrews' conception of the critical temperature of gases by defining the absolute boiling-point of a substance as the temperature at which cohesion and heat of vaporization become equal to zero and the liquid changes to vapor, irrespective of the pressure and volume.

In 1863 Dmitri Mendeleev became a Professor of Chemistry at the Saint Petersburg Technological Institute and Saint Petersburg State University. In 1865 he became Doctor of Science for his dissertation "On the Combinations of Water with Alcohol". He achieved tenure in 1867, and by 1871 had transformed Saint Petersburg into an internationally recognized center for chemistry research.

Dmitri Mendeleev wrote the definitive two-volume textbook Principles of Chemistry (1868-1870). As he attempted to classify the elements according to their chemical properties, he noticed patterns that led him to postulate the Periodic Table. Mendeleev found that the chemical properties of elements are a function of their atomic weights. Mendeleev published his periodic table of all known elements and predicted the existence of another row of the elements to complete the table. Mendeleev accuratly predicted the qualities of the element. His Periodic Table works nowadays perfectly.

Dmitri Mendeleev was widely honored by scientific organizations all over Europe, including the Copley Medal from the Royal Society of London.

Mendeleev was one of the founders, in 1869, of the Russian Chemical Society. He worked on the theory and practice of protectionist trade and on agriculture.

Dmitri Mendeleev also investigated the composition of oil fields, and helped to found the first oil refinery in Russia. Mendeleev studied petroleum origin and concluded that hydrocarbons are abiogenic and form deep within the earth. He wrote: "The capital fact to note is that petroleum was born in the depths of the earth, and it is only there that we must seek its origin." (Dmitri Mendeleev, 1877).

In 1893, he was appointed the Director of the Bureau of Weights and Measures.

He formulated new state standards for the production of vodka. As a result of his work, in 1894 new standards for vodka were introduced into Russian law and all vodka had to be produced at 40% alcohol by volume.

He invented pyrocollodion, a kind of smokeless powder based on nitrocellulose. This work had been commissioned by the Russian Navy, which however did not adopt its use. In 1892 Mendeleev organized its manufacture.

In 1905 Dmitri Mendeleev was elected a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.

Dmitri Mendeleev died on February 2, 1907 at the age of 72 in Saint Petersburg from influenza. The crater Mendeleev on the Moon, as well as an element number 101, the radioactive Mendelevium, are named after him. In front of the Chemical Academic Building on the grounds of NTUU KPI campus there is an impressive Mendeleev monument.

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