Science and Society Lecture

In celebration of the United Nations International Year of the Periodic Table, please join us on Saturday, April 27 at 4 p.m. in the Rasmussen Rotunda (Wheelock Student Center) for a presentation entitled "The Periodic Table in 1869: What Mendeleev Did and Did Not Do" by distinguished professor of history at Princeton University, Michael Gordin.

About Prof. Gordin's presentation: 2019 has been named the International Year of the Periodic Table because it marks the 150th anniversary since Dmitrii Mendeleev (1834-1907), then a young chemistry professor in St. Petersburg, formulated his version of the system of the chemical elements. The choice of date is somewhat arbitrary. There were five other attempts at periodic tables postulated earlier in the 1860s, some of which resemble our present version slightly more than Mendeleev's in certain respects. Also, the main achievement of Mendeleev's table — its predictive capacity — was also a gradual process that began in 1869 but took many years to cement his international reputation. This talk will explore what Mendeleev did in 1869, how it related to what came before and after, and also discuss a few of the myths that have accumulated around his work.

About Prof. Gordin: Michael Gordin is Rosengarten Professor of Modern and Contemporary History and Director of the Society of Fellows in the Liberal Arts at Princeton University, where he specializes in the history of modern science. In 2013-14 he served as the inaugural director of the Fung Global Fellows Program. He came to Princeton in 2003 after earning his A.B. (1996) and his Ph.D. (2001) from Harvard University, and serving a term at the Harvard Society of Fellows. In 2011 he was awarded a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship and was named a Guggenheim Fellow. He has published on the history of science, Russian history, and the history of nuclear weapons, including an award-winning cultural biography of Dmitrii Mendeleev entitled A Well-Ordered Thing: Dmitrii Mendeleev and the Shadow of the Periodic Table (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2018).

Sponsored by the Chemistry Department; Science, Technology, and Society Program; History Department; Philosophy Department; Interdisciplinary Humanities Emphasis Program; Dolliver Humanities Program; and the Catherine Gould Chism Fund for the Humanities and the Arts.