Time Magazine: Man of the Millennium

Chris Lawson claw at ozemail.com.au
Sat Sep 26 06:21:55 EST 1998


qed at pobox.com (Paul Hsieh) wrote:

[snip re:Curie]

>Excuse me??  She happened to have discovered radiation you know.  Your 
>microwave oven, our nuclear power plants, and the atomic age would have 
>been absent without her discovery!  I'd put her in the top 50, easily.

Actually, as has been pointed out before on this thread,
Becquerel discovered radiation.

>> [...] Give credit to the guy that
>> invented the periodic table and discovered the holes for her
>> to fill....

>You want to give credit for someone discoverying a "classification 
>system"?  Sheesh ... !

Mendeleev, who created the periodic table, did more than just
"discover a classification system". He discovered extremely
important relationships and rules which allowed the
classification system to work. Not only that, but he used his
system to predict the existence of many previously unknown
elements and predicted their chemical properties with remarkabke
accuracy.

In short, he didn't just classify things, he created a theory of
atomic-chemical relationships and made stunningly accurate
predictions based on that theory. This is what good science is
all about. The fact that many people think of the periodic table
as a boring old classification system is a measure of its
success, just as scientists in 2100 will probably be bored stiff
reading about Bohr's QM and wonder what all the fuss was about. 

regards,
Chris Lawson




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