Love letter to the periodic table

Kaylee Rellaford, Ph.D. 

Lecturer of Chemistry  

Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry 

Dear Periodic Table, 

I want to start from the beginning, well, your beginning at least!  

At times I feel like Mendeleev, obsessively studying all of your parts trying to see the patterns and how you come together as a whole. He knew you long before me—153 years longer to be exact—and he made you into what you are today.  

I know you wouldn’t be you without Mendeleev, so I’m truly grateful to that Russian man! But, at times I wish I could understand your complexities on his level. (It really would have helped my grade.) Although I am not your creator, I am one of your countless great admirers.   

I can’t begin to quantify the number of times I’ve come to you seeking answers and you so willingly gave me what I sought. When I needed to know the number of protons in oxygen and potassium you said ‘OK!’ and told me the simple truth: the answer can be found in their atomic numbers. You taught me that the protons, that atomic number, was the true essence and the soul of each element. Those protons are constant, unlike neutrons that alter the weight and give us multiple isotopes. 

You truly are a beauty in the way that you so clearly present the Periodic law; that all elements in their patterns fall into groups and periods. The repetition and predictability is a thing of wonder!  

I’ll never forget the hours spent memorizing every trend and facet of information you provide.  

I find myself tongue tied at all of the information that you hold from 118 elements/symbolsfrom mass to the very nature and chemical properties of common element groups.I find myself relating to sodium, a simple yet reactive alkali metal, ready to give up my last electron to gain true stability.  

I know one day I’ll find that special anion that will accept my positive outlook in order to perfectly balance one another. I know these facts all because of you! 

I am forever changed by meeting you, just as C.G. Jung so perfectly stated: ‘The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances: if there is any reaction, both are transformed.’ 

Your forever admirer, 

General Chemistry Student 

NAU Communications