The periodic table has been covered in myriad ways on this site1, but no one has addressed the re-setting of the venerable Table. I was reminded of this slightly consternating activity this morning while reading Technology Review's arXiv physics blog on a new graphical representation of the Periodic Table.2

I like the flat, 2D familiar table. Nostalgia and comfort likely play a role in that. So I don't know how I feel about the newly shaped tables out there.

So, asks arXiv, why change it? "According to Mohd Abubakr from Microsoft Research in Hyderabad, the table can be improved by arranging it in circular form. He says this gives a sense of the relative size of atoms - the closer to the center, the smaller they are - something that is missing from the current form of the table."

Perhaps, but as arXiv points out later, "Abubakr's arrangement means that the table can only be read by rotating it. That's tricky with a textbook and impossible with most computer screens."3

"The great utility of Mendeleev's arrangements was its predictive power," arXiv notes. "The gaps in his table allowed him to predict the properties of undiscovered elements. It's worth preserving in its current form for that reason alone."

Take that, harbingers of change!

But, darn it, arXiv continues with more of this change talk. "There's another relatively new way of arranging the elements developed by Maurice Kibler at Institut de Physique Nucleaire de Lyon in France that may have new predictive power. 

Kibler says the symmetries of the periodic table can be captured by a group theory," similar to how particle physicists classify particles by their symmetry properties such as flavor and color.

This isn't the first time there's been talk of rearrangement. An outfit in the UK created this chemical galaxy, a guy made a 3D "elementree", this guy made both a spiral and linear design, and even the NY Times got in on the action back in 2006.

However, we seem to have already found all the stable elements and predicted the existence of other superheavy ones, arXiv says, so do we really need something with more predictive power?

* Hanna is one of my gazillions of cousins and at some point said she subscribed to my blog. She's one of those ebullient creative types that makes even a quirky nutbag such as myself look milquetoast in comparison. Anyway, she's an artist and has included various scientific themes in her work, so I wanted to give a filial shout-out on a topic she might find interesting (e.g. graphic art).

1 Super heavy elements, creative wine makers, electron affinity, and even presidents. And Justin's alerting us to the Periodic Table of the Awesoments.
2 Thanks for the email, HSH!
3 Unless we get rotating chairs in front of our computer screens a la Tommy Lee's drum set in Motley Crue.