Tuesday, 7 September 2010

The Periodic Table Mistake

There's been plenty of interest in a video we posted about a periodic table mistake.

We came across the table during our trip to Turin, in a lecture theatre dedicated to the chemist and writer Primo Levi.

Here is a picture of me under the table:

Our hosts sheepishly admitted it contained an error and challenged us to find it.

After a quick scan we hadn't seen it, so the error was explained.

We thought it would make a fun challenge for Periodic Table of Videos viewers, so here's the video:


We'd never have guessed how many responses we'd receive and how many theories would be put forward!

The main thing people have pointed out is the incorrect order, names and symbols for elements 104 to 108.


Between 1994 and 1997 the officially proposed names for the elements were:

104: Dubnium
105: Joliotium
106: Rutherfordium
107: Bohrium
108: Hahnium

It wasn't until 1997 that we had the more familiar names and ordering:

104: Rutherfordium
105: Dubnium
106: Seaborgium
107: Bohrium
108: Hassium

So if that can't really be considered a mistake, then what is it?

Well, the error pointed out to us was the symbol for element 110. It should be Uun (Ununnilium, since named Darmstadtium), but on the Primo Levi table it is Unn (a typo, we were told).

Many people identified this and our congratulations to them.

However many people have pointed out other "errors" - some real and some humorous.

They include minor rounding errors in the atomic masses and debates about the style and classification of elements. You can read them all in the comments section of the video - we have enjoyed everyone's contributions.

I was also impressed by people who noted the date on the table does not match the anniversary of Primo Levi's death.

I personally doubt this is an error and more likely results from the table being "unveiled" at a later date - but who knows?

Once again, we'd like to thank COST for supported our trip to Turin. Below I've included a couple of other videos from the trip.


  1. The price are the congratulation from the great scientists.

  2. It turns out the prize was inside you all along.

  3. my name is clive mcnally i inervated the i phone and i know howto write the periodic table from hydrogen through to hydrogen = h2 he2/4 be4/8 c6/12 o8/16 ne10/20 mg12/24 si14/28 s16/32 ar18/36 ca20/40 ti22/44 cr24/48 fe26/52 ni28/56 zn30/60 ge32/64 se34/68 kr36/72 sr38/76 zr40/80 mo42/84 ru44/88 pd46/92 cd48/96 sn50/100 te52/104 xe54/108 ba56/112 ce58/116 nd60/120 sm62/124 gd64/128 dy66/132 er68/136 yb70/140 hf72/144 w74/148 os76/152 pt78/156 hg80/160 pb82/164 pd84/168 rn86/172 ra88/176th90/180 u92/184 pu94/188 cm96/192 cr98/196 pm100/200 nd102/204 rf104/208 sg106/212 hs108/216 _110/220 _112/224_114/228 _+_115/230 _113/226 _111/222 mt109/218 bh107/214db105/210lr103/206md101/202es99/198bk97/194am95/190np93/186 pa91/182 ac89/178 fr87/174 at85/170 bi83/166 ti81/162 au 79/158 ir77/154 re75/150 ta73/146 lu71/142 tm69/138ho67/134 tb65/130 ev63/126 pm61/122 pr59/118 la57/114 os55/110 i53/106 sb51/102 in49/98 ag47/94 rh45/90 tc43/86nb41/82 y39/78 rb37/74 br35/70 as33/66 ga31/62 cu29/58 co27/54 mn25/50 v23/46 sc21/42 k19/38 cl17/34 p15/30al13/26 na11/22 f9/18 n7/14 b5/10 li3/6 h20

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