Although elements such as gold, silver, tin, copper, lead and mercury have been known since antiquity, the first scientific discovery of an element occurred in 1649 when Hennig Brand discovered phosphorous. By 1869, a total of 63 elements had been discovered. As the number of known elements grew, scientistsbegan to recognize patterns in properties and began to develop classification schemes.
In 1817 Johann Dobereiner proposed that nature contained triads of elements the middle element had properties that were an average of the other two members when ordered by the atomic weight (the Law of Triads).
In1864 John Newlands published his version of the periodic table and proposed the Law of Octaves (by analogy with the seven intervals of the musical scale). This law stated that any given element will exhibit analogous behavior to the eighth element following it in the table.
In 1869 Russian chemist Dimitri Mendeleev started the development of the periodic table, arranging chemical elements by atomic mass. He predicted the discovery of other elements, and left spaces open in his periodic table for them. Mendeleev grouped the elements in a table that had both rows and columns.
Unknown to Mendeleev, Lothar Meyerwas also working on a periodic table. Although his work was published in 1864, and was done independently of Mendeleev, few historians regard him as an equal co-creator of the periodic table. For one thing, Meyer's table only included 28 elements. Furthermore, Meyer classified elements not by atomic weight, but by valence alone. Finally, Meyer never came to the idea of predicting new elements and correcting atomic weights. Only a few months after Mendeleev published his periodic table of all known elements (and predicted several new elements to complete the table, plus some corrected atomic weights), Meyer published a virtually identical table. While a few people consider Meyer and Mendeleev the co-creators of the periodic table, most agree that, by itself, Mendeleev's accurate prediction of the qualities of the undiscovered elements lands him the larger share of credit. In any case, at the time Mendeleev's predictions greatly impressed his contemporaries and were eventually found to be correct.
In 1914 Henry Moseley found a relationship between an element's X-ray wavelength and its atomic number (Z), and therefore resequenced the table by nuclear charge rather than atomic weight.
The modern periodic table of elements is based on Mendeleev's observations; however, instead of being organized by atomic weight, the modern table is arranged by atomic number (Z). As one moves from left to right in a row of the periodic table, the properties of the elements gradually change. At the end of each row, a drastic shift occurs in chemical properties. The next element in order of atomic number is more similar (chemically speaking) to the first element in the row above it; thus a new row begins on the table.
Rows in the periodic table are called periods. As one moves from left to right in a given period, the chemical properties of the elements slowly change. Columns in the periodic table are called groups. Elements in a given group in the periodic table share many similar chemical and physical properties. The link below will open a copy of the periodic table of elements with information about them.