Periodic table gets a makeover
December 17th, 2010
02:39 PM ET

Periodic table gets a makeover

Remember memorizing the periodic table in high school? Well, forget it. Some information on the table is about to be reset.

The world's top chemists and physicists have determined that the atomic weights of 10 elements - ones you've actually heard of - need to be expressed as an interval (or range) rather than a static number, Science Daily reports.

The new atomic weights of hydrogen, lithium, boron, carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, silicon, sulfur, chlorine and thallium will more accurately reflect how those elements occur in nature.

"For example, sulfur is commonly known to have a standard atomic weight of 32.065. However, its actual atomic weight can be anywhere between 32.059 and 32.076, depending on where the element is found," the article explains.

The change will take effect in 2011, designated by the United Nations as the International Year of Chemistry, according to Science Daily.

No word yet from CBS on whether the changes will require major rewrites of upcoming episodes of "The Big Bang Theory."

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Filed under: Nature • Science
soundoff (34 Responses)
  1. Chris

    It's been decades since I looked at the Periodic Table. I forgot how much I loved it.

    December 18, 2010 at 10:21 am | Report abuse |
  2. kim

    I remember stareing at that table since it hung in a class when I was a student it was the last thing I seen as I fall asleep in class...

    December 18, 2010 at 11:30 am | Report abuse |
  3. Veritas

    @Kim my memory to a T. i didnt need it then i am less likely to use it now. i will leave those jobs available for those who see the purpose of them. i am too busy living my life to disect every thing around me to see if it will shorten my life which might be extended for a miniscule amount of time so i can learn the freaking periodic table

    December 18, 2010 at 2:43 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Confused a bit

    Ummm sooooo............... I actually major in chemistry and this doesn't seem new at all. I already knew there were isotopes of the elements but why would we have to include it in the periodic table. The ones on the table show what are most common in nature and the other atomic weights are the isotopes of the elements already on the board. So this isnt really news?

    December 19, 2010 at 11:51 am | Report abuse |

      Those aren't isotopes. Isotopes would be +/- whole numbers in the atomic weight. The weights of these are changing by fractional amounts. I'm guessing it has something to do with the crystal lattice structure of the molecules under different environmental conditions?

      December 20, 2010 at 1:20 am | Report abuse |
    • Garfunkel

      The fractional amounts come from the weighted average of the isotopes. The number on the periodic table is the average based on the elements numerous isotopes and their relative natural abundance. So I believe the way the periodic table is written is more convenient the way it is (at least for college chem/biochem degrees) compared to the possible new configuration. It seems like the new periodic table changes only benefit the professional analytical chemists and physicists.

      December 20, 2010 at 2:13 am | Report abuse |
    • Daisy

      A quote from the original article says that elements with only one stable isotope don't have this range, so the range should have something to do with isotopes. Not completely certain how exactly they are calculating this range though.

      January 1, 2011 at 6:18 am | Report abuse |
  5. Huston

    I don't understand what the big new idea is here: scientists have known this for some time but never wanted to change the table for it. It complicates simple things such as stoichmetry problem solving. Yes, atoms range between certain values: they may have several isotopes, and the amu is set off of the weight and %. This process is simple and allows for clear calculations. LEAVE IT BE.

    December 20, 2010 at 3:33 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Deb

    There is no need to memorize the periodic table and high school teachers that still make their students memorize are (insert disparaging remark here). It is more important to know how to use the information on the Periodic Table than to memorize the information.

    December 21, 2010 at 11:39 am | Report abuse |
  7. A. Chemist

    To all those who spout it doesn't matter... Neither does celebrity gossip and half of the other crap we call news. For those of us who use it an average of the range will likely be sufficient to solve problems outside of high order chemical analysis. And lattice structures really..? I would be more compelled to guess environment of formation determine the isotopic masses.

    December 21, 2010 at 1:43 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Alex

    1. This will not affect high school periodic tables. As mentioned above, the number is based on the average versus abundance.

    2. This will affect professional chemists. As they probably will be able to know the origin of there materials they will be able to calculate out more accurately as they should.

    December 22, 2010 at 9:18 am | Report abuse |
  9. Daisy

    The last line is ridiculous. Why can't we have a serious news story without dropping pop culture into it?

    January 1, 2011 at 6:05 am | Report abuse |
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    De estos sitios web de información! Gracias grande! Gracias por un buen rato visitando Es realmente un placer la comprensión de un sitio web como esta lleno de información agradable. Gracias!

    November 30, 2011 at 7:45 pm | Report abuse |
  11. winstrol

    Usted tiene ciertamente algunas de las opiniones y puntos de vista agradables. ofrece una nueva mirada a la materia.

    December 4, 2011 at 8:45 am | Report abuse |
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    December 5, 2011 at 11:30 am | Report abuse |
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    December 10, 2011 at 2:49 am | Report abuse |
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