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Periodic Table

The periodic table’s big year

by Bibiana Campos Seijo
January 14, 2019 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 97, Issue 2


Wow! The International Year of the Periodic Table started with a bang at C&EN.

There is already so much activity surrounding IYPT that we can hardly contain our excitement. There is no doubt that 2019 is going to be a banner year for chemistry and chemists, and we are looking forward to being part of it. The attention that the International Year of Chemistry afforded our science back in 2011 and any gains that were made in the public’s mind and trust are going to be cemented and further amplified by IYPT. Chemistry will once again be thrust into the limelight, and we should relish the moment. What an opportunity to engage with the younger members of society and inspire them to learn more about the periodic table, chemistry, and science in general.

At C&EN, we’ll definitely be grabbing the opportunity with both hands. All our activities relating to IYPT—and we have a lot planned—will be collated in one location:

There is already content on this page, and we will continue adding stories throughout the year. We’d love for you to contribute, and you can do this in a number of ways. You can leave comments to stories. For example, on Sam Lemonick’s feature on the optimal ordering of the table—a controversial issue that has been the matter of much debate for decades—a reader made an interesting comment about the transuranic elements. He asks whether it may be more accurate to refer to them as “invented” rather than “discovered” as they were “synthesized by man rather than found in nature.”

You can also contribute by participating in C&EN’s “I Spy a Periodic Table” photo contest. To celebrate the ubiquitousness of the table, we are asking you to send photos of periodic tables wherever and whenever you can find them around the globe: in the kitchen, your lab or office, the library, your wardrobe. You can submit your images at or share them directly with the community via social media by tagging #ISpyAPeriodicTable.

The competition ends on Feb. 4, and your photo could be selected to be featured in our weekly magazine and win a periodic table–themed prize. And remember: if you are taking photos in the lab, please wear appropriate personal protective equipment. We have already seen some really cool images, including many variations of now-ubiquitous posters and T-shirts and also lunch boxes, chopping boards, a lens cloth, puzzles, wall clocks, pillows, ties, socks, coffee cups, and cupcakes.

In other news, have you seen the list of US drug approvals for 2018 compiled by C&EN senior correspondent Lisa M. Jarvis? It was a record year for the US Food and Drug Administration, with 59 new molecular entities getting the green light for commercialization. The category that stands out, with the largest proportion of approvals, is small molecules. Other highlights include the approval of Epidiolex—the first marijuana-extracted treatment to be approved—and Onpattro, the first drug that acts by RNA interference. This year, given the large number of approvals, we have opted for a different treatment for the data and created an interactive table, which I invite you to look at. Let us know if you like the new format. Also, if RNA is your cup of tea, do not miss the latest episode of our podcast, Stereo Chemistry. Jarvis and fellow biotech reporter Ryan Cross discuss why more and more drug developers are shifting their focus.


In this issue, also keep an eye out for C&EN’s annual World Chemical Outlook. We’ve widened our lens to include geopolitical and economic factors, market prospects, and environmental influences that will affect chemistry endeavors around the globe this year. Don’t miss our must-read forecast.

Views expressed on this page are those of the author and not necessarily those of ACS.


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