2020-04-14Zeitschriftenartikel DOI: 10.18452/21384
The Periodic Tableau
Form and Colours in the first 100 years
Cluster im Rahmen der Exzellenzinitiative
While symbolic colour use has always played a conspicuous role in science research and education, the use of colour in historic diagrams remains a lacuna in the history of science. Investigating the colour use in diagrams often means uncovering a whole cosmology that is not otherwise explicit in the diagram itself. The periodic table is a salient and iconic example of non‐mimetic colour use in science. Andreas von Antropoff's (1924) rectangular table of recurrent rainbow colours is famous, as are Alcindo Flores Cabral's (1949) application of colour in his round snail form, using the RGB scheme, and Mazurs's (1967) pine tree system, consisting of warm and cold colours that he attributed to specific groups of elements—an attribution that we can relate back to humoralism and alchemy. From the first periodic tables in the 19th century, individual researchers have used different colour regimes. While standardization may play an obvious role in chemistry and its diagrams, all the more impressive is the anarchistic use of colour in the various diagrams which continue to be created. This article focuses on periodic tables in chemical journals and text books, and explores and compares the development of colour codes found in the few existing polychrome diagrams from the 1920s to the 1970s.
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This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Bock von Wülfingen, B. The periodic tableau: Form and colours in the first 100 years. Centaurus. 2019; 1– 26, which has been published in final form at https://doi.org/10.1111/1600-0498.12248. This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Use of Self-Archived Versions.