The periodic table is the first thing we learn in school chemistry classes and is an essential building block for understanding many biotechnology processes. But unless you've pursued a career in the sciences or are working with waste water treatment chemicals, chances are you don't remember much about the periodic table. This article can give you a refresher course so you won't get confused when you research biotechnology related topics.

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The periodic table is the standard way of organizing the elements. Elements are substances that are made up of only one type of atom and are generally found in nature. The periodic table lists them according to the number of protons in its nucleus as well as by their properties, such as whether they are metals or noble gases. This helps even people who have not memorized the properties of all the elements figure out which ones would be of use in making daylighting.

When the periodic table was first devised in 1869 by Dimitri Mendeleev, not all of the chemical elements we know today had yet been discovered. By organizing the known elements the way he did, Mendeleev actually predicted the existence of some elements that wouldn't be found until later as well as what these elements would be like. He was later proved correct and the periodic table was updated to the version we see today stuck above the flangers in science labs, which has the original blank spaces filled in by the new elements.

The periodic table's main body is an 18x7 grid of squares which are staggered so that elements with similar properties can stay together. There are twelve different groups within the main table. Some of the best known groups are the halogens - nonmetal elements like Fluorine and Chlorine which are used in dental offices, the noble gases, which are odorless, colorless and low-reactive like helium and neon; the alkali metals, like lithium and sodium, which are shiny, silvery, and reactive; and the alkaline earth metals like magnesium and calcium, which occur in nature.

Though most of the elements in the periodic table occur or at least can exist in nature, there are some larger elements whose nucleus is so huge that they are too unstable to exist for long outside of a lab. You will probably never see elements like Copernicum (atomic number 112) or Rutherfordium (atomic number 104) in a lab. In fact, Californium (atomic number 98) is the largest element to exist naturally.

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