I fell in love with chemistry at the age of 12, standing awe-struck in front of the giant mural of the Periodic 'Table' (actually a spiral) painted by the artist Edgar Longman for the Science Exhibition of the Festival of Britain. I had recently heard Fred Hoyle's wonderful radio lectures, The Nature of the Universe, and read the book, and Longman's design looked like a galaxy.
 I fell out of love with school chemistry the following year because my teacher showed no interest in the Longman spiral, and she refused to listen to my protests that hydrogen was not to be classified with the alkali metals but behaved more like carbon, but over the next fifty years I never lost my interest in chemistry. In 1985 I supplied John Emsley with the Longman image from the exhibition catalogue, and he published it in New Scientist. From there it was picked up in 1998 by Martin Kemp for an article in Nature, and Oliver Sacks used it in Uncle Tugngsten (2001). Seeing that the idea kept coming back, I decided to produce my own version, my 'Chemical Galaxy', the fruit of three long vacations of work. Martin Kemp reviewed it in Nature in January 2005, and it took off like a rocket. That and other chemical ideas of mine have been the subject of several articles. I attach an article on the abundance of the elements. This was published in Education in Chemistry, January 2003, pp 24-25. The tables were truncated; I here give them in full. I also attach the article with which I introduced my 'Galaxy'. This too was published by Education in Chemistry, November 2004, pp. 156-8. They changed the text and title, but I have restored the original and made minor edits. I cannot reproduce the article as published, as I have permission only for the text and not all the figures.
For copyright reasons I can only give the DOI of two others (an iniquitous system; the publishers make you sign over your cpopyright to them, and for a few thousand dollars they will then sell you the right to put it online; institutions pay; most individuals can't). 'A Century on from Mendeleev: Tables and Spirals, Noble Gases and Nobel Prizes' was published in Foundations of Chemistry, October 2007, vol. 9, 235-245. It was I who had suggested a special issue for the centenary of Mendeleev's death (20th January 1907), and I submitted my article in 2006, but it missed the special issue of June. It is DOI 10.1007/s10698-007-9038-x  The second article, 'Charles Janet: Unrecognized Genius of the Periodic System' was submitted in mid-2008 and accepted at the end of that year but appeared in Foundations of Chemistry only in April 2010, vol. 12(1). The article is also available electronically on SpringerLink:
Chemical Galaxy posters, mousemats, t-shirts, mugs etc are available from
Finally, there has recently been an interesting discussion of the periodic system in a blog
P J Stewart,
17 Feb 2010 15:12
P J Stewart,
18 Feb 2010 01:49