Since the first of January 2019 we are officially in the International Year of the Periodic Table, another year for the celebration of science and especially a year for the celebration of chemistry. The proposal initially sponsored by UNESCO and the Russian Federation was finally approved on 20 December 2017 when the UN General Assembly proclaimed 2019 the International Year of the Periodic Table of Chemical Elements.

Why 2019? What is special about 2019?

imageIn 1869, Dmitri Mendeleev published his book Principles of Chemistry where he describes his theory of the periodic table. Mendeleev is considered one of the parents of the modern chemistry, 2019 is the 150 anniversary of the publication of his seminal work and is also the centenary of the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC), the recognised world authority in developing standards for the naming of the chemical elements and compounds.

Why do we celebrate the International Year of the Periodic Table?

First to recognise Dmitri Mendeleev and his work. In the very own words of UNESCO, The periodic table of chemical elements:

• is one of the most significant achievements in science,
• captures the essence of not only of chemistry but also of physics and biology among other sciences
• is a uniting scientific concept, which promotes international cooperation in the basic sciences and catalyses scientific breakthrough and excellence.

Mendeleev should have won the Nobel. He was nominated in 1905 and 1906 but didn’t win. Mendeleev died in 1907 and the Nobel Prize can only be awarded to alive scientists.

The second main reason for celebrating the International Year of the Periodic Table is promoting the role and benefits of science in our society. Despite everything we owe to chemistry, this science has always had a bad press and part of the problem is a lack of information. Among other objectives, UNESCO’s proposal aims at:

• enhancing the understanding and appreciation of periodic law and chemistry in general among the public;
• promoting the role of chemistry in contributing to solutions to many global problems, such as climate change and the preservation of natural resources;
• promoting awareness of the interdisciplinary nature of twenty-first century science, and emphasize how interactions between different thematic areas of the basic sciences will be increasingly needed in future research and education, and in the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development;
• enhancing international cooperation by coordinating activities between learned societies, educational establishments and industry, focusing specifically on new partnerships and initiatives in the developing world;
• establishing durable partnerships to ensure that these activities, goals and achievements continue in the future beyond the International Year of Periodic Table of Chemical Elements.

International Year of Periodic Table’s Agenda

There is an official website of the International Year of Periodic Table ( where you can find all the events happening around the world. Just to name one ongoing activity, IUPAC is hosting an online quiz about the Periodic Table of the Elements. The online challenge is aimed at a global audience of young students. Questions about the elements quiz their knowledge and inform them of the relevant work of IUPAC. The global challenge was launched in January 2019 and is available all year until the end of 2019.

And to finish, a trivia fact. The world’s biggest periodic table is on the side of the chemistry faculty building at the University of Murcia (Spain). A beautiful piece of approximately 150 m2.


World’s biggest Periodic Table at the chemistry faculty of the University of Murcia (Spain)


With the hope of reaching a wider readership, this post is a translation from the original one that I wrote for the Spanish blog Dciencia: “2019, celebra la química con el Año Internacional de la Tabla Periódica“,


Proposal for the proclamation by the United Nations of 2019 as an International Year of the Periodic Table of Chemical Elements. Conference:UNESCO. Executive Board, 2017, 202nd [29716].

Website of The International Year of the Periodic Table.