Student Question

Why is the periodic table extremely useful to scientists?

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The periodic table of elements is extremely useful to chemists because it allows them to readily access a lot of information about the elements in two different ways.  One way is simply reading the numbers off of the table that are associated with each element.  We can get the atomic number (number of protons) and atomic weight (number of grams per mole) of each element because it is printed directly on the table for each element block.  Chemists calculate molecular weights for chemicals quite often, so having all of this information in one place is quite useful.  The other way that the periodic table is helpful is in seeing atomic and chemical trends by seeing where different elements are placed on the table.  The shape of the periodic table and the position of the elements relative to each other is not random.  Instead, it is based on a variety of factors and the positions of the elements helps chemists to see that the reactivity is for different elements, what types of ions they form, what type of electrons they have, and other types of trends like atomic radius and electronegativity.  It also helps students see all of this information to help them with understanding concepts and answering exam questions!

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How is the periodic table useful to a scientist?  

The periodic table of the elements is a table in which elements are arranged according to their atomic numbers, electronic configurations and properties. The position of an element in the periodic table gives us an idea about the element's properties. We can also get an idea about the types of reactions the element will be involved in and the expected products. This helps in designing experiments and processes. The properties of known as well as 'yet to be discovered' elements can be deduced from the periodic table. This not only helps in the study of the elements, but also in their applications in various scientific and engineering purposes. The table also helps us classify elements (including the ones that are yet to be discovered). 

Thus, a scientist can derive a significant amount of information about the elements from the periodic table.

Hope this helps.

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