Silicon

January 18, 2020
 by Paul McGowan

We recently celebrated the 150 year anniversary of Dmitri Mendeleyev’s Periodic Table of elements. What an astounding achievement to list in order the naturally occurring elements and how they interact with each other—especially considering that at the time, 1871, Mendeleyev and his cohorts had no idea why elements acted the way they did. Just categorizing them into some order was a stunning achievement.

Silicon, the element we use to build our interconnected world, was known to Mendeleyev, but its cousin germanium was not. In fact, Mendeleyev could see there should be another element where it belonged in the table’s order, but he was forced to leave that area blank.

Germanium was finally discovered by the German chemist Clemens Winkler in the mineral argyrodite, some 15 years later. What’s cool is that his search for the element would likely not have taken place had the empty space in the Periodic Table not been left blank.

Turns out that missing element, germanium, played a pivotal role in the development of solid state electronics.

Hats off to all the pioneers, chemists, physicists, that spent their lives uncovering the mysteries of our physical world.

Today, we enjoy the benefits of their work in the music we so enjoy in our homes.

Thank you.

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