Calling Time on the Periodic Table

I just wanted to share this really excellent interview and article on my undergraduate tutor, Philip Stewart.

Philip, I am sure he will not mind me saying (not that I think he reads this blog) has been almost a grandfather figure to me (and no doubt countless others, including his own!) Time in his company is always uplifting, and his agile, interested and interesting mind is as open as it is resourceful. Anyhow, if you know Philip, I am sure you too will appreciate how highly I respect him.

Philip is a something of a polymath… an academic of the old school, he studied Arabic at Oxford, before taking a second degree in forestry. He then worked as a research officer and lecturer in Algeria, but taught Human Sciences and  Ecology back here till he notionally took retirement in 2006. Since ‘retirement’ he seems to have ever increasing numbers of books and grandchildren, and has recently become something of an authority on the poets of Boars Hill.

One of his most interesting projects has been to re-draw the Periodic Table. Rather than the staid and formal ubiquitous depiction that graces the walls of chemistry labs up and down the country, Philip’s is a spiral that swirls outwards as the number of neutrons increases. As Philip explains, “I conceived a passionate interest in the periodic table when I saw it represented as a huge, colorful spiral in the Science Exhibition of the Festival of Britain in 1951.” The result is not only innovative and accurate, but actually quite beautiful at the same time. You can order a copy for your wall here, or there is a free wallpaper download here.

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Filed under Oxford: The Perspiring Dream, Timology

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