Timeline of the Elements

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This graphic looks at the discovery dates of the elements, as well as the countries in which they were discovered, and plots them all on a timeline to give some idea of the order of discovery. To see a larger view of the image, click the image above to view it full sized.

This was a much bigger undertaking than expected – as it turns out, quite a few elements have discovery dates that are a little on the hazy side, and there’s also confusion in cases where the element, whilst isolated, was not recognised as a new element. As well as that, you’ve got those elements which were discovered more or less simultaneously in more than one country, just to complicate the issue of where they were discovered a little further.

I actually started setting this out in a different way, before realising that this method would be a lot quicker. However, I still have plans to finish that version as well – this one just works better and more immediately at a glance. The elements are colour coded according to their group in the periodic table, which might provide some interesting discussion points if you’re considering using this for teaching purposes: for example, the Noble Gases were all discovered in quick succession, whilst the more reactive members of the Alkali Metals were discovered several decades after those that are less reactive.

I’ve cross referenced the dates of discovery to try and ensure they’re all accurate, but if you do spot any that seem wrong don’t hesitate to point it out in the comments!

The chart is designed to be printable over two A3 pages, and can be downloaded here.

EDIT: I’ve made a newer version of the chart that might prove easier to print, which can be downloaded here.

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