I've been curious about this 3D representation of the periodic table "Mendeleev's Flower" and was trying to study it, wondering if it reveals any regularities that are not obvious from classic periodic table.

Mendeleev's Flower

But since it's hard to look at a 3D table on a flat computer screen, I found flat equivalents.

Theodor Benfey's periodic table (1964):

Theodor Benfey's periodic table

J. F. Hyde's periodic table (1975):

enter image description here

There I found a discrepancy: Hyde assigned Boron and Aluminium to group 3 (IIIA), whereas everywhere else B and Al are in the group 13 (IIIB).

I can totally see why Hyde split the table like this (apart from being obsessed with Silicon): such a split creates an absolutely stunning symmetry.

You can see this symmetry on the Hyde's table with colors and dashed lines that cross Silicon and connect related elements.

This can't be just a stretch/exaggeration/far-fetching/"squeezing the universe to fit into an appealing model, even though the universe resists". It's just too good!

Well, to be honest, he did do some universe-squeezing: B and Al have electron configuration of s²p¹ — just like other elements of group 13 (IIIB), whereas elements of group 3 (IIIA) have electron configuration of d¹s². Since Al and B appear in the d¹s² column, Hyde had to make a note inside B and Al cells that they actually are s²p¹.

But the symmetry is just too good. It reveals stunning periodicity that no other periodic table is capable of.

And then I remembered this short-form periodic table:

enter image description here

Russian Wikipedia says the short form was banned by IUPAC in 1989 for some reason, but it's still used in Russian schools because it makes figuring out valence values easier.

And this table does not have the split. Boron and Aluminium appear in the same column regardless of whether you assign them to 3 (IIIA) or 13 (IIIB). I think this is absolutely beautiful.

I believe this Al/B positioning thing has scientific significance, but I don't understand the meaning of the groups.

My questions:

  1. What does the group actually mean? Is it simply the electron configuration and nothing else?
  2. What determines Al and B being placed in group 3 (IIIA) and not 13 (IIIB), other than the electron configuration?
  3. Why is the short-form periodic table considered obsolete, even though it clearly has something going on that the full-form table is not revealing?
  4. Is the Hyde's table missing any periodical properties that the classic table has?
  • $\begingroup$ By "short form" you mean the old system with roman numerals and main groups and side groups, right? I think they decided to have a uniform nomenclature, and then basically flipped a coin. ;) Btw. I agree that for highschool chemistry (9th grade or so), the old system is better. $\endgroup$
    – Karl
    Commented Mar 2, 2020 at 20:35
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ My knowledge of Russian is too rusty to identifty on the Russian wiki a reason why the short form was banned. On meta-synthesis.com/webbook/35_pt/…, entry 1994, however is one form suggested by Fathi Habashi including a link to his argumentation in J. Chem. Educ. To quote from his conclusion to put Al just next to Mg to the left, and B to the right: «Boron is a metalloid with a high melting point, aluminium is a typical metal with low melting point, gallium, indium, and thallium are less typical metals.» $\endgroup$
    – Buttonwood
    Commented Mar 2, 2020 at 20:41
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @Karl «The element´s abbreviations in your table are using Latin letters, while the rest is Kyrillic. Is that standard usage in Russian language?» — Yes, Russian chemistry uses latin abbreviations. Every Russian knows what C2H5OH stands for. 😃 $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 2, 2020 at 21:32
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ One answer could be that chemists don´t care much about the periodic system. It is awesome when you are a beginner, starting to get get a feeling, when everything starts making sense, and then new things just fall into place. Goodness, I loved it.But later on, you find that there are a lot of exceptions in those beautiful trends, and then you specialise on some corner of the chemistry universe, and the periodic system becomes one of the poster on your office wall. ;) $\endgroup$
    – Karl
    Commented Mar 2, 2020 at 21:50
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Karl «It is the same with units and symbols for physical quantities, right?» — Nope, units and multipliers are localized in Russian. E. g. a gigapascal is ГПа. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 2, 2020 at 23:13

1 Answer 1


Back in 1933, John Drury Clark published 1 his "race track" periodic table that subsequently became famous as the cover of Life magazine in 1949:

Clark's 1949 periodic table

Looks like B and Al are nicely positioned. Just need to add an outer track for elements 105 - 118, element names and symbols for elements 97 - 103 and element 41 is niobium, Nb.

1 Clark, John D. (November 1933). "A new periodic chart". Journal of Chemical Education. 10 (11): 675–677. Bibcode:1933JChEd..10..675C. doi:10.1021/ed010p675.

Clark is also the author of Ignition! An Informal History of Liquid Rocket Propellants, Rutgers University Press Classics, New Brunswick, NJ, ©1972 and 2017.

  • $\begingroup$ Element 41 need not be "niobium". "Columbium" is also a name for that element (cf. tungsten/wolfram) and the symbol Cb is still used in some industrial applications such as reporting the Chemistry of heats of steel. $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 14, 2021 at 9:26
  • $\begingroup$ Yeah, I know that obsolete name still persists. $\endgroup$
    – Ed V
    Commented Jun 14, 2021 at 10:06

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.