At his funeral in St. Petersburg in February 1907 AD, students of charismatic professor Dmitri Ivanovich Mendeleev from the St. Petersburg Technological Institute and the St. Petersburg State University carried a large copy of the periodic table behind the hearse. A fitting tribute to the man who discovered the periodic laws and devised that table.
Born in Tobolsk in 1834, Dmitri was the final son of Mariya Dmitriyevna, who supported her family as a manager in a glass factory. When it later burned down, Mariya moved her brood to St. Petersburg. There Dmitri attended the Main Pedagogical Institute, graduating in 1855; unfortunately, he contracted tuberculosis and took teaching positions in the Crimea to recover in a warmer clime. His health restored, he returned to St. Petersburg to earn a master's degree, followed by studies abroad. Already having published several research papers in chemistry, he taught first at the St. Petersburg Technological Institute and then joined the faculty at the city’s university. Realizing there was a need for a definitive textbook to cover his inorganic chemistry classes, Dmitri wrote 'The Principles of Chemistry.'
While working on the book, Mendeleev noticed recurring patterns in both chemical and physical properties among elements. Using his broad knowledge of chemistry – since he had never specialized Dmitri had no preconceptions – he found ever more similarities and connections. After months systematically arranging the dozens of known elements by atomic weight in a grid, he even claimed he could predict the qualities of undiscovered elements. In 1869 he formally presented his “periodic laws” to the Russian Chemical Society … to great indifference. Until, that is, three new elements were found over the next 20 years that matched his predictions. In London in 1889, he presented his latest diagram of the elements to great acclaim.