John Alexander Reina Newlands

Newlands was born in London and studied there at the Royal College of Chemistry. In 1860, he served as a volunteer with Giuseppe Garibaldi in his campaign to unify Italy (Newlands was of Italian descent on his mother's side). He set up in practice as an analytical chemist in 1864, and in 1868 became chief chemist in a sugar refinery, where he introduced a number of improvements in processing. Later he left the refinery and again set up as an analyst.

Like many of his contemporaries, Newlands first used the terms 'equivalent weight' and 'atomic weight' without any distinction in meaning, and in his first paper in 1863 he used the values accepted by his predecessors. The incompleteness of a table he drew up 1864 attributed to the possible existence of additional, undiscovered elements. For example, he predicted the existence of germanium.

John Newlands was the first person to devise a Periodic Table of elements arranged in order of their relative atomic weights (now called relative atomic masses). Continuing with Döbereiner’s work with triads, in 1865 he published his “law of octaves” which states that “any given element will exhibit analogues behaviour to the eighth element following it in the table". Newlands’ arrangement showed all known elements arranged in seven groups which he likened to the octaves of music.[1][2]. The elements are ordered by atomic weights that were known at the time. They were numbered sequentially to show the order of atomic weights. In Newlands’ table periods and groups are shown going down and across the table, respectively – the opposite from the modern periodic table. This law of octaves, however, was ridiculed by his contemporaries.[3]

In 1894, Newlands had a child by the name of Christopher Maddocks Newlands.
There is a blue plaque on the house where Newlands was born and raised in West Square, Newington, south London, installed by the Royal Society of Chemistry.
See also

* History of the periodic table


1. ^ Newlands, John A. R. (1864-08-20). "On Relations Among the Equivalents". Chemical News 10: 94–95.
2. ^ Newlands, John A. R. (1865-08-18). "On the Law of Octaves". Chemical News 12: 83.
3. ^ Bryson, Bill (2004). A Short History of Nearly Everything. London: Black Swan. pp. 141–142. ISBN 9780552151740.

External links

* Cartage biography
* Newlands on classification of elements

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