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Stories About Chemistry


29. The First "Electronic Computer"
in Chemistry

   Electronic computers can do many things. They have been taught to play chess, to forecast the weather, to find out what is happening in the depths of distant stars, to carry out calculations involving unthinkable difficulties. All one has to know is how to assign their programme of operations.

 Electronic computers are now finding more and more usage in chemistry too. Great automatic plants are controlled by these machines. With their aid, investigators learn everything about numerous chemical processes before putting them into practice.

 But chemists have at their disposal a rather unusual "electronic computer." It was invented about a hundred years ago before the term electronic computer ever appeared in the languages of the world.

   This remarkable machine is the Periodic System of Elements. It enables scientists to do what even the most daring investigators would not risk doing before. The Periodic System made it possible to predict the existence of elements yet unknown, undiscovered even in the laboratory. And not only to predict them, but even to describe their properties. It could tell whether they would be metals or non­metals, heavy like lead, or light like sodium, and in what terrestrial ores and minerals the unknown elements were to be sought.

   The answers to all these questions were supplied by the "electronic computer" invented by Mendeleyev.

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