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Turning the periodic table upside down

The periodic table is immensely powerful for rationalizing many different properties of the chemical elements, but would turning it on its head make some important aspects easier to understand and give everyone a new perspective on chemistry?

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Fig. 1: The inverted periodic table is obtained by rotating the conventional one by 180° about a horizontal axis.
Fig. 2: Heat maps indicating the areas looked at for longest time by naïve participants during a three-second presentation of each of the unlettered periodic tables.

Data availability

The scripts used to run the experiment during the current study, the stimuli and data generated are available in the Open Science Framework repository:

Editor’s note: This article has been peer-reviewed.


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The authors thank E. Scerri of UCLA for his advice and encouragement.

Author information




M.P. made the original proposal of inverting the periodic table; S.T. designed the inverted version of the table; A.M. and E.P. designed the psychology experiment; A.M. collected the data; A.M. and E.P. processed and interpreted the data. All authors contributed to the final manuscript.

Corresponding authors

Correspondence to Martyn Poliakoff or Alexis D. J. Makin or Ellen Poliakoff.

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Supplementary methods, materials and analysis

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A printable high-resolution version of the inverted periodic table

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Poliakoff, M., Makin, A.D.J., Tang, S.L.Y. et al. Turning the periodic table upside down. Nat. Chem. 11, 391–393 (2019).

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