How it all started
“I saw in a dream a table where all elements fell into place as required.
Awakening, I immediately wrote it down on a piece of paper,
only in one place did a correction later seem necessary.”
What’s most curious
Mendeleev published his periodic table of all known elements and predicted several new elements to complete the table. For his predicted eight elements, he used the prefixes of eka, dvi, and tri (Sanskrit one, two, three) in their naming.
By giving Sanskrit names to his “missing” elements, Mendeleev showed his appreciation and debt to the Sanskrit grammarians of ancient India, who had created sophisticated theories of language based on their discovery of the two-dimensional patterns in basic sounds. Mendeleev was a friend and colleague of the Sanskritist Böhtlingk, who was preparing the second edition of his book on Pāṇini at about this time, and Mendeleev wished to honor him with his nomenclature. Noting that there are striking similarities between the periodic table and the introductory Śiva Sūtras in Pāṇini’s grammar, Prof. Kiparsky says:
“The analogies between the two systems are striking. Just as Panini found that the phonological patterning of sounds in the language is a function of their articulatory properties, so Mendeleev found that the chemical properties of elements are a function of their atomic weights. Like Panini, Mendeleev arrived at his discovery through a search for the “grammar” of the elements…..