NEW YORK-The periodic table of chemical elements, an integral part of science education and major scientific breakthroughs, marks its 150th anniversary this year.

Russian scientist Dmitry Ivanovich Mendeleev prepared the first periodic system in 1869, when only 63 elements had been discovered, based on chemical and physical properties of elements. The rows and columns not only categorized the properties of each element, but also predicted the existence of yet to be discovered elements.

Today, there are 118 elements on the periodic table,  Four with atomic numbers – 113 (Nihonium), 115 (Moskovi), 117 (Tennesin) and 118 (Oganesson) – were added in 2016. With the discoveries of new elements, it's difficult to ascertain how long the table is going to be in the future.  

The United Nations, recognizing chemistry's massive contribution towards promoting sustainable development and providing solutions to global challenges including energy, education, agriculture, and health, has designated 2019 as the International Year of the Periodic Table of Elements.

Interestingly, the 150th anniversary also coincides with the centenary of International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC), an organization representing chemists. 

"The periodic table of chemical elements is one of the most important and influential achievements in modern science reflecting the essence not only of chemistry but also of physics, biology and other disciplines,” said Jean-Paul Ngome-Abiaga, UNESCO coordinator for the celebration of the year.

“This observance, including activities around the world, will underscore its importance for science, technology, and sustainable human development."

The opening ceremony of the 2019 International Year of the Periodic Table of Chemical Elements (IYPT2019) will be held on January 28 in Paris at UNESCO House. At various events held under IYPT, a particular focus will be made to showcase UNESCO's initiative to promote the basic sciences for sustainable development in 2019.

"I believe these events planned for 2019 will demonstrate the important role of the basic sciences in solving problems around the world,” Ngome-Abiaga said.