The Faculty of Sciences of the UVa has dedicated a Periodic Table wall poster featuring the spectra of the atomic elements, to celebrate the International Year of the Periodic Table (IYPT). This Periodic Table is a reproduction of the original work “Homage to the Elements” by visual artist Eugenia Balcells and contains a quote by Lucretius in “De rerum natura” (On the Nature of Things), written around 50BC, describing the atoms as “letters within words“.
The IYPT (and our barbaric times) are a good opportunity to read the 2012 Pulitzer winner “The Swerve” by Stephen Greenblatt, which contains a great presentation of the discovery of the book and the Epicurean Physics, which, even in a literary format, are far more reasonable than the opinions that arose in the 1500 years that followed its publication:
… atoms … are driven abroad and vexed
by blow on blow, even from all time of old,
they thus at last, after attempting all
the kinds of motion and conjoining, come
into those great arrangements out of which
this sum of things established is created.