A periodic table discovered in St Andrews during a clear-out of a storage cupboard has been confirmed by Guinness World Records to be the world’s oldest.
The chart was discovered by Dr Alan Aitken in 2014 in the School of Chemistry.
The storage area that was being cleared out was full of apparatus and paraphernalia that had accumulated since the opening of the School of Chemistry over 50 years ago.
The table was found among rolls of old teaching charts, and flaked upon touch.
It was immediately sent to be assessed by various experts, who concluded that it dated back to between 1879 and 1886.
The reason for this dating was that both gallium and scandium, which were discovered in 1875 and 1879 respectively, are included on the table, whereas geranium, which was discovered in 1886, was not.
After global coverage of the discovery, including pieces from BBC News, Guinness World Records officially declared the chart the oldest in the world.
The Special Collections unit at the University were heavily involved in the discovery and assessment process. The head of this unit, Gabriel Sewell, said, “We are delighted that we now know when the oldest known periodic table chart came to St Andrews to be used in teaching.
“To be officially recognised by the Guinness World Records is a wonderful achievement. Thanks to the generosity of the National Manuscripts Conservation Trust, the table has been preserved for current and future generations to enjoy and we look forward to making it accessible to all.”
After undergoing a restoration process, the table was officially unveiled by Catherine Stihler, a former rector of the University, at a European parliament function. The University plans to host events throughout 2019 to celebrate the periodic table, as it was declared by the United Nations General Assembly in 2017 to be the International Year of the Periodic Table, since it has been 150 years since its invention in 1869.