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ONE of the first inklings that chemistry has an underlying pattern was the discovery, early in the 19th century, of lithium, sodium and potassium—known collectively as the alkali metals. Though different from each other they have strangely similar properties. This was one of the observations that led a German chemist called Johann Döbereiner to wonder if all chemical elements came in families. It took decades to tease out the truth of Döbereiner's conjecture, and thus to construct the periodic table—in which the alkali metals form the first column. And it took decades more to explain why the table works (it is to do with the way electrons organise themselves in orbit around atomic nuclei). But it is a fitting tribute to Döbereiner's insight that, if all goes well, some time in the next few months will bring the creation of a new alkali metal, element number 119, by his countryman Christoph Düllmann of the GSI Helmholtz Centre for Heavy Ion Research in Darmstadt.
Fonzie on water skis, in a scene from the Happy Days episode "Hollywood, Part Three of Three", after literally jumping over a shark