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Is the structure of the periodic table fundamental enough that other forms of intelligent life would likely structure their own listing of the elements in the same way (i.e. are there other ways of arranging the periodic table (in 2D) which would be equally useful, or is the current structure the most efficient way to convey the properties of the elements)?

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closed as primarily opinion-based by Kyle Kanos, tpg2114, Jim, John Rennie, DavePhD May 28 '14 at 18:43

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

They would find the same elements and they might categorize them into similar groups (metals, non-metals, transition metals, etc.) but the left-to-right, top-to-bottom, and general visual layout of the table is very much a product of our culture and our biology – Jim May 28 '14 at 17:39

1 Answer 1

It is certainly possible that a periodic table similar to ours could be constructed since there is a very fundamental reason (the filling of the Valence shell) that leads to the periodically repeating properties of the elements around which our periodic table is formed. Other civilizations would have to look at something other than how the elements react to devise a different organization scheme to come up with a different kind of table.

As Jim mentioned in the comments though, the left-right, top-bottom organization of our periodic table is arbitrary and other civilizations could design tables with a similar organization scheme but a complete different way of visualizing the organization.

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