Vilas Pol

[Image above] Credit: Purdue Engineering, YouTube

Updated: November 20, 2018

By the time you’ve earned your Ph.D. in science, you have most likely viewed the periodic table of elements a number of times. Perhaps you were tested on many of the elements, their atomic numbers, or in which groups they are categorized.

But if given a blank slate, would you be able to place each element in its proper spot on the periodic table?

Vilas Pol, chemical engineering professor at Purdue University, not only accomplished that, but he set a world record by assembling the complete periodic table in eight minutes and 36 seconds.

With the help of a postdoctoral student, Pol practiced for three weeks prior to his official attempt in front of a Guinness World Records judge. According to an article on the Purdue Exponent, GWR had strict rules Pol needed to follow. He wasn’t allowed to purchase the tiles containing the elements from a store—they had to be homemade. However, he was allowed to use a homemade hand-drawn grid on which to place the tiles.

Also, Pol was allowed only three attempts lasting no more than 10 minutes in trying to set the record.

He set the record on his third attempt.

GWR judge Michael Empric acknowledges the difficulty of the challenge. “There is a lot of pressure to do it in 10 minutes,” he says in the Purdue article. “He did it, and that’s what really matters.”

Inspired by his students, Pol says he attempted the challenge in order to educate them on the chemical properties of the elements.

Watch the short time-lapse video below to see Pol assemble the periodic table and accept his award from Guinness.

And check out this article on the Guinness website that includes Pol’s record along with another Guinness world record Purdue students broke this past summer.

Credit: Purdue Engineering, YouTube

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