the law that the properties of the elements are periodic functions of their atomic numbers. Also called Mendeleev's law. (originally) the statement that the chemical and physical properties of the elements recur periodically when the elements are arranged in the order of their atomic weights.
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The horizontal rows of the periodic table are called periods. Each period corresponds to the successive occupation of the orbitals in a valence shell of the atom, with the long periods corresponding to the occupation of the orbitals of a d subshell.