I could scarcely sleep for excitement the night after seeing the periodic table—it seemed to me an incredible achievement to have brought the whole, vast, and seemingly chaotic universe of chemistry to an all-embracing order. . . . To have perceived an overall organization, a superarching principle uniting and relating all the elements, had a quality of the miraculous, of genius. And this gave me, for the first time, a sense of the transcendent power of the human mind, and the fact that it might be equipped to discover or decipher the deepest secrets of nature, to read the mind of God.
(From “Mendeleev's Garden,” by Oliver Sacks, Autumn 2001)
It reminds me of something I once read about machines --
All machines, no matter how complex, are based on six simple elements: the inclined plane, the lever, the pulley, the screw, the wedge, and the wheel and axle.