Wednesday, February 11, 2015

The Disappearing Spoon: And other true tales of Madness, love, and the history of the world from the Periodic Table of the Elements

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Today's nonfiction post is on The Disappearing Spoon: And other true tales of Madness, love, and the history of the world from the Periodic Table of the Elements by Sam Kean. It is 376 pages long including notes. It is published by Back Bay Books. The cover is green with a spoon in a test tube. The intended reader is someone interested in history, science, and amusing stories. There is no sex, no language, and no violence in this book. The story is told in first and third person; first person by the author with his own experiences and third person stories about the original people who discovered the elements. There Be Spoilers Ahead.


From the back of the book- Why did Gandhi hate iodine (I, 53)? How did radium (Ra, 88) nearly ruin Marie Curie's reputation? And why is gallium (Ga, 31) the go-to element for laboratory pranksters?
The periodic table is a crowning scientific achievement, but its also a treasure trove of passion, adventure, betrayal, and obsession. These fascinating tales follow all the elements on the table as they play out their parts in human history, finance, mythology, conflict, the arts, medicine, and the loves of the (frequently) mad scientists who discovered them. The Disappearing Spoon masterfully fuses science with the classic lore of invention, investigation, discovery, and alchemy, from the big bang through the end of time.


Review- I knew very little about the periodic table other than what I can remember from high school but I wish that high school had talked about this stuff. The reader gets to know the brilliant minds behind the periodic table and how it was formed. Kean has excellent notes that add to the individual stories but if you just want to follow the table you do not need them. Kean also explains some very important scientific theories and data. He does not talk down to the reader, in fact he includes in the reader in some of the jokes that happen. Kean helps bring the scientists back from the dead and makes them human. He gives their mistakes, their passions, and their brilliance. If you want to learn more about the sciences this a good place to start.


I give this book a Five out of Five stars. I get nothing for my review and I borrowed this book from my local library.