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The Mystery of the Periodic Table (Living History Library) Paperback – April 1, 2003


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The Mystery of the Periodic Table (Living History Library) + The Elements: A Visual Exploration of Every Known Atom in the Universe
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 10 and up
  • Grade Level: 5 and up
  • Series: Living History Library
  • Paperback: 165 pages
  • Publisher: Bethlehem Books; Edition Unstated edition (April 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 188393771X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1883937713
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 5 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #19,762 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Benjamin Wiker is a writer, teacher, husband of one wife, and father of seven children. He has a Ph.D. in Theological Ethics from Vanderbilt University, an M.A. in Religion from Vanderbilt University, and a B.A. in Political Philosophy from Furman University. He has taught at Marquette University, St. Mary's University (MN), Thomas Aquinas College, and Franciscan University. He is a Visiting Associate Professor of Theology at Franciscan University for the 2013-2014 academic year.

Benjamin Wiker's website is www.benjaminwiker.com.

Customer Reviews

A very interesting read.
Silas Baker
This terrific book helps make a complex area of science - the field of chemistry and the periodic table - accessible to everyone.
Alicia Van Hecke
Well, I ended up reading through this and going to bed at one am!
T. Dear

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

155 of 156 people found the following review helpful By Alicia Van Hecke VINE VOICE on July 24, 2003
Format: Paperback
This terrific book helps make a complex area of science - the field of chemistry and the periodic table - accessible to everyone. Benjamin Wiker skillfully and humorously takes us through the history of theories, experiments, mistakes and successes in understanding the elements and the development of the Periodic Table. The icing on the cake is how fascinating the order of the table is and how closely and mathematically the elements are related to each other. Fascinating!
The book is written for ages 10 and up, but high schoolers and even college students would benefit from the memorable way this book presents the big picture and helps it 'stick.' The last three chapters are a little tougher to follow. I found it helpful to draw some of my own diagrams of the various atoms and their electron structure.
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131 of 134 people found the following review helpful By Beth Dougherty on August 29, 2003
Format: Paperback
By putting over 3,000 years of faces on the search for the elemental principles -- from the Greek philosopher Anaximander, who held that all the material world was made of four "elements", Earth, Air, Fire, and Water; to teams of modern scientists who race to create new elements -- Benjamin Wiker has moved chemistry off the shelf of dry-and-dusty arcania and given the reader a gum-shoe tale filled with odd and interesting characters. This book is an excellent remedy for people who think the sciences were hatched in university laboratories, or born the test-tube children of egg-headed professors. Tracing the theories of philosophers, alchemists, and scientists, making acquaintance with men of all walks and many nationalities, whose only common trait was their persistent desire to peer ever deeper into the nature of things, Wiker not only outlines the genealogy of the Periodic Table of Elements, but, so doing, introduces his reader to the principles of theoretical and practical science, to the history of the scientific method, and even inklings of atomic theory. This book will be accessible, and of interest, to a wide range of readers: those with no science background can still follow the general story with ease, while even the reader well-versed in high-school level chemistry has probably never encountered the history of modern chemistry synthesized with such clarity and appeal.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By David J Kruglinski on July 6, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As an 8th grade physical science teacher, I highly recommend this book for children and adults. It is very well-written, fun, interesting, and at times -- fascinating. I recommend this book as a must-read to any middle school or high school student that wants to pursue a career in the sciences, or any college student that needs to play catch-up. I recommend this book to other science teachers, and this book has made me a better science teacher -- it's that good! For non-scientists, I think it is a great history book that allows the reader to marvel at how humankind can work together, build and build upon the ideas of previous generations, struggle with mistakes for decades, and finally arrive at a brilliant understanding of something far too small to see or touch. It is amazing that human beings figured this all out, and this book tells this amazing story of human achievement. I love this book.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By S. Blair on April 22, 2009
Format: Paperback
I purchased this for my 7 year old son. He's been obsessed with chemistry and physics since toddler age. Unlike most books in the genre for children, this title did not treat the subject as a strait history on great figures in science, but rather, melded a great deal of chemistry into the book. It's a challenge to find books on science for my son's age that do not underestimate his capacity to understand scientific concepts. Clearly written for 6th grade and above, I have no hesitation in recommending this book for younger children with an more than a fleeting interest in chemistry.
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42 of 51 people found the following review helpful By Claude Lambert on October 15, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It is a very good idea to explain to teens how the periodic table was made and the book reads well. Some mistakes are irritating. For instance, the scientific community has not replaced azote (proposed by Lavoisier)by nitrogen: Nitrogen is the English term, effectively proposed by another Frenchman, Chaptal, but the French still use azote to name the substance.
The historical part is fair, the part showing that the periodic table explains some rules of chemistry in nature is weak and comes too late and the part showing that the table can be used to guess the properties of elements is sorely understated.
It seems to me that to be excited by the history of the periodic table, one should know first that it is useful. The author made a mistake by diving into history without making the aim attractive.
I hope there will be a second better edition, because it would be nice to have a great book for teens on the subject.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Anne on December 10, 2012
Format: Paperback
This is mandatory reading before studying chemistry. It goes through the entire history of the science of chemistry in an easy to understand and accessible way that travels from cavemen burning stuff to the full periodic table. I've always struggled with chemistry and this book has been a tremendous help. I bought it for my kids but have been up late reading it myself. Thanks to youtube you can watch many of the experiments the author cites with ease. Huge thanks to the author for this excellent and helpful work and for igniting a constructive interest for the whole family. -Sean
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