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Science magazine reporter Kean views the periodic table as one of the great achievements of humankind, "an anthropological marvel," full of stories about our connection with the physical world. Funny, even chilling tales are associated with each element, and Kean relates many. The title refers to gallium (Ga, 31), which melts at 84ËšF, prompting a practical joke among "chemical cognoscenti": shape gallium into spoons, "serve them with tea, and watch as your guests recoil when their Earl Grey ˜eats™ their utensils." Along with Dmitri Mendeleyev, the father of the periodic table, Kean is in his element as he presents a parade of entertaining anecdotes about scientists (mad and otherwise) while covering such topics as thallium (Tl, 81) poisoning, the invention of the silicon (Si, 14) transistor, and how the ruthenium (Ru, 44) fountain pen point made million for the Parker company. With a constant flow of fun facts bubbling to the surface, Kean writes with wit, flair, and authority in a debut that will delight even general readers. 10 b&w illus.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Like big-game hunters, scientists who stalked an undiscovered element courted peril: Marie Curie and Enrico Fermi both died from exposure to dangerous elements in the course of their experiments. But besides them and Dmitri Mendeleev, the deviser of the periodic table, which looms over science classrooms everywhere, few discoverers of the elements occupy the consciousness of even avid science readers. Kean rectifies that in this amble from element 1, hydrogen, to element 112, copernicium. Attaching stories to a human-interest angle, Kean ensures that with his elaboration of the fixation a chemist, physicist, industrialist, or artist had for a particular element comes clarity about why the element behaves as it does. The soft sell about proton numbers and electron shells thus closes the deal for Kean’s anecdotes about elements of war, elements of health, and elements of wealth, plus the title’s practical joke of a spoon (made from gallium). Whether explaining why Silicon Valley is not Germanium Valley or reveling in naming-rights battles over a new element, Kean holds interest throughout his entertaining debut. --Gilbert Taylor --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.See all Editorial Reviews
Shallow science, shallow history-Jumps all over the place-Scatterbrained.Published 5 days ago by puffinswan
Great book and excellent writer. Made the history of science fun and entertaining. I will look to get his other books too.Published 10 days ago by Fon1247
Prior to reading this book, my knowledge of periodic table was limited to just remembering the atomic number and the no of electrons in the outer shell of certain elements. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Sneha
Received this at Christmas. Sounded interesting but I am not a chemistry buff. Got around to reading it this summer and learned a lot about the history of the Chart of Elements. Read morePublished 1 month ago by GeekSpeak
Some information is interesting as anecdotes, however, some other facts outside of the immediate scope of the book (chemistry) are much less scientific to the point of being... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Anastasia