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The Mystery of the Periodic Table (Living History Library) Paperback – April 1, 2003
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Top Customer Reviews
There were two things that I really appreciated from this book which sort of surprised me: First, it was made evident that an intelligence was behind the elements. The book points out many ways that Chemistry is orderly, exact and not accidental. He doesn't say, "God invented the elements and their properties" but he has at least three paragraphs full of exclamation points and sentences which express wonder at the perfection that the chemists were astounded to find.
Second, the author repeatedly describes how the chemist had the wrong idea but experimented the right way; or he had just the right idea, but made the wrong conclusion. I found these instances very encouraging, especially for the young scientist, because it explains that trial and error is a crucial part of finding out facts of science. I don't want my kids to research a question, make a hypothesis, do an experiment, get an unexpected result, and count it a total failure.
The author also goes into some effort to show how the chemists of days past stumbled in a group effort spanning centuries to come to what is presently known as the Periodic Table. Until I read The Mystery of the Periodic Table, I thought that the periodic table was just a reference guide, and now I know it is a historical, methodical, even beautiful and interesting diagram. I think this book is an excellent value. I know of no other product like it that includes all the chemists and their experiments, sketches of their apparati, and how they worked off each other's contributions and change each others outlooks. It includes updates up to almost present day. It is an excellent explanation of many basic chemical elements; a few experiments; entirely comprised of biographies; easily God-glorifying; written in an exciting manner which carries the reader along.
Other science and sci-fi reads my son enjoyed :
Bomb by Sheinken (as in the atomic bomb)
Fourteenth Goldfish by Holm (quick and fun read triggering profound discussions)
Isaac Newton by Krull (Newton was something else)
Archimedes and the door to science (Archimedes was too)
This book tells all about the complicated journey to the finished periodic table. It begins with the puzzle- the solution to the problem; the periodic table. The book then goes back all through history, from the first chemists, to the alchemists, and atomists. Many scientists are profiled throughout the book- Van Helmont, Robert Boyle, Georg Stahl, Henry Cavendish, John Dalton, Humphrey Davy, Dimitrii Mendeleev, Ernest Rutherford, and many more. My favorite thing about this book was learning more about the scientists and their personal lives. Many science books just talk about the "science" side of things, the discoveries and the experiments, but this book talks about both the scientist's lives and their discoveries. I highly recommend this book, it is one of my very favorite science books to date.
Wiker presents both the power of the scientific method to arrive at truth over time, and the bizarre deviations caused by temporarily-held theories in the interim. My fifth-grader cheered on the historical characters as they made breakthroughs, reinforcing his appreciation for the scientific method, but at the same time he was moved to wonder which current theories will eventually prove false. I couldn't ask more of bedtime reading.