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1 Beaverton Chemistry- General

The Disappearing Spoon: And Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of the Elements

by

The Disappearing Spoon: And Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of the Elements Cover

ISBN13: 9780316051637
ISBN10: 0316051632
Condition: Standard
All Product Details

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Staff Pick

Sam Kean proves that chemistry makes for great storytelling with this entertaining look at the human stories behind the elements found in the periodic table. A delightful history of science, The Disappearing Spoon makes for both an engaging and enlightening read.
Recommended by Michal D., Powells.com

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

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 it's also a treasure trove of adventure, betrayal, and obsession. These fascinating tales follow every element on the table as they play out their parts in human history, and in the lives of the (frequently) mad scientists who discovered them. The Disappearing Spoon masterfully fuses science with the classic lore of invention, investigation, and discovery — from the Big Bang through the end of time.

*Though solid at room temperature, gallium is a moldable metal that melts at 84 degrees Fahrenheit. A classic science prank is to mold gallium spoons, serve them with tea, and watch guests recoil as their utensils disappear.

Review:

"Kean...unpacks the periodic table's bag of tricks with such aplomb and fascination that material normally as heavy as lead transmutes into gold." Entertainment Weekly

Review:

"Kean's writing sparks like small shocks...he gives science a whiz-bang verve so that every page becomes one you cannot wait to turn just to see what he's going reveal next." The Boston Globe

Review:

"[Kean turns] The Disappearing Spoon into a nonstop parade of lively science stories...ebullient." New York Times

Review:

"Kean's palpable enthusiasm and the thrill of knowledge and invention the book imparts can infect even the most right-brained reader." Miami Herald

Review:

"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." Publishers Weekly

Review:

"Nearly 150 years of wide-ranging science...and Kean makes it all interesting. Entertaining and enlightening." Kirkus

Review:

"Fascinating stories...Kean writes in a whimsical yet easy-to-read style." Library Journal

Book News Annotation:

Mere mention of the Periodic Table may cause science-challenged readers to turn a deaf ear, but Kean makes the abbreviated symbols come to life with witty and interesting stories about the role the elements play in our lives. It might have been easier to memorize the table if you knew such facts as Ga, 31 is gallium, named by a Frenchman Le Coq de Boisbaudran for France which means Gallia in Latin, and that he used it to make a teaspoon that would dissolve at 87 degrees Fahrenheit and melt in a teacup. No mineral, or metal, is left unturned in this lively historical perspective. Kean is a current writer for Science magazine. Annotation ©2011 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

About the Author

Sam Kean spent years collecting mercury from broken thermometers as a kid, and now he is a writer in Washington, D.C. His work has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, Mental Floss, Slate, Air & Space/Smithsonian, and New Scientist. In 2009 he was a runner-up for the National Association of Science Writers' Evert Clark/Seth Payne Award for best science writer under the age of thirty. He currently writes for Science and is a 2009-2010 Middlebury Environmental Journalism fellow.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 6 comments:

Jeffrey Bluhm, February 3, 2015 (view all comments by Jeffrey Bluhm)
A description of the evolution of the periodic table, including how atoms and matter come into being. While the scientific explanations lack clarity at times, the book overall does a good job of explaining the organization of the periodic table and the races to discover/describe new elements. Later chapters focus on specific groups of elements, by location on the table or by shared traits, to provide further insight into the chemistry and physics underlying the periodic table as we know it today. Much of the information is described in vignettes about the scientists themselves, as well as their rivalries, which adds an element of entertainment.
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Rich Grubb Jr, October 26, 2013 (view all comments by Rich Grubb Jr)
Very enjoyable read. Great stories of people, discoveries, and how much has been discovered in the relatively recent history of science. I recommend this book to everyone as an easy read.
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(1 of 2 readers found this comment helpful)
Lwaxana, January 1, 2013 (view all comments by Lwaxana)
I never thought I would love a book whose subject is the Periodic Table of the Elements. But this book is readable and funny and wise, and even a liberal-arts person like me can savor it. I learned quite a few things while having a wonderful time. Reading experiences don't get much better than that!
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(1 of 2 readers found this comment helpful)
View all 6 comments

Product Details

ISBN:
9780316051637
Subtitle:
And Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of the Elements
Author:
Kean, Sam
Publisher:
Back Bay Books
Binding:
TRADE PAPER

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The Disappearing Spoon: And Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of the Elements Used Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$10.95 In Stock
Product details pages Back Bay Books - English 9780316051637 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

Sam Kean proves that chemistry makes for great storytelling with this entertaining look at the human stories behind the elements found in the periodic table. A delightful history of science, The Disappearing Spoon makes for both an engaging and enlightening read.

"Review" by , "Kean...unpacks the periodic table's bag of tricks with such aplomb and fascination that material normally as heavy as lead transmutes into gold."
"Review" by , "Kean's writing sparks like small shocks...he gives science a whiz-bang verve so that every page becomes one you cannot wait to turn just to see what he's going reveal next."
"Review" by , "[Kean turns] The Disappearing Spoon into a nonstop parade of lively science stories...ebullient."
"Review" by , "Kean's palpable enthusiasm and the thrill of knowledge and invention the book imparts can infect even the most right-brained reader."
"Review" by , "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."
"Review" by , "Nearly 150 years of wide-ranging science...and Kean makes it all interesting. Entertaining and enlightening."
"Review" by , "Fascinating stories...Kean writes in a whimsical yet easy-to-read style."
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