Synopses & Reviews
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.
"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
"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
"[Kean turns] The Disappearing Spoon into a nonstop parade of lively science stories...ebullient." New York Times
"Kean's palpable enthusiasm and the thrill of knowledge and invention the book imparts can infect even the most right-brained reader." Miami Herald
"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
"Nearly 150 years of wide-ranging science...and Kean makes it all interesting. Entertaining and enlightening." Kirkus
"Fascinating stories...Kean writes in a whimsical yet easy-to-read style." Library Journal
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.