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

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9780316051644: The Disappearing Spoon: And Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of the Elements

From New York Times bestselling author Sam Kean comes incredible stories of science, history, finance, mythology, the arts, medicine, and more, as told by the Periodic Table.

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.

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About the Author:

Sam Kean is a writer in Washington, D.C. His work has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Mental Floss, Slate, The Believer, Air & Space, Science, and The New Scientist. He is currently working as a reporter at Science magazine and as a 2009 Middlebury Environmental Journalism fellow.

From AudioFile:

The periodic table of the elements, generally credited to the Russian chemist Dmitri Mendeleev in 1869, provides "a useful framework to classify, systematize, and compare all of the many different forms of chemical behavior." The author uses Mendeleev's table and its numerous revisions to write a history of science and scientists, which at times, may poke its head above the comfortable lexicon of many general listeners. However, writer Kean's ability to ferret out the lighter side of events makes for an addictive and educational experience. Narrator Sean Runnette proves himself to be the perfect surrogate for the author as he pronounces every name and obscure technical term without flaw. His connected reading shows that he understands the subtle humor, irony, and impact of such a clever history. J.A.H. AudioFile 2010, Portland, Maine

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