We're all familiar with the Periodic Table of Elements, it's that big chart in the science classroom that has all the known chemical elements arranged by atomic number. We can find Helium (He), Oxygen (O), and Mercury (Hg)...Great, right?! Sam Kean writes, "Probably the biggest frustration for many students was that the people who got the periodic table, who could really unpack how it worked, could pull so many facts from it with such dweeby nonchalance... People remember the table with a mix of fascination, fondness, inadequacy and loathing." Sam Kean was one of the people who got the Periodic Table, but his love of those chemical elements developed into a love of history, and in The Disappearing Spoon Sam Kean mixes science with our love of a good story and the final product is a wonderful adventure! Here's what the publishers have to say...
The Periodic Table is one of man's crowning scientific achievements. But it's also a treasure trove of stories of passion, adventure, betrayal, and obsession. The infectious tales and astounding details in THE DISAPPEARING SPOON follow carbon, neon, silicon, and gold as they play out their parts in human history, finance, mythology, war, the arts, poison, and the lives of the (frequently) mad scientists who discovered them.
We learn that Marie Curie used to provoke jealousy in colleagues' wives when she'd invite them into closets to see her glow-in-the-dark experiments. And that Lewis and Clark swallowed mercury capsules across the country and their campsites are still detectable by the poison in the ground. Why did Gandhi hate iodine? Why did the Japanese kill Godzilla with missiles made of cadmium? And why did tellurium lead to the most bizarre gold rush in history?
The Disappearing Spoon by Sam Kean is written like a short story collection. Contained within the pages are these great, interesting stories, written in a way that it's like your favorite Uncle telling you a story - enjoyable and understandable. This makes sense because that's what Same Kean enjoyed as a physics major- the stories his professor shared with him,
" I realized that there's a funny, or odd, or chilling tale attached to every element on the periodic table. At the same time, the table is one of the great intellectual achievements of humankind. Its' both a scientific accomplishment and a storybook..."
What does Shakespeare and the first virus ever discovered have in common? Why did the Parker Pen Company hire a metallurgist? You'll read about Lewis & Clark, Madame Curie, Mark Twain. The stories are relatively short and can be enjoyed in bits and pieces. Hey, while you're enjoying the "tales", you'll probably learn something too! Read an EXCERPT of The Disappearing Spoon and see for yourself if Sam Kean has what it takes to make science interesting to you!
I want to thank Hachette Book Group for sending along a review copy of The Disappearing Spoon!