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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
Kean, Sam (Book - 2010 )
Average Rating: 4 stars out of 5.
The Disappearing Spoon

Item Details

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? From the Big Bang to the end of time, it's all in THE DISAPPEARING SPOON.
Authors: Kean, Sam
Title: The disappearing spoon
and other true tales of madness, love, and the history of the world from the periodic table of the elements
Publisher: New York :, Little, Brown and Co.,, 2010
Edition: 1st ed
Characteristics: vi, 391 p. :,ill. ;,25 cm
Statement of Responsibility: Sam Kean
ISBN: 9780316051644
Branch Call Number: 546 K243d 2010
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Report This Apr 24, 2014
  • CraigGraziano rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

lmost episodic in nature, the crux of each story is often how a particular element was discovered, and then how humankind has chosen to put it to use. Sometimes it is for public welfare (copper is used on doorknobs and stair railings because most bacteria that land on it die with in a matter of hours), other times for warfare (high demand for the metals used to construct cell phones have contributed to five million deaths in war-torn central Africa since the mid-90’s). Read more at: http://www.librarypoint.org/disappearing_spoon_kean

Report This Mar 15, 2014
  • mrkswft rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

I enjoyed reading this book so much. I would recommend it to anyone interested in the vast field of science. I look forward to reading the Author's other books.

Report This Nov 19, 2013
  • JCLHelenH rated this: 2.5 stars out of 5.

While the chemistry is a bit over my head, the stories are great. For me, it was a challenging, but rewarding read.

Report This Jun 16, 2013
  • StarGladiator rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

Just one correction: As we learned from subsequent movies, the Japanese Defense Forces were not successful in killing Godzilla, as it kept coming back stronger and stronger.

Great Book. Sam Kean does a great job explaining chemistry to people who do not know much about it without making the book feel like a text book. The stories made it really interesting and I can't wait to read his book on DNA.

Report This Jun 13, 2013
  • KarenW rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

Have you ever wondered how and why the periodic table has come to be? This in depth study of one of the most basic tools of science, show the intimate relationships that each element has to the other in a way that is completely fascinating for the average nerd. And it is quite readable for the rest of us!

Report This Oct 01, 2012
  • rstucke35 rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Fastastic book with intriguing and exciting stories about Science. Very cool.

Report This Aug 25, 2012
  • mswendybe rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

You don't have to be a science geek to love this book. Easy to read stories about the history of the Periodic Table. You'll laugh, you'll cringe, you'll be amazed!

Report This May 28, 2012
  • nancyk228 rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

If you want to learn about the history of the invention of chemistry and physics in a charming and witty way, this is the book for you. Who knew there was so much politics between reseachers and about their idiocyncracies and competition for the Nobel prize. Delightful!

Report This May 13, 2012
  • InqMin95 rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

One of the most consistently interesting and entertaining books on the development of this area of science for the general reader - This books relates the explorations (successful and unsuccessful) into defining and discovering the elements to the social and political history of the times - fascinating "back stories" that kept me enthralled. Covers a lot of material, includes enlightening information on many related side issues as well.

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Sam Kean explores the periodic table talking about how each element was discovered, used, or what makes them interesting.


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He absolutely deserved one of the great scientific compliments ever paid, when a colleague said Pauling proved "that chemistry could be understood rather than being memorized"

Report This Aug 25, 2012
  • mswendybe rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Donald Glaser - a lowly, thirsty, twenty-five-year-old junior faculty member who frequented bars near the University of Michigan - was staring one night at the bubbles streaming through his lager, and he naturally started thinking particle physics.


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