Mendeleyev's Dream: The Quest for the Elements

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Macmillan, Apr 21, 2001 - Science - 308 pages
10 Reviews
In this elegant, erudite, but entertaining book, Paul Strathern, the award-winning novelist and expositor of complex ideas, unravels the dramatic history of chemistry through the quest for the elements.

Framing this history is the life story of the nineteenth-century Russian scientist Dmitri Mendeleyev, who fell asleep at his desk and awoke after conceiving the periodic table in a dream-the template upon which modern chemistry is founded and the formulation of which marked chemistry's coming of age as a science. From ancient philosophy through medieval alchemy to the splitting of the atom, this is the true story of the birth of chemistry and the role of one man's dream.
  

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Review: Mendeleyev's Dream

User Review  - James Webster - Goodreads

An appalling work in the very worst (and very out-of-date) style of History of Science. Contemptuous, in that triumphalist, "aren't we a lot cleverer than our ancestors?" way of anything that doesn't ... Read full review

Review: Mendeleyev's Dream

User Review  - Kevin Speck - Goodreads

This is a wonderful read through the history of science. However it deals only superficially with the subject matter of Mendeleyev's life and work. Most of the book focuses on the history of science ... Read full review

Contents

Prologue i
1
In the Beginning
9
The Practice of Alchemy
29
Genius and Gibberish
51
Paracelsus
70
Trial and Error
99
The Elements of Science
126
A Bornagain Science
159
The Great Phlogiston Mystery
202
The Mystery Solved
225
A Formula for Chemistry
242
The Search for a Hidden Structure
253
Mendeleyev
262
The Periodic Table
286
Further Reading
295
Index
303

Things Never Seen Before
187

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About the author (2001)

Paul Strathern was born in London in 1940. He studied physics, chemistry, and math at Trinity College, Dublin, before switching to philosophy. He is the author of several novels, including A Season in Abyssinia, which won a Somerset Maugham prize, and two highly successful series of short introductory books, Philosophers in 90 Minutes and The Big Idea: Scientists Who Changed the World. Paul Strathern lectures in philosophy and science at Kingston University.

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