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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Little, Brown, Jul 12, 2010 - Science - 400 pages
2955 Reviews
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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User Review  - ehousewright - LibraryThing

Not sure this would be for everyone, but most who took chemistry (or physics) would find it fascinating. The organization of the book is somewhat like that of the table itself—chapters group stories ... Read full review

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User Review  - Mrs_McGreevy - LibraryThing

Chemistry and I have a long and unpleasant history going back to my college days, so a book about chemistry that's actually informative and enjoyable is a rarity (like Oliver Sacks's Uncle Tungsten ... Read full review

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About the author (2010)

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 2009 Middlebury Environmental Journalism fellow.

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