I found this book to be fascinating. As I listened I frequently bothered my boyfriend with tidbits starting "did you know..." As a teacher I thought this book could make for an interesting inter-disciplinary assignment as it connects history, chemistry, biology and more. For a curious mind, this is a winner.
Well worth the read. Instead of being a chemistry/physics heavy book, it ties in the history, controversy, personal stores and interesting facts about the elements and the design of the periodic table. For example did you know, aluminum used to be consider the rarest of the fine metals (before we figured out how to refine it) and as such a 100oz. pyramid of it sits atop the Washington Monument, or that Napoleon is reputed to have given a banquet where the most honored guests were given aluminum utensils, while the others made do with gold? This book is filled with a plethora of interesting factoids, history and even a little science.
Well narrated, well written, can't stop listening to it! The weaving of all of the stories will keep you wanting more.
Very Interesting, enlightening
This book is exactly what you think it’s about. The Periodic Table.
Wonderful anecdotes about the discovery of each element. This book got me really interested in the history of science.
Very entertaining book about the periodic table of elements. I loved the way Kean connected so many fields here, from astrophysics to biology to the heroic age of Antarctic exploration, through events and people involved in the structuring of the table and the discovery and use of the various elements themselves. Great narration too.
One note: in all that I have read about Robert Falcon Scott's last Antarctic expedition, I have never heard it said that Titus Oates (unnamed in this book) "went insane and wandered off." That's a very misleading (and, from everything I've read, incorrect) discription of what actually happened, and even though it's just sort of a throw-away statement in the story Kean was telling here, it made me wonder what else he sort of...tweaked...to make things sound more dramatic. I might be totally nitpicky here, but...it just introduced a little doubt. Still, I very much enjoyed the book as a whole.
At its best, this book is an engaging, interesting, and deeply informative book about the birth of modern chemistry.
At its worst, it is a poorly edited gossip rag that takes indiscriminate potshots -- criticizing scientists for believing too readily, not believing readily enough -- and is filled with unfortunate, cynical schadenfreude.
As to the editing -- Timothy McVeigh did NOT blow up the Oklahoma City Courthouse. He blew up the Murrah Federal Building. That is a MAJOR error that should not have gotten past the editors.
Finally, Mr Kean, while ridiculing pretty much everyone, consistently talks about what atoms and molecules and elements "want to do." As the hard-nosed, error-science writer, he ought to know that atoms, etc., don't "want" anything. They DO things because of their various physical properties.
That is a whole lot of complaining, but I mostly enjoyed this. Mr Kean just needs a dose of the humility that he noticing that others don't have.
This is a brilliant blend of science, history, fun trivia and human interest stories. Much of what is in this book was unexpeted and a wonderful surprise -- like wandering around a museum and stumbling upon one riverting piece of art work after another.
I look forward to reading Mr. Kean's next book. No matter what the subject, I expect it to be fascinating.
Avid reader, love philosophy, fiction, everything!
Something most people would see as boring has been turned interesting and fun! This is a great book and you might even learn something!!! HIGHLY recommended.
It's all about the history of element discovery, but we never learn how the elements were actually discovered. And yet the author somehow found the time to discuss the Drake equation and other barely-irrelevant asides. I found that very irritating. Plenty of interesting stories, though, and a great description of the periodic table and the physics behind it.