An enjoyable book that weaves together tales of the Periodic Table. Not only does the book describe the order of the table, and it's development, but interesting anecdotes about many of the elements contained, such as tales of discoverers, of controversies, of mistaken identities (of elements), and very interesting historical facts. I really enjoyed reading about how the chemistry of dyes led to the first antibiotic therapies - the sulfa drugs, how radium was discovered, how elements combine, how they're separated. And about the whole competitive area of research that is centered around finding new elements! Who knew!?
The story-telling style makes it easy to understand and stay focused. That's important because some of the chemistry can be a little complex. But it doesn't bog down the book or the reader.
I found myself going to Google several times to find out more about the chemistry and the people described in this book.
I almost ordered a gallium kit off Amazon to make my own disappearing spoon! I still might. Who knew so much fun with chemistry was so within reach!?
Learning the obscure history behind each element.
I can listen while on road trips!
Sorry, thats just not my style..
Highly recommend it!
If you have any interest in the Periodic Table, this is the book to pick up and listen to. It is a fascinating, and in some ways unbelievable, series of short, interconnected historical stories tied back to the narrative backbone of the Periodic Table; the stories usually focus on specific elements or the groups in which they reside.
If you have ever wondered why some elements are named the way they are, this book answers that. If you have ever wondered how elements are discovered, or in what order they were discovered, or where they were discovered, or what their uses are, or which ones are dangerous, or which ones are beneficial--this book answers all of those questions and more.
The narrator is entertaining--almost tongue-in-cheek--without detracting from the information being presented. I would agree with some of the other reviewers who say that the book is scattered; in some ways it is, but I found that advantageous, because I could pick up and listen to an hour here and there without having to consult (metaphorical) notes on what happened before.
The layperson might become a little confused on the science, but it is clearly explained, and there isn't too terribly much of it; however, anyone with some science background, especially chemistry, will probably get more out of it.
Again, highly recommended to anyone who has an interest in chemistry, likes the Periodic Table or wants to find out more about the Table and its history.
I liked his author's asides, I have the feeling of the author standing there and going ohhhohhohh......so that the reader has to add in his extra information.
I have not taken very many general science classes. High school biology and chemistry. For my Master's Degree in Deaf Education I took science classes such as anatomy, and an understanding of sound. I enjoyed listening to the stories in this book. I remember the periodic table of elements and as a special education middle school teacher have had to introduce chemistry to students who had learning problems. I found making element models from unifix cubes and marshmallows and gumdrops, helped them understand a little bit about the table.
I think this book has a great way of explaining the history of science.
This brought the elements home and made them interesting and new. Now I have a better understanding of where they come from, how they effect me and some of their more unusual aspects.
I've not read the hard-copy of this book, but the audio was great!
The detailed stories shared of the various scientists and their contributions to the p.table / science....so many!! The mad scientist who invented and utilized nerve gas and elements for war purposes; disgusting, but interesting.
Lots of information about just every element; the content got heavy near the end, and I started to tune out.
Sam Kean is a fantastic author. I started hearing him on RadioLab and had to give this a listen. I love the Authors notes that are usually hilarious. If you enjoy history and science this is will worth it.
The Violinists Thumb
You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.” ― C.S. Lewis
Both engrossing, weird and totally horrific facts on the elments presented in a casually entertaining manner. Very well written and narrated.
I'm not done with it, but will finish it...someday. At the halfway point, other books piqued my interest more. This was six months ago.
Fun history and stories about how the periodic table was discovered/designed, the personalities behind it, and info on each of the elements. My wife liked it more than me, but she is the geeky one.
Sometimes, science is easier to understand when there is a story behind it, that's where this book shines.
Being a chemist I was most intrigued by his research and information. Being a teacher I was more intrigued by his stories. This made the elements come alive in a more useful, realistic fashion. Being a listener I loved the narration.
Not to be missed by the scientifically minded!