I took basic high school chemistry, but that's it. Although this book goes through a lot of background, I found that it was too technical for me to thoroughly enjoy. I did like all of the stories about elements being used throughout history, and I gleaned a lot of conversation starters from this book. However, when listening to this in the car, I had whole stretches of 15-20 minutes where I lost interest in the audiobook. There were some fun parts to this book, but I would recommend it to someone with a bit more chemistry background for it to be fully enjoyable.
Kept me listening for two chapters. Early in chapter three, Kean states that water is the only liquid in our universe (at any pressure or temperature) that could provide liquid transport of metabolites to and from cells in multi-cellular organisms. I'm done listening.
Great story. Well read. Narrator kept it interesting. Could not stop listening. Chemical history fascinating.
I'm not a scientist, but I loved this book. Sam Keen is a great writer, and delves into fascinating tidbits about the history of the periodic table that you won't hear anywhere else.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book! I am not a scientist, so although I devoted my full attention to the book, there were many parts I just could not grasp. Nonetheless, I am interested in certain branches of science (think: medical), so I do NOT regret choosing The Disappearing Spoon. I DO understand & enjoy history, & Sam Kean's book is full of it.
Sean Runnette has a WONDERFUL voice, & his reading style complements & illuminates the book, never detracts from it. The author definitely has a healthy sense of humor. The vignettes from history are fascinating, hilarious, tragic, & everything in between.
The sheer volume of science, history, information, & explanation in The Disappearing Spoon is huge, yet Sam Kean does an excellent job weaving together the myriad stories into a coherent narrative. What an entertaining, enlightening book!
if you're a lover of chemistry you will likely eat this book up. I'm not a lover of chemistry but still found it entertaining. he does a good job of weaving history in with the chemistry, physics and more mundane details of the periodic chart.
Overall the book is interesting and compelling, but the author frequently shits between a formal and informal register; switching between colorful but restrained descriptions of the elements and the individuals and historic events surrounding them and jarring switches to using words like "frigging awesome" to describe some discovery or other.
While the book lacks polish in this regard, the content makes for en enjoyable "read".
An educational and occasionally amusing collection of tales about sometimes quirky, other times nefarious, but never boring elements, from astatine to zirconium. It may at least convince some listeners that chemistry is a tad less boring than they used to think.
We read The Disappearing Spoon for book club, and it turned out to be such a fun night. With so many crazy stories, everyone was able to latch on to something. Sam Kean's book overflows with stories related to the periodic table. I really enjoyed many of them.
A couple of things made this book a little bit difficult. First, there are about a million names to remember. Names of all the scientists. Names of all the elements. Names of scientific equipment and laws. It gets a little overwhelming. As I was listening to it, I often thought to myself, "Well, I'm really enjoying this book. I just wish that I could remember more of the information."
The book reminded me a little of Bill Bryson's Home, another book that I absolutely adored. The rambling, full of so much information style is very similar.
I did very much enjoy hearing about so many Nobel prize winners. The chapters on war and the elements involved in the weapons of WWI and WWII really stuck with me. In part, because I had some background in this area, but also because they are intriguing, if also a bit depressing, moments from history.
I loved learning more about the world of science , but this particular style was hard to stay focused through. Took me several times to get through it all, but I'm glad I stuck with it. I'll be playing it again to catch the things I missed the first time while trying to stay focused.