Book Review: the Disappearing Spoon…

The Disappearing Spoon– by Sam Kean …and other true tales of madness, love, and the history of the world from the periodic table of the elements.


Back Cover

Why did Gandhi hate iodine (I, 53)? How did radium 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 passion, adventure, betrayal, and obsession. These fascinating tales follow all the elements on the table as they play out their parts in human history, fiancé, mythology, conflict, the arts, medicine, and the lives of the (frequently) mad scientist who discovered them. The Disappearing Spoon masterfully fuses science with the classic lore of invention, investigation, discovery, and alchemy, from the big bang through the end of time.

Sam Kean reading his book for an audience

My Review

I first read this national bestseller a few years ago. Yes, I know I said the same thing about the last book I reviewed; that just happened to be during the time I was applying for doctoral programs, and as a result spent a lot of time in Barnes and Nobles using up their free Wi-Fi. Anyhow, back from my tangent, this book was fascinating and fun to read.

What makes it fascinating is that it is pretty-much  history through the lens of the periodic table. It’s the interesting stories they never told you in science class, and had they, you might have paid more attention, or even developed a fond and respectable interest in chemistry. You will never look at the periodic table of elements the same way, if you remember every story, which you probably won’t, but that is the reason I bought the book.

I read the book over the course of about 3 days, I hid it in the book shelves for the first two days, but then I became afraid that it would be sold or taken off the shelves (as happened often), before I could finish it, so I ended up buying it. I’ve re-read a few chapters recently, so that I could give you guys a good review. I liked it, I think you will too. It’s definitely a great gift for a teenager, who say’s science is boring.

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