The Disappearing Spoon by Sam Kean
After reading The Tale of the Dueling Neurosurgeons, I decided to check out what else Sam Kean had to offer. And as I know next to nothing about the periodic table of elements, I was sold when I read the blurb on this book.
This book had me desperately trying to remember the little high school chemistry I actually stayed awake for. And The Disappearing Spoon had the high honor of both fascinating me and making me feel like a complete moron. This is a book I think I'd have to read a few times before really understanding the majority of it, and not by any fault of Mr. Kean's. There is just so much to this topic and it spans pretty much the entirety of the history of science. I have since recommended this to a chemist friend of mine. She's gonna love it!
But to the author's credit, he had me crying in my car listening to a story of a Nobel prize snub and a subsequent naming of an element. Crying... over an element. Well played sir, well played.
And now I'm having the hankering to play with some mercury.
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.