And so, there were times in this book, where I only understood a few clauses in each paragraph because the concepts were so advanced, but the author did a great job of bringing it back to a laypersons' comprehension in the next paragraph. So, in summary, this book is written for all levels of science or not nerds. It is full of incredible tales and the fun secrets and stories of the people involved in the development of the periodic table and science as we know it.
I will absolutely be rereading this book - most definitely when the boys are learning the periodic table in school.
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View all 3 comments. Shelves: history , non-fiction , from-author-publisher , readbooks-male-author-or-illust , zz-4star , reviewed , science , z This book is fine for laypeople, but will give meaning and extra enjoyment even for advanced chemistry students. Anyone with a smidgen of curiosity about any aspect of life should find many things here that they find interesting. So many subjects are covered including astronomy, war, South Pole exploration, health and illness and poisoning, history, other sciences, the personalities of those who have contributed to the findings in the field, and so much more.
The relevance of the elements chemistry in everyday life is made so clear.
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There are many lovely digressions that turn out not to be digressions at all. There were very amusing parts, including funny quips that frequently pop up, and all of those quips have substance.
It has a sort of gossipy in a good way tone. I learned so much. Like the author, I loved playing with growing balls of mercury from broken thermometers. I had a bit of chemistry in other college science classes and in nutrition class. There is a table of the elements in the back of the book but it includes abbreviations only; it is not embellished; there is no list of elements by name next to it. However, in the index, thankfully, the elements are listed in bold, and I referred to that index at the beginning of every chapter when some elements were listed, in what looked to me like unusual Scrabble tiles.
This book should be part of every beginning chemistry class.
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It makes the subject so interesting. This is certainly not the only attempt to make chemistry a great deal of fun for everyone. This is a gem of a book and such a great idea. I adored the humor, and there was a lot of it. I hope that Sam Kean or someone writes similar books about physics, mathematics, etc. I would definitely read them if they were as clever as this book. View all 41 comments. Oct 11, Mackey rated it it was amazing Shelves: banned-books , my-reviews , noir-fiction , books-read This is on the banned book list - why!?
Oh that's right. Certain parents think that science is too "real" for their precious babies. What a lot of baloney! Okay, it is the only book about the Periodic Table that I've ever read - but it is amazing. For those who love science or for those who simply would like to better under the elements that make the co This is on the banned book list - why!? For those who love science or for those who simply would like to better under the elements that make the cosmos what it is, then this is a must read for you!!
As for the "disappearing spoon" trick - well, you'll just have to read the book to find out the secret to this parlor trick for yourself! You'll be glad that you did! View all 9 comments. There's a certain type of goodreads troll -- the one who defends their beloved book by saying something like, "Well, if you knew the topic didn't interest you why were you stupid enough to pick up the book?
If you had told me a few weeks ago that I'd find a book about chemistry and the periodic table of elements difficult to put down, I'd have had a hard time believing you. But I did. This book was funny, interesting, even grip There's a certain type of goodreads troll -- the one who defends their beloved book by saying something like, "Well, if you knew the topic didn't interest you why were you stupid enough to pick up the book?
This book was funny, interesting, even gripping at times, and always engaging. I took off a star because I'll admit that I didn't get all of it despite the author's best efforts. I guess it would take more than a fun book to turn me into a chemistry person.
But it was still a wonderful read, and not a guilty pleasure because it was actually educational. This meant I could feel virtuous for once while I ignored my various responsibilities in favor of more reading. So not only did I get to enjoy a good book, I feel vindicated in my ongoing belief that a a sufficiently good writer can make any topic interesting, even to a reluctant reader.
Yes — sometimes it pays to leave your reading comfort zone. View all 21 comments. Jan 14, Valerie rated it it was amazing Recommends it for: everyone. Shelves: math , africa , science , cypresslibrary. This does for the periodic table what I am always trying to do for math I was fascinated by the many details about the hunt for elements, the private lives of the Curies, the radioactive boy scout, the dangers of storing rare elements in the Congo, and that the same man who invented nitrogen rich fertilizers, is also the inventor of zyklon B.
It also made me want to read more about The M This does for the periodic table what I am always trying to do for math It also made me want to read more about The Manhattan Project, so I guess its time to put the Rhodes book on my wishlist. This book took me 76 days, or almost three months , to read. In this case, I needed all seventy-six individual days to work my brain through passages like this one: For instance, thirteen aluminium atoms grouped together in the right way do a killer bromine: the two entities are indistinguishable in chemical reactions.
This happens despite the cluster being thirteen times larger than a single bromine atom and despite aluminium being nothing like the lacrimatory poison-gas staple The clusters work like this. The atoms arrange themselves into a three-dimensional polyhedron, and each atom in it mimics a proton and a neutron in a collective nucleus. The caveat is that electrons can flow around inside this soft nucleic blob, and the atoms share the electrons collectively. Scientists wryly call this state of matter "jellium. If you read the above passage and thought, "This makes perfect sense! What an appropriate way to explain jellium, a state I've always been interested in!
To give more context, here's how much of an idiot I am: when I took physics at Stanford on the way to my successful minor! To study, I did literally every single problem from those chapters, and I did the word problems multiple times. When I got to the final, I immediately recognized one of the problems I had done at least four times, was jubilant for about 2 seconds, and then realized I had absolutely no idea how to do it.
I think I only got half credit. That is how good I am at squashing scientific concepts into my brain. On the positive side, I find all of this very interesting, and because I forget it so quickly, I have a lifetime of renewed discoveries ahead of me. View 2 comments.
Dec 11, Nathan rated it liked it Shelves: science-fact. This book constipated my reading for almost a month. I have overdue fines from other books that were stacked up behind it. Not because I wasn't enjoying the book: it's readable, fascinating, and chock full of the very anecdotes about science and scientists that I love.
So then, why the hell did I find this book so hard? It's precisely because the book is a collection of anecdotes that it was so hard to read. I felt like I was trying to grasp quicksilver mercury, symbol Hg from Latin This book constipated my reading for almost a month. Actually, that's a lousy metaphor: quicksilver is a glistening hypnotic liquid because its atoms stick together.
These atomic anecdotes didn't: nothing stuck in my head, nothing stuck to each other. There was no overall organizing principle to the book that I could divine, and reluctantly I finished it barely the wiser than I begun. This book demands flashcards. I want to know the anecdotes. I want them to stick. I am going to have to work at it, however, beyond simply reading the book, if that is to happen.
View 1 comment. Dec 25, rmn rated it it was ok Shelves: non-fiction-science. I should have liked this book more and I can't really explain why I didn't. It's not poorly written though it ain't Solzhenitsyn and it's not that uninteresting of a topic, but I just found that after the first 40ish pages, I dreaded having to read more.
It was like pulling teeth, only a bit less painful, even without the option of novocaine. I think part of it was that the book wasn't well organized. The author seemed to jump around the periodic table at his whim without keeping a I should have liked this book more and I can't really explain why I didn't.
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The author seemed to jump around the periodic table at his whim without keeping a consistent framework perhaps that was the point, it was a bit unclear to me. Anyway, the writing is OKish enough and it is certainly very well researched, so I can understand why many people have liked it.
And it's really not a bad science book, but for some reason I just found myself having a viscerally negative reaction to having to read the next chapter well I guess I didn't have to keep reading on, but whatever. I don't know, I wish I could pinpoint the source of my discontent with this, but it is what it is, so feel free to try it out for yourself.