Thursday, September 2, 2010

Review: The Disappearing Spoon by Sam Kean

The Periodic Table is one of man's crowning scientific achievements. But it's also a treasure trove of stories of passion, adventure, betrayal, and obsession. The infectious tales and astounding details in THE DISAPPEARING SPOON follow carbon, neon, silicon, and gold as they play out their parts in human history, finance, mythology, war, the arts, poison, and the lives of the (frequently) mad scientists who discovered them.

We learn that Marie Curie used to provoke jealousy in colleagues' wives when she'd invite them into closets to see her glow-in-the-dark experiments. Lewis and Clark swallowed mercury capsules across the country and their campsites are still detectable by the poison in the ground. From the Big Bang to the end of time, it's all in THE DISAPPEARING SPOON.

Received from the publisher for review.

This one gets four stars.  It had a great feel and flow with a quite readable style.  The chapters are short enough to be read in a single sitting which is a nice bonus.  Despite the subject matter the tone is not in the least condescending.  My favorite chapters were The Poisoner's Corridor and Elements as Money.  I was pleasantly surprised that I genuinely learned quite a bit from the book.  This would make a nice gift and is certainly recommended for those even minutely scientifically inclined.

★★★★ = Really Liked It


Man of la Books said...

Thanks for the heads up, I love these type of books filled with anecdotes which make legends simply human.

Sun Singer said...

Another one for my TBR list.

Dreamworld Book Reviews said...

I was just looking at this book in the issue of Bookmarks magazine I received today -- I'm so happy to see you liked it! I appreciated your comment about how it is NOT condescending regarding the subject matter, I wondered about that. I'll definitely have to check it out!

Ryan G said...

I enjoyed this one as well. My review should be finished sometime tomorrow. I'm glad to hear you liked it.

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