The Disappearing Spoon

The Disappearing Spoon

[and Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World From the Periodic Table of the Elements]

Streaming Audiobook - 2010
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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. And that Lewis and Clark swallowed mercury capsules across the country and their campsites are still detectable by the poison in the ground. Why did Gandhi hate iodine? Why did the Japanese kill Godzilla with missiles made of cadmium? And why did tellurium lead to the most bizarre gold rush in history? From the Big Bang to the end of time, it's all in The Disappearing Spoon.
Publisher: [United States] : Tantor Audio : Made available through hoopla, 2010
Edition: Unabridged
ISBN: 9781400199525
Branch Call Number: E-AUDIOBOOK
Characteristics: 1 online resource (1 audio file (780 min.)) : digital


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Oct 14, 2018

My daughter and I listened to this when she was in high school a couple of years ago. Now she is in a college chemistry class, and she texted me that she is so grateful we listened to this book. The stories in it are helping her study and remember what different elements' properties are.

JCLChrisK Jun 13, 2016

A highly readable and entertaining collection of stories about the chemical elements--more specifically, about the people who have contributed to the development of the periodic table of elements. There is plenty of science as a necessary ingredient to the telling of the tales, but this is not an academic text meant to teach chemistry so much as a celebration of scientific discovery and a storybook. It delights in curiosities and enlightenments, interesting personalities and their explorations. It includes history, politics, etymology, alchemy, mythology, literature, forensics, psychology, astronomy, and much, much more. It wanders a bit and I struggled to understand Kean's organizational logic since it isn't meant to tell a single, coherent story, but that's only a slight matter since the book's joy is meant to be found in each of the individual anecdotes anyway. A perfect read for summer.

Feb 23, 2016

I am not a chemist and found this book interesting. There is a lot of factoids and some science in it, that I don't claim to remember all that was discussed in the book. But this book really does make you appreciate all the background stories on discovering each elements. It is understandable for a non-chemist like me. If I taught chemistry in high school, I would have the students read a chapter from this book on a relevant elements.

JCLHopeH Sep 22, 2014

Confession: I zoned out quite a bit while listening to this book. (Perhaps the print/eBook would have been a better format.) Great in concept, I just don't think I was the right audience. A mix of science, history, and anecdotes that added a fun, human perspective to the history of the periodic table. I was drawn to the human stories but often the discussion was just a bit too technical for my tastes. However, I still learned some interesting trivia and am glad I persevered to the end.

May 15, 2013

Terrific book about science and history. Very enjoyable.

Jun 05, 2012

I never took chemistry or physics in high school because I always felt they were inaccessible. This book really explained things simply and relateably. I also really enjoyed the connections to historical anecdotes of the scientists who discovered the elements and their uses in the world.

Nov 07, 2011

Accidentally ordered the audiobook copy instead of the book one. It's quite interesting but I think that, for me anyway, the material is better suited to a traditional paper version, so I can flip back to doublecheck some of the info or if I can't follow the facts in my head. Don't have much education in chemistry, so it's probably more me than the book itself, and the stories are very interesting even when I got lost. Going to request the paper version and try again.

Apr 08, 2011

An interesting look at history through the periodic table of elements....


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