HomeGroupsTalkZeitgeist
Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

El tío Tungsteno by Oliver Sacks
Loading...

El tío Tungsteno (original 2001; edition 2009)

by Oliver Sacks

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,354345,689 (3.96)38
Member:Locals_Only
Title:El tío Tungsteno
Authors:Oliver Sacks
Info:ANAGRAMA (2009), Edición: 1st., Perfect Paperback, 350 páginas
Collections:Your library
Rating:***
Tags:None

Work details

Uncle Tungsten: Memories of a Chemical Boyhood by Oliver Sacks (2001)

Loading...

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 38 mentions

English (32)  German (2)  All languages (34)
Showing 1-5 of 32 (next | show all)
Bits of this book were terrific. All the parts about his boyhood, life at school and WWII were terrific. But I'm only giving this book 2 stars because the rest of the book were unreadable by someone like me who has no interest in chemicals, rocks or science. I'm sorry to say that it was wasted on me. I've enjoyed many others of Sack's books, even though they were highly technical, this one felt as if Sack's were writing it for his own enjoyment, and he might just have done that. More power to him. ( )
  sgerbic | Oct 4, 2014 |
I enjoy Oliver Sack's works. For one who is such an accomplished scientific figure in the medical world, his prose writing is so good. "Uncle Tungsten", published first in 2001, is his memoir of his life and times in pre and immediately post war England. Sack's family were Jews who had immigrated to England around the turn of the 20th century. His parents were physicians and his uncles (he came from quite a large family) were scientists and entrepeneurs. Uncle "Tungsten" owned and ran a factory that produced light bulbs and he was deeply knowledgeable about heavy metals that could be used as filaments in these early bulbs. In addition to Uncle Tungsten, Sacks's family members were brainy and colorful characters who are quite fun to read about.

Through Uncle (Dave) "Tungsten", Sacks's intellectual curiosity in chemistry was aroused. (Mathematics was also an obsession.) At an early age, he acquired all manner of chemicals and set up his own laboratory where he conducted experiments to understand better the chemical properties of various elements and compounds. One amazing aspect of the story is how easy it was for Sacks to acquire chemicals that are quite dangerous and how tolerant his parents were of the goings-on in his lab in an attached shed. One cannot imagine such liberality or forbearance today.

In many ways, Sacks's memoir gives the history of chemistry advances in the 19th and 20th century. He describes the breakthrough work of many of the icons of early chemistry -- Boyle, Lavoisier, Davy, Faraday, Mendeleev and others. His burning impulse to understand how the physical world was constructed and interacted is plain to see and marked him as an unusual young person of great intellectual potential.

What's perhaps even more compelling in Sacks's story is his depiction of life before and during the war. Sacks, born in 1933, was shipped off to boarding schools away from London during the Blitz and his memories (many were not happy ones) give a fascinating view of life during this time. His family was closely connected to the Jewish community in London and his stories about this culture are interesting and evocative; he says that this tight knit society ceased to be after the war.

His path through the world of chemistry progresses through increasing levels of complexity. Some of his descriptions of chemical laws and processes are above my understanding; they made me aware of how much about chemistry I have forgotten, or, more likely, never knew. When he reached atomic realms of the periodic table of elements and structure of atomic entities, I was quite lost. Notwithstanding, it's worth slogging through the esoteric parts of the book, if for nothing more than to gain an appreciation of this young man's remarkable intellectual focus and his passion for knowledge. ( )
  stevesmits | Sep 9, 2013 |
A curious mix of wartime memoir and scientific history; intersperses the story of the author's childhood with an overview of the development of chemistry. A very quick and fun read. ( )
  wweisser | Jul 6, 2013 |
Wonderfully engaging memoir. Sacks’s conveys with deceptive simplicity and clarity the wonders of chemistry and the excitement (and the history of the last couple of centuries, no mean feat to do this so clearly and concisely!) of scientific discovery, as well as his joyous inquisitiveness as a child and his excitement at discovering this world of science. At the same time, it’s sad to read about the abuse and isolation he and his brother endured at the school they were sent to during WW2.
Typical of his generous, positive view is that even these sad times (like his brother’s eventual mental illness, and his parents’ unawareness of his own suffering at the horrible school and their inexplicably thoughtless, even insensitive, behavior, and his own anxieties and isolation) never sound regretful or self-centeredly whiny, though he describes them forthrightly. He’s generous and direct and loving in his description of his passions, as well as his depiction of his enormously engaging, supportive and remarkable family. It’s refreshing to read a personal account that is not tortured or blaming. ( )
  lxydis | May 11, 2013 |
i love oliver sacks' case studies and learning about neurology from his writing. this wasn't as fun for me, but it still was full of interesting and sometimes amazing information. this book is purely focused on chemistry, and people who have no interest in chemistry would not enjoy this at all. he also doesn't do much explaining, so people who have no foundation of chemical knowledge probably wouldn't follow it all that well either. this describes me around some of the topics he covers, but the ones that i remembered more about from high school and college i found more interesting. i also was finding myself wishing that i could have been taught chemistry the way he was, by actually doing it all. i never enjoyed the mathematical chemistry that was pure formula and hypothesis that never made sense in reality, that i learned in high school and that finally shifted slightly when i took organic chemistry in college. he learned chemistry by hand, in a time when you could go to the store and buy a rock of potassium to experiment with at home. learning chemistry the way he did does sound interesting and fun (and totally dangerous) and i can see why he fell in love with it. also, it helps that he grew up not just in a time where you could go to the corner store and buy reagents to "play" with, but in a wealthy family. and a brilliant one at that. i am so impressed by the absolute genius that pervades his gigantic family (he has 17 aunts and uncles on his mother's side, more on his father's, and almost 100 cousins) and realize also that it helps to be taught things like chemistry and physics from people whose life work revolves around different aspects of these sciences. still, sacks remains truly great in my mind, and i look forward to the next book of his i read on neurology. ( )
  elisa.saphier | Apr 2, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 32 (next | show all)
Romantic chemistry sounds like a contradiction in terms, but the two words pair naturally in this book.
added by Katya0133 | editEconomist
 
When Mr. Sacks departs from the narrative of his childhood to serve up lengthy digressions on the finer points of rare earth metals or electromagnetic reactions, his writing can lapse into textbook lecturing, but even these dense, scientific passages are enlivened by his boyish wonder at the amazing logic and strangeness of the world.
added by Katya0133 | editNew York Times, Michiko Kakutani
 
Thus this is both the story of a particular English boy's life just before, during, and after World War II and a maximally engaging, personalized overview of chemistry, from Robert Boyle to Madame Curie.
added by Katya0133 | editBooklist, Ray Olson
 
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Information from the Dutch Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Alternative titles
Original publication date
Information from the Dutch Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
People/Characters
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
Epigraph
Dedication
for Roald
First words
Many of my childhood memories are of metals: these seemed to exert a power on me from the start.
Quotations
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Blurbers
Publisher series
Original language

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (7)

Book description
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0375704043, Paperback)

Oliver Sacks's luminous memoir charts the growth of a mind. Born in 1933 into a family of formidably intelligent London Jews, he discovered the wonders of the physical sciences early from his parents and their flock of brilliant siblings, most notably "Uncle Tungsten" (real name, Dave), who "manufactured lightbulbs with filaments of fine tungsten wire." Metals were the substances that first attracted young Oliver, and his descriptions of their colors, textures, and properties are as sensuous and romantic as an art lover's rhapsodies over an Old Master. Seamlessly interwoven with his personal recollections is a masterful survey of scientific history, with emphasis on the great chemists like Robert Boyle, Antoine Lavoisier, and Humphry Davy (Sacks's personal hero). Yet this is not a dry intellectual autobiography; his parents in particular, both doctors, are vividly sketched. His sociable father loved house calls and "was drawn to medicine because its practice was central in human society," while his shy mother "had an intense feeling for structure ... for her [medicine] was part of natural history and biology." For young Oliver, unhappy at the brutal boarding school he was sent to during the war, and afraid that he would become mentally ill like his older brother, chemistry was a refuge in an uncertain world. He would outgrow his passion for metals and become a neurologist, but as readers of Awakenings and The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat know, he would never leave behind his conviction that science is a profoundly human endeavor. --Wendy Smith

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:20:28 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

Long before Oliver Sacks became a distinguished neurologist and bestselling writer, he was a small English boy fascinated by metals-also by chemical reactions (the louder and smellier the better), photography, squids and cuttlefish, H.G. Wells, and the periodic table. In this endlessly charming and eloquent memoir, the author chronicles his love affair with science and the magnificently odd and sometimes harrowing childhood in which that love affair unfolded. In Uncle Tungsten we meet Sacks' extraordinary family, from his surgeon mother, who introduces the fourteen-year-old Oliver to the art of human dissection, and his father, a family doctor who imbues in his son an early enthusiasm for housecalls, to his "Uncle Tungsten," whose factory produces tungsten-filament light bulbs. We follow the young Oliver as he is exiled at the age of six to a grim, sadistic boarding school to escape the London Blitz, and later watch as he sets about passionately reliving the exploits of his chemical heroes, in his own home laboratory. Uncle Tungsten is a crystalline view of a brilliant young mind springing to life, a story of growing up which is by turns elegiac, comic, and wistful, full of the electrifying joy of discovery.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 2 descriptions

Quick Links

Swap Ebooks Audio
6 avail.
87 wanted
3 pay2 pay

Popular covers

Rating

Average: (3.96)
0.5
1 2
1.5
2 13
2.5 3
3 36
3.5 15
4 91
4.5 11
5 65

Audible.com

2 editions of this book were published by Audible.com.

See editions

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.

 

Help/FAQs | About | Privacy/Terms | Blog | Contact | LibraryThing.com | APIs | WikiThing | Common Knowledge | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | 94,325,647 books! | Top bar: Always visible