Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

The Disappearing Spoon: And Other True Tales…

The Disappearing Spoon: And Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the… (edition 2011)

by Sam Kean

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,672794,288 (3.92)107
Title:The Disappearing Spoon: And Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of the Elements
Authors:Sam Kean
Info:Back Bay Books (2011), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 416 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:science, chemistry, elements, Kindle, DDCC

Work details

The Disappearing Spoon: And Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of the Elements by Sam Kean


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

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 107 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 78 (next | show all)
This was at least 3 if not more, but a 2 on my experience because unfortunately I listened to the audio edition which was very nicely done, but the subject matter was not a good mix with driving. I would have had to approach it like it was a textbook to really appreciate it properly, I just couldn't retain from chapter to chapter what was going on with the all the names of scientists and elements and years and data. I often enjoyed the author's vocabulary, and enjoyed the author's notes. I did think there would be more in the way of quirky little stories though based on how it was presented. ( )
  MaureenCean | May 10, 2015 |
Perhaps not everyone would find the history of the periodic table as fascinating as I do, but I really enjoyed this. Not all of the chapters are about the element's discovery; many are related stories of their discoverers' lives or the element's impact on history. You don't have to understand much chemistry to enjoy this, but it does help to have an interest in the subject to begin with. It's certainly accessible, but perhaps not universally engrossing. ( )
  melydia | Apr 18, 2015 |
Unshelved recommends it, and the reasons Chrissie didn't like it are ones that wouldn't bother me.
  Cheryl_in_CC_NV | Apr 14, 2015 |
I would use this book to contextualize/humanize the elements of the periodic table. Also, I could use it as part of a research project.
  ogroft | Apr 14, 2015 |
This book is a history of science based on the periodic table. Kean goes through the elements discussing their discovery, the stories of the scientists who discovered them, and the element's place in human society. A lot of the book is anecdotes about chemists, but they're good stories. There are also a lot of interesting connections, both among the elements and the people who work for them. A nice, easy-to-read popular science and history work that enlivens the periodic table for even the most curmudgeonly humanities major. ( )
  Othemts | Feb 16, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 78 (next | show all)
no reviews | add a review

» Add other authors (2 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Kean, Samprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Staehle, WillCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Information from the Estonian Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
First words
As a child in the early 1980s, I tended to talk with things in my mouth - food, dentist's tubes, balloons that would fly away, whatever - and if no one else was around, I'd talk anyway.
Never underestimate spite as a motivator for genius.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Publisher series
Original language

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (6)

Book description
(from the book jacket) Why did Gandhi hate iodine (I, 53)? Why did the Japanese kill Godzilla with missiles made of cadmium (Cd, 48)? How did radium (Ra, 88) ruin Marie Curie’s reputation? And why did tellurium (Te, 52) lead to the most bizarre gold rush in history?
The periodic table is one of our crowning scientific achievements, but it’s also a treasure trove of passion, adventure, betrayal, and obsession. The fascinating tales in The Disappearing Spoon follow carbon, neon, silicon, gold, and every single element on the table as they play out their parts in human history, finance, mythology, conflict, the arts, medicine, and the lives of the (frequently) mad scientists who discovered them.
Why did a little lithium (Li, 3) help cure poet Robert Lowell of his madness? And how did gallium (Ga, 31) become the go-to element for laboratory pranksters? The Disappearing Spoon has the answers, fusing science with the classic lore of invention, investigation, discovery, and alchemy, from the big bang through the end of time.
Haiku summary
Talk of chemistry / usually bores me to tears / But here's Godzilla! (MiaCulpa)

No descriptions found.

(see all 2 descriptions)

The periodic table of the elements is a crowning scientific achievement, but it's also a treasure trove of passion, adventure, obsession, and betrayal. These tales follow carbon, neon, silicon, gold, and all the elements in the table as they play out their parts in human history. The usual suspects are here, like Marie Curie (and her radioactive journey to the discovery of polonium and radium) and William Shockley (who is credited, not exactly justly, with the discovery of the silicon transistor)--but the more obscure characters provide some of the best stories, like Paul Emile François Lecoq de Boisbaudran, whose discovery of gallium, a metal with a low melting point, gives this book its title: a spoon made of gallium will melt in a cup of tea.--From publisher description.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 6 descriptions

Quick Links

Swap Ebooks Audio
3 avail.
1016 wanted
4 pay4 pay

Popular covers


Average: (3.92)
1 2
2 9
2.5 3
3 76
3.5 31
4 156
4.5 18
5 82


An edition of this book was 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 | 97,219,122 books! | Top bar: Always visible