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The Disappearing Spoon: And Other True Tales…

The Disappearing Spoon: And Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the… (edition 2010)

by Sam Kean

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2,5211013,530 (3.88)158
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:Little, Brown and Company (2010), Edition: 1, Hardcover, 400 pages
Collections:Your library

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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


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Showing 1-5 of 100 (next | show all)
Regrettably DNF. Just couldn't bear 9 audio cds of this!
  nkmunn | Nov 17, 2018 |
So far, not so great. The degree of anthropomorphizing of atoms in the introductory chapters has left me completely puzzled about the actual science involved. I have no idea what it means that oxygen is "a bully." Does oxygen shake down other atoms for electrons? How does that even work?

However, the chapter on chemical warfare has been (disturbing but) interesting. If the rest of the book is historical-figures character-driven, rather than atomic character-driven, then my overall opinion of the book should improve. Ugh, spoke too soon. Most of the chapter discusses chemical warfare in Europe around the World Wars. Therefore, most of the chapter is about named individuals -- chemists and soldiers and heads of state. And then one gets to the last four pages which are about how the cell phone industry's demand for niobium and tantalum fed the war in the Congo... a war which is all tribalism and ancient grudges (unlike Europe's wars?). "Gruesome stories have circulated about proud victors humiliating their victims' bodies by draping themselves with entrails and dancing in celebration." Lurid detail, but with no names, no location, no citations. I wish I were kidding. Gruesome stories circulated about 'the Hun' during the war, too, but I didn't see those stories getting a whole lot of coverage in this science book and for good reason -- so why are the stories about Congolese atrocities getting uncritically repeated here? And then to just win at post-colonialism, he unironically quotes Joseph Conrad, who "once called Congo, 'the vilest scramble for loot that ever disfigured the history of human consceince,' and there's little reason to revise that notion today." Thank you ever so much for perpetuating the stereotypical images of the Dark Continent, images which don't need revising despite being a hundred years out of date. ( )
  akaGingerK | Sep 30, 2018 |
A fantastic book about the periodic table and the scientists attached to it. Each element is shown to have a fascinating history and unique qualities. Very informative, and a great read! ( )
  AnnajoJJG | Aug 14, 2018 |
Full review can be found at www.sevenacrebooks.com

Fun Fact-if you ever want to read a big, complicated book only to realize it's going to be big and complicated, pick up the Young Reader's Edition instead. That's right, grown up stuff simplified for kids.
The Disappearing Spoon by Sam Kean is full of fun and fascinating geek facts about how the periodic table was created and all the drama that went with it.
Highly enjoyed this book and I'm so glad to have it available to my young readers at the Library. Or, adults who like their books shorter and easier to read. You know, like me. ( )
  SevenAcreBooks | Jul 11, 2018 |
THE DISAPPEARING SPOON by Sam Kean is the young reader’s edition of the popular science book.

After a brief introduction, the work of nonfiction is divided into five parts exploring different aspects of the periodic table and its history. Within each section are a series of chapters exploring specific topics associated with the section’s theme. The book concludes with the periodic table of elements, a glossary, bibliography, and index.

Librarians will find this to be an excellent addition to the nonfiction collection. While it will be a useful resource for students writing reports connected with the periodic table, it will be most popular among children who enjoy reading nonfiction for fun. Use the book as part of a nonfiction literature circle focusing on science. The text would also be helpful for high school students who find the adult version of the book too difficult.

Published on April 3, 2018 by Little, Brown, an imprint of Hachette. ARC courtesy of the publisher. ( )
  eduscapes | May 26, 2018 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Kean, Samprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Staehle, WillCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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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.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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(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)

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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)

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