Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Disappearing Spoon by Sam Kean

About the Book:
The periodic table is one of science's crowning 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.

My thoughts:

I'm a bit of a nerd/geek so I was really intrigued but the sheer thought of reading this book. Rightfully so, it is fantastic! It is laid out in such a fashion that anyone who has absolutely no background in Chemistry will be able to follow it and learn a thing or two about why the periodic table is set up the way it is and why some elements struggle to create and maintain bonds while others excel (sounds like some people I know!) I find I am able to learn things when I have interest in it and hearing all of these stories really helps me visualize everything as it were. Now that you have gotten my imagination involved.... tell me more! It is like listening to an old grandfather tell stories about back in his day. Except, the man is not old and lots of the stories are long before his time. So, don't expect to read "Back in my day..." anywhere in the book.

It has been interesting reading about some conflicting theories/public perspectives as the different elements were being discovered and interesting to read how dramatic you may find the scientific prestige.  One story that I found particularly interesting was the story of Medeleev. Long before he was enrolled in an educationally institution he had experienced more in his life than most people in its entirety. This beautiful tale of sacrifice really helps paint a vivid picture of this man.

One thing worth noting, footnotes are not found at the bottom of each page. Instead there is an index in the back broken down by chapter. Then the page number follows along with extended information about that topic. I found it a clever way to keep the book organized.

About the Author:
Sam Kean is a writer in Washington, DC. His work has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, Mental Floss, Slate, The Believer, and The New Scientist. In 2009 he won the National Association of Science Writers' runner-up award for best science writer under the age of thirty. He is currently working as a reporter at Science Magazine and was a 2009 Middlebury Environmental Journalism fellow.

Hachette Book Group has kindly offered two copies of The Disappearing Spoon to my readers!

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Giveaway Rules:
Contest is open to residents of Canada and the US with a valid Street address. No P.O. Boxes please!
Closes August 18th, 2010. Winners will be selected via Random.org and will have 48 hours to respond to the winning email before a new winner is selected!

Disclaimer: I received this book from Hachette Book Group for the purpose of this review. All opinions are my own.


  1. I never took Chemistry in high school so maybe this will fill in that gap in my education a little bit!

    kt1969 at comcast dot net

  2. I follow you on twitter as kmayans.


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