Monday, November 29, 2010

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
By Sam Kean
Little, Brown & Co., 2010. 391 pgs. Nonfiction.

Did you know that aluminum, the disposable stuff we use to line pans when we don’t want to have to scrub them, was once the most valuable metal in the world? How about that gold is thought by some to be our best hope for treating cancer? Or perhaps that Oklo, an area in Africa, is home to the only known natural nuclear fission reactor? Sam Kean includes these and many, many more fascinating facts and stories about the people and elements connected to the periodic table of elements.

I believe that what makes science writing so much fun to read is that scientists, these serious men and women who spend their lives studying our vast and complicated universe, are so completely human and at times completely crazy as well. Kean’s fascination with the physics, chemistry, and history of our elements makes it difficult to avoid being fascinated as well. The Disappearing Spoon is a treasure trove of entertaining facts and stories and is a pleasure to read.


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