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
Ever have to slog through a book to get to the end? I did recently with The Disappearing Spoon by Sam Kean.
The premise seemed promising—a trek through historical events using the
periodic table of the elements as touchstones.
I like science and I’m always looking for ways to peak my interest in
history (not my favorite subject) so it seemed like a win-win. Yeah, not so much. I really had to force myself through the
first half of the book; Kean went into great detail about the initial cosmic
distribution of the elements and then into structural analysis of atoms and
electrons. Yes, necessary information to
understanding the elements but did it really have to take half the book? I’m not convinced.
Now, the second half of the book started to get interesting when Kean
brought the elements into play during times of war and the great scientific
races between countries to discover new elements and classify them in an understandable
manner. But I found it difficult to keep
the strings of what he was discussing together because he jumped around from
time to country and from scientist to principle with not a lot of tie-in
between. I did find interesting tidbits
and the information matches up with what I know about chemistry and physics
(more than average but definitely not an expert) but the muddled format was
However; I finished, I felt good about it when I was done and now I’m
rewarding myself with eye candy… the fun photographic collection of Underwater Dogs by Seth Casteel. Seeing these canine faces stretched into
grins just makes me smile J.