Periodic Tales

Periodic Tales

A Cultural History of the Elements, From Arsenic to Zinc

Book - 2012
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In the spirit of A Short History of Nearly Everything comes Periodic Tales. Award-winning science writer Hugh Andersey-Williams offers readers a captivating look at the elements--and the amazing, little-known stories behind their discoveries. Periodic Tales is an energetic and wide-ranging book of innovations and innovators, of superstition and science and the myriad ways the chemical elements are woven into our culture, history, and language. It will delight readers of Genome, Einstein's Dreams, Longitude, and The Age of Wonder.

Publisher: New York : Ecco, 2012, c2011.
ISBN: 9780061824739
Characteristics: xvii, 428 p. : ill. ; 21 cm.

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SkokieStaff_Steven Jan 11, 2018

As someone who would rather know a little about a lot than a lot about a little, I love wide-ranging, fact-rich overviews like Hugh Aldersey-Williams’ “Periodic Tales: A Cultural History of the Elements, from Arsenic to Zinc.” Oddly enough, this book inspired by the periodic table is wildly unsystematic as Aldersey-Williams cheerfully ambles from one element to another seemingly as they strike his fancy, relating stray bits of historical, biographical, scientific, and cultural information about each one along the way. While such a book would be most unhelpful for a chemistry student cramming for an exam, it is delightful for a novice like myself who is surprised to discover that such common substances as chlorine, iodine, and chrome are, in fact, elements. Aldersey-Williams even explains why the Brits add an extra “i” to the word “aluminum,” although he doesn’t convince me that this is a good thing.

oddsyntax Jun 26, 2013

A beautifully written book with a keen sense of the wonder inherent in chemistry. The author brings a combination of philosophical, historical, scientific and personal sensibilities to enliven this survey of elements. I really enjoyed it.

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