Organized into identical boxes in columns and rows in the periodic table , it can be easy to forget how vastly different each element is. Although some elements, like iron, are familiar,  others, like selenium, are more obscure. Some,  like Technetium, don’t even exist outside of a lab.

“Serendipitous clumsiness and outright blunders have pushed science ahead all through history.”

page 137

When organized into a periodic table, the elements look very familiar to us. Their differences are celebrated in The Disappearing Spoon, where all of the wonderful quirks and attributes of each element are illuminated through strange facts and historical anecdotes.

Why is this on our bookshelf?

If you have never understood how someone can geek out about chemistry (perhaps you remember the dull equations you suffered through in Gen Chem), then you need to read this book.

The geek in you will suddenly understand when you read Sam Kean’s wonderful descriptions of eccentric scientists, the best elements for pranks, and missed moments of scientific brilliance.

Rating (5 stars)

This book is brilliant. Did you know that Wilhelm Röntgen thought he was going crazy when he discovered X-rays?  Or that aluminum was at one time considered a precious metal more valuable than gold (which is why an aluminium capstone tops the Washington Monument)?

Or that the famous computer mecca in northern California just barely escaped being named Germanium Valley. I could go on, but why? I devoured this book and enjoyed every minute.