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The Periodic Table is one of man's crowning scientific 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. We learn that Marie Curie used to provoke jealousy in colleagues' wives when she'd invite them into closets to see her glow-in-the-dark experiments. And that Lewis and Clark buried mercury capsules across the country and their campsites are still detectable by the poison in the ground. Why did Gandhi hate iodine? Why did the Japanese kill Godzilla with missiles made of cadmium? And why did tellurium lead to the most bizarre gold rush in history? From the Big Bang to the end of time, it's all in THE DISAPPEARING SPOON.
Sam Kean is a writer in Washington, D.C. His work has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Mental Floss, Slate, The Believer, Air & Space, Science, and The New Scientist. He is currently working as a reporter at Science magazine and as a 2009 Middlebury Environmental Journalism fellow.
Table of Contents
Orientation: Column by Column, Row by Row
Geography is Destiny
Near Twins and Black Sheep: The Genealogy of Elements
The Galápagos of the Periodic Table
Making Atoms, Breaking Atoms
Where Atoms Come From: ôWe Are All Star Stuffö
Elements in Times of War
Completing the Table…with a Bang
Extending the Table, Expanding the Cold War
Periodic Confusion: The Emergence of Complexity
From Physics to Biology
Poisoner's Corridor: ôOuch-Ouchö
Take Two Elements, Call Me in the Morning
How Elements Deceive
The Elements of Human Character
Elements as Money
An Element of Madness
Element Science Today and Tomorrow
Chemistry Way, Way Below Zero
Spheres of Splendor: The Science of Bubbles
Tools of Ridiculous Precision
Above (and Beyond) the Periodic Table
Acknowledgments and Thanks
Notes and Errata
The Periodic Table of the Elements
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