Book Review: The Disappearing Spoon by Sam Kean | Science News

SUPPORT SCIENCE NEWS

Science News is a nonprofit.

Help us keep you informed.


Reviews & Previews

Book Review: The Disappearing Spoon by Sam Kean

Review by Rachel Ehrenberg

By
12:47pm, September 24, 2010

If aliens ever land on Earth, Kean writes, one of the few things humans could present that might actually be understood by the visitors is the periodic table of the elements. That observation is typical of this quirky, thoughtful and thorough book.

Remembered by many as a daunting chart looming over a teacher’s shoulder and typically “less than frickin’ helpful” on exams, the periodic table is actually a map, writes Kean, a science journalist. It is a map on which geography is destiny, a map of rivalries and antagonisms, a map that — accompanied by a guide like Kean — can take you through space and time.

From the Big Bang to ancient Greece to Nazi Germany and Gandhi’s India, Kean highlights the prominent roles of various chemical elements throughout history. He also reveals their

This article is only available to Science News subscribers. Already a subscriber? Log in now. Or subscribe today for full access.

Get Science News headlines by e-mail.

More on Favorite books of 2017

From the Nature Index Paid Content