The Disappearing Spoon And Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of the Elements

  • ISBN13:


  • ISBN10:


  • Edition: 1st
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2010-07-12
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
  • Purchase Benefits
  • Free Shipping On Orders Over $35!
    Your order must be $35 or more to qualify for free economy shipping. Bulk sales, PO's, Marketplace items, eBooks and apparel do not qualify for this offer.
  • Get Rewarded for Ordering Your Textbooks! Enroll Now
List Price: $31.00 Save up to $1.55
  • Buy New


Supplemental Materials

What is included with this book?


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.

Author Biography

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

Introductionp. 3
Orientation: Column by Column, Row by Row
Geography is Destinyp. 11
Near Twins and Black Sheep: The Genealogy of Elementsp. 32
The Galápagos of the Periodic Tablep. 47
Making Atoms, Breaking Atoms
Where Atoms Come From: ôWe Are All Star Stufföp. 65
Elements in Times of Warp. 81
Completing the Table…with a Bangp. 98
Extending the Table, Expanding the Cold Warp. 115
Periodic Confusion: The Emergence of Complexity
From Physics to Biologyp. 135
Poisoner's Corridor: ôOuch-Ouchöp. 152
Take Two Elements, Call Me in the Morningp. 167
How Elements Deceivep. 186
The Elements of Human Character
Political Elementsp. 203
Elements as Moneyp. 222
Artistic Elementsp. 238
An Element of Madnessp. 255
Element Science Today and Tomorrow
Chemistry Way, Way Below Zerop. 277
Spheres of Splendor: The Science of Bubblesp. 295
Tools of Ridiculous Precisionp. 314
Above (and Beyond) the Periodic Tablep. 331
Acknowledgments and Thanksp. 347
Notes and Erratap. 349
Bibliographyp. 377
Indexp. 379
The Periodic Table of the Elementsp. 392
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

Rewards Program

Write a Review