Periodic Tales

Periodic Tales

A Cultural History of the Elements, From Arsenic to Zinc

Book - 2011
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"In the spirit of A SHORT HISTORY OF NEARLY EVERYTHING, an energetic and wide-ranging book of discovery and discoverers, of exploitation and celebration, and of superstition and science, all in search of the ways the chemical elements are woven into our culture, history, and language"--Provided by publisher.
Publisher: New York : Ecco, 2011
Edition: First U.S. edition
ISBN: 9780061824722
Branch Call Number: 546.8 Al
Description: xvii, 428 pages : illustrations ; 22 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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