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Hugh Aldersey-Williams is an author and journalist from the United Kingdom. Aldersey-Williams was educated at Highgate School and studied the natural sciences at the University of Cambridge. he is known for his bestselling book, Periodic Tales: A Cultural History of the Elements, from Arsenic to vis mere Zinc, which explains all the elements found in the periodic table and their origins. He has also written The Most Beautiful Molecule and Anatomies: A Cultural History of the Human Body. (Bowker Author Biography) vis mindre

Værker af Hugh Aldersey-Williams

Associated Works

The Public Domain Review: Selected Essays, Vol. III (2016) — Bidragyder — 3 eksemplarer
Eye 1, 1990 (1990) — Bidragyder — 1 eksemplar

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Each distinct atom (differentiated by the number of protons in their nuclei) makes up an element, one of the “elemental” aspects of life on earth. Elements create bonds to form molecules, which in turn combine to form all matter. Atoms, or elements, were organized into a “periodic table” by Russian chemist Dmitrii Mendeleev in 1869. This table not only changed the way in which scientists categorized elements, but allowed them to predict missing elements according to where they would fit on the table. Now totaling 118, each element is unique not only in its chemical makeup, but also in its physical manifestation and cultural significance. (There are only 92 naturally occurring elements, but addditional elements have been produced by nuclear physics technology.)

It is the cultural significance that is the focus of this survey by Hugh Aldersey Williams. His discussion follows a rather meandering path through the elements not in their natural order but grouped by social uses. In sections called Power, Fire, Craft, Beauty, and Earth, he highlights some elements in each group showing how they were discovered, how they have been used, and the meanings with which they have been imbued throughout time. He also chronicles his own interests in the elements, and the ways in which he tried to collect and work with various elements throughout his life.

The forays into chemistry by Aldersey Williams are very basic - you don’t have to understand physics or even chemistry to enjoy his exploration of the elements. Some parts of the book are more interesting than others - for example I thought the whole anecdote about the gold sculpture of the supermodel Kate Moss was drawn out and of marginal interest. But I appreciated the way he integrated the uses of elements by artists and writers into his book. In any event, most of his stories were not only more interesting but full of fascinating factoids.

Evaluation: Overall, I found this survey of elements accessible and entertaining, not only learning a thing or two but renewing my interest in atomic science. I listened to the audiobook narrated by Antony Ferguson, and I have to say the British pronunciations were as fun and interesting to me as the content of the material. For example, who knew the British say gaseous with a long a, or that in Britain, Ulysses is pronounced with the accent on the first syllable: “YOU-liss-ees," instead of as the U.S., where it is pronounced with the accent on the second syllable: “You-LISS-ees."
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nbmars | 25 andre anmeldelser | Aug 25, 2023 |
Una excelente lectura para adentrarse un poco en la química y comprender tantas cosas que debían estar resueltas desde la secundaria. Cuando comencé a leer el libro, lo primero que pensé fue: necesitamos maestros que nos expliquen así la tabla periódica.
uvejota | 25 andre anmeldelser | Jul 26, 2023 |
Matt_B | 25 andre anmeldelser | Jul 9, 2023 |



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