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Periodic Tales: The Curious Lives of the…
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Periodic Tales: The Curious Lives of the Elements (udgave 2011)

af Hugh Aldersey-Williams (Forfatter)

MedlemmerAnmeldelserPopularitetGennemsnitlig vurderingOmtaler
8062220,037 (3.49)14
"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"--
Medlem:Mitch_Anna
Titel:Periodic Tales: The Curious Lives of the Elements
Forfattere:Hugh Aldersey-Williams (Forfatter)
Info:Penguin (2011), 434 pages
Samlinger:Dit bibliotek
Vurdering:
Nøgleord:Ingen

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Periodic Tales: A Cultural History of the Elements, from Arsenic to Zinc af Hugh Aldersey-Williams

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» Se også 14 omtaler

Viser 1-5 af 22 (næste | vis alle)
First half was excellent... then got a little repetitive when materials began to sound like a laundry list spiel of attributes. But overall, I recommend. ( )
  marshapetry | Mar 1, 2021 |
Aldersey-Williams takes readers along on his quest to collect all of the elements in the periodic table. While a bit of a slog at times, this book is mostly entertaining as it highlights the humanity of scientific discovery---the ego and the ambition, the odd mix of hubris and humility that leads to the conviction that everything is ultimately knowable, and the sometimes shocking carelessness of chemists in pre-OSHA days---and makes me wonder what's tinting my sunglasses. Especially appealing to me are the dry wit and the urge for classification and the comfort that comes with the feeling that the world is a place of order, despite appearances to the contrary. ( )
  ImperfectCJ | Sep 7, 2020 |
I was going to fill this review with little plays on words involving each of the 114 named elements, but everyone knows that all the good chemistry puns argon. Also have you tried making a pun involving praseodymium? It's impossible. (That wasn't a pun.)

Periodic Tales is an odd little piece. As much picaresque as Dead Souls or Don Quixote, Hugh Aldersey-Williams wanders pell-mell and everywhither amongst forty or so of the known elements, pointing out their unusual properties, uses, or histories.

Some editions of Periodic Tales are subtitled A Cultural History of the Elements, whereas others – mine included – opt for The Curious Lives of the Elements. It's not much of a change, sure, but the subtleties in subtitles do seem to reflect the two opposing sides of the book. Hugh Aldersey-Williams has a master's degree in science but is a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. Ostensibly, then, he's in the perfect position to write about the elements from both a scientific viewpoint and a more arts-oriented side. In practice he seems far happier with the former than the latter.

The sections on scientists' ever more refined attempts to break down compounds into purer and purer substances, on Mendeleev's sagacious formulation of the periodic table, and on the zany japes those kooks at Las Alamos got up to are all fun to read and thoroughly interesting. But when the subject turns to, say, the cultural value of gold and that slightly disturbing statue of Kate Moss at the British Museum, the tone becomes more forced. Sometimes it's as if the author isn't quite sure why he's writing about the deep culturohistorical significance of collections of atoms unified by their having the same number of protons in their nucleus. Worse, sometimes he seems to have decided that the best way to discuss the elements' role in the arts is to set off on a flight of romantic prose. Anyone who has read Jules Verne's [b:The Castle in Transylvania|7937245|The Castle in Transylvania|Jules Verne|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1320559907s/7937245.jpg|1533080] will know what happens when an author more suited to solid science writing tries their hand at impersonating Shelley.

As with many modern non-fiction works, Periodic Tales has tried to take a slightly different approach to its subject matter, and explained in its introduction that this is because there already exist many marvellous books about the elements. This one might not have been marvellous, but it was a nice appetiser until I find one that is. ( )
  imlee | Jul 7, 2020 |
I was going to fill this review with little plays on words involving each of the 114 named elements, but everyone knows that all the good chemistry puns argon. Also have you tried making a pun involving praseodymium? It's impossible. (That wasn't a pun.)

Periodic Tales is an odd little piece. As much picaresque as Dead Souls or Don Quixote, Hugh Aldersey-Williams wanders pell-mell and everywhither amongst forty or so of the known elements, pointing out their unusual properties, uses, or histories.

Some editions of Periodic Tales are subtitled A Cultural History of the Elements, whereas others – mine included – opt for The Curious Lives of the Elements. It's not much of a change, sure, but the subtleties in subtitles do seem to reflect the two opposing sides of the book. Hugh Aldersey-Williams has a master's degree in science but is a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. Ostensibly, then, he's in the perfect position to write about the elements from both a scientific viewpoint and a more arts-oriented side. In practice he seems far happier with the former than the latter.

The sections on scientists' ever more refined attempts to break down compounds into purer and purer substances, on Mendeleev's sagacious formulation of the periodic table, and on the zany japes those kooks at Las Alamos got up to are all fun to read and thoroughly interesting. But when the subject turns to, say, the cultural value of gold and that slightly disturbing statue of Kate Moss at the British Museum, the tone becomes more forced. Sometimes it's as if the author isn't quite sure why he's writing about the deep culturohistorical significance of collections of atoms unified by their having the same number of protons in their nucleus. Worse, sometimes he seems to have decided that the best way to discuss the elements' role in the arts is to set off on a flight of romantic prose. Anyone who has read Jules Verne's [b:The Castle in Transylvania|7937245|The Castle in Transylvania|Jules Verne|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1320559907s/7937245.jpg|1533080] will know what happens when an author more suited to solid science writing tries their hand at impersonating Shelley.

As with many modern non-fiction works, Periodic Tales has tried to take a slightly different approach to its subject matter, and explained in its introduction that this is because there already exist many marvellous books about the elements. This one might not have been marvellous, but it was a nice appetiser until I find one that is. ( )
  leezeebee | Jul 6, 2020 |
For all those that avoided chemistry at school this is the book for you! Aldersey-Williams writes about the discovery, history and the uses of the elements that go to make up every thing that you use and touch. Fascinating and written with a light touch for all non-scientists. ( )
  PDCRead | Apr 6, 2020 |
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Arthur Grosvenor Aldersey-Williams
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with love and gratitude
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Like the alphabet or the zodiac, the periodic table of the elements is one of those graphic images that seem to root themselves for ever in our memories.
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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"--

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