Periodic Tales: The Curious Lives of the Elements

Periodic Tales: The Curious Lives of the Elements

Everything is made of them, from the furthest reaches of the universe to this book that you hold in your hands, including you. Like you, the elements have lives: personalities and attitudes, talents and shortcomings, stories rich with meaning. You may think of them as the inscrutable letters of the periodic table but you know them much better than you realise. Welcome to a Everything is made of them, from the furthest reaches of the universe to this book that you hold in your hands, including...

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Title:Periodic Tales: The Curious Lives of the Elements
Author:Hugh Aldersey-Williams
Rating:
Genres:Science
ISBN:Periodic Tales: The Curious Lives of the Elements
ISBN
Edition Language:English
Format Type:Hardcover
Number of Pages:428 pages pages

Periodic Tales: The Curious Lives of the Elements Reviews

  • Nikki
    Jun 22, 2012
    This wasn't quite as engaging to me as the blurb and the reviews quoted on the cover suggests -- in fact, it started to feel rather meandering -- but it is quite an interesting read, covering both the scientific history of elements, how and when they were discovered, and the social his...
  • Arty
    Mar 05, 2013
    Full of the sort of information that turns up on QI, this book showed up huge holes in my knowledge... and then filled them with interesting chemicals, some of which I'd never heard of before. ...
  • Christopher Mocella
    Jan 13, 2018
    (Reviewer's disclosure: I am a chemist) - This book is an off angle take on the chemical elements from a historical perspective (how they were discovered), but also deeply on a cultural and meaningful, even poetic, perspective. The author has really done his homework on this, and I lea...
  • Andrew
    Sep 16, 2018
    I will admit that I am starting to get a bit weary of popular science books. Do not get me wrong being trained as a chemist and working in science and engineering for many years I find these books fascinating. The problem lies in the fact that the subject is so huge they have to gi...
  • Bettie
    Jan 29, 2011
    (view spoiler)[Bettie's Books (hide spoiler)] ...
  • Will Byrnes
    May 09, 2011
    Updated 6/29/13 - see link at bottom This book is one of the reasons people will occasionally look at you, slack-jawed, and say ?How did you know that?? There are a few greater feelings in life, but not many. A-W picks a few dozen of the 118 known elements and tells us a bit abo...
  • Andres
    Jan 08, 2011
    If you enjoyed The Disappearing Spoon as much as I did, than this book is a no-brainer must-read. I remember while taking a chemistry class not too long ago that though the nitty gritty details were sometimes daunting, boring, or downright frustrating, it was always the stories abou...
  • Andree Sanborn
    Feb 13, 2016
    It is through this cultural life rather than through experimental encounter in a laboratory that we really come to know the elements individually, and it is a cause for sadness that most chemistry teaching does so little to acknowledge this rich existence. I am not a certified science...
  • Julia
    Nov 22, 2016
    Very interesting. This book definitely tells a different story about the elements than what I, with a chemistry background, usually got. It assigned genders to a lot of the metals and talked about the colors and smells and sounds of the elements and the effect those things had on the w...
  • Ryan Vaughan
    Jul 31, 2012
    In a past review I confessed that I was for the most part scientifically illiterate. I'm not sure how far this book went in curing that but I do know a bit more about the periodic table than I used to. I can name the elements designated as halogens ,fluorine, chlorine, bromine and iod...
  • D Books
    Oct 08, 2011
    The author goes off in too many directions with his story-telling for me to want to stick to reading his book. I read over a hundred pages and can't seem to find it interesting due to how the author goes about writing it. From memories of gathering as many elements of the periodic tabl...
  • ^
    Nov 17, 2011
    An extremely enjoyable book. To date it?s the closest I?ve found to one of my absolute favorite childhood books, passed down to me, long since mislaid; the title and author of which I cannot remember. That book had a red cover. Inside there were the most marvelous stories of the di...
  • J.P.
    Nov 15, 2011
    It must be tough to write a book on science. Make it too simplistic and it may have wider appeal but the people most likely to buy it will think it stinks. Go gung-ho into the subject and in this case chemists will love it while it cures the insomnia of the general public. Ultimately, ...
  • Alyson
    Sep 29, 2014
    A really interesting and entertaining way to learn more about the elements, the periodic table, and the history surrounding them. As a non-chemist, I found the book really enjoyable and very informative. I learned more about the atomic structure of the elements, as well as their cultur...
  • Alana
    Aug 09, 2017
    It took me a long while to read this, because while the individual stories were interesting, the book as a whole just wasn't engaging enough to keep me coming back to it. I finally finished it off by reading about one or two elements every day, enough that the facts and dates didn't st...
  • Andrew
    Mar 20, 2012
    A disappointment. I picked this up thinking it might be weirdly informative and entertaining, like Bill Bryson's wonderfully entertaining science history "A Short History of Nearly Everything." But in the end I found almost all the anecdotes lifeless and pointless. Ultimately I gave up...
  • Graham
    Nov 21, 2014
    A meandering personal scientific historic journey though the elements. I can understand why some folk found this hard going: the numerous diversions off to visit a shop, a mine, a lab, a library, a museum might distract from the central narrative of 'how the elements wee discovered' bu...
  • Celtria
    Dec 10, 2012
    This book sits on my science shelves but it should inhabit a shelf of its own, labelled Biographies of the Inanimate (a section for Borges imaginary Library of Babel?). To quote the author: "My aim in this book has been to show that the elements are all around us, both in the materi...
  • Shane
    Mar 03, 2019
    This book had a lot of interesting information in it and was really extensively researched. The issue for me came when reading all of these details in aggregate, where it felt like a list of unconnected facts. Which, honestly, you can't write about 100+ elements without jumping around,...
  • Anne-Marie Hodge
    Jan 14, 2013
    Tons of interesting facts and trivia, and a unique approach to the cultural history of chemical elements. The reason I only gave it three stars is that the narrative sometimes gets a little too boggy for my taste and a bit repetitive (how many times do we need to be reminded that eleme...
  • Hilary G
    Apr 26, 2014
    A few weeks (or months) ago, there was a series on TV called "Chemistry: A Volatile History". At about the same period, I discovered a quiz on the Internet in which you had to name all the elements (112 of them) within 10 minutes, and was shocked at how few I knew (including NONE of th...
  • Tweedledum
    May 19, 2013
    Periodic tales is one of those books that grabs you by the throat and will not let you go. Full of extra-ordinary stories, co-incidences, twists and turns Hugh Aldersley-Williams meanders through the arcane history of the elements and in so doing encourages the reader to want to find o...
  • Lithezebra
    Jun 25, 2017
    I should have taken "cultural history" more literally. This was not a science book, or even much of a science history book, and I came away feeling like I hadn't learned anything inspiring.. However, if you're more interested in how people have felt about precious and useful metals, wi...
  • Bryan Nguyen
    Dec 20, 2013
    Hugh Aldersey-Williams's Periodic Tales tells the story of the cultural history of the elements separated in five topics, the subjects of the book which are: power, the richness of the element or how valuable it is; fire, the changes of compounds when they react with other compounds li...
  • David Meiklejohn
    Nov 16, 2017
    Rating this book doesn't seem possible. On one side, the author uses humor, and wonderful writing to bring to life not just the elements on the periodic table, but the construction of the periodic table, and the labor needed to prove each element as it was found. On the other is a me...
  • Noah Goats
    Apr 27, 2017
    This is an interesting tour through the elements of the Periodic Table, very similar to the equally good book, The Disappearing Spoon. This book focuses on the ways that the elements impact our culture and teaches a little history and science along the way. Very enjoyable. ...
  • Lisa Konet
    May 04, 2018
    Don't know if I read an older edition or not because the title was somewhat different than the one I was supposed to read (oh well)... It was interesting to have a more in depth glance into each element. In each chapter a different element was discussed along with how it was named and ...
  • Greg Smith
    Feb 11, 2019
    While there are lots of interesting facts and details about the known elements (how they were discovered, named or influenced the modern world), I found myself dizzied by the hopping between examples and names and dates and... it was just kind of all over the place. This is most of the...
  • Naila
    Nov 24, 2016
    This book reveals so many details about the discovery of elements as well as cases in which such elements were used in crimes,etc. The book also revealed to me how several of the famous scientists/discoverers were acquainted with one another and that they would seek each other's opinio...
  • Lindsay
    Jun 04, 2018
    I struggle with the rating for this book and I?d probably settle on 2.5. The biggest issue was the desperate need for a decent editor. Confusing organization, grammatical problems, and tangents that strayed too far plagued this book and created significant distractions. A good e...