In The Disappearing Spoon, author Sam Kean takes the reader on a journey through the periodic table of the elements. He discusses the evolution of the periodic table, starting with the scientist Mendeleev and how the table came to be in its current form, as well as the discovery of elements that it contains. Kean discusses each element with the reader, delivering interesting information and anecdotes and putting a human face and story to each of these elements.
If youíre a fan of science writing and havenít picked up The Disappearing Spoon, you need to rectify that mistake immediately. This book is one of the best recent examples of interesting science writing. Kean is an engaging writer, which matters a lot when it comes to science writing for the layperson. Even if the information within a book is excellent, it wonít matter if itís delivered in an uninteresting or dry manner. Itís especially difficult with science, because itís so easy to get too technical, or to talk down to the reader while explaining concepts. Kean never fails to be interesting and charming, and his enthusiasm for the subject matter is really infectious. Additionally, he explains concepts with clarity and ease, ensuring the reader understands while never assuming they have less intelligence than him. As a result, The Disappearing Spoon is a pleasure to read from beginning to end.
The elements might not sound like the most interesting subject, but Kean really delivers when it comes to entertainment. He has interesting stories about even the most seemingly boring of elements - amusing anecdotes, intriguing concepts. As a result, the reader learns a surprising amount of information but also has great time doing it.
Some of the most interesting parts of The Disappearing Spoon involve the discovery of new elements. After the periodic table took the form that it has today (a process which was much more interesting than it seems like it would have been, according to Kean), there was a race by scientists around the world to find the newest element. I also enjoyed the little random tidbits he delivers about each element - for example, the disappearing gallium spoon that gave the book its name. Little details such as this make this book so much fun to read.
The Disappearing Spoon did not disappoint in any way. Even if youíre not the biggest science buff, if you enjoy nonfiction and history, you should consider this book. Keanís writing is perfect for this genre, and he makes the material accessible while keeping the entire book engaging. Readers who experience this one will eagerly anticipate Keanís second book.