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Old 3rd December 2018, 03:29 AM   #1
wobs
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History of Periodic Table

Mother In Law would like a book about the history of the periodic table for Christmas. She's not a scientist (is a preacher, but not mad), and was looking for something that was an interesting read in this area.

I've found two possibilities:
Periodic Tales: A Cultural History of the Elements, from Arsenic to Zinc

The Disappearing Spoon: And Other True Tales of Rivalry, Adventure, and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of the Elements

Which, in your opinion is best (or is there a better alternative?)
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Old 3rd December 2018, 07:48 AM   #2
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I enjoyed The Periodic Kingdom: A Journey Into The Land Of The Chemical Elements a lot.
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Old 3rd December 2018, 08:08 AM   #3
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I've read the Disappearing spoon and found it a very nice read. Lots of humanizing anecdotes and a good look at how hard work managed to get things organized.
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Old 3rd December 2018, 08:16 AM   #4
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If you are feeling extra flush with cash and very generous you can always buy her a 76-piece set of the actual elements in ampules plus a holder in the shape of the periodic table:

http://www.elementsales.com/display/set-ams-4.htm

$695 for the elements plus $145 for the holder

Sorry: nothing radioactive and no alkaline metals. (too reactive I guess)

I think that other companies also supply the equivalent, some with more elegant displays.

Frankly I've always wanted one of these although I've never convinced myself to spend the money.

Metallium also sells individual elements and smaller collections in a variety of forms: ampules, coins, chunks, etc. - I think it is kind of neat.

Oliver Sacks mentions in one of his books that he had a friend who every birthday gave him a sample of the element with the same atomic number as his new age. Clever, although some birthdays are more boring than others.
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Old 3rd December 2018, 08:27 AM   #5
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Although not exactly what was requested in the OP, "The Elements," by Theodore Gray is a fabulous "coffee table" like book which discusses the characteristics, uses, and sometimes the history of discovery of each element. Wonderful photos. I really enjoyed it.

Totally irrelevant to the OP, but a "plug" for a wonderfully poetic and fascinating autobiography relating chapters in his life post-Auschiwitz to specific elements: Primo Levi's "The Periodic Table."
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Old 3rd December 2018, 12:04 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Giordano View Post
Although not exactly what was requested in the OP, "The Elements," by Theodore Gray is a fabulous "coffee table" like book which discusses the characteristics, uses, and sometimes the history of discovery of each element. Wonderful photos. I really enjoyed it.

Totally irrelevant to the OP, but a "plug" for a wonderfully poetic and fascinating autobiography relating chapters in his life post-Auschiwitz to specific elements: Primo Levi's "The Periodic Table."
If you are feeling generous then I would definitely buy this along with one of the other books.
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Old 3rd December 2018, 01:25 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Planigale View Post
If you are feeling generous then I would definitely buy this along with one of the other books.
I am feeling expansive. Not sure if I also am feeling generous.
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Old 4th December 2018, 03:23 AM   #8
wobs
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Some great suggestions here. Many thanks.

Don't worry about going a bit off topic Giordano. Others may find the suggestion useful who do a similar search.
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Old 6th December 2018, 11:51 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by wobs View Post
Mother In Law would like a book about the history of the periodic table for Christmas. She's not a scientist (is a preacher, but not mad), and was looking for something that was an interesting read in this area.

I've found two possibilities:
Periodic Tales: A Cultural History of the Elements, from Arsenic to Zinc

The Disappearing Spoon: And Other True Tales of Rivalry, Adventure, and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of the Elements

Which, in your opinion is best (or is there a better alternative?)
Second one is quite a good read (I know because I read it - and used it as part of some lessons I presented to my Chem Students...…….)!!
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Old 6th December 2018, 11:54 PM   #10
fuelair
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Originally Posted by Giordano View Post
Although not exactly what was requested in the OP, "The Elements," by Theodore Gray is a fabulous "coffee table" like book which discusses the characteristics, uses, and sometimes the history of discovery of each element. Wonderful photos. I really enjoyed it.

Totally irrelevant to the OP, but a "plug" for a wonderfully poetic and fascinating autobiography relating chapters in his life post-Auschiwitz to specific elements: Primo Levi's "The Periodic Table."
Excellent choice- and he has another one or two as I recall !!!
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Last edited by fuelair; 6th December 2018 at 11:56 PM. Reason: I refer to the Gray book...
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Old 7th December 2018, 12:01 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by Lukraak_Sisser View Post
I've read the Disappearing spoon and found it a very nice read. Lots of humanizing anecdotes and a good look at how hard work managed to get things organized.
Second this suggestion. An excellent read.
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Old 7th December 2018, 02:26 AM   #12
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I've read Periodic Tales, and it's something rather more eclectic than a history of the periodic table; as I recall, the chapter on gold featured rather heavily a gold statue of a nude Kate Moss. Overall the book was a bit weird, and probably not the sort of thing you're looking for.

Dave
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Old 8th December 2018, 02:29 PM   #13
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Quote:
.....as I recall, the chapter on gold featured rather heavily a gold statue of a nude Kate Moss.
Probably cheaper than creating a gold statue of Beyonce. A lot less gold required in the arse department.
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Old 8th December 2018, 11:15 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Lukraak_Sisser View Post
I've read the Disappearing spoon and found it a very nice read. Lots of humanizing anecdotes and a good look at how hard work managed to get things organized.
Originally Posted by lionking View Post
Second this suggestion. An excellent read.
Very interesting, I have read it twice.
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Last edited by rehn; 8th December 2018 at 11:17 PM.
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Old 8th December 2018, 11:57 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by Lukraak_Sisser View Post
I've read the Disappearing spoon and found it a very nice read. Lots of humanizing anecdotes and a good look at how hard work managed to get things organized.
Thanks. I just bought myself a Christmas present.

I like the description of the book that mentions how gallium was used for magic tricks as tea spoons and such. I was already aware of that, but I like the story. I have a bit of a bunch of gallium. Fun stuff.

I have sort of kinda maybe started a collection of elements over the past few years. I bought some elements for...you know, science. As I bought more I thought about collecting the whole set. Get them all! I looked at the sets available, but they are expensive and it felt like buying rather than collecting.

I do buy or ask for presents made of certain elements simply because I want to add them to my collection. It's not really a collection. Just something I like. Something I do. On occasion. I don't need to go to Elements Anonymous. It's not like I'm buying plutonium. I can quit anytime. I swear...
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Last edited by DevilsAdvocate; 9th December 2018 at 12:00 AM.
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Old 9th December 2018, 12:16 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by Dave Rogers View Post
I've read Periodic Tales, and it's something rather more eclectic than a history of the periodic table; as I recall, the chapter on gold featured rather heavily a gold statue of a nude Kate Moss. Overall the book was a bit weird, and probably not the sort of thing you're looking for.

Dave
I agree with Dave on Periodic Tales. I’m not sure what I was expecting when I bought it, but I didn’t get it. Try something else instead.
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Old 9th December 2018, 01:43 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by DevilsAdvocate View Post
I have sort of kinda maybe started a collection of elements over the past few years. I bought some elements for...you know, science. As I bought more I thought about collecting the whole set. Get them all! I looked at the sets available, but they are expensive and it felt like buying rather than collecting.

I do buy or ask for presents made of certain elements simply because I want to add them to my collection. It's not really a collection. Just something I like. Something I do. On occasion. I don't need to go to Elements Anonymous. It's not like I'm buying plutonium.

Have you tried Covent Garden?
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Old 9th December 2018, 03:43 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by Mojo View Post
Have you tried Covent Garden?
Wonderful! I'll bake a Christmas yellowcake to celebrate. With mercury icing and potassium chips.

One thing I find surprising is how many elements are metals. Especially silver-colored metals.

I also find it odd that elements follow patterns, but not exactly. The table has gaps, but they aren't all the same. There are some stair-step divisions. And so on. It's like it is all nice and neat and regular, but then just messed up enough to screw with you.
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