The Disappearing Spoon...and other true tales from the Periodic Table, Paperback Book

The Disappearing Spoon...and other true tales from the Periodic Table Paperback

4.5 out of 5 (2 ratings)


Why did Gandhi hate iodine (I, 53)? Why did the Japanese kill Godzilla with missiles made of cadmium (Cd, 48)?

How did radium (Ra, 88) nearly ruin Marie Curie's reputation? And why did tellurium (Te, 52) lead to the most bizarre gold rush in history?The periodic table is one of our crowning scientific achievements, but it's also a treasure trove of passion, adventure, betrayal and obsession.

The fascinating tales in The Disappearing Spoon follow carbon, neon, silicon, gold and every single element on the table as they play out their parts in human history, finance, mythology, conflict, the arts, medicine and the lives of the (frequently) mad scientists who discovered them.

Why did a little lithium (Li, 3) help cure poet Robert Lowell of his madness? And how did gallium (Ga, 31) become the go-to element for laboratory pranksters?

The Disappearing Spoon has the answers, fusing science with the classic lore of invention, investigation, discovery and alchemy, from the big bang through to the end of time.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Transworld Publishers Ltd
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: History of science
  • ISBN: 9780552777506

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Showing 1 - 2 of 2 reviews.

Review by

I've recommended this book to many people and I dont know anyone who hasnt loved it. Even people who associate the periodic table with long boring chemistry classes will find this quirky little book vaslty entertaining. Whoever would have thought the pedestrina, earnest olkd periodica table would be concealing such intense drama. Turning science into soap opera - brilliant!

Review by

Zoomed through this book. I shall have to skim through it again before giving it back. It has really extended the physics I have been reading about into chemistry. A great bridge between quantum physics and multiverses and the real world. (If it is real!) It's a jokey book with lots of human and historical interest as well as the chemistry/physics of the periodic table and I loved the mix and learned a lot.