The Disappearing Spoon - Sam Kean

The Disappearing Spoon

By Sam Kean

  • Release Date: 2010-07-12
  • Genre: History
Score: 4.5
From 254 Ratings


From New York Times bestselling author Sam Kean comes incredible stories of science, history, finance, mythology, the arts, medicine, and more, as told by the Periodic Table.

Why did Gandhi hate iodine (I, 53)? How did radium (Ra, 88) nearly ruin Marie Curie's reputation? And why is gallium (Ga, 31) the go-to element for laboratory pranksters?

The Periodic Table is a crowning scientific achievement, but it's also a treasure trove of adventure, betrayal, and obsession. These fascinating tales follow every element on the table as they play out their parts in human history, and in the lives of the (frequently) mad scientists who discovered them. The Disappearing Spoon masterfully fuses science with the classic lore of invention, investigation, and discovery -- from the Big Bang through the end of time.

Though solid at room temperature, gallium is a moldable metal that melts at 84 degrees Fahrenheit. A classic science prank is to mold gallium spoons, serve them with tea, and watch guests recoil as their utensils disappear.


  • fascinating book

    By ash471
    This is one of the best casual science books I have ever read. I think it fantastic for non-scientists and researcher scientists alike. The book discusses important scientific achievements in the context of history and society. For a research scientist, the scientific principles are known, but the book teaches you “the rest of the story.” I’m a research scientist and I couldn’t put the book down (literally). My friend who is not a scientist found the science to be easy enough to understand and really enjoyed both aspects: science and history.
  • Great and entertaining

    By vcsjones
    I was never really a chemistry or physics buff in school, but I am very pleased with how this book is put together.
  • Interesting Read!

    By Justin.Coleman
    Well written, hard to put down.
  • Delightful book making chemistry interesting

    By Ol' Mike
    I am very pleased with this book. The chapters are interesting and well assembled. I bought the book for my high school daughter to use as a supplement to her class work. It goes way beyond my expectations. In the "chemistry" portions, the text is written in an understandable and entertaining way. When historical references are made, it was written in such a way I felt like the events were happening recently. Makes the characters important to science and chemistry specifically, seem like real people, not just brilliant scientists. Nice mix of trivia and useful/informative science.
  • Reading

    By Shmmerthegreat
    I loved it !
  • Fantastic

    By Zom B. Faam
    Very well done. It makes the periodic table fun for the first time. Filled with anecdotes from almost all of the elements in the periodic table, this book is sure to make for a captivating read. Sam Kean's humorous style of writing also adds to the overall entertainment of this text. Again very well done Sam Kean.
  • Fascinating stuff!

    By Raven Industries IT
    Author Sam Kean manages to find the most interesting stories and facts hidden in everything!
  • Looking for Korean

    By kanguever
    Where is that e-book ?
  • The disappearing spoon

    By chaesmi
    Very enjoyable read
  • If only

    By Onatookah
    If only my chemistry teacher had taught me the periodic table in this interesting manner! It reads like a wonderful, juicy gossip column. Nothing dry and dusty here- even the most science phobic person will find this book interesting!