The Disappearing Spoon: And Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of the Elements. In fact, you may enjoy this fun approach to science even if you weren't the star of your (mandatory) chemistry class.
Science magazine reporter Kean views the periodic table as one of the great achievements of humankind, "an anthropological marvel," full of stories about our connection with the physical world. Funny, even chilling tales are associated with each element, and Kean relates many. The title refers to gallium, which melts at 84ËšF, prompting a practical joke among "chemical cognoscenti": shape gallium into spoons, "serve them with tea, and watch as your guests recoil when their Earl Grey ˜eats™ their utensils." Along with Dmitri Mendeleyev, the father of the periodic table, Kean is in his element as he presents a parade of entertaining anecdotes about scientists (mad and otherwise) while covering such topics as thallium poisoning, the invention of the silicon transistor, and how the ruthenium fountain pen point made million for the Parker company. With a constant flow of fun facts bubbling to the surface, Kean writes with wit, flair, and authority in a debut that will delight even general readers.
Though at $12 it's a pricey ebook, reviews are mostly positive, and it sounds like a fun read (or a great gift for a geek!).
The Disappearing Spoon