Mendeleyev's Dream: The Quest For the Elements

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Mendeleyev's Dream: The Quest For the Elements

Mendeleyev's Dream: The Quest For the Elements

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Besides five novels, he has also written numerous books on science, philosophy, history, literature, medicine and economics. He later dreamt of a snake swallowing its tail, a vision that helped him determine the circular structure of the Benzene molecule. The best part goes from chapter 11 until the end of the book: the lives and contribution of Lavoisier, Dalton, Berzelius, de Chancourtois and Newlands, key precursors of our hero and his masterpiece. Five if you count aether, which Aristotle invented to explain the movement of the planets and which reappeared in various guises down the ages.

As long as you understand that, you won't see an "arrow of scientific progress" illusion in the text at all. This is a used book - there is no escaping the fact it has been read by someone else and it will show signs of wear and previous use. Mendeleyev had already written the definitive textbook on organic chemistry while working as a lecturer at the Technical Institute in St. Framing this history is the life story of the nineteenth-century Russian scientist Dmitri Mendeleyev, who fell asleep at his desk and awoke after conceiving the periodic table in a dream-the template upon which modern chemistry is founded and the formulation of which marked chemistry’s coming of age as a science.The second half of the book, beginning with Van Helmont’s experiments with gases in the 1500s, is a much better historical summary of chemistry up to Mendeleyev’s theoretical breakthrough of the Periodic Table, although it still suffers from a predilection to spend more time on the biographies of the scientists than on the practical and experimental details of the chemistry they performed.

No missing or damaged pages, no creases or tears, no underlining or highlighting of text, and no writing in the margins. However, it is unclear why Strathern chooses to linger over some personalities, while he zooms through dozens of others so rapidly that their names and achievements blur together. Where there were missing elements in his early tables, Mendeleyev postulated that these represented elements not yet discovered.For the kind of book this is trying to be, pick up Bill Bryson's _A Brief History of Nearly Everything_. It gets in the way of the stories he tells, so you can't even keep track of what happened a few pages ago. Of course, he had it coming to him because he was just a stupid, benighted alchemist, a charlatan and a fraud.

With 20/20 hindsight, he shows the misconceptions that took chemistry down unproductive paths and brings to light scientists whose surprising theoretical prescience and genius were unknown in their own time. This is a great book on the history of chemistry and chemistry-makers; how chemistry became a branch of science. Thrilled to see Paul Strathern's 'Mendeleyev’s Dream' featured on Bill Gates Blog and picked as one of his five favourite titles this year! For example, Mendeleyev’s Periodic Table was so successful because it was predictive as well as descriptive. But if you have to put in the modern judgement (which may possibly be a service to modern readers), do it ONCE and do it AT THE END.

Rather, it is a lay reader's history of chemistry or, more broadly, scientific thought, from the ancient Greeks through the 19th century. Everything in between were all about the characters and some significant persons who had contributed on the development of chemistry. His vivid, pacey style is equally present in his first full-length science book, “Mendeleyev’s Dream”, the story of how the Russian scientist Dmitri Mendeleyev built upon 2,400 years of chemistry to construct the Periodic Table. Most of the alchemist and scientist names sounded familiar and I remembered most of their contribution thanks to Asimov’s remarkable style: easy-to-read but powerful and engaging as a good novel. The title is slightly misleading as there’s only 30 pages dedicated to Mendeleyev but I’m not complaining since I found his story to be one of the most boring ones from all the other scientists.

In between were many interesting chapters giving a roller coaster ride through the history of the understanding of chemistry from the Greeks, through multiple alchemists and some 'characters' like Paracelsus and Cavendish. Strathern conjures up from the dusty past, and richly fleshes out for us, the long line of extraordinary characters, their lives, influences, and contributions that eventually produced modern chemistry that has so profoundly shaped the modern world. Most of our PDFs are also available to download and we're working on making the final remaining ones downloadable now. Framing this history is the story of 19th-century Russian scientist Dmitri Mendeleyev, who dreamed the periodic table - the template upon which chemistry is founded.As Mendeleyev’s eyes ran once more along the line of ascending atomic weights, he suddenly noticed something that quickened his pulse. From that perspective one could say that the first part of the book is about alchemy and the second part about chemistry. After dutifully describing each's accomplishment, as a history of science requires you to do, the author delves into some personal tabloid factoid about the scientist, usually about their sexuality or their poor familial relations! I’m not sure how interesting it would be for someone who hasn’t taken chemistry and physics courses but I certainly enjoyed it! But despite many elegantly written pages often filled with good information, much of the book seems facile and hurried, tarnished by statements that are only partly correct and by outright misstatements.

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  • EAN: 764486781913
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