The Disappearing Spoon

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The Disappearing Spoon
The Disappearing Spoon(Book Cover) by Sam Kean Published 2011.jpg
Author Sam Kean
Country United States
Language English
Published July 12, 2010 (hardback)
Publisher Little, Brown and Company
Media type Print, e-book, audiobook
Pages 400 pages (hardback)
ISBN 0316051640 (hardback)

The Disappearing Spoon: And Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of the Elements, is a 2010 book by science reporter Sam Kean. The book was first published in hardback on July 12, 2010 through Little, Brown and Company and was released in paperback on June 6, 2011 through Little, Brown and Company's imprint Back Bay Books.


The book focuses on the history of the periodic table by way of stories showing how each element affected the people who discovered the elements, for either good or bad. People discussed in the book includes those such as scientist Marie Curie, whose discovery of radium almost ruined her career, and the writer Mark Twain, whose short story “Sold to Satan” featured a devil who was made of radium and wore a suit made of polonium. Also discussed is Maria Goeppert-Mayer, a German-born American theoretical physicist who earned a Nobel Prize in Physics for her groundbreaking work, yet continually faced opposition due to her sex.


Critical reception to The Disappearing Spoon has been mostly positive.[1][2] Science News and Smithsonian both praised the work for its wide appeal and writing,[3] and Science News commented that Kean's choice to deal with topics by periods in history helped "reveal how truly elemental the elements are and explain why this chemistry book appeals to nonchemists."[4] The New York Times was slightly more critical in their review, as they felt that the text was entertaining but leapt around too frequently in its topics.[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Saunders, Fenella. "The Disappearing Spoon and The Elements". American Scientist. Retrieved 7 June 2015. 
  2. ^ Radford, Tim. "The Disappearing Spoon by Sam Kean – review". The Guardian. Retrieved 7 June 2015. 
  3. ^ Zielinski, Sarah. "The Disappearing Spoon: True Tales from the Periodic Table". Smithsonian. Retrieved 7 June 2015. 
  4. ^ Ehrenberg, Rachel. "Book Review: The Disappearing Spoon by Sam Kean". Science News. Retrieved 7 June 2015. 
  5. ^ Maslin, Janet. "Hard Science, Softened With Stories". New York Times. Retrieved 7 June 2015. 

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