In his prologue, Hugh Aldersey-Williams writes: “Like the alphabet or the zodiac, the periodic table of the elements is one of those graphic images that seem to root themselves in our memories. . . . If I were to reassemble my periodic table now, I would still want to include a specimen of each element, but I would also want to trace its cultural journey. I feel that the elements leave great streaks of color across the canvas of our civilization. The black of charcoal and coal, the white of calcium in chalk and marble and pearl, the intense blue of cobalt in glass and china slash boldly through place and time, geography and history. Periodic Tales is the start of that collection.”
After reading a bit more of Periodic Tales, I think you’ll agree with the reviews:
“The author’s personal engagement is at its most infectious in the experiments he undertakes in the course of his research.”—Wall Street Journal
“[F]ascinating and beautiful. . . . If only chemistry has been like this at school. . . . [A] rich compilation of delicious tales.”—Matt Ridley, Prospect magazine
Periodic Tales is available now in hardcover. The paperback edition will publish in March 2012.