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Historic Tales of the Periodic Table

Historic Tales of the Periodic Table

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The New York Academy of Sciences

Why did Gandhi hate iodine (I, 53)? Why did the Japanese kill Godzilla with missiles made of cadmium (Cd, 48)? How did radium (Ra, 88) nearly ruin Marie Curie's reputation? And why did tellurium (Te, 52) lead to the most bizarre gold rush in history?

The Periodic Table is one of our crowning scientific achievements, but it's also a treasure trove of passion, adventure, betrayal, and obsession. The fascinating tales in Sam Kean's new book, The Disappearing Spoon, follow carbon, neon, silicon, gold, and every single element on the table as they play out their parts in human history, finance, mythology, conflict, the arts, medicine, and the lives of the(frequently) mad scientists who discovered them.

Why did a little lithium (Li, 3) help cure poet Robert Lowell of his madness? And how did Gallium (Ga, 31) become the go-to element for laboratory pranksters? The Disappearing Spoon has the answers, fusing science with the classic lore of invention, investigation, discovery, and alchemy, from the Big Bang through the end of time. Join Science & the City for an evening of tales from the Periodic Table with author and science journalist Sam Kean.

Reception to Follow

Series Media Sponsor

This event is part of the From Stone Age to Internet Age: How Science Has Evolved over Time Series, which also includes the following events:

Science as a Modern Creation Story: An Evening with David Christian
Tuesday, October 5, 2010 | 6:30 PM - 8:00 PM
From Stone Tools to the Internet: How Humans Adapt to Technology
Tuesday, November 9, 2010 | 7:00 PM - 8:30 PM
Visualizing the Brain from Antiquity to the 21st Century
Wednesday, December 15, 2010 | 7:00 PM - 8:30 PM
You Are What You Eat: The Long History of Knowing about Our Food, Our Bodies, and Ourselves
Wednesday, January 26, 2011 | 6:30 PM - 8:00 PM

Register for the whole series now.


Sam Kean

Sam Kean is the author of the new book The Disappearing Spoon and Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of the Elements. Kean spent years collecting mercury from broken thermometers as a kid, and now he's a writer in Washington, DC. His stories have appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Mental Floss, Slate, and The New Scientist, and he was the national runner-up in the National Association of Science Writer's award for best young science writer.

His work has also been featured on NPR's "All Things Considered" and "On Point," among other shows. The Disappearing Spoon is his first book.

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