The Disappearing Spoon

Registered by wingGoryDetailswing of Nashua, New Hampshire USA on 7/4/2020
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1 journaler for this copy...
Journal Entry 1 by wingGoryDetailswing from Nashua, New Hampshire USA on Saturday, July 04, 2020
I found this hardcover in this Little Free Library in Nashua NH while dropping off some books of my own, and nabbed it for another release copy. (I'm using one of the new scannable QR-code labels in this one, to see if it makes it easier for finders to journal.)

I first heard of this book via this Unshelved Book Club post. (I also recommend Oliver Sacks' autobiographical book Uncle Tungsten, which features a history of the periodic table along with the personal details.)

There are loads of fascinating (and sometimes horrifying) anecdotes here, and some nostalgia as well - the author opens with a description of playing with mercury from a broken thermometer, back before we all understood just how nasty it can be. [But it's so much fun to play with, she whimpers... {grin}]

The "disappearing spoon" of the title refers to practical jokes made using gallium, a metal that melts at 84 F - so it will be solid at average room temperature, but will melt in the hand. Spoons made of gallium and used to stir a hot beverage - hilarity, yes?

The book goes into the discovery of the elements, some of the entertaining battles over naming them, the way the periodic table itself was organized, the political fallout from some elements due to rarity and/or value (and not just precious metals, here)... and much, much more. Chapters include "tools of ridiculous precision" in which we learn that the ability to measure things may not be as simple as it sounds, and "an element of madness", in which some researchers have become so caught up in the search for a particular element that they've lost all objectivity.

Recommended!

Journal Entry 2 by wingGoryDetailswing at Little Free Library, Jamie Rd in Dunstable, Massachusetts USA on Sunday, July 05, 2020

Released 1 mo ago (7/5/2020 UTC) at Little Free Library, Jamie Rd in Dunstable, Massachusetts USA

WILD RELEASE NOTES:

Guidelines for safely visiting and stocking Little Free Libraries during the COVID-19 pandemic, from the LFL site here.

I left this book in the Little Free Library on this warm day; hope someone enjoys it!

[See other recent releases in MA here.]

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