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About Sam Kean
(un)Official bio: Sam Kean gets called Sean at least once a month. He grew up in South Dakota, which means more to him than it probably should. He's a fast reader but a very slow eater. He went to college in Minnesota and studied physics and English. At night, he sometimes comes down with something called "sleep paralysis," which is the opposite of sleepwalking. Right now, he lives in Washington, D.C., where he earned a master's degree in library science that he will probably never use. He feels very strongly that open-faced sandwiches are superior to regular ones.
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Why did Gandhi hate iodine (I, 53)? How did radium (Ra, 88) nearly ruin Marie Curie's reputation? And why is gallium (Ga, 31) the go-to element for laboratory pranksters?
The Periodic Table is a crowning scientific achievement, but it's also a treasure trove of adventure, betrayal, and obsession. These fascinating tales follow every element on the table as they play out their parts in human history, and in the lives of the (frequently) mad scientists who discovered them. The Disappearing Spoon masterfully fuses science with the classic lore of invention, investigation, and discovery -- from the Big Bang through the end of time.
Though solid at room temperature, gallium is a moldable metal that melts at 84 degrees Fahrenheit. A classic science prank is to mold gallium spoons, serve them with tea, and watch guests recoil as their utensils disappear.
Scientists have always kept secrets. But rarely have the secrets been as vital as they were during World War II. In the middle of building an atomic bomb, the leaders of the Manhattan Project were alarmed to learn that Nazi Germany was far outpacing the Allies in nuclear weapons research. Hitler, with just a few pounds of uranium, would have the capability to reverse the entire D-Day operation and conquer Europe. So they assembled a rough and motley crew of geniuses -- dubbed the Alsos Mission -- and sent them careening into Axis territory to spy on, sabotage, and even assassinate members of Nazi Germany's feared Uranium Club.
The details of the mission rival the finest spy thriller, but what makes this story sing is the incredible cast of characters -- both heroes and rogues alike -- including:
- Moe Bergm, the major league catcher who abandoned the game for a career as a multilingual international spy; the strangest fellow to ever play professional baseball.
- Werner Heisenberg, the Nobel Prize-winning physicist credited as the discoverer of quantum mechanics; a key contributor to the Nazi's atomic bomb project and the primary target of the Alsos mission.
- Colonel Boris Pash, a high school science teacher and veteran of the Russian Revolution who fled the Soviet Union with a deep disdain for Communists and who later led the Alsos mission.
- Joe Kennedy Jr., the charismatic, thrill-seeking older brother of JFK whose need for adventure led him to volunteer for the most dangerous missions the Navy had to offer.
- Samuel Goudsmit, a washed-up physics prodigy who spent his life hunting Nazi scientists -- and his parents, who had been swept into a concentration camp -- across the globe.
- Irène and Frederic Joliot-Curie, a physics Nobel-Prize winning power couple who used their unassuming status as scientists to become active members of the resistance.
Thrust into the dark world of international espionage, these scientists and soldiers played a vital and largely untold role in turning back one of the darkest tides in human history.
Early studies of the human brain used a simple method: wait for misfortune to strike -- strokes, seizures, infectious diseases, horrendous accidents -- and see how victims coped. In many cases their survival was miraculous, if puzzling. Observers were amazed by the transformations that took place when different parts of the brain were destroyed, altering victims' personalities. Parents suddenly couldn't recognize their own children. Pillars of the community became pathological liars. Some people couldn't speak but could still sing.
In The Tale of the Dueling Neurosurgeons, Sam Kean travels through time with stories of neurological curiosities: phantom limbs, Siamese twin brains, viruses that eat patients' memories, blind people who see through their tongues. He weaves these narratives together with prose that makes the pages fly by, to create a story of discovery that reaches back to the 1500s and the high-profile jousting accident that inspired this book's title.
With the lucid, masterful explanations and razor-sharp wit his fans have come to expect, Kean explores the brain's secret passageways and recounts the forgotten tales of the ordinary people whose struggles, resilience, and deep humanity made neuroscience possible.
In The Disappearing Spoon, bestselling author Sam Kean unlocked the mysteries of the periodic table. In The Violinist's Thumb, he explores the wonders of the magical building block of life: DNA.
There are genes to explain crazy cat ladies, why other people have no fingerprints, and why some people survive nuclear bombs. Genes illuminate everything from JFK's bronze skin (it wasn't a tan) to Einstein's genius. They prove that Neanderthals and humans bred thousands of years more recently than any of us would feel comfortable thinking. They can even allow some people, because of the exceptional flexibility of their thumbs and fingers, to become truly singular violinists.
Kean's vibrant storytelling once again makes science entertaining, explaining human history and whimsy while showing how DNA will influence our species' future.
From a bestselling author comes this fascinating and thrilling tour of the darker side of science—from the past to the present, and even into the future.We think of science as a force for good—usually. So much of contemporary society is linked to scientific discovery that the word “science” has practically become synonymous with truth and progress. But what was the cost of that progress? And how far were scientists willing to go in order to test the boundaries that gave way to our modern world?
The Icepick Surgeon exposes this darker history, delving into the human costs of scientific study and examining what exactly pushes these otherwise rational men and women to cross the line in the name of science. Using fascinating case examples and posing essential questions of right and wrong, Sam Kean guides us through a history of malpractice and moral compromise, from Edison’s mercenary support of execution by electricity and the Nazis’ unpardonable explorations of human suffering on through the quandaries that lie ahead, with science ushering us into an unknown world.
In an age when many still feel that the end justifies the means, Kean stops to question the moral toll of unfettered progress. Unflinchingly skeptical and thrilling to the last page, The Icepick Surgeon threads an astonishing narrative through heinous acts and revelatory discoveries. The resulting analysis is a reckoning with the means through which science has created the modern world.
It's invisible. It's ever-present. Without it, you would die in minutes. And it has an epic story to tell.
In Caesar's Last Breath, New York Times bestselling author Sam Kean takes us on a journey through the periodic table, around the globe, and across time to tell the story of the air we breathe, which, it turns out, is also the story of earth and our existence on it. With every breath, you literally inhale the history of the world.
On the ides of March, 44 BC, Julius Caesar died of stab wounds on the Senate floor, but the story of his last breath is still unfolding; in fact, you're probably inhaling some of it now. Of the sextillions of molecules entering or leaving your lungs at this moment, some might well bear traces of Cleopatra's perfumes, German mustard gas, particles exhaled by dinosaurs or emitted by atomic bombs, even remnants of stardust from the universe's creation.
Tracing the origins and ingredients of our atmosphere, Kean reveals how the alchemy of air reshaped our continents, steered human progress, powered revolutions, and continues to influence everything we do. Along the way, we'll swim with radioactive pigs, witness the most important chemical reactions humans have discovered, and join the crowd at the Moulin Rouge for some of the crudest performance art of all time. Lively, witty, and filled with the astounding science of ordinary life, Caesar's Last Breath illuminates the science stories swirling around us every second.
Why did Gandhi hate iodine (I, 53)? 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 a crowning scientific achievement, but it's also a treasure trove of adventure, greed, betrayal, and obsession. The fascinating tales in The Disappearing Spoon follow elements 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.
Adapted for a middle grade audience, the young readers edition of The Disappearing Spoon offers the material in a simple, easy-to-follow format, with approximately 20 line drawings and sidebars throughout. Students, teachers, and burgeoning science buffs will love learning about the history behind the chemistry.
La tabla periódica es un logro científico excepcional, pero también es un filón de aventura, codicia, traición y obsesión. Las fascinantes historias contenidas en "La cuchara menguante" repasan los elementos de la tabla en función del papel que han desempeñado en la historia, las finanzas, la mitología, los conflictos, el arte, la medicina y las vidas de los científicos locos (algunos) que los descubrieron.
L’histoire du monde et de ses passions à travers la table périodique des éléments
Pourquoi Gandhi détestait-il l’iode ? Comment le radium a-t-il failli ruiner la réputation de Marie Curie ? Pourquoi le tellure a-t-il provoqué la ruée vers l’or la plus bizarre de toute l’histoire ? Comment l’antimoine a-t-il rendu fou le roi Nabuchodonosor ?
Véritable prouesse scientifique, la table périodique a déchaîné bien des passions. D’étonnantes fables accompagnent les éléments qui ont marqué l’histoire mondiale et la vie des scientifiques - souvent fous - qui les ont découverts. Du Big Bang à aujourd’hui, La Cuillère soluble nous dévoile tous les secrets du carbone, du néon, du zinc, de l’or, etc., et l’impact qu’ils ont eu non seulement dans le milieu scientifique mais dans des domaines aussi variés que la politique, les guerres, la mythologie et les arts.
Traduit de l’anglais (États-Unis) par Bernard Sigaud
Com o apurado e já conhecido talento para explicações claras, abrangentes e espirituosas, o renomado jornalista e escritor Sam Kean apresenta os personagens que forjaram a surpreendente e incrível história da neurociência. Kean explora os corredores secretos do cérebro e narra casos esquecidos de pessoas comuns cuja luta, resiliência e profunda humanidade tornaram a neurociência possível.
São histórias de curiosidades neurológicas que incluem membros-fantasma, cérebros de gêmeas siamesas, vírus que comem as memórias de pacientes, pessoas cegas que "enxergam" por meio da língua. Kean costura essas narrativas com uma prosa envolvente e espirituosa que faz as páginas passarem voando, numa história de descoberta que remonta ao século XVI e ao notório acidente que inspirou o título do livro e abriu caminho para uma nova ciência.
"A ciência se torna divertida sempre que Kean está narrando." New York Post
"A habilidade do autor para esclarecer como o funcionamento do cérebro se manifesta na vida das pessoas resulta numa leitura absorvente … Em última análise, essas histórias levantam questões fundamentais sobre a natureza da identidade e o que significa ser humano." The Wall Street Journal
"O melhor livro de Kean! Uma divertida e pouco convencional história do cérebro, cheia de cientistas loucos, criminosos dementes, gênios e almas atormentadas." Amy Stewart, autora de The Drunken Botanist
"Ler essas histórias é como passear por um museu das mais dramáticas anomalias da neurociência, cada capítulo nos levando a um tempo e lugar diferentes … E a linguagem coloquial e a voz íntima de Kean trazem dão vida estimulante a todas elas, e ao leitor." Publishers Weekly
"Leitura compulsiva, divertimento científico ferino." Kirkus