Mad Scientists and Mad Elements Essay

828 Words 4 Pages
We all know the saying, “Don’t judge a book by it’s cover.” Similarly, every element in the periodic table has its’ own story and its’ own unique meaning. However, the average high schooler simply associates these elements as something used in their chemistry classes. In fact, the elements seen on the periodic table actually have much more to do in our daily lives and in history than most people know. While giving a whole new perspective to the meaning of Chemistry, author Sam Kean successfully recounts the hidden tales through humor and wit in his bestselling novel The Disappearing Spoon: And Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of Elements. Specifically, Chapter 15, “An Element of …show more content…
We all know the saying, “Don’t judge a book by it’s cover.” Similarly, every element in the periodic table has its’ own story and its’ own unique meaning. However, the average high schooler simply associates these elements as something used in their chemistry classes. In fact, the elements seen on the periodic table actually have much more to do in our daily lives and in history than most people know. While giving a whole new perspective to the meaning of Chemistry, author Sam Kean successfully recounts the hidden tales through humor and wit in his bestselling novel The Disappearing Spoon: And Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of Elements. Specifically, Chapter 15, “An Element of Madness,” addresses the lives of several “mad scientists” associated with selenium, manganese, palladium, barium, and roentgenium that ultimately led to their downfall. So what makes a scientist “mad”? Kean typifies the mad scientist as one who possesses both qualities of supreme intelligence and undoubtedly, lunatic characteristics. The author first describes the life of William Crookes, a successful author and part an exclusive club of elite scientists. A combination of selenium experimentation and the tragic death of his brother, he conclusively reached his point of madness. Furthermore, Kean ties in manganese to the story through the findings of the shark teeth at the bottom of the ocean. Scientists discovered that manganese covered the
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