Uncle Tungsten: Memories of a Chemical Boyhood

Uncle Tungsten: Memories of a Chemical Boyhood

Paperback

By (author) Oliver Sacks

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  • Publisher: PICADOR
  • Format: Paperback | 250 pages
  • Dimensions: 130mm x 196mm x 24mm | 299g
  • Publication date: 10 May 2012
  • Publication City/Country: London
  • ISBN 10: 033052366X
  • ISBN 13: 9780330523660
  • Sales rank: 52,004

Product description

'If you did not think that gallium and iridium could move you, this superb book will change your mind' The Times In Uncle Tungsten Sacks evokes, with warmth and wit, his upbringing in wartime England. He tells of the large science-steeped family who fostered his early fascination with chemistry. There follow his years at boarding school where, though unhappy, he developed the intellectual curiosity that would shape his later life. And we hear of his return to London, an emotionally bereft ten-year-old who found solace in his passion for learning. Uncle Tungsten radiates all the delight and wonder of a boy's adventures, and is an unforgettable portrait of an extraordinary young mind. 'This book is both a heartwarming account of a delightful, eccentric family life and an inspiring record of a remarkable intellectual odyssey' Mail on Sunday 'The amalgamation of personal recollection and scientific history makes a luminous, inspiring book' Sunday Telegraph 'Uncle Tungsten is really about the raw joy of scientific understanding; what it is like to be a precocious child discovering the alchemical secrets of reality for the first time: the sheer thrill of finding intelligible patterns in nature' Guardian

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Author information

Oliver Sacks is a physician and the author of many books, including The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, Awakenings (which inspired the Oscar-nominated film) and Musicophilia. Born in London and educated at Oxford, he now lives in New York City, where he is Professor of Neurology and Psychiatry at Columbia University. He is the first, and only, Columbia University Artist, and is also a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians. In 2008, he was appointed Commander of the British Empire. For more information, visit www.oliversacks.com

Review quote

"A rare gem.... Fresh, joyous, wistful, generous, and tough-minded."-"The""New York Times Book Review""This book underlies everything else Dr. Sacks has written, "and" is worthy to stand with the great scientific memoirs, for it's passion, its insight, its sense of history and its felicity." -Paul Theroux"""Fired by Sacks's enthusiasm-obviously genuine, impossible to feign-bursting forth in all directions. . . .The book recounts the growth of a formidable young mind opening up to the order and beauty of the material world." -"Newsday""Sack's study of a mind [is] as tough as tungsten, as fluid as mercury . . . as precious as gold." -"The Seattle Times"

Flap copy

Long before Oliver Sacks became a distinguished neurologist and bestselling writer, he was a small English boy fascinated by metals-also by chemical reactions (the louder and smellier the better), photography, squids and cuttlefish, H.G. Wells, and the periodic table. In this endlessly charming and eloquent memoir, the author of "The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and "Awakenings chronicles his love affair with science and the magnificently odd and sometimes harrowing childhood in which that love affair unfolded. In Uncle Tungsten we meet Sacks' extraordinary family, from his surgeon mother (who introduces the fourteen-year-old Oliver to the art of human dissection) and his father, a family doctor who imbues in his son an early enthusiasm for housecalls, to his "Uncle Tungsten," whose factory produces tungsten-filament lightbulbs. We follow the young Oliver as he is exiled at the age of six to a grim, sadistic boarding school to escape the London Blitz, and later watch as he sets about passionately reliving the exploits of his chemical heroes-in his own home laboratory. Uncle Tungsten is a crystalline view of a brilliant young mind springing to life, a story of growing up which is by turns elegiac, comic, and wistful, full of the electrifying joy of discovery.