A Tale of Seven Elements

A Tale of Seven Elements

3.26 (95 ratings by Goodreads)
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In 1913, English physicist Henry Moseley established an elegant method for 'counting' the elements. Soon afterwards, it became clear that there were precisely seven elements missing from the periodic table-those that had yet to be isolated among the 92 naturally occurring elements from hydrogen (#1) to uranium (#92). In A Tale of Seven Elements, Eric Scerri will present the discovery of those seven elements, five of which are radioactive and three or possibly four of were first isolated by women. The book covers a period roughly spanning the two world wars, beginning with the discovery of protactinium in 1917 and ending with that of promethium in 1945. In some cases, the state of war directly influenced attempts to isolate some of the seven elements-this is true of protactinium, when, in 1916, its discoverer, Lise Meitner, wrote of the problems she encountered in purchasing even the most basic items of laboratory equipment. During the second war, the discovery of nuclear fission, also by Meitner and her associates, quickly led to the development of the nuclear weapons program and the associated technologies of particle accelerators.
Clearly, scientific discoveries occur within a social and political context and the discovery of the seven elements is no exception. This book draws together for the first time the fascinating stories of the discoveries of these seven elements, placing them in historical context.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 304 pages
  • 147.32 x 213.36 x 27.94mm | 385.55g
  • Oxford University Press
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 30b&w
  • 0195391314
  • 9780195391312
  • 305,428

Review quote

compulsory reading for those who wish to inject some life into the story of the elements and the periodic table. * Kevin de Berg, Science and Education * You could say the periodic table is elementary, but Eric Scerri shows that the stories behind the key discoveries in chemistry were dramatic, political and full of blind alleys. * New Scientist * It's an extraordinary rich and complete book, not only regarding the chemistry of each of the studied elements, but also on the nature of science [translation] * Revista Eureka sobre Ensenanza y Divulgacion de las Ciencias * fascinating stories, full of priority disputes, nationalistic squabbles, firm announcements of non-existent elements, and flashes of comedy and tragedy. * Virginia Trimble, The Observatory * As a professional historian of chemistry who thought that he already knew these stories, I was surprised by how much novel and interesting material Scerri has unearthed in this admirable book. He offers corrections to many long-standing textbook errors, both historical and scientific, and presents a fresh, thoroughly researched understanding of a complex web of interacting research during a period of about 30 years... chemists, historians and philosophers of science,
as well as educated laypeople, will unquestionably find this book an entertaining and highly instructive read. * Alan Rocke, THE * Eric Scerri offers us a fascinating account of the discovery of these seven elements. Author of The Periodic Table: Its Story and Its Significance (2007), Scerri is superbly qualified for this task: chemist, philosopher of science and historian, he is the foremost contemporary analyst of the periodic table. * Alan Rocke, THE * it is an excellent read, and it is warmly recommended to all students and practitioners of chemistry and related fields, and to all those who are interested in the history and the culture of science. * Istvan Hargittai, Journal of Structural Chemistry *
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About Eric Scerri

Dr. Eric Scerri is a leading philosopher of science specializing in the history and philosophy of the periodic table. He is also the founder and editor in chief of the international journal Foundations of Chemistry and has been a full-time lecturer at UCLA for the past ten years where he regularly teaches classes of 350 chemistry students as well as classes in history and philosophy of science. He is the author of The Periodic Table: Its Story and Its
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Table of contents

Preface: What constitutes the discovery of an element? ; Chapter 1. ; Dalton, to the Discovery of the Periodic System ; Chapter 2. ; van den Broek, Moseley and the missing seven elements. ; Chapter 3. ; Element 91, protactinium ; Chapter 4. ; Element 72, hafnium ; Chapter 5. ; Element 75, rhenium ; Chapter 6. ; Element 43, technetium ; Chapter 7. ; Element 87, francium ; Element 8. ; Element 85, astatine ; Chapter 9. ; Element 61, promethium
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Rating details

95 ratings
3.26 out of 5 stars
5 9% (9)
4 28% (27)
3 44% (42)
2 15% (14)
1 3% (3)
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