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The Periodic Table: A Very Short Introduction  

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1 review about The Periodic Table: A Very Short Introduction  

Popular Science Writing at its Best

  • Sep 20, 2012
  • by
Periodic table of elements is one of the most famous and recognizable scientific icons. It is a distillation of many centuries of work and insight into the nature of fundamental substances, and it is a particularly elegant formulation of the deep unity of all matter. Its discovery has been rightly attributed to Mendeleev, perhaps the greatest Russian scientist of all time, although many of its essential features have already been anticipated in the years preceding its official discovery. Even after the discovery, the periodic table has continued to evolve, both in terms of the new elements that have been discovered, as well as in terms of how they are best visually included in the table.

This very short introduction tells the story of discovery of the periodic table. It is in equal measure a historical account as well as an introduction into the scientific principles that have been crucial for our understanding of the elements. It also reflects on important philosophical issues that most active scientist often don't appreciate enough, but that are in fact important in deciding what are the crucial features of the laws and relationships that the periodic table embodies.

This book is bound to offer a lot of new and interesting information, even to those who think that they know pretty much everything that there is to know about the atomic structure and the elements. (As a physicist, I was surprised to find out that we still don't have a completely quantum mechanical understanding of the orbitals, and the fact that relativistic effects become important for the heavier atoms.) It is an up to date account, and anyone who is curious about the basic science will greatly appreciate its content. The book is also very well written, and it is a pleasure to read. I highly recommend it.

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