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Mendeleyev's Dream: The Quest For The Elements

3.86  ·  Rating Details ·  231 Ratings  ·  23 Reviews
On the night of February 17, 1869, the Russian scientist Dmitri Mendeleyev went to bed frustrated by a puzzle he had been playing with for years: how the atomic weights of the chemical elements could be grouped in some meaningful way--and one that, with any luck, would open a window onto the hidden structure of nature. He dreamed, as he later recalled, of "a table where al ...more
Unknown Binding, 308 pages
Published January 1st 2000 by Hamish Hamilton
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Sep 30, 2011 Roger rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A very accessible, non-fiction telling of the epic journey and transmutation of the collective human intellect through the ages. The book guides us through the labyrinth of dead ends and discoveries from Thales of Miletus in ancient Greece, through Mendeleyev of mid 19th century Czarist Russia that precipitated the identification and classification of the known elements. Though this may sound boring - it is not.

Strathern illuminates all of the major characters, their lives, and their intellectua
Jonathan Widell
Jan 10, 2015 Jonathan Widell rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a very good book. It not only made me understand the shift from alchemy to chemistry, the search for elements and the more or less bizarre people involved in both but also what is the trouble with most popularized accounts that claim to be about the history of science. Strathern is both a historian and a scientist. Most other authors are only half historians and half scientists, at least when they set out to write their books which turn out to be more or less sloppy products.

Strathern i
Jul 04, 2017 Beth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a very readable history of chemistry, focusing on the people who made the greatest advances, including philosophers and experimentalists. The writing was a bit awkward, sometimes a word was used multiple times in close proximity and I detected a couple of minor errors. The book starts and ends with the story of Dmitri Mendeleev's arrangement of the known elements to form the original periodic table. It would have Ben interesting to add an epilogue about the ways that the periodic table ...more
Jie Wen
Jie Wen Guan
Due Date: 9/6/12
Dear ISM teachers,
The book I choose to read was Mendeleyev's Dream: The Quest for the Elements by Paul Strathern. The author is telling about Mendeleyev and the problem of chemical elements. Mendeleyev was a Russian chemist and also a professor of chemistry at St Petersburg university. His investigation was the problem of chemical elements. There were sixty three chemical elements discovered and every one of these elements consist of different atoms. The atoms ha
Mayra Correa e Castro
O livro tem uma pegada de humor bem sedutora: unindo pistas que levaram a química ser o que é, encontrando-as na filosofia, passando pela alquimia, até chegar na matemática e física, o autor sempre insere uma fofoca no meio: Mendeleiev cortava o cabelo apenas uma vez por ano com um tosquiador de ovelhas, Tales de Mileto ganhou dinheiro prensando azeitonas, Avicena era um beberrão, Tomás de Aquino praticou clandestinamente a alquimia, Paracelso bebia de maneira espetacular – o que tornava ainda m ...more
Abigail Hilton
This is a history of chemistry, loosely organized around Mendeleyev's discovery that the elements can be understood as a periodic table. After a brief, tantalizing look at Mendeleyev and the challenge he faced, the author leaps off into a scatter-shot history of chemistry, where he spends the bulk of his text. I would have much preferred an actual focus on Mendeleyev, who was a fascinating person. Strathern's chemical history is uneven. Some parts are thorough and interesting - particularly the ...more
Apr 13, 2015 Bethany rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I expected this book to be primarily about Mendeleyev but 2/3 of the book is a thorough history of the development of the scientific method in Europe. It would be a good history, but the author irksomely takes an interest in the gossip on each famous scientist. After dutifully describing each's accomplishment, as a history of science requires you to do, the author delves into some personal tabloid factoid about the scientist, usually about their sexuality or their poor familial relations!

I'm re
May 24, 2012 Zoe rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really liking it so far, facinating, well written, and it's giving me a long list of other things to look in to once i've finished reading...
Just at the start, we haven't heard a lot about Mendeleyev yet apart from the fact that he had a very impressive beard and had his hair cut once a year by a shepherd. I picked it up from an interest in Chemistry, I did study it up to A level although not that successfully. So far it's been talking about the philosophical shift in the beliefs of how the univ
Peter Blom
De geschiedenis van de scheikunde van de oude grieken (Democritus' atomen) tot aan Mendelejevs Periodiek Systeem.
Het verhaal wordt verteld ahv de vooruitgang door filosofen, goochelaars, alchemisten, uitvinders en geleerden.
Het verhaal van duistere alchemie (goud maken van ijzer, zoektocht naar steen der wijzen) dat pas in de 18e eeuw echte wetenschap werd.
Zelfs mensen als Galileo en Newton hielden zich nog met alchemie bezig !

Erg leuk om te lezen hoe geniale onderzoekers worstelen met principes
Kevin Speck
This is a wonderful read through the history of science. However it deals only superficially with the subject matter of Mendeleyev's life and work. Most of the book focuses on the history of science from ancient times until Mendeleyev's discovery. The passages regarding the history of alchemy, including Newton building a brick furnace in the grounds of a Cambridge university solely for this pursuit, are particularly well presented. However it deals only superficially with the subject of Mendeley ...more
May 12, 2012 Phoebe rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-history
Science history at its best. This wonderful story reminds us that the birth of modern chemistry and particle physics can both be linked directly to Mendeleyev's discovery of the periodic table, published 1869.

Strathern argues that prior to Mendeleyev's discovery, chemistry was still in fact alchemy. Without the periodic table, chemicals were infinitely permutable, and therefore the search for how to "make" gold was part of every chemist's work.

Srathern's stye is elegant and eloquent.
James Webster
Feb 01, 2014 James Webster rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
An appalling work in the very worst (and very out-of-date) style of History of Science. Contemptuous, in that triumphalist, "aren't we a lot cleverer than our ancestors?" way of anything that doesn't seem to contribute to Chemistry as we know it today, this isn't historical (in the sense of understanding the past on its terms) in any real sense. There are much better works on mankind's relationship with "the elements".
Annie Kate
This is a well-written book filled with informative vignettes about fascinating people, so why do I dislike it? Its tone is unpleasant, and it contains far too much judgement, insinuation, and mockery. Strathern is trained in philosophy and his cynicism about many of the great scientists and historical ideas seems to result from his atheistic and evolutionary worldview.

Read my complete review:

Jul 24, 2014 Ann rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
And what a dream it was! Strathem's prose weaves together the intellectual history that lead up to the snowy day when Mendeleyev formulates the periodic table. This book is wonderfully written. I highly recommend it for all interested in the periodic table, alchemy and chemistry, the history and philosophy of science, the process of science, intellectual history, or just want a spellbinding tale of how we got the periodic table. All chemistry majors should read this book.
Jun 29, 2010 Carlos rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Ivan Iucker
Shelves: non-fiction, history
I found this book absolutely amazing! Strathern writes a clear and non-nerd-friendly history of chemistry with its culmination in the periodic table of elements as set up by Mendeleyev. Strathern also treats the history of the disputes and heart-wrenching moments of deviation that could have set back this central aspect of science for centuries.
Mar 22, 2011 Rick rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It ended rather abruptly, I thought. We encounter Mendeleyev at the beginning of the book, leave him and go through centuries of the history of chemistry (which is more interesting than it sounds), return to Mendeleyev when he, after a dream, comes up the periodic table. Five or so pages later, the book ends.
Jul 29, 2010 Unojoe2 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a great book for developing knowledge of chemistry and the history of chemical knowledge and Alchemy. Anyone interested in chemistry or specific element or elements would be well off to read this book to understand more about the developments associated to the discovery of a great many of the elements and the path that led to modern chemical practices and theory.
Aug 29, 2012 Alex rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science
Overall a decent book on the history of chemistry, but the author clearly had biases regarding certain figures and their discoveries/research/personal lives etc. It also took a while to read because at times it was kind of boring. Decent book, but prob won't read again. The Disappearing Spoon was MUCH better.
David R.
Oct 10, 2011 David R. rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science
While providing fascinating portraits from the parade of science (e.g. Paracelsus, Lavoisier, Mendeleyev, etc.) this narrative ultimately delivers an underwhelming account of the discovery of the chemical elements and their arrangement into the periodic table.
Nov 02, 2007 Cbpax rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Chemistry students
Non-fiction, The story of the quest for the elements and the fascinating story of how Mendeleyev organized them. It seems so simple now but was revolutionary when he first did it.
Feb 23, 2016 Judy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Alchemy or Chemistry? What scientific findings made it possible to abandon one and move on to the other? Food for thought.
Chip rated it really liked it
Jan 15, 2010
Deanna rated it really liked it
Apr 24, 2017
Rik Taylor
Rik Taylor rated it really liked it
Sep 05, 2012
Jouni rated it it was ok
Nov 21, 2014
Marianna Papadopoulou
Marianna Papadopoulou rated it really liked it
Dec 26, 2012
Grant Cooper
Grant Cooper rated it it was ok
Sep 09, 2014
Domas rated it really liked it
Dec 31, 2011
Robertas Žilinskas
Robertas Žilinskas rated it it was amazing
Jan 20, 2015
Bart rated it liked it
Jun 16, 2017
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Paul Strathern (born 1940) is a British writer and academic. He was born in London, and studied at Trinity College, Dublin, after which he served in the Merchant Navy over a period of two years. He then lived on a Greek island. In 1966 he travelled overland to India and the Himalayas. His novel A Season in Abyssinia won a Somerset Maugham Award in 1972.

Besides five novels, he has also written nume
More about Paul Strathern...

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