Hugh Aldersey-Williams


Born
The United Kingdom
Website


I was born in London in 1959, the same year C.P. Snow gave his infamous ‘two cultures’ lecture about the apparently eternal divide in Britain between the arts and sciences. Perhaps this is where it all begins. Forced to choose one or the other at school and university, I chose the latter, gaining an MA in natural sciences from Cambridge.

By graduation, I was aware of a latent interest in the arts, particularly in architecture and design, and was seeking ways to satisfy all these urges in something resembling a career. Journalism seemed the obvious answer, and after a string of increasingly disastrous editorial positions on technical magazines, I went freelance in 1986 and was able at last to write about what really interested me in newspaper
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Average rating: 3.66 · 4,177 ratings · 566 reviews · 17 distinct worksSimilar authors
Periodic Tales: The Curious...

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Anatomies: A Cultural Histo...

3.49 avg rating — 528 ratings — published 2013 — 20 editions
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The Tide: The Science and S...

3.64 avg rating — 225 ratings — published 2016 — 11 editions
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In Search of Sir Thomas Bro...

3.36 avg rating — 97 ratings — published 2015 — 8 editions
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The Most Beautiful Molecule...

3.88 avg rating — 25 ratings — published 1995 — 2 editions
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Zoomorphic: New Animal Arch...

3.60 avg rating — 10 ratings — published 2003
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Cranbrook Design: The New D...

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really liked it 4.00 avg rating — 5 ratings — published 1990 — 2 editions
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Findings: Hidden Stories in...

3.20 avg rating — 5 ratings — published 2005
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Corporate Identity

it was amazing 5.00 avg rating — 1 rating
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British Design

really liked it 4.00 avg rating — 2 ratings — published 2010 — 2 editions
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“Each element has a characteristic atomic spectrum, due to the absorption and emission of light associated with the unique energy levels of its orbiting electrons.”
Hugh Aldersey-Williams, Periodic Tales: A Cultural History of the Elements, from Arsenic to Zinc

“It is through this cultural life rather than through experimental encounter in a laboratory that we really come to know the elements individually, and it is a cause for sadness that most chemistry teaching does so little to acknowledge this rich existence.”
Hugh Aldersey-Williams, Periodic Tales: A Cultural History of the Elements, from Arsenic to Zinc

“Edwin Hubble escaped the glare of ‘Orange county’ by retreating to a mountaintop observatory north of Pasadena, where he recorded the motions of the galaxies that led to his discovery of the expanding universe. But it wasn’t sodium that caused him difficulties. Potassium burns with a mauve flame which can sometimes be seen in a gunpowder explosion or when lighting a match. One night Hubble was excited to detect a potassium spectrum while he examined the galaxies through the world’s most powerful telescope. But it soon became apparent that the reading must be false. Eventually Hubble realized that the equipment had picked up the light from the potassium in the match that he had used to light his pipe.”
Hugh Aldersey-Williams, Periodic Tales: A Cultural History of the Elements, from Arsenic to Zinc

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