Non-Fiction Reviews

Mendeleyev's Dream

(2001) Paul Strathern, Penguin, 6.99, pbk, 309pp, ISBN 0-14-028414-1

As far as popular science books go, chemistry has always been the poor relation; physics and biology have always been much sexier subjects, the former with relativity, quanta and theories-of-everything and the latter with creatures and genetics. But this book about the quest for the Periodic Table and the discoveries of the elements goes a long way to redress the balance. It is accessible to non-scientifically minded readers although, as is often the case, a little O-level chemistry (junior high-school) education is a great help. It's a fairly straightforward book, without stunning revelations about the nature of matter, but this is its charm as an example of pop-science little flash, but much clarity. Recommended.

Tony Chester

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