In 1869 Russian scientist Dmitri Mendeleyev was puzzling over a way to bring order to the fledgling science of chemistry and dreamed of what is now known as the Periodic Table. From ancient philosophy through medieval alchemy to the splitting of the atom, this is the true story of the birth of chemistry and the role of one man's dream.
Strathern's diverting style of writing fleshes out the scientists who labored to define what the elemental building blocks of the universe are. With 20/20 hindsight, he shows the misconceptions that took chemistry down unproductive paths and brings to light scientists whose surprising theoretical prescience and genius were unknown in their own time ... Recommended for public and academic libraries.
Taking a traditional view of intellectual history, Mr. Strathern considers the 17th century as the era when the 'new science' of chemistry could at last “shed its oriental esoteric past ... Mendeleyev’s Dream is chronological, rather slow and, apart from an occasional quip, pretty sober ... Strathern’s book is...historically comprehensive[.]
Strathern’s account focuses on the discovery of concepts—explained for the nonscientist with merciful clarity—essential to Mendeleyev’s vision, but it also explores the irreducible mysteries in the personalities of those who discovered the concepts. A book that brings lucidity to science while restoring human complexity to the scientists who do it: What more could a reader want?