Thursday, February 10, 2011

Periodic Tales

I have just finished reading a review of a book about the chemical elements in the periodic table, "Periodic Tales: The Curious Lives of the Elements" by Hugh Aldersley-Williams. It's clearly a quirky book about chemistry, and I look forward to reading it. What caught my attention particularly was his lament at the disappearance of "wet chemistry" from the school curriculum. No more "stinks and bangs", experiments are now on video not on the lab bench, everything is safe and sanitised. The author, says the reviewer, "even regrets the removal from the paintbox of rich greens based on arsenic and flame-red vermilion formed from powdered mercuric sulphide." And concludes "Removing risk, he suggests, enfeebles life."
I'll second that.

2 comments:

HGJones said...

Hello Jake, I'm sure you will have seen or heard this before, but your posting reminded me to enjoy it again. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m8dtquYDXEU In case the link doesn't work it is Tom Lehrer singing "The Elements" easily found on You Tube. Still enjoying your Blog
Best Wishes
Howard J.

Old Scrote said...

Thanks, Howard. Yes, I know the Tom Lehrer tour de force, in fact I still have it somewhere on a steam-driven audio cassette. I guess he would have to re-write now that the boffins have added so many new elements (created by bombarding neutrons and having a life of nano-seconds. Seems a waste of time to me!)