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The Periodic Table: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions)
 
 

The Periodic Table: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) [Kindle Edition]

Eric R. Scerri
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Pressestimmen

Overall this stylish and snappy book will entertain and enlighten you, and its convenient size means it can do so when you're on the go Chemistry World

Kurzbeschreibung

Here, Eric Scerri looks at the trends in properties of elements that led to the construction of the periodic table, and how the deeper meaning of its structure gradually became apparent with the development of atomic theory and quantum mechanics, so that, as Scerri puts it, one science, physics, arguably came to colonize another, chemistry, although such a view is resisted by chemists. Scerri shows that quantum mechanics is absolutely central to chemistry, as it underlies the
behaviour of all of the elements and their compounds, and therefore underpins the structure of the periodic table.

Concluding with an overview of the huge variety of periodic tables that have been proposed in the print media and on the Internet, he explores the debated question of whether there is an optimal periodic table and what form it might take.

ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

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5.0 von 5 Sternen Popular Science Writing at its Best 20. Februar 2012
Format:Taschenbuch
Periodic table of elements is one of the most famous and recognizable scientific icons. It is a distillation of many centuries of work and insight into the nature of fundamental substances, and it is a particularly elegant formulation of the deep unity of all matter. Its discovery has been rightly attributed to Mendeleev, perhaps the greatest Russian scientist of all time, although many of its essential features have already been anticipated in the years preceding its official discovery. Even after the discovery, the periodic table has continued to evolve, both in terms of the new elements that have been discovered, as well as in terms of how they are best visually included in the table.

This very short introduction tells the story of discovery of the periodic table. It is in equal measure a historical account as well as an introduction into the scientific principles that have been crucial for our understanding of the elements. It also reflects on important philosophical issues that most active scientist often don't appreciate enough, but that are in fact important in deciding what are the crucial features of the laws and relationships that the periodic table embodies.

This book is bound to offer a lot of new and interesting information, even to those who think that they know pretty much everything that there is to know about the atomic structure and the elements. (As a physicist, I was surprised to find out that we still don't have a completely quantum mechanical understanding of the orbitals, and the fact that relativistic effects become important for the heavier atoms.) It is an up to date account, and anyone who is curious about the basic science will greatly appreciate its content. The book is also very well written, and it is a pleasure to read. I highly recommend it.
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5.0 von 5 Sternen Popular Science Writing at its Best 16. Februar 2012
Von Dr. Bojan Tunguz - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Taschenbuch|Verifizierter Kauf
Periodic table of elements is one of the most famous and recognizable scientific icons. It is a distillation of many centuries of work and insight into the nature of fundamental substances, and it is a particularly elegant formulation of the deep unity of all matter. Its discovery has been rightly attributed to Mendeleev, perhaps the greatest Russian scientist of all time, although many of its essential features have already been anticipated in the years preceding its official discovery. Even after the discovery, the periodic table has continued to evolve, both in terms of the new elements that have been discovered, as well as in terms of how they are best visually included in the table.

This very short introduction tells the story of discovery of the periodic table. It is in equal measure a historical account as well as an introduction into the scientific principles that have been crucial for our understanding of the elements. It also reflects on important philosophical issues that most active scientist often don't appreciate enough, but that are in fact important in deciding what are the crucial features of the laws and relationships that the periodic table embodies.

This book is bound to offer a lot of new and interesting information, even to those who think that they know pretty much everything that there is to know about the atomic structure and the elements. (As a physicist, I was surprised to find out that we still don't have a completely quantum mechanical understanding of the orbitals, and the fact that relativistic effects become important for the heavier atoms.) It is an up to date account, and anyone who is curious about the basic science will greatly appreciate its content. The book is also very well written, and it is a pleasure to read. I highly recommend it.
10 von 11 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen An introduction to the map of nature's most basic building blocks 8. April 2012
Von Stephen Pletko - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Taschenbuch
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"The periodic table ranks as one of the most fruitful and unifying ideas in the whole of modern science, comparable perhaps with [Charles] Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection. After evolving for nearly 150 years through the work of numerous individuals, the periodic table remains at the heart of the study of chemistry.

This is mainly because it is of immense practical benefit for making predictions about all manner of chemical and physical properties of the elements and possibilities for bond formation.

Instead of having to learn the properties of the 100 or more elements, the modern chemist, or the student of chemistry, can make effective predictions from knowing the properties of typical members of each of the eight main groups [or columns of elements] and those of the transition metals and rare earth elements [all found neatly arranged on the periodic table]."

The above extract comes from this slim book by Dr. Eric Scerri. Scerri is a chemist and a leading science philosopher specializing in the history and philosophy of the periodic table. He is presently a lecturer with the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at UCLA. (He's also a musician who plays one mean electric guitar as well as the acoustic piano.)

This book is part of the "Very Short Introductions" series (which began in 1995) that are books for anyone wanting a "stimulating and accessible way in to a new subject."

A modern definition of the periodic table might be an arrangement of the chemical elements according to their atomic numbers (the number of protons in the nucleus of an element's atom) to exhibit the periodic law (principle that the properties of the chemical elements recur at regular intervals).

Scerri describes how this modern definition came to be. In his narrative, he does not only discuss the scientific but also considers the historical and philosophical as well. Blending these three aspects makes for interesting reading especially for those who are not very familiar with the periodic table.

Before examining the periodic table, Scerri considers its main building blocks, the elements (those substances that cannot be separated into different substances; a pure substance like gold, silver, copper, carbon, aluminum, etc.) Then he takes a brief look at the modern periodic table and some of its variants. Having thus laid important thematic foundations and defined some essential terms he begins the story of the development of the modern periodic system that began with its birth in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, culminating with an entire chapter devoted to "the Russian genius" named Dimitri Mendeleev (1834 to 1907). (Mendeleev has an element named after him called mendelevium.)

After this, Scerri tells us how "physics invades the periodic table." That is, how atomic research, as well as other key discoveries in twentieth century physics influenced the understanding of the periodic table. In these sections, attention is paid to aspects of classical physics as well as quantum theory and quantum mechanics.

This book concludes with a discussion of the synthesis of elements beyond element 92 (uranium) and with a good discussion of alternative forms of the periodic table.

This book has over 40 illustrations with many of these illustrations being, not surprisingly, periodic tables.

When reading this book, I had an alphabetical list of the elements with their symbols, atomic weights (average weight of all the different types of an element), and atomic numbers handy. This was so I could follow Scerri's discussion closely, and thus get maximum value from this book. For example, the element uranium mentioned above has the symbol "U," atomic weight 238.03, and atomic number 92. (Note that you can read this book without such a list.)

The only problem I had with this book is that there is no picture of Mendeleev. Why? Scerri says that "the name of Mendeleev is inextricably linked with the periodic table in much the same way that evolution by natural selection and relativity theory are linked with Darwin and Einstein respectively."

Finally, there are two books I recommend after reading this one:

(1) "The Elements: a very short introduction" (2004)
(2) "The Periodic Table: its story and its significance" (2007)

In conclusion, Shakespeare tells us that "Brevity is the soul of wit." Dr. Scerri has shown us his wit by reducing the complicated story of the periodic table to a few pages!!

(Also, I think if he decides to form his own musical band, he should name it "The Scerriums.")

{first published 2011; acknowledgements; list of illustrations; preface; 10 chapters; main narrative 135 pages; further reading; index}

<<Stephen Pletko, London, Ontario, Canada>>

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6 von 6 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen A Very Fine Book About an Extremely Profound Idea 17. April 2012
Von Philippus Aureolus Theophrastus Bombastus von Hohenheim - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Taschenbuch|Verifizierter Kauf
Dr. Scerri's book is, to a great extent, about what most of us glossed over when we studied Chemistry in college.

I read the introductory portions of chapters in Chemistry books that covered the history and philosophy pertaining to what the chapter was about when I studied Chemistry in college but I only read those portions once. I read the parts of the chapters that were being tested on over and over again of course.

Now that I'm not striving for good grades in Chemistry the history and philosophy of the periodic table is something I find to be profound, true, and beautiful.

This Short Introduction is a beautifully written book that explains how and why the periodic table was discovered. The discovery process turns out to be a good read. I can't get over the fact that Mendeleev, the Russian genius who was most instrumental in discovering the periodic table, didn't believe in the existence of atoms!!

My only warning involves the need to have studied a bit of Chemistry to understand the book. I'm fairly certain that rudimentary knowledge of Chemistry is assumed as the basis for the book.
6 von 6 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen A lucid, pocket-sized philosophy of chemistry 4. März 2012
Von E. A. Lovitt - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Taschenbuch
In this small, elegantly written book Dr. Eric Scerri of UCLA, a well-known expert on the periodic table takes his readers on a journey from a universe comprised of earth, air, fire, and water, through the mapping of the naturally occurring elements into groups according to their properties, and into the strange realms of quantum mechanics and synthetic elements. It is a dizzying journey to accomplish in only 147 pages, but the author makes every sentence and diagram count.

It might come as a surprise to some readers that the standard medium-long-form periodic table of the elements that decorates most chemistry lab walls is not the only logical way to display groups of elements with similar properties:

"There have been quite literally over 1,000 periodic tables published in print, or more recently on the Internet. How are they all related? Is there one optimal periodic table? These are questions that will be explored in this book since they can teach us many interesting things about modern science."

In the last chapter of this book, "Forms of the Periodic Table," Dr. Scerri explains his reasons for supporting the 'left-step' periodic table where helium remains in group 18, but hydrogen is moved to the right and positioned on top of group 17 (the halogens).

To someone who regrets never having taken a college-level course in chemistry, this book fills in many gaps in my overall knowledge of the physical sciences, most especially the influence of quantum theory on the structure of the periodic table. Once you've read "The Periodic Table: A Very Short Introduction," and want to immerse yourself more deeply into this fascinating subject, try Professor Scerri's "The Periodic Table: Its Story and Its Significance."

***review copy supplied by author
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5.0 von 5 Sternen The Periodic Table in the Very Short Introductions Series 27. Oktober 2013
Von Robin Friedman - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Taschenbuch
In this 2012 "very short introduction" from Oxford University Press, Dr Eric Scerri offers an account of a major symbol of science, the periodic table.. An author, chemist, and philosopher of science, Scerri is a full-time lecturer in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, UCLA. Although he has written many detailed, technical research studies, Scerri also shows a flair in writing for and explaining scientific concepts to lay readers. In addition to this very short introduction, Scerri has written a longer book on the periodic table, "The Periodic Table: its History and Significance". (2007)The Periodic Table: Its Story and Its Significance

Scerri shows an enthusiasm for and deep knowledge of his subject in this short, engagingly written book. The book is historically informed as Scerri begins with the understanding of the elements of the ancient Greeks and works forward. The book allows the reader to appreciate the many preliminary scientific steps over the course of years on which the periodic table was based. The book has a strong element of human interest as Scerri offers brief biographical information about many of the individuals who contributed to the development and understanding of the periodic table.

Scerri emphasizes the importance of the periodic table in displaying what he terms the periodic law which states that "after certain regular but varying intervals, the chemical elements show an approximate repetition in their properties." He explains how the periodic law functions in both the horizontal and vertical rows of the periodic table.

The book offers a discussion of the development of the periodic table while also raising deep scientific and philosophical questions. For example, Scerri explores the impact of quantum theory and quantum mechanics on the understanding of the periodic table. Many scientists tend to reduce questions of the chemistry of the table to questions of quantum mechanics. Scerri argues that to date the chemistry of the table has not been reduced to purely quantum mechanical explanation. Scerri admits that it might be so reduced in the future. Thus Scerri opposes a reductionist account of the sciences which reduce all questions to questions of physics.

Scerri also develops the interplay between scientific and philosophical questions. He pronounces himself a "realist" as far as the periodic table is concerned. He holds that "the approximate repetition in the properties of the elements is an objective fact about the natural world". He contrasts this position to "instrumentalism" or "anti-realism" which holds that "the periodicity of the elements is a property that is imposed on nature by human agents." This philosophical disagreement may have consequences in the way scientists view the search for alternate versions of the periodic table. The instrumentalist would hold that different versions might be appropriate for different purposes while the realist would hold that the search for the best formulation of the periodic table was a search to discover, as nearly as possible, the properties of nature and to find the truth. The realist/anti-realist dispute has many formulations in philosophy and ramifications for how science is to be understood. Scerri also offers a great deal of insight into various philosophical understandings of substance and their impact on the development of the periodic table and of the philosophical/scientific understanding of the nature of matter. At one time, many scientists thought the elements were separate, and irreducible. With the development of atomic theory, it appears that all matter and all the elements have a fundamental underlying unity.

As a high school student, I was interested briefly in chemistry but never pursued the subject beyond college. I studied a good deal of philosophy. This very short introduction brought the fascination of the subject back to me after the larger part of a lifetime. The book teaches a great deal about the periodic table, about the development of scientific thought, and its relationship to philosophical thinking. I was grateful to have Scerri as a guide in this very short introduction to teach me about the periodic table and about the scientific way of thinking.

Robin Friedman
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