This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Periodic Table
Series: A Very Short Introduction
Author: Eric Scerri
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
From the Publisher
The periodic table of elements, first encountered by many of us at school, provides an arrangement of the chemical elements, ordered by their atomic number, electron configuration, and recurring chemical properties, and divided into periodic trends. In this Very Short Introduction Eric R. Scerri looks at the trends in properties of elements that led to the construction of the table, and shows how the deeper meaning of the table’s structure gradually became apparent with the development of atomic theory and, in particular, quantum mechanics, which underlies the behaviour of all of the elements and their compounds. This new edition, publishing in the International Year of the Periodic Table, celebrates the completion of the seventh period of the table, with the ratification and naming of elements 113, 115, 117, and 118 as nihonium, moscovium, tennessine, and oganesson. Eric R. Scerri also incorporates new material on recent advances in our understanding of the origin of the elements, as well as developments concerning group three of the periodic table.
Sigh. Another mediocre at best book in this extremely topsy turvy series. After that little quote I posted in the CR&Q Post, which was from chapter one, my expectations were at about zero, maybe a one.
While things didn’t stay at the level of the fanboyishness exhibited in that quote post, it definitely stayed in the “written by someone who is fascinated by the Periodic Table”. Scerri started out with a history of the table and how it came into being, how it has been refined and even how today there is question about the best way to present it. Knowledgeable, engaging and interesting. I’m talking 4 star material here.
Then he starts talking about the elements themselves. Oh my goodness. He uses mathematical equations and chemical notations. Here’s a pro-tip from me to any of you thinking about writing an Introduction book on any subject: if you have to include equations and notations, you are doing it wrong. Period. What part of “Introduction” does this series simply not understand? I know I rail against this thing for every single book but it really bothers me for every single book. Not enough to quit reading these (for free after all) but if the library runs out of these (which they will) I’ll not be buying any of these.
Now, learning about how the periodic table came into being and how even today it is still up in the air was totally worth reading this book for. Learning bits and pieces is always worth it, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be a frustrating experience.