Superheavy: Making and Breaking the Periodic Table
Remember having to memorize the Periodic Table in high school? Ugh. That was the worst. And I say that as a kid who loved science, and continues to love the subject to this day. That being said, the table was obtuse and offputting, and along the way, we missed out on so many amazing stories connected to how the Table was assembled in the first place.
Superheavy corrects some of those oversights by exploring the surprising tense battle between labs (and nations!) for the awards, bragging rights, and glory associated with discovering a new element and placing it on the Periodic Table. Yes, in the aftermath of the race for the atomic bomb, the battles didn’t stop there, and the maneuvering involved everything from espionage and faked laboratory results to insane experiments and unbelievable coincidences. It’s a story for the ages, and it’s all here in one place to be enjoyed.
Chapman walks the reader through the history step by step, talking to some of the major players involved while filling in other gaps with visits to the historic locales where the groundbreaking, atom-splitting work was done. And with characters like Fermi, Flerov, and other amazing and eccentric minds involved, there’s no shortage of anecdotes, humor, and brilliance amidst all the heavy science.
If I wanted to introduce someone to the world of scientific reporting, I would start with Superheavy. It mixes science, history, and exploration in marvelous fashion.
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