UPDATE: June 2011 – debate is raging as to what format the Periodic Table should ultimately take and indeed whether there is an ultimate, fundamental structure or whether it is merely a convenience. Check out the periodic table debate here.
Here’s a book no chemist, or indeed no scientist, should miss – The Periodic Table: Its Story and Its Significance, by UCLA chemical philosopher Eric Scerri. Older readers will recall my Alchemist interview with Eric Scerri.
The book has already had some excellent advance reviews, one in particular from my good friend John Emsley, of Cambridge U says: “Written to a high standard of scholarship, ‘The Periodic Table’ is the only book of its kind currently on the market, giving both an historical and philosophical perspective to the development of this key to the elements. The philosophical discussion Scerri weaves through its pages is rarely found in chemistry books, giving it a special quality that will appeal to the scientific community at large. In years to come it will be seen as essential reading for all who aspire to lecture and write on the subject.”
Peter Atkins, who I have never met admittedly, had this to say: “Few concepts are more important in chemistry than the periodic table, and Eric Scerri’s book offers a wonderfully thorough, lucid, and provocative introduction for both chemists and the scientifically literate to this major cultural contribution. Anyone interested in the foundations of chemistry will take delight, inspiration, and information from this highly approachable book.”
You can place an advance order via amazon, the book hits the shelves September 15 at $35 hardcover.