The wondrous and illuminating story of humankind's quest to discover the fundamentals of chemistry, culminating in Mendeleyev's dream of the Periodic Table.
In 1869 Russian scientist Dmitri Mendeleyev was puzzling over a way to bring order to the fledgling science of chemistry. Wearied by the effort, he fell asleep at his desk. What he dreamed would fundamentally change the way we see the world.
Framing this history is the life story of the nineteenth-century Russian scientist Dmitri Mendeleyev, who fell asleep at his desk and awoke after conceiving the periodic table in a dream-the template upon which modern chemistry is founded and the formulation of which marked chemistry's coming of age as a science. From ancient philosophy through medieval alchemy to the splitting of the atom, this is the true story of the birth of chemistry and the role of one man's dream.
In this elegant, erudite, and entertaining book, Paul Strathern unravels the quixotic history of chemistry through the quest for the elements.
"Chemistry has been a neglected area of science writing, and Mendeleyev, the king of chemistry, is a largely forgotten genius. Strathern’s history goes a long way toward correcting that injustice."
– Simon Singh, author of 'The Code Book' and 'Fermat's Last Theorem'
"Taking a traditional view of intellectual history, Strathern considers the 17th century as the era when the ‘new science’ of chemistry could at last ‘shed its oriental esoteric past.’"
– Wall Street Journal
"Strathern is an entertaining guide, capable of marshaling a colorful cast of thinkers and experimentalists. It’s a pleasure to find a popular book about chemistry."
– New Scientist
"Despite its title, this is not a biography of Dmitri Mendeleyev. Rather, it is a lay reader’s history of chemistry or, more broadly, scientific thought, from the ancient Greeks through the 19th century."
– Library Journal
"Strathern does an excellent job revitalizing the drama of chemistry’s volatile mix of ideas and substances. His readable romp through the annals of chemistry conveys a remarkable amount of information about science in general."
– Sunday Times (London)
"Mendeleyev’s Dream is a wonderfully entertaining and stimulating journey from alchemy to chemistry in search of the elements of our universe. It is a book of great clarity and depth."