Cracking the Elements

Why did the history of fizzy water give early chemistry a sparkle? What makes xenon a great modern anaesthetic – and why can’t all patients use it?

From the earliest-known elements to those that have only just been discovered, my new book, Cracking the Elements, takes a comprehensive, global look at the development of the periodic table.

In 2019, Unesco will celebrate 150 years of Mendeleev’s periodic system, which he conceived in 1869. Read about him in my book – along with many previously unsung pioneers of chemistry – as I reveal the untold stories behind the 118 elements we know today.

With 12 illustrated chapters, the book makes sense of the patterns and groups within the periodic table, introducing each of the elements individually and exploring questions including:

  • How did hydrogen reveal the structure of the atom?
  • What was the Bunsen burner’s role in discovering new elements?
  • Which of the alkaline earth metals accounts for a kilogramme of your weight?
  • Why is Marie Curie such a scientific star?
  • Who discovered the most elements in the periodic table?
  • What made nihonium, element 113, such a wonderful New Year’s gift for Japan?
  • Is glass a liquid or a solid?
  • How did nitrogen fulfil the alchemists’ dream?
  • Would you have smeared antimony on your face if you’d lived in ancient Egypt?
  • Why might naked mole rats have clues for surviving a heart attack?
  • Might there be a pattern in yet-undiscovered elements beyond number 118?

In a lovely hardback format and with loads of colour photos and diagrams throughout, the book costs £14.99 – I hope you enjoy it. Buy it in person or mail order at Books & Ink Banbury.