Disappearing Spoon Essay

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Reviewing Elements of Chapter 12 of the Disappearing Spoon Sam Kean, the author of the New York Times Bestseller the Disappearing Spoon, opens the 12th chapter of his narrative by stating that “The periodic table embodies our frustrations and failures in every human field: economics, psychology, the arts, and… politics” (Kean, 203). Kean, being an english and physics major, observes that the periodic table, our most treasured accomplishment as a race as he puts it, is much more than just a jumble of random letters pertaining to a specific scientific field but, instead, a focal point of human interaction throughout history. Kean’s narrative, as a whole, focuses on the many facets of the periodic table including its scientific and nonscientific attributes, providing the reader with a new perspective to this vast array of elements; a social perspective. Chapter 12 of Kean’s bestseller focuses on how politics had a major influence on the development of the periodic table. The majority of the chapter takes place during the mid-1900s and therefore, as one might imagine, anti-Semitism was omnipresent. In one specific case where anti-Semitism affected the scientific world, György Hevesy, a Jew who discovered radioactive element tracers and a way to detect if certain elements were present in matter, was prevented from winning a Nobel Prize due to the sole fact that he was Jewish. Additionally, many of his colleagues challenged his work and prevented one of his elemental discoveries from making Weinberg 2 it onto the table. Although one might assume that the periodic table is exclusively science related and has no connection with societal aspects, Kean proves with stories such as Hevesy’s that politics in addition to many other fields shaped the table’s path. Politics helped determine the outcome of the periodic table, or so Kean claims. Kean supports this
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