Reading progress update: I've read 56 out of 400 pages.

The Disappearing Spoon: And Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of the Elements - Sam Kean

"He was lucky, really, that a good scientist like Lecoq de Boisbaudran discovered eka-aluminium first. If someone had poked around for one of his mistakes – Mendeleev predicted there were many elements before hydrogen and swore the sun’s halo contained a unique element called coronium – the Russian might have died in obscurity. But just as people forgave ancient astrologers who spun false, even contradictory, horoscopes and fixated instead on the one brilliant comet they predicted exactly, people tend to remember only Mendeleev’s triumphs. Moreover, when simplifying history it’s tempting to give Mendeleev, as well as Meyer and others, too much credit. They did the important work in building the trellis on which to nail the elements; but by 1869, only two-thirds of all elements had been discovered, and for years some of them sat in the wrong columns and rows on even the best tables."

Too much credit? Too much credit for being able to imagine beyond what was known at the time and what could have been known at the time?


And where exactly lies Kean's contribution to explaining how the world around us works? It certainly is not by way of his erratic explanations in this book.