The Periodic Table

Its Story and Its Significance

 

 

Eric Scerri

 

Oxford University Press, 2007

 

ISBN: 978-0-19-530573-9

 

The Periodic Table

A Very Short Introduction

 

 

Eric Scerri

 

Oxford University Press, 2011

 

ISBN: 978-0-19-958249-5


 

It is safe to say that the periodic table of elements would be recognized in some form by almost everyone. Indeed, together with the planetary model of the atom and the structure of the double helix, the vast majority of people would not hesitate to consider it one of the premier symbols of science. That said, depending on your academic background and trajectory, you might only have a cursory understanding of its importance, or at best a comfortable working knowledge of it (especially if you have taken a chemistry lab), but not a deep appreciation of its significance.

 

How was the periodic table generated? Why does it look the way it does? What are its limitations? If you can’t answer these questions readily, then these books are for you. The author takes us through a historical journey where we meet the luminaries whose insight and discoveries ultimately led us to craft the modern periodic table of elements. Starting with the formal quantification of chemical reactions in the 18th century and ending with quantum mechanics, the author deftly expounds the evolution of the periodic table much to the benefit of the reader. I highly recommend reading the full story (The Periodic Table- Its Story and Significance) as it is much more enriching and engaging, but if you are woefully short on time, perusing the Very Short Introduction (a highly summarized version of the 2007 account) is still worth your time.