A Well-Ordered Thing: Dmitri Mendeleev and the Shadow of the Periodic Table

A Well-Ordered Thing: Dmitri Mendeleev and the Shadow of the Periodic Table

by Michael D. Gordin
     
 

Dmitrii Mendeleev: It's a name we recognize, but only as the disheveled scientist pictured in our high school chemistry textbook, the creator of the periodic table of elements. Until now little has been known about the man, but A Well-Ordered Thing draws a portrait of this chemist in three full dimensions.Historian Michael Gordin also details

Overview


Dmitrii Mendeleev: It's a name we recognize, but only as the disheveled scientist pictured in our high school chemistry textbook, the creator of the periodic table of elements. Until now little has been known about the man, but A Well-Ordered Thing draws a portrait of this chemist in three full dimensions.Historian Michael Gordin also details Mendeleev's complex relationship with the Russian Empire that was his home. From his attack on Spiritualism to his humiliation at the hands of the Petersburg Academy of Sciences, from his near-mythical hot-air balloon trip to his failed voyage to the Arctic, this is the story of an extraordinary man deeply invested in the good of his country. And the ideals that shaped his work in politics and culture were the same ones that led a young chemistry professor to start putting elements in order.Mendeleev was a loyal subject of the Tsar, but he was also a maverick who thought that only an outsider could perfect a modern Russia. A Well-Ordered Thing is a fascinating glimpse into the world of Imperial Russia--and into the life of one of its most notorious minds.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The periodic table of the elements, present in virtually every high school and college chemistry classroom, was conceptualized in large part by the 19th-century Russian chemist Dmitrii Mendeleev. Mendeleev's work was critically important because it brought intellectual order to the many elements and greatly advanced our understanding of how they function. To this day, his work provides a context that enables students' entry into the complexities of chemistry. In this fluid intellectual biography, Gordin, a historian of science and of Russian history at Princeton, focuses on Mendeleev's professional years and puts his scientific activities in the context of the rapidly evolving Russian state. Gordin demonstrates that Mendeleev was adept at using the media to advance his career while attempting to build respect for the role of scientists in a changing society. For example, he played a central role in a scientific endeavor to debunk the spiritualist movement that was spreading rapidly throughout Russia in the 1870s by placing scientific controls on s ances. Known during his lifetime as Russia's leading scientist, Mendeleev helped shape imperial policy on a range of scientific and public issues, from taxation to academic policy and from meteorology to metrology. Although Gordin's topic is fascinating, his presentation will be best suited to those with considerable knowledge of Russian history and of science. B&w photos. (May) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780465027750
Publisher:
Basic Books
Publication date:
04/26/2004
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
364
Product dimensions:
6.50(w) x 9.50(h) x 1.00(d)

Meet the Author


Michael D. Gordin is an assistant professor in the history department at Princeton University, where he teaches the history of science and Imperial Russian history. A member of the Harvard Society of Fellows, he lives in Princeton, New Jersey.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >