The Disappearing Spoon Chapters 13 and 14

Chapter 13 is the chapter I inevitably knew had to be in this book. Humanity circles around money, wealth and value. Sad, yet true. This chapter starts off talking about an a prince by the name of Midas. It goes on to share his reign and the gold and bronze age, seeing as to how the people of 3000 BC could not recognize the difference between bronze and other metals with zinc in them. This introduced the idea of counterfeiting, which was the main relation between the elements in this chapter. The story then moves onto gold (skipping silver for later and l know not why) and starts with gold rushes. Here there was an actually interesting story of a huge gold rush in Australia in which gold was so easily accessible that you could just pick it up off the ground. However, once the population boomed and mining became the priority along with building to supply the growing need for housing, it became apparent that resources had huge inflation prices. To top it off, the rocks they were “throwing away” from mining and building with happened to contain the most gold themselves, making deconstruction a wide skill (sarcasm). Then the chapter moves onto what I recognize most and that is paper money. Starting in China, Kean moves into talking about counterfeiting techniques and how unique and a pain it would have to be in order to counterfeit an EU bill. We then go into the story of such a valuable metal as aluminum. Aluminum was once a precious metal, valued over gold itself. However, once a scientist was able to find a way to extract pure aluminum, the market for the metal crashed and it is now used as soda cans. Blatant ending to the most well applicable chapter.

Chapter 14 was a bit unexpected for me, but still interesting enough. This chapter focused on the aristocracy, or wealth related skills, that took place in science. To further explain, Kean described this idea simply as only the rich could afford to study science. He then starts talking about Goethe, an author he learned about by one of his college professors. Goethe wrote stories about elements and science that really had an impact on Kean due to his prior opinion of the author. The chapter then moves onto him choosing his partner, Döbereiner, to help him with his studies. The partners were both very successful and even helped to organize the periodic table even further. Döbereiner even came up with the first lighter product, making him possibly even more famous than Goethe. The chapter then starts on the story of Moholy-Nagy, a man which had the most correct theory of business in that people always want the newest product, no matter how well the old product worked. Then came the pen. I found it hilarious how obsessed the current population was on the simple pen, mastered by Kenneth Parker. The Parker 51 pen, with all it’s fancy looks seems a bit over the top to me but I suppose I should never doubt the will of Americans. Then came the part that surprised me the most. I never really knew that Mark Twain wrote any literature dealing with science (maybe my own large ignorance). He helped publicize the type writer (which he hated) and not so much the pen (which he loved). Lowell was the next artist and the last discussed, unfortunately. Apparently he was a bipolar poet and artist with a horrible social life. However, when he was tested with lithium to help with his “problem”, he was able to be one “cured”. However, his artwork was arguably never the same. Sad day.

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