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The Periodic Table and Quantum Mechanics

  1. Dec 24, 2007 #1
    At the risk of annoying some people but hopefully also interesting others I would like to mention my new book on the periodic table, which has just been named as one of 7 "outstdanding academic books of the year 2007" in the category for chemistry

    But the book is as much about physics as it is about chemistry. In it I examine the claim that is frequently made that the periodic system reduces completely to quantum mechanics and I conclude that although the claim goes a long way the reduction is far from complete. And nor do I merely refer to the inability to solve the many-body Schrodinger equation analytically, given that approximations are so good these days that this does not really matter too much.

    In addition I have published an article on the periodic system in the current issue of American Scientist (Jan-Feb, 2008) although not specifically on the question of reduction.

    I would be interested to hear from anyone who has seen the book or who might have some comments on this topic. The book is searchable on the Amazon.com website which is,


    eric scerri



    "An absolutely gorgeous book. I put it on my bedside table and then stayed up half the night reading it - it is immensely readable."
    ---Oliver Sacks, author of The Man Who Mistook his wife for a Hat, Awakenings etc.

    “Written to a high standard of scholarship, "The Periodic Table" is the only book of its kind currently on the market, giving both an historical and philosophical perspective to the development of this key to the elements. The philosophical discussion Scerri weaves through its pages is rarely found in chemistry books, giving it a special quality that will appeal to the scientific community at large. In years to come it will be seen as essential reading for all who aspire to lecture and write on the subject.” ----- John Emsley, author of "The Elements" and "Nature's Building Blocks"

    “As the author of "The Periodic System of Chemical Elements: A History of the First Hundred Years" (1969), I consider Scerri's "The Periodic Table: Its Story and Its Significance" a worthy successor. I declare his new book a must, not only for all historians of chemistry and the other natural sciences, but also for the scientists and pupils thereof.--- Jan W. van Spronsen, author of "The Periodic System of Chemical Elements: A History of the First Hundred Years"

    “Few concepts are more important in chemistry than the periodic table, and Eric Scerri's book offers a wonderfully thorough, lucid, and provocative introduction for both chemists and the scientifically literate to this major cultural contribution. Anyone interested in the foundations of chemistry will take delight, inspiration, and information from this highly approachable book.” ----- Peter Atkins, author of "The Periodic Kingdom", "Molecules" etc.
  2. jcsd
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