Uncle Tungsten: Memories of a Chemical Boyhood

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9780330390286: Uncle Tungsten: Memories of a Chemical Boyhood
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Oliver Sacks's luminous memoir Uncle Tungsten charts the growth of a mind. Born in 1933 into a family of formidably intelligent London Jews, he discovered the wonders of the physical sciences early from his parents and their flock of brilliant siblings, most notably "Uncle Tungsten" (real name, Dave), who "manufactured lightbulbs with filaments of fine tungsten wire". Metals were the substances that first attracted young Oliver, and his descriptions of their colours, textures and properties are as sensuous and romantic as an art lover's rhapsodies over an Old Master. Seamlessly interwoven with his personal recollections is a masterful survey of scientific history, with emphasis on the great chemists like Robert Boyle, Antoine Lavoisier and Humphry Davy (Sacks's personal hero). Yet this is not a dry intellectual autobiography; his parents in particular, both doctors, are vividly sketched. His sociable father loved house calls and "was drawn to medicine because its practice was central in human society", while his shy mother "had an intense feeling for structure... for her [medicine] was part of natural history and biology". For young Oliver, unhappy at the brutal boarding school he was sent to during the war, and afraid that he would become mentally ill like his older brother, chemistry was a refuge in an uncertain world. He would outgrow his passion for metals and become a neurologist, but as readers of Awakenings and The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat know, he would never leave behind his conviction that science is a profoundly human endeavour. --Wendy Smith

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'An intensely moving and funny account of his chaotic scientific upbringing.' -- Richard Holmes, Brilliant and Unusual Books about Science to inspire Non-Scientists - The Week

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Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

9780375704048: Uncle Tungsten: Memories of a Chemical Boyhood

Featured Edition

ISBN 10: 0375704043 ISBN 13: 9780375704048
Publisher: Vintage Books, 2002
Softcover

9781509813698: Uncle Tungsten: Memories of a Chemical Boyhood

Picador, 2016
Softcover

9780375404481: Uncle Tungsten: Memories of a Chemical Boyhood

Alfred..., 2001
Hardcover

9780330390279: Uncle Tungsten: Memories of a Chemical Boyhood

Picador, 2001
Hardcover

9780676975376: Uncle Tungsten : Memories of a Chemical Boyhood

Vintag..., 2002
Softcover

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