As a boy, Oliver Sacks loved chemistry. Though later known as a neurologist, Dr. Sacks was captivated by a different science as a child. In his book Uncle Tungsten, he reflects on his “chemical boyhood”: his early passion for understanding the world and its history in chemical terms.
Dr. Sacks, born in London in 1933, describes his enchantment in learning not only contemporary chemistry, but also its history. By the time he was delving into chemical handbooks, just after the second World War, much of the information in his shabby, older volumes, and many of the beliefs of the chemists he admired, were wrong.
Dr. Bloom concludes that the opportunity to learn the stories behind our world “opens us up to get far more pleasure out of life than we could have possibly had otherwise.” From music to science to one another, context, development, and history are worth exploring.
Sacks, Oliver. Uncle Tungsten: Memories of a Chemical Boyhood. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2001. Print.
NPR Science Friday podcast, July 23, 2010.http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=128721732