I liked it best when he became more personal in discussing his family and upbringing. It made me think of the best works by John Gribbin that I had read many years ago. These people were those very few who can take book knowledge and in an instant give you an example in nature that demonstrates what is in the books. I found the first 30 pages boring, but loved the rest of the book. In this book he is the subject of his narrative and he manages to depict himself with the same grace and wit that uses to characterize others. "Uncle Tungsten", published first in 2001, is his memoir of his life and times in pre and immediately post war England. This can be frustrating. Both his parents were physicians. Mother ordered this book some time ago and wanted me to read it. I have read this book many times and have given it as a gift to many others. Reviewed in the United States on October 19, 2015. It was too much for me to read example after example of experiments, such as the formation of colorful crystals when you put a thread in a solution of x and add a pinch of this or that. To understand and really remember each paragraph one should do the experiments he did and carefully observe what he looked at in nature. Exuberant and informative. Long before Oliver Sacks became a distinguished neurologist and bestselling writer, he was a small English boy fascinated by metals–also by chemical reactions (the louder and smellier the better), photography, squids and cuttlefish, H.G. Uncle "Tungsten" owned and ran a factory that produced light bulbs and he was deeply knowledgeable about heavy metals that could be used as filaments in these early bulbs. I have eccentrics in my bloodline, but the eccentrics in Sacks' family were brilliant polymaths. It made me think of the best works by John Gribbin that I had read many. Concerns about poisonous fumes? I feel totally terrible on giving up on this book. Uncle Tungsten, Memories of a Chemical Boyhood by Oliver Sacks. I am fortunate in having such knowledge and thoroughly enjoyed the book.. A Grand Tour of the Periodic Table with Dr. Sacks, Reviewed in the United States on October 24, 2004. Sacks shows you the world through the eyes of a brilliant, passionately curious,s child. Oh, to have had the intellectual riches of Oliver Sacks' childhood. Uncle Tungsten Quotes Showing 1-19 of 19 “...We ourselves were made of the very same elements as composed the sun and stars, that some of my atoms might once have been in a distant star. Sack's family were Jews who had immigrated to England around the turn of the 20th century. I have long been an Oliver Sacks fangirl, since reading his inimitable "The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat" years ago when it first came out. In addition I was often called at 6:00,AM asking me to deliver his lecture at 8:00 AM . Instead, our system considers things like how recent a review is and if the reviewer bought the item on Amazon. Ah, for a time machine and a genetic makeover. How many of us has the abillity to do experiments on chemicals during our childhood days?How many of us dream of chemistry?How many of us delight in travelling the journey of science;asking questions and given answers to satisfy our eager curiosity? Oliver Sacks blends the history of scientific enquiry with memories of his childhood in Uncle Tungsten Zoe Green Sat 8 Dec 2001 19.27 EST First published on Sat 8 Dec 2001 19.27 EST It is not a standard memoir, in that you don't learn very much about Sacks' life or family outside of his explorations of chemistry. His parents were physicians and his uncles (he came from quite a large family) were scientists and entrepreneurs. I probably requires some insight into the history of experimental science to appreciate the story. Uncle Tungsten was the relative with the lightbulb factory and a penchant for spectacular chemistry. The frantic carnage of the blitz, the torment he endured in school at the hands of a cruel headmaster and the mental health problems of his older brother perhaps all play a part in directing the shy insular Sacks toward the magnificent order and laws of Chemistry, a domain which was “solid, invariant; they stood unmoved in a chaotic world”. We've got you covered with the buzziest new releases of the day. There's a problem loading this menu right now. I'm also a really good cook. And how pale. Sacks has the rare talent to combine science, art, and humanity, and the result is a beautifully written account of both his childhood and the early science of chemistry and the people that were involved. Free delivery on qualified orders. I think this is the most personal of Sacks' books. After viewing product detail pages, look here to find an easy way to navigate back to pages you are interested in. What I also loved about Sacks' memoir is how much I learned! I was less interested in the history of chemistry sections, though they were very well written, than in his stories of his boyhood. In addition to Uncle Tungsten, Sacks's family members were brainy and colorful characters who are quite fun to read about. Just a moment while we sign you in to your Goodreads account. For instance, at one point he describes how as a teenager his brother Michael suffered from paranoid delusions (was he schizophrenic? Every paragraph in the book prompts one to go out and do an experiment, look at a pinecone or a sunflower. Great book for enthusiasts of the history of science. His last chapter discussing his transition away from Chemistry into Medicine was the most striking. It's the story of his boyhood during wartime Britain, and his experiences with both his multi-talented family, and his youthful love of science and chemistry. He tells of the large science-steeped family who fostered his early fascination with chemistry. And we hear of his return to London, an emotionally bereft ten-year-old who found solace in his passion for learning. Sacks gave a mythic context to chemistry, one that made me feel like I was beside him discovering how truly moving it could be. A solid founddatin in the physial sciences is needed to appreciate this book. Uncle Tungsten radiates all the delight and wonder of a boy’s adventures, and is an unforgettable portrait of an extraordinary young mind. Or maybe I should put it this way – it cannot be appreciated as it should be unless you either have a thorough knowledge of chemistry or are willing to read the book slowly and do the experiments, look at the pinecones and sunflowers and investigate alongside the author as he speaks of his childhood in London. Uncle Tungsten by Oliver W. Sacks. For one who is such an accomplished scientific figure in the medical world, his prose writing is so good. So Uncle Tungsten had, in effect, a Nephew Tungsten! A wonderfully written account of the thrill of discovery, Reviewed in the United States on April 17, 2019. Oliver Sacks (1933-2015) grew up in North London surrounded by scientific aunts and uncles. The result is a rich, unique, and compelling glimpse into the development of an enormously fertile and creative mind." While I enjoyed listening to Sacks's story throughout the memoir including his reminiscing of bits of chemical/physics history. Wonderfully inspiring, even more so because the book revolves around the great love of mine - chemistry. His brothers also went on to become physicians, as did Oliver. I think part of my aversion to the subjects was how mortified. I did enjoy getting a little glimpse of the upper middle class Jewish community in London in the '30s and '40s. Uncle Tungsten is a crystalline view of a brilliant young mind springing to life, a story of growing up which is by turns elegiac, comic, and wistful, full of the electrifying joy of discovery. It's not possible anymore, even if you have equally intelligent, indulgent, slightly disconnected parents, who let him do what he wished, when he wished, how he wished--allowing him, over years, to play in an under-the-stairs chemistry lab, where he nearly blew himself and the house sky-high many times. You will learn some science, certainly. He also had the good fortune to be surrounded by a supportive and highly intellectual family who nurtured his innate thirst for knowledge and in particular, his love of science. Born in Cricklewood, London, the youngest of four children born to Jewish parents (both physicians), his early memories of growing up are punctuated by reverber. His curiosity, the personal interest he takes in his patients, the broadness of his knowledge and his friendships, all hinted at a remarkable personality and mind. Uncle Tungsten is an interesting mix of science and boyhood biography, the beginnings of a lifelong love affair with science that I enjoyed thoroughly. This book was just as great on my second readthrough as it was on my first. This is a five-star jealousy rating. It can be argued that the chemistry is part of the biography since, as a child, it was the most important interest of the author. Safety glasses? It explains all of his different scientific obsessions he had as a boy, and how he came about finding all the information he did on them. I didn't know much about chemicals before reading this book, and can't say I retain a lot of the chemical experiments that were done, but it was the sheer pleasure he received while learning, and passing it on to us, the readers that impresses me so much. (Stanislao Cannizzaro, Italian chemist, 1826 - 1910). Sacks has the rare talent to combine science, art, and humanity, and the result is a beautifully written account of both his childhood and the early science of chemistry and the people that were involved. In reading all of Sacks's books, I have always felt that not only was Sacks telling me a lot about oddities of the medical world, but also implicitly, quite a lot about the oddity of his own personality. What a nice way to learn something about the history of science. I read this, a chapter at a time, as bedtime reading for my 11-year-old son, who is very much into science, and said son is now fascinated with chemistry, its history, and all the people that were involved in many of the theories that have been proved. The premise is an autobiographic one. for us, as readers, it provides a won- It's a mature discovery for him, and derful moment of grace in the coUection. I love history of science books, and biography so to get both in one book was a surprise and a treat! It also becomes woven in with the history of chemistry and the periodic table. Really a combination of the history of chemistry and the story of the early life of the author. He has been a hero of mine for a long time and this book lets me feel that I know him better. I’m … I have always enjoyed reading Oliver Sacks' books. January 11 - Dear Congress - Stop Wasting Time With Impeaching Trump - End His Famine In Yemen Related: Dems Reject Bigger Survival Checks, Float Tax Breaks For The Rich - Daily Poster Party leaders are backing off a chance to push for a new round of full $2,000 survival checks — while Democratic … Great for a beginning college Chemistry class - to get students to understand and get hooked on the world of Chemistry. Mother ordered this book some time ago and wanted me to read it. Uncle loved the density of the tungsten he made, and its refractoriness, its great chemical stability. -Kirkus Reviews (starred review) "In Uncle Tungsten, Oliver Sacks weaves together the wonders of chemistry and his boyhood experiences with grace, ease, and just the right comedic touch. There is no more moving example of this than his last published essay on, of all things, gefilte fish, published in The New Yorker just a short time before he died. coherence? To calculate the overall star rating and percentage breakdown by star, we don’t use a simple average. Recommed it to anyone who likes Oliver Sacks and/or the history of science. In doing so he always reminds me not only of our common humanity, but of just how strange and wonderful our humanity is. Here you see the brilliant family that produced the extraordinary man Sacks became. Publication date 2001 Topics Sacks, Oliver W, Neurologists -- England -- Biography Publisher Alfred A. Knopf ... plus-circle Add Review. In this book he is the subject of his narrative and he manages to depict himself with the same grace and wit that uses to characterize others. What I also loved about Sacks' memoir is how much I learned! In Uncle Tungsten we meet Sacks’ extraordinary family, from his surgeon mother (who introduces the fourteen-year-old Oliver to the art of human dissection) and his father, a family doctor who imbues in his son an early enthusiasm for housecalls, to his “Uncle Tungsten,” whose factory produces tungsten-filament lightbulbs. The result is a rich, unique, and compelling glimpse into the development of an enormously fertile and creative mind.” His family is one of scholars. I greatly admire the writing of the late Oliver Sacks, but if you have not read Sacks before, do not begin with “Uncle Tungsten.” It is not Sacks’s best work. I began looking for paragraphs that contained "I" and skimming the rest. Me to read about readthrough as it was on my second readthrough as was! Disconcerting that formal study of a subject would make someone with such a love for chemistry, how develops. He always reminds me not only of our common humanity, but I believe will... 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