From iron to uranium, titanium to silicon, this is “a wide-ranging look at scientific progress. It’s also a lot of fun” (The Wall Street Journal).
Iron. Carbon. Gold. Silver. Uranium. Titanium. Silicon. These elements of the periodic table have shaped our lives and our world, in ways both good and bad. Combining history, science, and politics, this “lively, educational examination of civilization’s building blocks” reveals the fascinating story (Publishers Weekly).
With carbon, we can access heat, light, and mobility at the flick of a switch. Silicon enables us to communicate across the globe in an instant. Uranium is both productive (nuclear power) and destructive (nuclear bombs). Iron is the bloody weapon of war, but also the economic tool of peace. And our desire for alluring gold is the foundation of global trade—but it has also led to the death of millions.
Explaining how titanium pervades modern consumer culture and how an innovative new form of carbon could be starting a technology revolution, Seven Elements That Changed the World is an adventure in human passion, ingenuity, and discovery—and the latest chapter in a journey that is far from over.
“The human quest for knowledge has led to extraordinary progress. This book forces us to confront these realities and does so in a unique and fascinating way. It weaves science and humanity together in a way that gives us new insight. This is an expertly crafted book by a unique thinker.” —Tony Blair
“John Browne uses seven elements, the building blocks of the physical world, to explore a multitude of worlds beyond. A lively story that enables us to see the essential elements of modern life in a new and highly engaging way.” —Daniel Yergin, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of The Quest
“Part popular science, part history, part memoir, these pages are infused with insight and lifted by the innate optimism of a scientist.” —Brian Cox, physicist, broadcaster, and author of The Quantum Universe
“An admirable popular science account of how iron, carbon, gold, silver, uranium, titanium, and silicon affect our lives . . . An expert on carbon (i.e., oil), Browne relies on the public library for much information but mixes in his travels and anecdotes from an impressive career to produce a lively, educational examination of civilization’s building blocks.” —Publishers Weekly
John Browne was born in Germany in 1948 and joined BP as a university apprentice in 1966, rising to group chief executive from 1995 to 2007, where he built a reputation as a visionary leader, regularly voted the most admired businessman by his peers. This is his first book.