We now come to a wonderful book titled Tales About Metals by S. Venetsky. Earlier we had seen the sequel to this book On Rare and Scattered Metals by the same author.
For ages have metals faithfully served humanity in all its endeavours to conquer the elements, unravel the mysteries of Nature and build powerful machines and installations. The world of metals is diverse and absorbing. The history of some of its representatives, notably, copper, iron, lead, mercury, gold, silver and tin dates thousands of years back. Others were discovered within just a few recent decades.
The properties of metals are extremely varied. Mercury will not freeze even at below-zero temperatures, while tungsten will not be consumed by the hottest of flames. Lithium could make a fine swimmer, being half as heavy as water and unable to sink no matter how hard it would try: osmium is a heavy-weight champion among metals and, thrown into water, will hit the bottom faster than a stone. Silver “gladly” conducts electricity, while titanium has an aversion to this “pastime”: its electrical conductivity is only a 300 th part that of silver. We come across iron wherever we turn and holmium is found in such minute quantities in the earth’s crust that it is fabulously expensive: a grain of pure holmium is several hundred times more expensive than gold.
But for all their differences, metals have one thing in common— they all belong to one large family. S. I. Venetsky’s Tales About Metals contains much information on the history of discovery of many metals and on their present and future uses.
It was not the author’s idea to give any systematized account of every metal he tells about. The history of metals abounds in amazing incidents, at times romantic or humorous, at times tragic. And it is mostly this aspect that the author had in mind when he wrote his book.
The book is intended for those who are ever curious, not only youngsters who are just discovering the world of science for themselves, but also those who have probably said goodbye to school and college, but still seize upon every opportunity to learn more about things around them.
The book has many Tales about metals related to their uses and discovery. It is a joy to read these, and I have cherished these Tales since my childhood. The Tales take you to distant times and lands, place the metals in a humanistic framework and expand your imagination. Hope it invokes same feelings in you too. Also the little water paintings that appear in these Tales make the reading much more fun, as a reader you are taken to the fantasy world through these little images.
Some of them can be seen below:
This book was translated from the Russian by N. G. Kittell and was first published by Mir in 1981 and was reprinted in 1988.
This is one of the first books that I had ever got, so has a special meaning for me. There is a Marathi version of this book as well (धातुंच्या नवलकथा), I used to have a hard copy, but it is no longer with me. Also a Hindi translation titled काहानियां धातुओं की for Tales About Metals exists.
Many, many thanks to Guptaji for the scan of this wonderful book.
You can get the book here.
About This Book 6
The Lightest Metal 7
Space-Age Metal 14
A Fighter Against Fatigue 21
Silver from Clay 28
Son of the Earth 38
“Vitamin V” 47
The “Red Lead” Mystery 54
Iron’s Old Companion 63
A Great Toiler 71
The Charge of the Guns of Peace 83
“Copper Devil” 91
One of the Oldest and Celebrated Metals 100
A “Clothing” for Uranium Rods Ill
The Forty First 118
Iron’s Ally 125
Of a Noble Origin 133
“Hard” but Soft 144
Born “in Torment” 151
Giving Light 157
Behind Three Locks 165
The King of Metals and the Metal of Kings 173
Silver Water 186
The Metal that Destroyed Rome 193
The Fuel of the Twentieth Century 200