Finalist for the AAAS/Subaru SB&F Prize for Excellence in Science Books (Young adults)

Superheavy book Kit Chapman

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A must for anyone interested in how humans have expanded, and continue to expand, the boundaries of scientific knowledge

Publishers Weekly

Creating an element is no easy feat. It’s the equivalent of firing six trillion bullets a second at a needle in a haystack, hoping the bullet and needle somehow fuse together, then catching it in less than a thousandth of a second – after which it’s gone forever. Welcome to the world of the superheavy elements: a realm where scientists use giant machines and spend years trying to make a single atom of mysterious artefacts that have never existed on Earth.

A fine pop-science account of elements that are rewriting the laws of atomic structure


From the first elements past uranium and their role in the atomic bomb to the latest discoveries stretching our chemical world, Superheavy will reveal the hidden stories lurking at the edges of the periodic table. Why did the US Air Force fly planes into mushroom clouds? Who won the transfermium wars? How did an earthquake help give Japan its first element? And what happened when Superman almost spilled nuclear secrets?

A compelling snapshot of the paranoia resulting from the Cold War as well as an insight into the chemistry on the outskirts of the periodic table

Nature Reviews Chemistry

In a globe-trotting adventure that stretches from the United States to Russia, Sweden to Australia, Superheavy is your guide to the amazing science filling in the missing pieces of the periodic table. By the end you’ll not only marvel at how nuclear science has changed our lives – you’ll wonder where it’s going to take us in the future.

Well quite a tale

Simon Mayo, broadcaster and author of the Itch books

This deeply researched and engaging tour of the nether reaches of the periodic table will delight and inform everyone

Philip Ball, author of Beyond Weird

Hugely entertaining … a real eye-opener

Andrea Sella, chemist, University College London

With meticulous attention to detail and careful research, Chapman masterfully captures the excitement, politics and competition of the transuranic elements

Jess Wade, physics research associate, Imperial College London

Superheavy: Making and Breaking the Periodic Table by Kit Chapman
Published by Bloomsbury Sigma 2019