[alert variation=”alert-info”]Publisher: Prometheus Books
Formats: Hardcover, Kindle, eBook
Purchase: Powell’s | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks[/alert]

Here is an excellent, superbly written book the focus of which are the seventeen rare earth elements absolutely essential to today’s technological and medical applications. Keith Veronese, a chemist, happens to be a very good writer and even though Rare has mostly technical and scientific information, the text reads easily. If you are total neophyte in these fields, having interest in the subjects you will enjoy this book.

“While the seventeen metals may be distributed evenly throughout the planet, finding an extractable quantity is a challenge.”

Veronese includes plenty more than simply the quest for these rare earth elements: technology, mining and extraction, economics and global politics, among others. We also find fascinating information on recovering gold from the seawater to pay for the cost of the war in Germany, alchemists’ efforts to produce gold, poisoning someone you don’t like by thallium phosphate or with polonium, dirty bombs and their poisonous rare earth and many more. Then we learn about recycling for the precious rare earths and gold in our electronic devices—both at home and in impoverished African countries where inhabitants sort through mountains of electronic wastes and poison themselves. We even learn about mineral resources of Antarctica, Greenland and space, as well as Afghanistan and its fabulous rare earth deposits. This is an excellent book.

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