In 1869 Russian scientist Dmitri Mendeleyev was puzzling over a way to bring order to the fledgling science of chemistry. Wearied by the effort, he fell asleep at his desk. What he dreamed would fundamentally change the way we see the world.Framing this history is the life story of the nineteenth-century Russian scientist Dmitri Mendeleyev, who fell asleep at his desk and awoke after conceiving the periodic table in a dream-the template upon which modern chemistry is founded and the formulation of which marked chemistry's coming of age as a science. From ancient philosophy through medieval alchemy to the splitting of the atom, this is the true story of the birth of chemistry and the role of one man's dream. In this elegant, erudite, and entertaining book, Paul Strathern unravels the quixotic history of chemistry through the quest for the elements.