What We Are Reading Today: A Well-Ordered Thing by Michael D. Gordin

Updated 21 November 2018

What We Are Reading Today: A Well-Ordered Thing by Michael D. Gordin

  • A Well-Ordered Thing is an authoritative biography of Dmitrii Mendeleev — the creator of the periodic table of elements — that draws a multifaceted portrait of his life for the first time. 

Dmitrii Mendeleev (1834–1907) is a name we recognize, but perhaps only as the creator of the periodic table of elements. Generally, little else has been known about him. A Well-Ordered Thing is an authoritative biography of Mendeleev that draws a multifaceted portrait of his life for the first time. 

As Michael Gordin reveals, Mendeleev was not only a luminary in the history of science, he was also an astonishingly wide-ranging political and cultural figure. From his attack on spiritualism to his failed voyage to the Arctic and his near-mythical hot-air balloon trip, this is the story of an extraordinary maverick. The ideals that shaped his work outside science also led Mendeleev to order the elements and, eventually, to engineer one of the most fascinating scientific developments of the nineteenth century. A Well-Ordered Thing is a classic work that tells the story of one of the world’s most important minds.

Michael D. Gordin is Rosengarten Professor of Modern and Contemporary History at Princeton University, where he also serves as the Director of the Society of Fellows in the Liberal Arts. 

His books include Scientific Babel and Five Days in August (Princeton).


Qantas urges rapper will.i.am to withdraw racism accusation against staffer

Updated 18 November 2019

Qantas urges rapper will.i.am to withdraw racism accusation against staffer

  • Black Eyed Peas rapper will.i.am said on Twitter he was racially targeted by a Qantas airline attendant
  • Qantas, which called the incident a ‘misunderstanding,’ has requested the rapper to retract his statement

MELBOURNE: Australia’s flagship airline, Qantas, said on Monday it stood ready to offer legal assistance to a member of its flight crew named in a racism accusation by Black Eyed Peas rapper will.i.am on social media.
The US singer had taken a flight about 1-1/2-hours long to Sydney, Australia’s most populous city, from northeastern Brisbane to play at a concert on Saturday, but was met by Australian federal police at the arrival gate.
He said on Twitter he was racially targeted by an airline attendant, whom he identified by name, after failing to put away his laptop as the flight prepared to land, because he had put on noise-canceling headphones to “make beats.”
Qantas, which called the incident a “misunderstanding,” has requested the rapper to retract his statement.
“Absent a retraction, and if the crew member wanted to take the matter further, we’d certainly be willing to provide legal support for them to do this,” a spokesman told Reuters in a statement.
Police confirmed they spoke to crew and passengers at the airport, but said no further action was required. “The Australian Federal Police considers this matter finalized,” they said in a statement.
On Saturday, will.i.am said in a post on Twitter, “Is calling the police on a passenger for not hearing (the) P.A. due to wearing noise-canceling headphones appropriate?”
He added, “If didn’t put away my laptop ‘in a rapid 2min time’ I’d understand. I did comply quickly & politely, only to be greeted by police. I think I was targeted.”
As of Monday, will.i.am had not made any retraction on social media, even as other commenters pointed out that the crew member he identified had received threats on social media as a result.
He pointed out that if he were rude to a fan or journalist, he would be publicly named.
“This is what Twitter is for...we are supposed to call out wrongdoings so we can have a safer, more compassionate world,” will.i.am said.
Reuters was not able to contact the rapper through his agency, and he did not immediately respond to a request for comment on social media.