A.P.E.X. Event: Sam Kean

Southern Utah University hosted Sam Kean on Feb. 20 as a part of their A.P.E.X. Speaker Series. Kean discussed his focus on making learning fun through his books that cover scientific topics with more interesting stories.

Kean began his talk by going over his background and love for science.

He had always had a dream of becoming a scientist and took as many science courses as he could. Unfortunately, in college, his love of science faltered with actual lab work. Meanwhile, his classmates all seemed to love it.

“I just wasn’t getting the same pleasure out of it,” said Kean.

In hopes of finding a new path, he went on to add an English major to his physics major.

He used this story as an example of how many people don’t end up pursuing their initial goals with college. While he had always wanted to be a scientist, he found that writing about science was far more satisfying for him.

After sharing his story, Kean went into a brief overview of several of his books.

His first book, “The Disappearing Spoon”, focused on telling the story of each element on the periodic table. He has stories on lesser-known elements and hoped to make them all interesting.

“I always got a little frustrated that there were huge swathes of elements that were just never brought up in school,” said Kean.

He also has books focusing on genetics, the brain, and even Germany nearly beating America to creating the atomic bomb during World War II.

Kean’s focus in writing is in teaching readers new and interesting information under the guise of a compelling story. This is because he believes that people learn more easily if they can hear it as a story instead of many facts.

Kean’s talk drew a large crowd with nearly every chair being filled. There were so many students in attendance of the talk that more chairs were brought in, yet even with extra chairs there were still students sitting on the ground or leaning against the walls.

After the main talk had finished there was a short question and answer panel followed by the opportunity to purchase his books and get them signed.

SUU hosts A.P.E.X Speaker Events every Thursday in the Gilbert Great Hall from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Next week’s speaker is artist Xárene Eskander.


Story by: Alex Schilling
Photos by: Alex Schilling