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Elements: A Visual Exploration of Every Known Atom in the Universe

4.41  ·  Rating Details ·  3,284 Ratings  ·  272 Reviews
The Elements has become an international sensation, with over one million copies in-print worldwide

The highly-anticipated paperback edition of The Elements is finally available.

An eye-opening, original collection of gorgeous, never-before-seen photographic representations of the 118 elements in the periodic table. 

The elements are what we, and everything around us, are m
Paperback, 240 pages
Published April 3rd 2012 by Black Dog & Leventhal (first published October 1st 2009)
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Jul 02, 2010 Chris rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When I was a kid, my father had the entire Time/Life science series. For you young whippersnappers, Time/Life books were educational series that covered all kinds of topics - history, science, literature, you name it. The idea was that you sign up and they send you books, once a month, until the series was finished or you decided you no longer wanted to receive it.

The Science series focused on, of course, science, with books devoted to every facet of physics, medicine, chemistry, biology.... It
Jul 21, 2010 Carol rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: chemistry students, anyone interested in and curious about the world
Recommended to Carol by: Jon Mitchell
I think I might go 4.5 stars on this if that were an option. This got great reviews and was recommended for purchase by Jon M., one of our science teachers. I sat down to catalog it yesterday and ended up pretty much reading the whole thing. It has been many a year since I had to think about Chemistry, but even if I had zero background in the subject I think I still would have found the book fascinating.

First of all, it's just a thing of beauty - black background pages with photos that just pop

Mar 13, 2017 Sheila rated it it was amazing
Yes, this is a book about the Periodic Table of elements, you know that thing they made you memorize in school that bored you to tears and that you didn't enjoy at all. This book takes something that many thought was just memorization and boredom and makes it extremely interesting, amusing, fascinating, engrossing, and yes, even educational. The photos are fabulous. The information is presented in a highly engrossing format. If you have any interest at all in the elements, or are having to study ...more
Dec 30, 2010 Karissa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I am a chemist and have always been fascinated by the Periodic Table of Elements. So, imagine my excitement when I saw this book sitting in the bookstore. Not only does it provide information on all 118 elements in the Periodic Table, it does it in a way that is interesting, accessible, and beautiful. This is a book that makes you want to touch it and turn the pages, you just can't resist. The picture of the elements are colorful and intriguing; they are all featured on a stylish black backgroun ...more
Bill Kubeck
When I picked up this book in the library I skimmed the first couple of pages, looked at a random entry, and really liked what I saw. When I started reading it, I laughed out loud at the first line: "The periodic table is the universal catalog of everything you can drop on your foot."

But then things started to slip. Gray's humor is wildly uneven and mixes on-target wit with ham-fisted jokes and gratuitous insults aimed at anything he considers silly or stupid. This kind of arbitrary prejudice an
Nick Black
i've bought this guy's beautiful poster twice ( you can see it in my atlanta condo's technical bay ( so, when i saw this sitting around at google, i picked it up and read it through. the pictures and printing are stunning, and it's one of the most perfect coffee tables i've ever seen. i deduct two stars, however, due to wasting a quarter of every recto page on highly repetitive graphics, redundant in and of themsel ...more
Jan 11, 2010 Heather rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science, non-fiction
What can I say? The Periodic Table has never seemed so cool in this gorgeously photographed coffee table book.

This is not a reference work, although it does contain basic information on each element like its position in the periodic table, atomic weight, density, atomic radius, crystal structure, electron filling order, atomic emission spectrum, and state of matter (solid/liquid/gas) vs temperature.

Instead .. it is a work to inspire wonder with first-rate, brilliantly-lit photographs for almos
Catelyn May
Nov 24, 2011 Catelyn May rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
I love this book so much, it's ridiculous. As someone who spent most of high school and college trying to like science and failing (often in more than one way--I'm looking at you, Organic Chemistry!), as in adult I've come to love books that make science interesting. I've been into pop-physics lately, and occasionally the history of math, and like those, this book really makes me wonder why science education is so damn boring. Every Chem class I took felt so overwhelmingly dry and irrelevant, wh ...more
Some Small Silence
Apr 27, 2010 Some Small Silence rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
I am a tutor at a nationally recognized tutoring center. One of our brightest students brought this book in to work with as an enrichment product. I will freely admit that I am generally not an enormous fan of hard science, and was a bit hesitant when I was first faced with it. I'm a history major, and I chose the topic for my Marine Biology term paper based on the fact that Sea Otters are really cute. That's why I was quite surprised when I found this book fascinating. Its blend of valuable sci ...more
Nov 02, 2009 Fran rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Coffee Table" style book that's easy to pick up, hard to put down.
Noah Goats
Mar 31, 2017 Noah Goats rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Theodore Gray loves the elements. LOVES THEM. He reminds me of that one science teacher everyone has at some point. The science teacher that everyone loves. The one who does crazy experiments that endanger the lives of everyone in the classroom. Gray's humor, wit, and sheer enthusiasm for his subject will pull you right through this book. Things do slow down with the lanthanides, perhaps the most boring of elements (as even Gray acknowledges) but they pick back up right away. Reading this has gi ...more
Anton Klink
Jun 02, 2013 Anton Klink rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An approachable, fun, engaging, visual book about chemistry? You'll have to see it to believe it, but this book fits all those criteria. What started out as a an app for iPad, has branched into paper-based book - and it looks glorious. If this is the future of book printing, I welcome it with open hands. The photos are magnificent, the text is informative and engaging, but maybe most surprising of all - this book is laugh-out-loud funny in almost every chapter, which is an amazing feat for a boo ...more
Mohummed Al Refai
Nov 02, 2016 Mohummed Al Refai rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: chemistry
الجدول الدوري هو رمزٌ أيقونيٌّ، لا في الكيمياء وحدها، بل في كل العلم، فيصعب أن تجد مخبر كيمياءٍ أو حتى فيزياء دون أن ترى الجدول الدوري معلقاً على جداره.
يحوي الجدول الدوري العناصر مرتبةً حسب أعدادها الذرية، وهي الطريقة التي يسرد بها الكتاب كل هذه العناصر التي تمثل دون مبالغة لبنات بناء الكون.
من الصعب حفظها، هذا ما كنت أعتقده قبل البدء بهذا الكتاب، لكن وبعد قراءته فقد أصبح حفظها بالترتيب أسهل بكثير.
لكن، فإن حفظ العناصر ليس فائدة الكتاب الوحيدة، فهو يعرفنا على خصائصها المميزة وغرائبها التي لم يسمع
Kathleen Dixon
Oct 24, 2012 Kathleen Dixon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science
This book apparently took me two and a half years to read. Of course, it didn't really. But I started looking at it when I first saw it in our bookshop and I read a page or two. Then I gave a copy to my father for Christmas, after which I borrowed it from him for a while, but you know what it's like when you borrow a book from a friend or relative - it sits practically untouched because you know there's no hurry to get it back to them and there are so many library books that you have to get read ...more
May 29, 2013 Pvw rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you need one book about the periodic table of the elements, let it be this one! First of all, this large book just looks beautiful, with full size macroscopic pictures of artefacts containing the different elements. Secondly, the text is very informative, a rare thing for books that have so many illustrations like this one. Thirdly, Gray writes about his subject with a love that you would normally only expect from an ornitologist describing his favourite species of birds. And finally, Gray ha ...more
Oct 05, 2016 Debbie rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
This is a fabulous book which details every single element in the periodic table. Theodore Gray provides a very humorous but informative description of the quirks, traits, characteristics, and uses of each element, and accompanies each description with beautiful photographs of the element itself or objects made from or containing the element in some form where possible.

There's also a dose of serious science on each page in the form of the vital statistics of each element (atomic weight, density,
Jun 02, 2012 Dan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
With lines like "Sodium is the most explosive, and the best tasting, of all the alkali metals (the elements from the first column of the periodic table)" (Gray 35) or transitional lines such as "White phosphorus--toxic, pyrophoric, and used mainly in war--is fairly close to pure evil, though if it were judge purely on the basis of smell that contest would be won by sulfur" (45), it's hard to imagine anyone ever topping Theodore Gray's beautiful book about all the elements in which our world is m ...more
Henry Martin
A well presented visual exploration of the periodic table, with high quality images of not only the actual elements (when possible), but also of some common items which are made from (or feature) the element discussed.
There is a brief description, some basic data(atomic weight, density, atomic radius, and crystal structure; plus atomic emission spectrum, state of matter, and electron filling order), and history of the element, its uses, and where it is found in nature.

Definitely a good book fo
Dec 11, 2011 Cindy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great pictures of the elements, brief description of the importance of each element, plus a bit of scientific information for the geek. If you go the the website at, you can order customized posters. For example, the poster of my name has carbon (C), iodine (I), neodymium (Nd), and yttrium (y). Carbon is represented by diamond and the iodine was heated on a white plate and has a nice purple fume. It is a very cool poster. It hangs in my office at work, where most of my cowo ...more
Talya Joan Taylors
Jul 25, 2015 Talya Joan Taylors rated it it was amazing
This is one of the books I have read along with my sister. I knew most of these already. She is really into Science and the day she got she ran up to me all excited asking me a bunch of questiond relating to the book like: "TJ did you know what this or that means?" I teased her by grabbing the book and telling her thank you for buying it for me I know a person who would love it and ran to my room.

This book is amazing and very informational. I knew alot of the things I have already learned in
Jan 17, 2013 Luke rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Elements by Theodore Gray is a fun way to learn about the elements. He is humorous and smart, (though some jokes are for people who already know some chemistry) it is very fun and I recommend this for anyone who wants to learn about the elements and anyone looking to teach about the elements. The language is not technical so you don't have to have a large vocabulary to understand what he's saying.
Pelican G.
AWESOMENESSSS!!! I practically have this book memorized, I have read it so many times! This book is full of information on every element; for example, how strontium was used in imitation diamonds before cubic zirconia took over. There are important things, clear color photographs, and things that are just plain weird.
Sep 13, 2013 Samuel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A beautiful book, illustrated with amazing photographs, and peppered with Theodore Gray's curmudgeonly commentary (a drinking game that counted every time he says something snide about incandescent light bulbs would surely end in alcohol poisoning). Part science, part the brain dump of an obsessive mind, this volume was a lot of fun.
I don't know exactly where I am in the book--I keep skipping around. It's interesting to read about each element and how it fits in the world and why it's important. The author also has a sense of humor--it keeps the book from becoming dull.
Don Gubler
Jun 19, 2016 Don Gubler rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well done and well covered. Lots of information including all the lesser known and little understood elements. Excellent photographs and substantial knowledge and research.
Oct 23, 2014 Lynda rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
The huge, glossy, colorful photographs make this book for me. A pleasure to read and a thing of beauty for a coffee table.
Oct 28, 2009 Marie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-i-produced
The most gorgeous book on the periodic table you'll ever see, but it's the fun, smart, and informative text that really makes this book stand out.
Peter Jones
Feb 04, 2017 Peter Jones rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well done. Even after having watched literally hundreds of Brady Haran's Periodic Videos, i read some stiff here that I hadn't come across before (or at least rememberef coming across). Nice book with pretty pictures.
Colleen Jousma
Mar 20, 2017 Colleen Jousma rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Informative. Educational. Humorous at times. Great reference book. Great coffee table book. Not to be read without reading the Molecules book, too.
Feb 07, 2017 Tom rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Awesome pictures & trivia. Dan also approves.
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Theodore Gray is the author of 'The Elements' and 'Mad Science: Experiments You Can Do at Home-But Probably Shouldn't', and of Popular Science magazine's 'Gray Matter' column. He is the proprietor of and the creator of the iconic photographic periodic table poster seen in universities, schools, museums, and on TV shows from 'MythBusters' to 'Hannah Montana'. In his other life, he ...more
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“The fact that iron rusts so readily is one of the great lousy breaks of chemistry, responsible for untold billions in costs every year.” 1 likes
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