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

4.43 of 5 stars 4.43  ·  rating details  ·  2,035 ratings  ·  205 reviews
The Elementshas become an international sensation, with over one million copies in-print worldwide.

The highly-anticipated paperback edition ofThe Elementsis 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 made o
Paperback, 240 pages
Published April 3rd 2012 by Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers (first published October 1st 2009)
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Betty Vivant This book is gorgeous and enlightening. I majored in Physics in college and got a good refresher on quantum mechanics. The text is light-hearted and…moreThis book is gorgeous and enlightening. I majored in Physics in college and got a good refresher on quantum mechanics. The text is light-hearted and at a good level -- educational without being tedious. The photography and illustrations are wonderful.(less)
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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 4 of 5 stars  ·  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

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
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
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
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
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
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
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
"Coffee Table" style book that's easy to pick up, hard to put down.
Kathleen Dixon
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
Anton Klink
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
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
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.
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
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Jaeger Matthias
ELEMENTS! This book was the best book about the elements that i have ever read!

Phil Scovis
A coffee-table type of book, written with wry humor, surveying the known elements with beautiful glossy photos of items containing them.

The author is an "element collector". Everyone who collects anything collects elements, but this breed collects things for the specific elements they contain. Among the expected lectures on the properties and uses of elements, the book has stories of collecting: how to buy radioactive Americium at Walmart, which dens of iniquity sell Niobium and Uranium, and th

For being so fundamental to our lives, the chemical elements are a mystery to most of us. What does calcium look like? Or silicon? Everyone in school has seen a Periodic Table of the Elements, but who has ever seen a bit of chlorine — half of common salt? Theo Gray first began chasing down pure samples of each element mostly as a nerdy joke — in order to make a Periodic Table Table, a hefty wooden table holding a bit of every element in the Period
Fantastic book! My 7-year-old son is very enthralled with studying the periodic table of the elements and so I checked this book out from the library. Wow! I was blown away by the fantastic photography helping the reader to get really up close and personal with the elements. Each element has its own 2-page spread with a picture of the element itself in its raw form and then things that are made from the element. Some of the elements further down in the table don't have pictures, but instead the ...more
Max Evans
I'm not sure if this is a book or an application. The difference between what a book has traditionally been and what an e-book is nebulous, and it's probably to the detriment of the transfer of knowledge. I'm going to write a review here because I think this app/book really shows the combination of old and new knowledge. I got this when I read that someone thought that the cost of the iPad was worth paying to see this app/book. That's pretty high praise so I bought it. It's about the price of an ...more
Robert E
The book I have read is The Elements by Theodore Gray. This book is a nonfiction informational text about the periodic table, and all of its elements. This book starts off by separating and labeling the periodic table into three sections. Metals, nonmetals, and transitional elements, it then proceeds to tell why the period table is divided that way and what elements are included in those sections. After this breakdown each page (going by the elements on the period table in order) lists an elemen ...more
Sudha Neelakantan
well, we've read this book many times over with the kids over the last few months.(years, but my older one was an independent reader when he acquired the book) they are fascinated by the tidbits of information. The app to go with it is even better if you have a full size ipad vs a mini. you can get $5 3 d glasses and rotate 3D images of the samples etc... must have addition to your library shelves. the kindle book is just the flat page version, but I picked it up as a $2 daily deal while also ow ...more
When I picked up this book, I was extremely skeptical. I would have said that an element-by-element look at the periodic table could never be anything but dry and boring. But this book manages makes it truly engaging--and it does so without any gimmicks. There are no cartoon narrators, no television or book characters, none of the tactics picture book nonfiction writers so often use to try to make their topics more interesting to children. It makes the elements interesting through a combination ...more
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.
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.
Ailani Bonilla
I thought that this book was great because it talks about the all the elements in the periodic table. I think this book would be best for a person who likes science and if you need to learn the first 36 so you wont fail your class. My favorite is when they talk about californium, the element named after the one and only California. That one is one of my favorite elements. A the end of this book, it shows a picture of the actual periodic table... at first I thought the periodic table was just th ...more
I know this book has a very narrow target audience, but with that in mind I give this book 5 stars. I thoroughly enjoyed learning random facts about each element. In fact, the first few night I stayed up way later than I should have to read about just one more element. My wife got pretty irritated with me telling her every time I learned something cool, which was often.
The middle of the book did slow down considerably. I lost interest when I stopped recognizing the element names and when every
Audrey Hammer
This was just a blast. The pictures were cool, and I loved learning about each element's real-life uses. The text is fun to read, and I cracked up often. The author inserts his own little opinions about the world. For instance, he rails against the inefficiency of incandescent light bulbs. (I was surprised he didn't mention that mercury is in compact fluorescents.) There are just a few editing errors.

I came across a periodic table with these pictures at the Chabot Planetarium. It was the best-lo
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.
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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
More about Theodore Gray...
Theo Gray's Mad Science: Experiments You Can Do At Home - But Probably Shouldn't Molecules: The Elements and the Architecture of Everything The Photographic Card Deck of The Elements: With Big Beautiful Photographs of All 118 Elements in the Periodic Table Mad Science 2: Experiments You Can Do At Home, But STILL Probably Shouldn't The Elements 2014 Calendar

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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.” 0 likes
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