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Nature's Building Blocks: An A-Z Guide to the Elements

4.19  ·  Rating Details  ·  269 Ratings  ·  22 Reviews
What is the most common element in the universe? Can you name the noble gases? Everything we see around us is made of chemical elements, but most of us know little about them.
Penned by award-winning science writer John Emsley, Nature's Building Blocks explains the what, why and wherefore of the chemical elements. Arranged alphabetically, from Actinium to Zirconium, it is
Hardcover, 1536 pages
Published April 4th 2002 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published August 16th 2001)
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Sarah Sammis
Nature's Building Blocks: An A-Z Guide to the Elements by John Emsley has a beautiful cover. It's a guide to the periodic table that's laid out like the London A to Z. It sounded like a nifty idea to me so I decided to give the book a try.

I have to say that after working my way through the the letter A entries, I decided that alphabetical just isn't the most logical way to read a casual book about the periodic table. The problem is that the table as it's currently laid out by atomic weight makes
I got this book during my chemistry phase I had in elementary school. I carried this book around with me to random places, including the sandpit in our backyard. I didn't understand much of it but it gave me lots of fuel to daydream about (I remember coming to the conclusion a half-life meant how long you had after being exposed to whatever had the half-life). After taking a low-level chemistry course in college my curiosity was piqued again, and I decided I'd read through this over the months, ...more
Mar 04, 2013 Chris rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
When I read through this, I feel like it's a great companion book to The Disappearing Spoon by Sam Kean.
Both books show the elements in a way that is more readily digestible than any chemistry professor will in a lecture.
Well, more than any I've ever had, anyways.
This book also goes into a history of elements, much like The Disappearing Spoon, which I enjoyed immensely.
If you have a love of chemistry or would just like to understand the make up of the universe you live in a little more, this is
Oct 01, 2014 Quinton rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is my favorite book on the chemical elements. I think it's the most informative such book for the casual reader (obviously CRC Handbooks may have more information but those are massive). This is more of a reference work and not really a narrative, though, so don't get the wrong idea.

I think what I most like is that it explains the historical background/discovery, the industrial applications, and the biological relevance (if any). It's sort of like if you took all the Wikipedia pages for the
Martin Witchard
Here's an interesting and entertaining book for anyone who would like to dip in and out of learning more about the elements that make up our day-to-day existence (and some that don't as well). The author knows his stuff and puts fascinating information about every element into this tome. From Actinium to Yttrium, its a browsers paradise. Learn about the weird, wonderful and mundane uses for all the known elements including the bizarre and often fleeting transuranic elements. Highly Recommended.
Robert Sparrenberger
As a guy having a chemistry degree I really enjoyed this one. I rather enjoyed the alphabetical listing of the elements. Grouping them as in the periodic table would have been another way but I enjoyed jumping around a bit.
The facts and strange things about some of the elements was interesting. One of the best things was how some of these elements were discovered. Some of these guys and gals were using some crude equipment and managed to put it together. Amazing to say the least. Good read for
Aug 15, 2015 Melvin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book talks about every detail of all the elements and some of the undiscovered ones. It talks about the history, applications, medical uses, and other things of every element. This is one of my most favorite book on the elements.
Jun 07, 2015 Sébastien rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Useful and engaging.
May 14, 2012 Brooke rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is enjoyable to read because information on each element is narrated in sections: the human element, the food element, medical, war, history, economic... each category describes interesting trivia about the element as it exists in the human body, as it exists in food, medicinal use -both modern and ancient times, war, historical trivia, anecdotal records, etc... if you love knowing about the building blocks of life as I do, this book will be a staple and continual useful reference.
Theodosia of the Fathomless Hall
Meticulous written and therefor astonishingly informative the ceaseless knowledge of the Periodic Table nevertheless becomes a little straining - if rarely. Recommended instantly to anyone with interest in the elements.
Note: The afterword is even better!


In case anyone is wondering, yes, I know I do sound like Kirkus Reviews.
Jul 11, 2014 Scott rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gave-up
Browsed the A elements, and the B elements. Dry but interesting.
Jan 03, 2016 Ints rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science
Traki labs un informatīvs gabals. Tikai nedaudz garlaicīgs, ar retzemju metāliem vispār bija copy paste. Ja interesē uz ātru roku uzzināt ko vairāk par ķīmiskajiem elementiem, to ietekmi uz cilvēku, pielietojumu tehnoloģijās, šī ir tā grāmata, kurā informāciju meklēt.
Brad Belschner
Nov 05, 2015 Brad Belschner rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: natural-history
Buckets of fun! There's a chapter for each one of the elements, describing its history, its unique properties, its conventional use, and some random tid bits about it. This should be required reading for any chemistry class.
Thomas Müller
Valuable. Some surprising gems, like NIckelTItaniumNAvalOrdinanceLaboratory Nitinol which I now tortured all medical students rotating through our firm with...Genius !
Aug 08, 2007 Raymond rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a fantastic book detailing the everyday uses and history of each element of the periodic table. Mozart really died from antimony poisoning? Brilliant.
Dec 16, 2007 Jennifer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-ish
I'm not even going to pretend that I read the whole thing (the library needs it back before 2009). Definitely one to purchase.
Jul 16, 2009 Arlen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Surprisingly readable. Interesting and a good way to explore the economic and historical impact of chemistry.
Great reading for the curious individual who has little time for extending periods of reading.
Oct 29, 2007 Edward rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reference
This book is so interesting that I would marry it. But I just got married so I guess I can't.
Jun 02, 2013 Kellie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science
Fabulous book that makes the elements come to life.
Sep 01, 2007 Steve rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reference
Fun as hell. Will make you wince with glee.
Aug 26, 2010 Ryan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Emsley in his element.
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