Carol's Reviews > Elements: A Visual Exploration of Every Known Atom in the Universe

Elements by Theodore Gray
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Jul 21, 10

really liked it
Recommended to Carol by: Jon Mitchell
Recommended for: chemistry students, anyone interested in and curious about the world
Read on July 20, 2010, read count: 1

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 out at you (more on that later), of objects made from each element. There's also a chunk of text spelling out the most intriguing tidbits about the properties and history of the element in question, always ending with a clever segue into the next element. (While I imagine some might find that to be a little forced by the time the last element rolls around, I really enjoyed the humor, and it also served to reinforce the importance of the placement of the elements in the table; just as with the Dewey Decimal System, similar topics/elements sit side-by-side ).

Speaking of humor, there were several places where I found myself laughing out loud, e.g., under the description for europium: "With the invention of europeum-based red phosphors, color television could suddenly become bright and vibrant, thus contributing even more effectively to the rotting of children's minds the world over."

Now about that 3-D effect... If you go to the author's website (periodictable.com) you can see the photographic periodic table and click on the element of most interest to you. There, you can view a video of the object of your choice rotating in space, and/or move it around with your keyboard. But, to go one step even better, for those of you with iPads you can install an app that lets you access the book and turn the objects around using your finger! I do appreciate it when a technology is used for something it is uniquely suited to do, and this seems to be such an instance. Can't wait to try it on an iPad - Sharan?

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