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The Elements: A Visual Exploration of Every…

The Elements: A Visual Exploration of Every Known Atom in the Universe (original 2009; edition 2009)

by Theodore Gray

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1,1981510,214 (4.4)1 / 36
Title:The Elements: A Visual Exploration of Every Known Atom in the Universe
Authors:Theodore Gray
Info:Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers (2009), Hardcover, 240 pages

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The Elements: A Visual Exploration of Every Known Atom in the Universe by Theodore W. Gray (2009)


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English (14)  German (1)  All languages (15)
Showing 1-5 of 14 (next | show all)
My eight-year-old daughter and I read this aloud cover to cover at bedtime over the course of a month or so. The author is passionate about elements (and element collecting!), and he presents each of them to the reader as though introducing an interesting friend or acquaintance. We learned a lot, and have newfound respect for these mighty building blocks of matter. ( )
  ryner | Jul 25, 2018 |
We've been reading this one, an element a day, since last spring's book fair. Each element of the periodic table has a two-page spread, with excellent photos (mostly of items that the author has collected) and an entertaining and informative blurb describing the history of the element and its uses. A lot of it likely went over Charlie's head, but he enjoyed it nonetheless and exposure to the Coolness of Science is essential, I think. I know *I* certainly enjoyed it; Gray is a hoot and we laughed out loud in some spots at his clever quips. ( )
  scaifea | Sep 23, 2016 |
This is an excellent book for Chemistry nerds (like my 14 year old daughter!) ( )
  Jen.ODriscoll.Lemon | Jan 23, 2016 |
This is an excellent book for Chemistry nerds (like my 14 year old daughter!) ( )
  Jen.ODriscoll.Lemon | Jan 23, 2016 |
This has to be the best book ever for learning the Periodic Table of Elements. I believe it is something every parent should have as an educational aid for their children to use outside their school curriculum. Adults can enjoy it, but interested preteens, early-teens, and teens would learn their brains out (in an excellent way) with this book! ( )
  GPMacD | Jul 2, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 14 (next | show all)
Because The Elements is, indeed, foremost a thing of beauty. It's actually the electronic version of a Gray's 2009 printed coffee table book of the same title, both shimmering with gorgeous images: the versatile element carbon is illustrated by the bright glitter of diamonds, the radioactive element radium is shown through the eerie blue-green glow of a vintage watch dial. But in the e-book version, these come playfully to virtual life. Some of the elements display in video; nitrogen as a flask swirling with an icy mist of the element in liquid form. Or the reader can set the still images spinning, the diamonds flashing, a vial of gold dust rotating front-label to back. The elements can even been seen in 3D if one purchases the special glasses (which I did not). And it includes an audio recording of Tom Lehrer's classic The Elements Song, which I have played so many times that I am now refusing to disclose the number.

In other words, it's game-like fun in a way that a coffee table book, even with same lovely photos by Gray's colleague, Nick Mann, cannot be. And it's worth noting that the e-version is sold as an app rather than an e-book. When I decided to give in and download it, I searched fruitlessly through iBooks before discovering it instead in the App Store (On the Touch Press website, it's offered strictly as an iPad app and an iPhone app.) I settled for the iPad version.

So is it actually a book, you might ask, if it's not even sold in a book store, if it's available on a few limited devices? Isn't one of the great achievements of the print publishing era, the ability to share information universally rather than limit it to a select few? And is my ability to spin a virtual copper necklace in comparable to what I learn from reading about that element in straightforward text? I think The Elements - and its undoubted success - raise all of those questions and more. And I think we're still figuring out the answers along with the future of the publishing business.

But let me briefly make a couple of other comparisons between this and its print version. Both do contain scientific data about each element (atomic number, weight, etc.) In the print book, of course, there's a treasure trove of this right there on the page. In the e-version, there's a compact summary but also much, much more through clicking on the Wolfram Alpha logo. You'll see the logo in the toolbar at the lower right on the image of the Bismuth page I've shown above; it looks like a fancy red star. This represents one of the ongoing tradeoffs as we move away from print - there's less likelihood of casual acquisition of information. But if we do seek out the online data, it's likely to be more current and more detailed - Wolfram Alpha allows you to go beyond its own database through links to a host of additional scholarly sources.

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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Theodore W. Grayprimary authorall editionscalculated
Mann, NickPhotographermain authorall editionsconfirmed
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There is not anything which returns to nothing, but all things return dissolved into their elements. Lucretius, De Rerum Natura, 50 BC
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The periodic table is the universal catalog of everything you can drop on your foot.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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The elements are what we - and everything around us - are made of. But how many elements have you seen in their pure, raw, uncombined form? This book presents photographic representations of the 118 elements in the period table, along with facts, figures and stories about each one.… (more)

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