Sunday, October 11, 2009

The Periodic Table in all its Glory

One of the books I've been most excited to see this fall recently arrived in the store, and it's a beaut! The Elements: A Visual Exploration of Every Known Atom in the Universe, by Theodore Gray and published by Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers, is a gorgeous coffee-table-type book that presents all 118 elements from the periodic table.

"The periodic table," says author Theodore Gray, "is the universal catalog of everything you can drop on your foot." Everything in the world that is tangible is made up of elements. The book showcases each element with a big, beautiful photograph of the pure element (wherever possible), and then offers photographs that show examples of the way that element lives in the world. For instance, Palladium, the 46th element, is sometimes used in jewelry, but its main application is in automobile catalytic converters.

The text that accompanies each two-page spread tells the story of the element -- ranging from the commonplace to the quirky -- and provides the essential scientific data, including automic weight, atomic radius, and a crystal structure diagram.This book is absolutely spectacular and, as author Oliver Sacks says of it, "it will fundamentally deepen your appreciation of the subtances that make up our world."

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