Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Last Year's Cool Pick Now a Card Deck!

Last year my holiday Pick o' the Year was the book The Elements: A Visual Exploration of Every Known Atom in the Universe,  by Theodore Gray. I described it essentially as fascinating science meets gorgous coffee table art book -- beautiful photographs of every entry in the periodic table, along with photographs of things that are made up of those elements, all on black background that makes the photographs really pop.

This year the publisher has produced The Photographic Card Deck of the Elements, which provides an over-sized card for each of the 118 elements in the periodic table. Each card includes a photograph on one side and scientific data (atomic weight, boiling point, percentage found in humans, etc) and other interesting information on the other side.

For example, did you know that research of the element tellurium is hindered by the fact that if you absorb even tiny amounts, you smell of garlic for months? Iridium is extremely hard to melt, which makes it useful in high-temperature situations, such as spark plug electrodes. Tiny amounts of the element Tantalum are used in the capacitors in all high-tech devices, such as cell phones and laptop computers.

Call me crazy, but I just have this notion that in the right sort of creative hands (clearly not mine), these could be turned into very cool art projects, for instance, cocktail coasters providing endless cocktail party conversation. And certainly they'd be perfect for anyone studying the periodic table. And, of course, we still have the original book I was so excited about last year -- and it's still very cool. [For a reminder of my hot holiday pick for this year, click here.]

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