Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Day 7: We're getting Elemental

It's Day 7 in our 24 Days of Books, and today we're talking about a book-in-a-box. A truly fabulous book-in-a-box.

A couple of years ago, one of our bestselling holiday gifts -- and my gift-of-the-year pick -- was The Elements: A Visual Exploration of Every Element in the Universe, by Theodore Gray. The book showcased every element in the universe in stunning photography on black paper, providing information about each element including the way each element lives in the world.

This year the author/publisher (Black Dog & Leventhal) team has done it again, producing Theodore Gray's Elements Vault, by Theodore Gray and Nick Mann. As the subtitle of the package notes, the "vault" includes "treasures of the periodic table with 20 removable archival documents, a model pop-up atom, a poster, plus 10 real elements including pure gold!" That's right. Pure gold. Doesn't that special person in your life deserve real gold this year??

Theodore Gray's Elements Vault picks up where The Elements left off. Organized into the nine major groups of the periodic table, the book includes all new text, new stunning photographs, and even more information about each of the elements. The book also includes twenty removable historic documents related to the elements and to the field of chemistry, such as Einstein's famous letter to Roosevelt explaining the potential of uranium for use in nuclear weapons, an advertisement for lithium-laced 7UP soda, Mendeleev's original notes on the periodic table, and more.

Each document is individually packaged in an envelope attached to the book page, so the document can be removed and examined and then put back for safekeeping. The book also includes a gorgeous poster of the unique rainbow spectrum emitted by each element in the periodic table, as well as real samples of pure elements, including gold.

Just as The Elements appealed to -- and was accessible by -- people of all ages, Theodore Gray's Elements Vault will be a welcome addition to your family library, with hours of fun and interesting exploration guaranteed. Books about the periodic table have been hot of late -- including The Disappearing Spoon: And Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of the Elements , by Sam Kean, and Periodic Tales: A Cultural History of the Elements, from Arsenic to Zinc, by Hugh Aldersey-Williams.

If you want to move beyond the periodic table, you might try Theodore Gray's Mad Science: Experiments You Can Do at Home, but Probably Shouldn't. In this book, Gray demonstrates essential scientific principles through fifty-four thrilling, daredevil experiments, each accompanied, of course, by full-color photographs that give you a front-row seat to rarely seen chemical reactions and glorious subatomic activity.
Black Dog & Leventhal has also produced another Elements-like book this year for people with an interest in astronomy, Solar System: A Visual Exploration of All the Planets, Moons and Other Heavenly Bodies that Orbit Our Sun, by Marcus Chown. This book replicates the eye-popping visual presentation of The Elements, while teaching readers of all ages about the wonders of our solar system.

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