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176 of 181 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Will look great on any table, periodic or otherwise
The Elements is a photographic tour de force of items from Theo Gray's personal collection of element samples. If he were to put on a museum show or do a PBS series, this would be the companion book.

It is a beautiful book, with excellent photography and very high resolution printing on a semi-matte black paper which gives the pictures a floating-in-space...
Published on October 7, 2009 by Gavin Scott

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28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Great book but poor quality binding
I quite enjoyed the book, both the text and the photos. However, I must protest that after reading it in my house over a few evenings, gently, the book has practically fallen apart in my hands. The pages have become unglued from the spine. I would expect the book to hold together for longer than one reading, as it's the sort of book I'd like to browse over and over, and...
Published on August 12, 2012 by mlepage


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176 of 181 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Will look great on any table, periodic or otherwise, October 7, 2009
By 
Gavin Scott (Sunnyvale, CA United States) - See all my reviews
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The Elements is a photographic tour de force of items from Theo Gray's personal collection of element samples. If he were to put on a museum show or do a PBS series, this would be the companion book.

It is a beautiful book, with excellent photography and very high resolution printing on a semi-matte black paper which gives the pictures a floating-in-space quality. About my only gripe is that this is the sort of paper that tends to absorb oil from your fingers and acquire permanent fingerprints, so one has to take a bit of care to keep it looking nice.

The bulk of the book consists of a two-page spread for each of elements 1 through 100. The left hand side of each spread will be a full-page image, typically of the element in its native mineral or a refined form, or some object constructed of the material etc. The right hand page contains a few paragraphs of interesting information/trivia about the element, as well as several images of items from the author's collection of objects made of, containing, or otherwise related to it.

For each there are also some pertinent facts such as its position in the periodic table, and diagrams of the atomic emission spectrum, the melting and boiling points, electron order filling, crystal structure, and some basic numerical facts of atomic weight, density, and radius.

There's also some introductory material and additional discussion of elements 101-118.

This is not a formal reference work in any sense. It's a picture book along with interesting trivia and information. But it is also a fabulously entertaining tour of the elements that make up our world, and it's an absolute joy to curl up with and browse through. A very satisfying thing to possess.

It also vividly demonstrates that there will still be a place for physical books for a long time, no matter how successful devices like the Kindle are. This is one you need to hold in your hands rather than read on some kind of screen (no matter how good).

This book gets firmly placed on my list of must-haves for anyone interested in science and the nature of our world and the universe. Very appropriate for science fans of any age.
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128 of 131 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not Just Beautiful-- It's Hilarious, November 5, 2009
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Chock full of beautifully done photos, as well as sharp wit. Just about every page has something silly somewhere. For example:

"Sodium is the most explosive and the best tasting of all the alkali metals"
"Disposable oxygen tanks for hobby brazing and as a refreshing pick-me-up..."
"So many important chemicals have been discovered by accident that one has to wonder what a bunch of bumblers chemists are"
"Bananas are high in potassium, thus both healthy and radioactive."
"This piece of the mineral thorite might contain an atom of francium, if you watch closely."

He's also quite informative. For example, some of you may have taken exception to his comment on sodium, which he explains on the page about cesium:

"Cesium is widely listed as the most reactive of all the alkali metals, and technically it is. When you drop a piece in a bowl of water it *instantly* explodes, sending water flying in all directions. But that doesn't mean it makes the biggest bang of the alkali metals. Sodium takes longer to explode when tossed into water but the whole time you're waiting, a plume of hydrogen gas is building up, and when all that hydrogen ignites, the explosion is much bigger than anything you can get with cesium"

Sounds like some important research there!

Or this fact that makes perfect sense, though I never really thought about it:

"Even lead will float on mercury"

Overall just an excellent, easily readable, pretty, thought-provoking book.
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62 of 66 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Gorgeous Must-Have Book for all Nature Fans, October 11, 2009
By 
Steven Adler (Seattle, WA USA) - See all my reviews
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The Elements by Theodore Gray is a must-have book for anyone who has ever wondered just what exactly the world is made of. That includes curious kids as well as adults with even a passing interest in nature, science and technology. The luscious photographs in this coffee table size book will captivate even young elementary students, while the surprising, witty, non-technical text will keep even professional chemists and engineers entertained and informed.

I opened my newly received copy late at night, intending to look at a few pages before bed. I literally could not put it down, and read it straight through from hydrogen to element 118, so newly discovered it doesn't even have a name yet. Each element's vignette smoothly segues into the next, so it works like an old radio serial melodrama - you just have to keep reading to find out what happens next!

Each element is covered in its order in the periodic table. Along with the multiple photos of pure elements and common (matches and nails) and exotic (atomic clocks and lasers) things containing them from Gray's extensive museum quality collection, you will learn trivia about ones you know well (aluminum, a metal so precious that Napoleon preferred it to gold for VIP dinnerware, is now thrown in the garbage after wrapping sandwiches); ones you might remember from high school (poisonous bromine is in every can of Orange Crush); and ones you probably never heard of (you are required by law to put radioactive americium in every one of your children's bedrooms, and you have!) Lovely diagrams show the electronic configuration, color spectrum and crystal shape. Melting and boiling point bars at the page margins cleverly form a graphic demonstration of the elements' periodic properties when the book is fanned open.

Objects pictured and discussed come from a wide variety of fields including painting, agriculture, medicine, aviation, numismatics, ancient history, warfare, popular culture, computers, jewelry and more.

For a fine art work of this size and quality, the price is ridiculously inexpensive. The high resolution photographs which fill each element's double page spread are printed on a deep black background, and seem to jump out of the page into your hands. You will find out why you might not want this to happen with arsenic or polonium.

The Elements will enhance your appreciation of the stuff the stars, the planets and we ourselves are made of, and make the universe, and your bookshelf, a more beautiful place.
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27 of 27 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Spectacular, but..., December 27, 2010
By 
Jack Limpet (Virginia Beach, VA) - See all my reviews
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This book is very well described elsewhere. It is spectacular. But, I first saw this in Barnes & Noble and then bought through Amazon. On the B&N version I spotted a DVD. My Amazon edition didn't come with one. Huh? On checking more closely I found that B&N have a deluxe 'The Elements' exclusive. It costs more than this Amazon edition but the additional DVD includes an interactive periodic table and images of the elements that are capable of 360 degree manipulation. I'm not complaining, the book alone is excellent value. Anyone wanting a still more involving experience might wish to consider the B&N alternative.
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28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Great book but poor quality binding, August 12, 2012
This review is from: The Elements: A Visual Exploration of Every Known Atom in the Universe (Paperback)
I quite enjoyed the book, both the text and the photos. However, I must protest that after reading it in my house over a few evenings, gently, the book has practically fallen apart in my hands. The pages have become unglued from the spine. I would expect the book to hold together for longer than one reading, as it's the sort of book I'd like to browse over and over, and show my kids. I'm worried it has a half life of 100 days.
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars KINDLE VERSION The Elements: A Visual Exploration..., February 6, 2015
By 
in1ear (Aurora, Colorado) - See all my reviews
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This is a review of the KINDLE version of The Elements: A Visual Exploration... The Kindle version DOES contain the photographs, charts and illustrations . Done beautifully. You may think this a silly point, but many Kindle books do not contain these when the print version's total value is diminished in the translation to e-book. Good job, Amazon.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Amazing, May 29, 2010
By 
Andrew Collins (Litchfield County, Connecticut) - See all my reviews
This book is simply amazing in its scope: Profile every element known to man. Theodore Gray (and his photographers) has outdone himself with it. With almost every element are beautiful pictures showing the applications and (when possible) each element in its pure form. If you are familiar with the elements, then you probably know most of them are your basic, gray metals. But does that stop the author from making them interesting? No. Even just the pictures of basic metals will leave you in awe.

The book is also cram-packed with interesting information about most of the elements. Unless you are already an expert in physics and chemistry, you are sure to learn many new things about the building blocks of matter. Also accompanying the facts and trivia are the usual information you might find on a periodic table (such as atomic weight, melting points, electron configurations, etc.)

The information in the book is not meant to be all-inclusive. Rather, it seems to be aimed at the average person with a casual interest in science. You will not find much advanced terminology or mathematics in this book. So if that is what you are looking for, this book is not your answer. However, if you are just an average person with a curiosity about the universe around you, there is a lot of good stuff in this book.

I do have two small criticisms of the book. The author makes no secret of his hatred of expensive diamonds and incandescent light bulbs multiple times throughout the book. If you read it cover-to-cover (as I did) it just becomes annoying. The second is that, on rare occasions, the author seems distracted. For example, in the section on manganese (25), he spends more time talking about a covert CIA operation than about manganese itself. It leaves you wanting to know more. Because of this, I feel The Elements falls a little shy of the five-star rating. If I could rate it four-and-a-half stars, I would.

Sadly, this book is already a little bit out-date. Element 112 was renamed copernicium a few months after the book was published.

In conclusion, I loved The Elements. I had a hard time putting it down when reading it. If you are interested in science, physics, chemistry, or about the building blocks of matter, without looking for advanced theory, buy this book. It will sure to amaze.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My husband swooned over this book., December 3, 2009
By 
We saw this book on a table at a major book chain. He picked it up, flipped through it and put it down. He did this about 3 times and practically begged to get it (as if I would say 'no' to getting a book!)(and no, he does not need my permission). You'd have thought I was telling a 6 year old he was getting a new puppy, bicycle, and ice cream all at the same time.

My husband likes non-fiction books and books with pictures - a novel usually won't interest him and a cookbook without pictures will be ignored no matter how hungry he is. He doesn't have any particular interest in chemistry, but is curious about things in general and likes to know facts. This book grabbed him with the stunning visual aspects, but kept him interested with its logical layout and description and examples of each element. The info nuggets are interesting and useful - you won't be a chemist when you finish the book, but you'll know more about each element than you probably did before. He only reads a couple of elements a day. Conversations for the past 3 weeks have been peppered with "Did you know that (pick an element) is (something cool) and you when you mix it with (something normal) it (does something cool)?"

This is a winner for curious people that are very visually oriented. Even curious kids could get interested, but might need vocabulary help. This is a gift book that will get read.
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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a must-have book for your coffee table, October 10, 2009
By 
Mark Crispin (Bainbridge Island, WA USA) - See all my reviews
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This marvelous book is stunning, both in its beautiful photographs and it its clear, lucid, and other humorous text. Whether you are a nascent element collector, a science buff, a parent trying to stimulate science interest in your kids, or just someone who likes to have a work of beauty in your home, this book is for you.

There's something in it for everyone. The minute scientific detail is there; but it does not get in the way of reading the book as narrative. Above all else, there is the sense of "science is fun stuff".

This book serves both as a reference and as something that you read cover to cover. Each element description seques into the next, and it becomes impossible to put down.

"The Elements" would be a bargain at twice the price. Theodore Gray has come up with a true winner here.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Gorgeous to look at, okay to read, April 4, 2011
Theodore Gray loathes incandescent lightbulbs. With a passion.

Fortunately for us, he loves elements. The avid element collector and founder of Wolfram Research shares his affinity for the 118+ substances that comprise the periodic table, and in the process gives us a fascinating, popular overview of the subject. If you can ignore some of the less-than-stellar writing and pontificating about subjects unrelated to the elements, such as the incandescent lightbulb screeds, you'll love this book.

The first thing that grabs readers of _The Elements_ is the superlative photography and graphic design. This book is total eye candy. Most of the photos are from the author's collection, and the uniformity of the excellence can't be denied. The design is perfect as well. Even-numbered pages introduce each element with a page-filling depiction and the odd contain text and supporting images of items that consist of the element of note.

In addition, Gray and his designers have done a masterful job including the more dry numerical facts about each element in a convenient sidebar on odd pages that mixes pure numbers with easy to comprehend graphs and charts of states of matter temperatures, spectrography, crystallography, and electron shell positions. That succinct, visual consistency would draw raves from Edward Tufte.

The author's love of collecting the elements themselves is clear from the text. He adores his subject matter and this comes through in each page. Gray shares not only his passion, but also interesting facts about each element.

But the text is the Achilles heel of _The Elements_. In reality, there's not much of it. Often what is there reads as if it came from a _USA Today_ article rather than a science book. In some cases, how Gray feels about an element dominates any facts about it, making the book less than authoritative for the scientifically inclined. _The Elements_ is clearly aimed at the casual reader--and sometimes it is too casual even for them. And then there's the incandescent lightbulb rants...

One niggling complaint is that the black pages, while they do an excellent job of providing a background for the superb photography, also show fingerprints like mad. Pages end up splotched with shiny black on regular black, which catches one's eye as much as the excellent photos. A shame.

If ever there was a perfect coffee table science book, this would be it. Lovely to look at and filled with just enough text to fulfill its coffee table aspirations, it makes a fine addition to anyone's library, scientist or not.
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The Elements: A Visual Exploration of Every Known Atom in the Universe
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