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Wonderful Life with the Elements: The Periodic Table Personified Hardcover – September 14, 2012


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: No Starch Press; Har/Chrt edition (September 14, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1593274238
  • ISBN-13: 978-1593274238
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 6.1 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #155,273 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Helium: The Lighthearted Gas Raising Our Spirits and Voices

Children know it from funny voices and balloons. This ancient element could be found along with hydrogen minutes after the Big Bang. And without these two, no other elements could have been formed. They are the only two elements that are lighter than air, so maybe they’re kind of like the leaders, looking down on all the others? But helium, unlike hydrogen, is one cool cookie and doesn’t explode easily at all.

Explore helium and the rest of the elements in Wonderful Life with the Elements.

About the Author

Japanese artist Bunpei Yorifuji is well-known for his series of humorous ads for the Tokyo metro, Do It At Home, which show riders doing inappropriate activities on the subway. He is the author of several books in Japanese, including Milk Century and The Catalogue of Death.


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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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See all 44 customer reviews
This is a fun, quirky book.
Dave Schwartz
Now, the innovative art of Bunpei Yorifuji recreates the, "Wonderful Life with the Elements," an illustrated fun-guide to the periodic table.
Didaskalex
Those are the reasons I rate this book 5 stars = I Love It.
ChristineMM

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By John Caddell on September 13, 2012
Format: Hardcover
"Wonderful Life with the Elements" is the most interesting book I've ever read about chemistry. I was attracted to the book first by its combination of words and drawings. When you read it in detail, though, you see how seamlessly the words and pictures are intertwined, and how inventively author Bunpei Yorifuji communicates the symmetry of the periodic table. The elements are portrayed as people, with facial features, hairstyles, etc., conveying key attributes of the element. There are statistics, too, and explanations of how each element relates to something we experience in everyday life. (Example: I didn't know Pyrex glass had boron in it to help it keep from shattering at high temperatures.)

The book has a great sense of humor about it; you need go no farther than the first page, where a character is sucking from a large canister of He (Helium).

My kids, ages 9 and 11, have the book ready for when they plunge into study of the periodic table. No doubt they'll have more fun learning it than I did thirty-odd years ago, thanks to "Wonderful Life with the Elements."
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Muhammed Hassanali on September 19, 2012
Format: Hardcover
This book helps readers appreciate the various periodic families and elements by personifying them. Of course, science instructors also anthropomorphize elements (chlorine is hungry for electrons, and sodium wants to get rid of them), but this book personifies to a greater degree than do most science instructors. The clothes elements wear, their hair-style, their physique, and if they walk, float or flow visually tell readers something about their properties.

The first chapter looks at the distribution of elements in the universe, the sun, and the earth. It also looks at the elements found in living rooms during primitive, ancient, medieval and contemporary times. Chapter two introduces readers to the various families within the periodic table. Here readers are also introduced to what properties are represented by the various visual characteristics used to anthropomorphize them. Chapter two ends with the super periodic table. This is the regular periodic table, but instead of the standard element symbols, it shows people (the ones that personify the various elements).

Chapter three is the bulk of the book. It profiles each element by listing its most exploited properties and its most common usage. In addition to the individual elements there are two supplementary sections at the end of the chapter. The first is titled Element Friends and outlines additional groups of elements. The second is titled Troublesome Elements and lists harmful compounds and their destructive traits.

Chapter four focuses on the role of minerals in the body by listing in what foods they can be found, their functions in the body, and symptoms if one has too much or too little of a particular mineral.
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful By M. Garrison VINE VOICE on January 1, 2013
Format: Hardcover
I picked this book up for two reasons. 1) As a scientist and a geek, I love books that look at science from a different angle, especially ones with great visuals that help you see new patterns. In that regard, the description on this made it seem as if the book was right up my alley. 2) I'm always on the lookout for sciencey gifts for the kids in my life, books or kits that might spark a new interest in some part of science.

For me, this book made it halfway there to that first reason, and was a complete fail on the second. Yes, this book did make me stop and think in some different ways about the periodicity of the periodic table, which was fun. But because the actual content didn't really go much beyond what you'd see on Wikipedia (with about the same level of accuracy), I didn't really learn a whole lot in the end. The experience ended up being one of thinking "oh, I remember thinking how neat these patterns were when I took chemistry in school," but not much more than that. And while I liked the idea of using patterns in visuals to represent patterns in data, the actual art itself didn't really work for me -- in part because of the color scheme (I really would have preferred straight black and white over the black, white, and neon yellow of the book), and in part because pretty much all the drawings are cartoons of naked men. For me, that meant that this couldn't be one of the fun science books I leave out for visitors to flip through, and it seriously limited who I could consider gifting with a copy.

As with many disappointed book reviews, it's very likely that I'm just not the right target audience for this book in the end -- and in part, the failure for that lies with the amazon description just as much as it does the book.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Didaskalex VINE VOICE on September 19, 2012
Format: Hardcover
****.5
"Immediately south of nitrogen is phosphorus, which was first isolated by the distillation and treatment of urine -- an indication of the lengths to which chemists are prepared to go, or perhaps only a sign of the obsessive, scatological origins of their vocation."--P. W. Atkins, The Periodic Kingdom, 1995 *
*

If you are to introduce the chemical Elements, to your students, in such a delightful way that Mendaleev could ever have imagined, then Japanese artist B. Yorifuji would give you a funny hand. In 1869, the Russian chemist, assembled his Periodic Table, that helped completing the search for the elements, a century later. He arrived at his discovery, while in the process of writing his most vivid chemistry text ever published*, "The Principles of Chemistry," where he made a legacy of the study of elements and development of chemistry.

The accounts of the development of the Periodic Table may differ, but they are all exiting. The periodic table is one of the most profound discoveries of the nineteenth century, serving as a reminder that elements come in families whose members show similar predispositions. Now, the innovative art of Bunpei Yorifuji recreates the, "Wonderful Life with the Elements," an illustrated fun-guide to the periodic table. Each contributor to the periodic table is given a funny character, with different features that indicate different properties of that element.

With almost every element having its share in the graphical representation, indicating how important it is through its participation in the universe's life and progress. Yorifuji's book is a valuable tool to befriend chemistry.
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