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Oxygen (Understanding the Elements of the Periodic Table) Hardcover – January 1, 2005
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For instance, the author states that "For millions of years, fire has been the key to survival for humankind." In reality, our ancestor Homo Erectus was thought to have discovered how to set fires around 790,000 years ago.
In another place, she states that "In fact, until just a few billion years ago, there wasn't much oxygen on this planet at all." While it is true that Earth's early atmosphere didn't contain much oxygen, it still existed in the oceans and in the Earth's crust.
Even though "Oxygen" was published in 2005, it contains an out-dated periodic table, lacking newly identified elements 110 (Darmstadtium - approved in 2003) and 111 (Roentgenium - approved in 2004).
On page 23, in the table labeled `The Air Up There' (atmospheric gases by volume) the author leaves out two fundamental gases: water vapor and carbon dioxide, even though she includes methane.
This is a more accurate list, obtained from [...] of the most abundant gases found in the Earth's lower atmosphere (altitude of 25 kilometers) by volume:
Nitrogen (N2) 78.08%
Oxygen (O2) 20.95%
Water (H2O) 0 to 4%
Argon (Ar) 0.93%
Carbon Dioxide (CO2) 0.0360%
Neon (Ne) 0.0018%
Helium (He) 0.0005%
Methane (CH4) 0.00017%
Hydrogen (H2) 0.00005%
Nitrous Oxide (N2O) 0.00003%
Ozone (O3) 0.000004%
I am really enjoying this series of 48-page books on the elements, as each book `personalizes' a particular element for me and makes it easier to remember, but "Oxygen" needs to be edited for errors and inaccurate language.
For those readers who would like to further explore the periodic table, I can enthusiastically recommend "Nature's Building Blocks" (2003) by John Emsley and "The Periodic Table" (2007) by Eric R. Scerri. For more general reading on the periodic table and how it sparked the interest of young scientists, two outstanding autobiographies are available: "Uncle Tungsten" (2001) by Oliver Sacks and "The Periodic Table" (1975) by Primo Levi.