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Showing 1-10 of 687 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 785 reviews
on October 7, 2009
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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on February 6, 2015
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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on November 5, 2009
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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on March 17, 2016
What element makes up most of your body by weight? Are diamonds really the hardest known material on Earth? How can you tell a genuine neon light from one that doesn’t contain any actual neon? Are silicon-based life forms really a possibility? How did phosphorous contribute to a human population explosion? How can one tell whether one’s “Titanium” golf club actually contains titanium? What is tin used for--given that it’s not tin cans, tin foil, or tin roofs? Which noble gas has been caught forming compounds with common elements? Why do welders have to get x-rays before an MRI? Why does Ytterby, Sweden have four elements named after it? Why are gorilla lovers boycotting tantalum? Which is better for committing homicide: Thallium or Polonium? [Hint: The answer depends on whether you want to send a message or not—if you know what I mean.] How much natural uranium can a private citizen possess in the US? Which, if any, of the elements named for people are named for the person who discovered them? These are the types of questions you’ll have answered while reading this book.

The most general question the book addresses is probably, how can one collect elements without setting the world on fire? [If that doesn’t make sense, I’d recommend Randall Munroe’s book “What If?” Munroe tells us what would happen if one tried to make a wall out of one square foot containers of each of the elements (in the form of the Periodic Table)? You’ll note that I said “tried to make” and not “made,” and that should tell you something.] Gray is an element collector, and the many photographs for each element show examples of the forms (including manufactured products) in which a given element can be acquired. You’ll also find out where the gaps will remain in your collection of pure elements. [On a related note, you’ll learn which elements are radioactive.] You also may be interested to hear what element sample the FBI confiscated from the author’s collection [hint: it wasn’t Uranium or Plutonium.]

The organization of the book is straight forward. There’s front matter that gives one a rudimentary primer on chemistry and the periodic table in order to refresh the knowledge that has fallen out of your brain since high school or college. But the bulk of the book consists of one short chapter for each element. The chapters each have a cover page containing a photo and some technical information about the element that will only be of interest to the very nerdiest of nerds. Then there’s a page or so of text, which gives some interesting factoids about the element and how it’s used. Finally, there’s a collection of photos of the element and some products that contain it—with one notable exception.

I enjoyed this book. It’s a quick read, but provides a lot of interesting information. And the author’s sense of humor shines here and there.

I read this book on a Kindle Touch. I mention this because true element groupies may find this less than ideal because of the lack of color. However, for me it was fine. Furthermore, the e-book formatting was good. Sometimes books with a lot of graphics don’t work out so well, but in this case it was not a problem.

I’d recommend this book for anyone interested in science, though if you know a lot about chemistry you may find it a bit remedial.
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on December 27, 2010
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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VINE VOICEon September 16, 2015
I purchased this along with the Molecules book, and both are well read in our home. The pictures are amazing - seeing these building blocks of everything around us is a great way to spend a lazy afternoon where you can take the time to just sit and stare at the pictures and shake your head and wonder where this book was many moons ago when I was in chemistry class. It's a joy to look through over and over, and the information the author provides only adds to the enjoyment.
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on April 11, 2015
This book is amazing. I bought it because I was interested in radioactivity and wanted to learn more about cesium, strontium, and other emissions from a nearby nuclear plant. The book covers everything with photos of the elements. The descriptions make for fascinating reading. If you love science, you'll love this book. I jump around in it and learn more facts than I was taught in chemistry.
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on November 1, 2015
Very helpful book. The Elements is a visual guide to all the elements. Exactly what I wanted!
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on April 7, 2016
Wow! What an awesome book! Jam-packed full of cool and pristine pictures and information! Got this for school, but sometimes I just look at it for fun. Need/want to learn about the Elements? Buy this book. You won't be disappointed..
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on September 11, 2016
Great pictures of elements, but no atomic structure. Not having a glossary means you have to go through whole book to look for 1 element.

Shows electron filling order, the natural crystalline structure of the element in nature as 3-D picture, and where it is on Periodic Table.

I bought these to go with a molecular modeling kit. It is wonderful in showing the elements as unique entities and what they are used for. The molecule book had molecular structures and is the perfect companion to this book. It goes in depth to compare the different molecul structures.
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