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The Elements: An Illustrated History of the Periodic Table

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In 1869 Dmitri Mendeleev presented the world with the Periodic Table. It contained 63 elements, many more than the four—earth, water, fire, and air—established in the ancient world, but less than half the total in our modern table. Mendeleev believed there were many elements still to come.

He was right.

In this essential guide to the Periodic Table, we track the history of the powerful yet elegant tool that lays bare the building blocks of the ...

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In 1869 Dmitri Mendeleev presented the world with the Periodic Table. It contained 63 elements, many more than the four—earth, water, fire, and air—established in the ancient world, but less than half the total in our modern table. Mendeleev believed there were many elements still to come.

He was right.

In this essential guide to the Periodic Table, we track the history of the powerful yet elegant tool that lays bare the building blocks of the Universe. The journey begins just as the first cities are forming, and follows the contributions made by philosophers, alchemists, industrialists, and great scientists as they gather force to create this masterpiece of accumulated knowledge. The story includes Democritus of ancient Greece who said that the four elements of nature—earth, water, fire, and air—must be made of atoms, otherwise our world is just an illusion, and the French aristocrat Antoine Lavoisier, who was the first to show that water is not an element at all. With over three hundred illustrations, it opens a window into the very stuff of nature—stars, rocks, life, and more—and shows us the way to make even smarter technologies.

From the ancient Greek philosopher who noticed the unusual force exerted by amber, to the alchemist who boiled urine until it glowed in the dark, to the British inventor who described the powerful effect of electricity on a dead body to Mary Shelley (before she wrote Frankenstein) to the theologian who observed mice becoming unconscious when dangled over brewing beer, the discovery of the elements is a story with many chapters, each adding to our understanding of these basic substances that make up the world around us. The thoughts and deeds of great thinkers always make great stories and here are a hundred of the most significant. Each story relates a confounding puzzle that became a discovery and changed the way we see the world. We call these Ponderables.

What will great thinkers ponder next? How will new contributions add to our understanding of the universe? Take a glimpse at the Imponderables, the mysteries still to be solved, for an insight into future great discoveries.

Includes a removable fold-out concertina neatly housed in the back of the book. This fold-out provides a 12-page Timeline History of the Periodic Table that embeds the story of chemistry in historical context and shows Who Did What When at a glance. On the reverse side is a 12-page Chart of Elements in Atomic Order providing scientific data for all 118 elements, as well as their primary source and use.

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Editorial Reviews

A good overview of the subject for beginners…These fun science titles encourage understanding and exploration…a great pick for middle- and high-school students.
Mesmerizing stories, intriguing facts, and lavish illustrations…make these books not only useful but keepsakes for future generations…Great additions to any home library for kids of all ages!
Readers are immediately drawn to the colorful, detailed photographs, artworks, and diagrams.
Tablet Magazine
They're all beautiful. They'd make an awesome bar mitzvah gift.
They explain how the world works! It doesn't get any better than that.
Library Journal
These graphically stunning, browsable volumes each list 100 breakthroughs in the relevant area (a volume on mathematics is also available). Each book jacket holds a detachable foldout time line, posing "Ponderable" questions alongside developments in culture, world events, and science and invention. Entries run from one-half page to two pages in length each, and each page offers at least two detailed color photos and illustrations. Jackson, who has authored more than 80 science books, writes here for high school readers and armchair scientists, with occasional forays into more technical essays on subjects such as chemical bonding and the measurement of the earth by Eratosthenes. Elements discusses specific elements and the creation of the periodic table, but has a broad focus, also discussing, for example, how alloys helped advance civilization, the contributions of Niels Bohr, and the Higgs boson particle. Universe begins by pondering ancient stone monuments and moves through Pluto's demotion from planet status and an exploration of the surface of Mars. Although women are not prominently mentioned, sometimes their unrecognized contributions are pointed out (for example, the title covers Rosalind Franklin and Photo 51). The back matter in these titles, which provides a summary of the topic, approximately 40 brief biographies, and further-reading suggestions, will aid academic readers. Both books have minor proofreading errors, but nothing that detracts from their beauty and readability. VERDICT These books feature gorgeous layouts and short, intelligent paragraphs. Their best audience is science-minded individuals who are interested in the discoveries and development of thought, but who don't need to research a specific topic.—Maggie Knapp, Trinity Valley Sch., Fort Worth, TX
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780985323035
  • Publisher: Shelter Harbor Press
  • Publication date: 10/9/2012
  • Series: Ponderables Series
  • Pages: 168
  • Sales rank: 110,575
  • Product dimensions: 9.30 (w) x 10.90 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Tom Jackson is a science author based in the United Kingdom who has written many books, covering everything from axolotls to Zoroastrianism. Mr. Jackson studied zoology at the University of Bristol, and still lives in that city with his wife and three children, where he can be found mainly in the attic.
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Customer Reviews

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( 2 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 8, 2013

    Highly Recommend

    Gorgeous book! Informative and fun at the same time.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 1, 2013



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