Theodore Gray's Elements Vault: Treasures of the Periodic Table with Removable Archival Documents and Real Element Samples - Including Pure Gold! Hardcover – Nov 30 2011
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"I don't know if this is the first coffee-table book paying lush photographic homage to the periodic table, but it is certainly the most gorgeous one I've seen." --John Tierney, "The New York Times"
About the Author
Theodore Gray is the author of The Elements: A Visual Exploration of Every Known Atom in the Universe; Theo Gray's Mad Science: Experiments You Can Do At Home, But Probably Shouldn't; Mad Science 2: Experiments You Can Do At Home, But Still Probably Shouldn't; and Popular Science magazine's "Gray Matter" column. With his company Touch Press, Gray is the developer of best-selling iPad and iPhone apps, including The Elements, Solar System, Disney Animated, The Orchestra, The Waste Land, and Skulls by Simon Winchester. He lives in Urbana, Illinois.
Nick Mann is the photographer of The Elements: A Visual Exploration of Every Known Atom in the Universe. Aside from having photographed more elements and compounds than probably anyone in the world, he is an accomplished landscape, sports, and event photographer. He lives in Urbana, Illinois.
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Picking up where Theodore Gray's The Elements: A Visual Exploration of Every Known Atom in the Universe left off, this is an excellent addition to your reference library. Not only does it contain new information on some key elements (and new photos), but most importantly it focuses more on the table itself. The last book focused on the elements with a little bit about the structure of the table. This book focuses on the relationships on the table, how elements in the same column or section are related. In fact, while his last book was organized by atomic weight, this one is organized by element group (roughly by column). In "The Elements", right after reading about the Alkaline Earth Metal Magnesium (12), the next element is Aluminum (13), an ordinary metal. In "Elements Vault", Magnesium is grouped with other Alkaline metals like Calcium (20), Strontrium (38), and Barium (56).
I smiled when I saw this key organizational difference as I had bookmarked "The Elements" so I could walk down the columns instead of across the rows. Gray has done that for me in this book. In fact, he goes so much further, explaining the physics and chemistry behind the periodic table, with a healthy dose of well explained quantum mechanics. The treasure of this book is not the penny's worth of gold leaf, but the well explained science that would require wading through college level textbooks to have distilled.
This book does not replace "The Elements" as "The Elements" had an entire page for each element, with crystal structure, atomic emission spectra, and state of matter. This book has large pages on some elements, and others have barely any description. In fact, man-made elements on gets 2 pages in The Elements Vault. In fact, the book lacks an index so it can be hard to look up a single element. The book is designed to be read front to back, or used as a reference based on family, such as Lanthanides and Actinides rather than Europium and Thorium. If you do want emission spectra, all of them are placed side-by-side on a beautiful fold out poster in the back.
So why 4 stars for a book for which I have such effusive praise? It's the "vault" aspect of the book. In my mind, it is a gimmick that makes the book harder to read. There are 10 full page envelopes that contain a single sided 8.5x11 inch piece of single sided text on card stock. Why not make this information a page in the book, instead of making it a "document" I have to remove to read and then put back? There are a few smaller document pouches, with things like an ad for 7-Up with lithium, an obituary for the purveyor of radium water, a postcard from Utah's copper mine, and others. Real elements include zirconium (cubic zirconia), gold (a sheet of insanely delicate gold leaf which is impossible to inspect without breaking), europium (luminous paint), flourine (teflon), and boron (silly putty).
Without the vault gimmick, the book is well worth the price here for the information contained within. In fact, I may just de-vault the book, put the loose pages in a binder, and make it a regular book. I have to deduct a star for this technical aspect, but the information contained within makes it well worth buying so I do heartily recommend it.
If you had to choose only one of the two books, the original "Visual Exploration" is probably the better choice. Once you have that, though, this book is an excellent "and that's not all!" addition to your science library. I am glad we have both. THANK you Theodore Gray for making science come alive!
this was a gift for my son's 10th birthday.
he's already very interested in the elements and part of the excitement of this book is the element samples and other objects in the book. of course the gold sample is the first thing anyone in the book goes for - i mean, even the cover shouts that it contains real gold.
i'd read the other reviews before buying, and so when the big moment came, i was there with him when he opened the sample of gold leaf. long story short: despite using what i thought was appropriate caution, ours lasted about 5 seconds. it is pretty to look at but ABSOLUTELY NOT TOUCHABLE. my son did not try to pick it up or anything, just tried to delicately touch it. next thing i know, it vacuumed itself to his finger and there was nothing we could do to separate it cleanly. we ended up destroying the entire piece trying to get it off.
PUBLISHERS: please consider encasing the gold in some sort of protective plastic. and send one to me when you do, to replace the one I lost!
i agree with other reviewers that some of the "archival" documents could really be just pages in the book. there's not much thrill or utility in being able to take paper out of a book, what am i, going to read it elsewhere?
this book would be improved by including more element samples instead. lots of elements could be included safely, easily and at low cost, why only 5? it would be so easy to include samples of aluminum, copper, iron, carbon, and so many others.
Bought a couple as gifts for "best chem student award", but might have chosen differently had I known of the error.
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