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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

5.0 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers; Slp edition (Nov. 30 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1579128807
  • ISBN-13: 978-1579128807
  • Product Dimensions: 31.8 x 3.8 x 27.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 Kg
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #179,396 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


"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.

Simon Quellen Field is the author of five books on general science and chemistry, two on computing, and four novels (so far). He is the president and CEO of Kinetic Microscience, where he designs scientific toys and sells them on the website

Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
My wife is a big chemistry buff, and she just loves the logical intricacies of the periodic table. She bought Gray's 2013 Periodic Table Calendar last year, and I picked this up along with the 2014 calendar for her for Christmas. It was not an expensive gift, but by far her favourite Christmas present. It's beautifully photographed and clearly informative, and she's looking forward to spending many happy hours immersed in it.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Amazing book. My Daughter really enjoyed it and found it easy to read, great visuals and loved the samples that came with it. Highly recommend it.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Exactly as described - delivered on time
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0xa13742b8) out of 5 stars 45 reviews
102 of 106 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa139eb28) out of 5 stars Thrilling journey through the structure and science behind the Periodic Table - a good followup to The Elements Dec 1 2011
By Joel Avrunin - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This review is aimed at the armchair scientists and "fans of science" who are concerned that this book looks like a gimmick, full of "pockets" and "real gold", more of a coffee table book than something educational. I bought this book on the strength of Gray's last book, and am glad I did.

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.
36 of 38 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa1336b40) out of 5 stars It gets even better! Dec 14 2011
By A. Truong - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is an excellent companion to "The Elements: A Visual Exploration of Every Known Atom in the Universe". I'll openly admit I never really understood (not really) the periodic table until Theodore's books. Now, the re-grouping of the elements into their columns and discussion of the commonalities of each group provides more insight to the overall "pattern of behavior" of the periodicity of the elements. This book provides a higher level description of the groups (columns) of the periodic table, while the previous book marches through the table, one element at a time. As for the samples: They are great! It may seem "gimmicky" to adults, but my children were fascinated to see and touch actual element samples - especially the gold leaf which was carefully inspected, then returned to its protective paper and cardboard envelope. Visual and tactile! Yet *another* dimension of interest that makes the elements come alive. And the easy-breezy tone makes it such a pleasure to read. These additions really do make the book feel like a "vault". The "historical documents" are a little bit klunky and "blah" though - they could have made them "pop-up" or "fold out" style rather than envelopes with sheets of paper in them.

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!
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa12bc558) out of 5 stars Can't put this book down..... Jan. 5 2012
By Amber A. Mccardle - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have always been fascinated by the elegance of the elements and the way they are arranged in the periodic table, but as a lay-person, struggled to understand them. Theodore Gary's wonderfully colourful book will explain in simple terms, the wonderful properties of each element, with their history, characteristics and uses. You will find yourself saying "Wow, I always wondered about that". This book is an excellent addition to your library - especially for young scientists, or eccentrics like me whose main aim in life is to actually construct a "periodic coffee table" with all the elements displayed on the table under glass. (Mission impossible, but it's fun trying). You will find it a great reference book too! Would highly recommend.
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa100ee04) out of 5 stars great and engaging book overall, but please with the gold leaf already! July 14 2013
By ajd326 - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
a great companion/complement overall to gray's elements book and/or ipad app. good style and good content, great for stimulating interest in the subject.

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.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa11e1690) out of 5 stars Lots of interesting tidbits May 30 2013
By gcc3 - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
and artifacts but one glaring error; labeling Mg as manganese is inexcusable.
Bought a couple as gifts for "best chem student award", but might have chosen differently had I known of the error.