The Elements: A Very Short Introduction

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OUP Oxford, Apr 8, 2004 - Science - 179 pages
This Very Short Introduction traces the history and cultural impact of the elements on humankind, and examines why people have long sought to identify the substances around them. Looking beyond the Periodic Table, the author examines our relationship with matter, from the uncomplicated vision of the Greek philosophers, who believed there were four elements - earth, air, fire, and water - to the work of modern-day scientists in creating elements such as hassium and meitnerium. Packed with anecdotes, The Elements is a highly engaging and entertaining exploration of the fundamental question: what is the world made from? ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

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User Review  - waltzmn - LibraryThing

Oh to have been a fly on the wall when this book was pitched. I say that because the title "The Elements" doesn't really tell you much about what the book will contain. How much discussion went into ... Read full review

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User Review  - BakuDreamer - LibraryThing

Not at all what it says it is. Mostly a colletction of science related trivia, interesting but not really helpful, except for the last chapter, which has some interesting bits about semi-conductors and palladium. Read full review


The elements in antiquity
How oxygen changed the world
The glorious and accursed element
Organizing the elements
Making new elements
Why isotopes are useful
Technologies of the elements
Further reading
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About the author (2004)

Philip Ball is a science writer and a consultant editor for Nature, where he was formerly an editor for physical science for over 10 years. He writes about all areas of science for the international press, and has broadcast on TV and radio. His previous books include Designing the Molecular World, The Self-Made Tapestry, H20: A Biography of Water, and Stories of the Invisible: A guided tour of molecules. He holds a degree inchemistry from Oxford University and a doctorate in physics from Bristol University. He lives in London, where his Homunculus Theatre Company occasionally performs on a shoestring budget.

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