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The Elements: A Very Short Introduction

The Elements: A Very Short Introduction

Paperback Very Short Introductions

By (author) Philip Ball

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  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Format: Paperback | 186 pages
  • Dimensions: 110mm x 168mm x 14mm | 159g
  • Publication date: 7 October 2004
  • Publication City/Country: Oxford
  • ISBN 10: 0192840991
  • ISBN 13: 9780192840998
  • Illustrations note: numerous halftones & line drawings
  • Sales rank: 96,034

Product description

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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Author information

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 in chemistry 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.

Review quote

Ball is one of the most prolific and imaginative of contemporary science writers. He has plenty of attitude, boasts a fine knowledge of visual art and a literary sensibility, and his science is encyclopaedic. Chemistry in Britain A delight of a book... Elegantly written...it's far-reaching, entertaining and salted with anecdote... It could become a classic. Hold on to your first edition Roy Herbert, New Scientist engaging tour of the chemical elements Sunday Telegraph Philip Ball's book is an excellent introduction. I would have loved the book as an enthusiastic sixteen year-old and I would recommend it as a Christmas present to anyone at that age, and to journalists who may occasionally wish to appear smarter than they actually are. Simon Robinson, Chemistry and Industry a series of invigorating dips Guardian Ball's choices are sound, his style is attractive Evening Standard Ball brings the periodic table to life Maia Weinstock, Discover A beautifully written and elegantly illustrated synthesis of chemistry and culture. Popularization of science at its very best. Sir John Meurig Thomas, University of Cambridge The book contains some delightful anecdotes David Johnson, Times Higher Educational Supplement

Table of contents

1. Aristotle's Quartet: The elements in antiquity ; 2. Revolution: How oxygen changed the world ; 3. Gold: The most desirable element ; 4. The Eightfold Path: Organizing the elements ; 5. The Atom Factories: Making new elements ; 6. The Chemical Brothers: Why isotopes are useful ; 7. For All Practical Purposes: Technologies of the elements ; End notes ; Futher reading