The Ingredients

The Ingredients : A Guided Tour of the Elements

3.68 (50 ratings by Goodreads)
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What is it made of? What is in it? We have become a society fascinated about composition, and for good reason. Lead in petrol shows up in the snow fields of the Antarctic and mercury poisons fish in South America. Radon from the Earth poses health hazards in regions built on basaltic rocks and natural arsenic contaminates wells in Bangladesh. Calcium supplements combat bone-wasting diseases and iron alleviates anaemia. There are elements that we crave, and those we do our best to avoid. This book reveals that the story of the elements is not simply a tale of a hundred or so different types of atom, each with its unique properties and idiosyncrasies, but a story about our cultural interactions with the nature and composition of matter. It shows that understanding the elements is not merely a matter of reading a list, but of engaging with the reasons why people have long believed the world to be an elaborate composite of simpler materials, and how they sought to identify those primary substances.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 228 pages
  • 128 x 207.3 x 22.4mm | 344.74g
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 25 b&w illustrations, notes
  • 0192841009
  • 9780192841001

Table of contents

Aristotle's Quartet - The elements in antiquity; Revolution - How oxygen changed the world; Gold - The most desirable element; The Eightfold Path - Arranging the elements; The Atom Factories - Making new elements; The Chemical Brothers - Why isotopes are useful; For All Practical Purposes - Technologies of the elements.
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About Philip Ball

Philip Ball is a science writer and consultant editor for Nature. He is the author of Self-Made Tapestry, Designing the Molecular World, Stories of the Invisible: A Guided Tour of Molecules, and Life's Matrix: A Biography of Water. He lives in London.
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Review quote

An engaging chronology of the elements, from the Greek philosophers who thought the world was made only from earth, air, fire, and water, to the work of twentieth-century radiochemistry in extending the periodic table.
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Rating details

50 ratings
3.68 out of 5 stars
5 18% (9)
4 38% (19)
3 38% (19)
2 6% (3)
1 0% (0)
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