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 takes the reader on an engaging and entertaining tour: from the Greek philosophers who propounded a system with four elements - earth, air, fire, and water - to the modern-day scientists who are able to create their own.
- '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.
- 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.
- An exciting and non-traditional approach to understanding the terminology, properties, and classification of chemical elements.
- Includes chapters on particular elements (gold, iron, oxygen, etc), showing how they shaped culture and technology.
- Philip Ball is a high-profile science writer, who writes science extremely well for non-scientists.
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
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