Elemental: How the Periodic Table Can Now Explain (Nearly) Everything —By Tim James

$18.50 USD

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A science teacher by profession, Mr. James knows how to get his audience’s attention. . . . Elemental informs and entertains. . . . With hand-drawn diagrams, wacky humor and assorted facts, Elemental is great fun, taking us to realms beyond anything Mendeleyev ever dreamed of.

— The Wall Street Journal 

A hugely entertaining tour of the periodic table and the 118 elements that are the basic building blocks of everything.

— Daily Mail

If you want to understand how our world works, the periodic table holds the answers.

When the seventh row of the periodic table of elements was completed in June 2016 with the addition of four final elements — nihonium, moscovium, tennessine, and oganesson — we at last could identify all the ingredients necessary to construct our world.

In Elemental: How the Periodic Table Can Now Explain (Nearly) Everything, chemist, secondary school teacher, science YouTuber Tim James provides an informative, entertaining and quirkily illustrated guide to the periodic table that shows clearly how this abstract and seemingly jumbled graphic is relevant to our day-to-day lives.

He provides an accessible and wonderfully entertaining 'biography of chemistry' that uses stories to explain the positions and patterns of elements in the periodic table. Many popular science titles tend to tell the history of scientific developments, leaving the actual science largely unexplained; in Elemental, James, however, makes use of stories to explain the principles of chemistry within the table, showing its relevance to everyday life.

James tells the story of the periodic table from its ancient Greek roots, when you could count the number of elements humans were aware of on one hand, to the modern alchemists of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries who have used nuclear chemistry and physics to generate new elements and complete the periodic table.

In addition to this, he answers questions such as: What is the chemical symbol for a human? What would happen if all of the elements were mixed together? Which liquid can teleport through walls? Why is the medieval dream of transmuting lead into gold now a reality? 

Quirkily illustrated and filled with humour, Elemental is the perfect book for students wanting to learn chemistry or for parents wanting to help, but it is also for anyone who wants to understand how our world works at a fundamental level. The periodic table, that abstract and seemingly jumbled graphic, holds (nearly) all the answers.

As James puts it, elements are "the building blocks nature uses for cosmic cookery: the purest substances making up everything from beetroot to bicycles."

Whether you're studying the periodic table for the first time or are simply interested in the fundamental building blocks of the universe — from the core of the sun to the networks in your brain — Elemental is the perfect guide.


Format: New, Hardcover

Published: March 26, 2019

Publisher: Abrams Press

ISBN: 9781468317022

Pages: 224

Dimensions: 9.3" L x 6.3" W x 1" D

Rating: ★★★★1/2 (See FAQs for more information)


Tim James is an educator, blogger, inventor, and popular science lecturer for the Institute of Physics. Raised by missionaries in Nigeria, he graduated with a Master’s degree in chemistry specializing in computational quantum mechanics, and now teaches high school chemistry and physics.