Friday, November 30, 2012

Book review: "The Elements: An Illustrated History of the Periodic Table"

Image credit: Amazon
I was recently sent a review copy of "The Elements: An Illustrated History of the Periodic Table" by UK author Tom Jackson. It's certainly a beautiful book to look at, filled with interesting facts about the history of chemistry (and science in general.) The structure is unique; it is structured as a list of 100 mileposts in history, it starts with "Stone Age Chemistry" as item #1 and ends with "The Higgs Boson" as item #100.* The book teaches a variety of chemically-related concepts (e.g. temperature, disproving vitalism, chirality (!), x-ray crystallography) in very accessible but accurate language.

Since I assume that I am not the target audience of this book, I passed along my review copy to a couple of adolescents (ages 9 to 12) that I know. Two of them were somewhat intimidated by the book, I think ("I would probably read it... if I had to") while one of them paged through it for a few minutes and said, "Pretty neat!" I thought so, too.

I would recommend Tom Jackson's "The Elements: An Illustrated History of the Periodic Table" for adolescents, especially those who are getting into chemistry for the first time. Those young people who already have a love of history will really enjoy this book.

Other than the physical copy of the book, Chemjobber has received no compensation for this review.

*The enterprising purchaser/reader will have to find the latest developments with the Higgs Boson elsewhere, as item #100's blurb begins "In 2011, scientists became hopeful that they could would get an answer to one of the big questions in science: does the Higgs Boson exist?" Short answer: yes, we think so. 


  1. When I was very young (grammar school) I read book that got me started on my path to a degree in Chemistry:

    "Building Blocks of the Universe" by Isaac Asimov

    I hope this new book does not lead as many astray! ;;)

  2. blog is definitely the recent schokohrrutige insomnia