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By Hugh Aldersey-Williams

Like the alphabet or the zodiac, the periodic table of the chemical elements has a permanent place in our imagination. But aside from the handful of common ones (iron, carbon, copper, gold), the elements themselves remain wrapped in mystery. We do not know what most of them look like, how they exist in nature, how they got their names, or of what use they are to us. Welcome to a dazzling tour through history and literature, science and art. In Periodic Tales, you'll meet iron that rains from the heavens and neon as it lights its way to vice. You'll learn how lead can tell your future and why zinc may one day line your coffin. You'll discover what connects the bones in your body with the White House in Washington, the glow of a streetlight with the salt on your dinner table.

From ancient civilizations to contemporary couture, from the oxygen of publicity to the phosphorous in your pee, the elements are near and far and all around us. Unlocking their astonishing secrets and colorful pasts, Periodic Tales is a passionate journey through mines and artists' studios, to factories and cathedrals, into the woods and to the sea to discover the true stories of these fascinating but mysterious building blocks of the universe.

Periodic Tales

 By Hugh Aldersey-Williams

 

We are made from the elements—and so is everything that surrounds us. But do you know what Rubidium or Tantalum looks like? Or how Zinc was named? Hugh Aldersey-Williams's Periodic Tales: A Cultural History of the Elements, from Arsenic to Zinc takes us on a merry and revealing tour of the periodic table, through its history as well as elemental connections to literature, art and popular culture. Written for the non-scientist, this collection of curious chemistry factoids is sure to prep you for rescuing the next party conversation lull. Discover why that streetlight glow is related to the salt on your dining table, how early chemists got their phosphorus from urine and many other intriguing, periodic table wonders. Softbound, 428 pages.




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