3 out of 5 stars

My wife teaches chemistry all the way up to A-Level and one of her favourite joke for new students is:

Why can’t you trust an atom?

Because they make everything up…

I’ll get my coat.

But it is true, every single thing that you will come into contact with today is made from some of the 118 elements that exist in the periodic table. There are some that you are very unlikely to come into contact with, polonium, for example, but there are others like nitrogen and oxygen that are in contact with your body 24 hours a day.

These fifty elements that they have chosen each has a test tube full of facts and anecdotes on them, for example which element loosely connects cockroaches and tanks, which one of the hardest known and which is one of the most abundant of the earth. Each element has snippets of information on the person who discovered it, the atomic number, and where the name was inspired or derived from.

There is very little depth to this book, but then you may have already worked it out from the title. Rather this is a thin patina to give a flavour (not literally some of these are poisonous) of the selected elements with lots of details and information about them. Nice little gift book.

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