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Elemental

How the Periodic Table Can Now Explain (Nearly) Everything
By: Tim James
Narrated by: Roger Davis
Length: 5 hrs and 12 mins
Categories: Non-fiction, Science
4.5 out of 5 stars (59 ratings)

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Summary

Selected as one of the best books of 2018 by the Daily Mail.

In 2016, with the addition of four final elements - nihonium, moscovium, tennessine and oganesson - to make a total of 118 elements, the periodic table was finally complete, rendering any pre-existing books on the subject obsolete.

Tim James, the secondary-school science teacher we all wish we'd had, 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; James, however, makes use of stories to explain the principles of chemistry within the table, showing its relevance to everyday life.

Filled with humour, this is the perfect audiobook 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 our brains - Elemental is the perfect guide.

©2018 Tim James (P)2018 Hachette Audio UK

Critic reviews

"Witty, pacy and fascinating...the best book on science I've ever read." (Karl Dixon)

"A hugely entertaining tour of the periodic table and the 118 elements that are the basic building blocks of everything." (Daily Mail)

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

A book for anyone who wants to understand the the discovery’s and wonders of the universe

I’m a GCSE student and I’m not the greatest at science but I do like to improve on my knowledge of the world and people around me. So I would recommend this book to anyone who would like to expand on there knowledge about what’s makes the universe the universe and to have a wider and deeper understanding of what is happening all around you.

Jake

3 people found this helpful

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Brilliantly interesting

I got this to help my son with his school work, but found it so interesting and brilliantly told that I have now listened to it twice and rate it as my favourite audio book.

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Informative and entertaining

This is an enjoyable overview of the periodic table of the elements. It blows the cobwebs off cherished memories of O and A level chemistry, and complements them with more historical facts than I learned back then, including, in particular, amusing mini biographies of some of the key figures that contributed to its development. There are also many interesting facts about the properties in which certain elements excel, which recommend them to their use in the modern world. The upper end of the table now contains more elements than the ones I learned at school and I enjoyed expanding my knowledge a little about these, beyond my sketchy awareness of their existence and of their exotic nature. The occasionally (but not always!) corny jokes also provided an enjoyable throwback to sixth form humour. Overall, this was a very enjoyable read.

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Once I started I couldn't stop

It was very useful for my knowledge about the elements. I loved it!
Dylan aged 8

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This was the most fantastic book that I have heard in science. And being a doctor that is saying something.

I would recommend this book to anyone with interest in chemistry. Brilliantly read and will be using some of the information in my future lectures to medical student. Well done to both the author and narrator.

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engaging and memorable

loved it wish I had this as a teen starting chemistry. recommended to any student child or adult interested in the background of the periodic table

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  • JJ
  • 06-08-19

Really enjoyed this.

Loved the way it was read, funny little things here n there, overall very informative.

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Best lay book

This is the best lay book I have read on quantum mechanics. Entertaining throughout and very informative. Makes sense of a difficult subject. Recommend to any curious mind

2 people found this helpful