Periodic Tales: The Curious Lives of the Elements
2011. A trade paperback copy in near fine, unmarked condition.
Everything is made of them, from the furthest reaches of the universe to this book that you hold in your hands, including you. Like you, the elements have lives: personalities and attitudes, talents and shortcomings, stories rich with meaning. You may think of them as the inscrutable letters of the periodic table, but you know them much better than you realise. Welcome to a dazzling tour through history and literature, science and art. Here you'll meet iron that rains from the heavens and noble gases that light the way to vice. You'll learn how lead can tell your future while zinc may one day line your coffin. You'll discover what connects the bones in your body with the Whitehouse in Washington, the glow of a streetlamp with the salt on your dinner table. From ancient civilisations to contemporary culture, from the oxygen of publicity to the phosphorus in your pee, the elements are near and far and all around us. Unlocking their astonishing secrets and colourful pasts, Periodic Tales will take you on a voyage of wonder and discovery, excitement and novelty, beauty and truth. Along the way, you'll find that their stories are our stories, and their lives are inextricable from our own.
Hugh Aldersey-Williams studied natural sciences at Cambridge. He is the author of several books exploring science, design and architecture and has curated exhibitions at the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Wellcome Collection. He lives in Norfolk with his wife and son.