Nature's Building Blocks: An A-Z Guide to the Elements

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Oxford University Press, 2001 - Science - 538 pages
29 Reviews
What is the most common element in the universe? Can you name the noble gases? Everything we see around us is made of chemical elements, but most of us know little about them.
Penned by award-winning science writer John Emsley, Nature's Building Blocks explains the what, why and wherefore of the chemical elements. Arranged alphabetically, from Actinium to Zirconium, it is a complete guide to all 115 of those that are currently known, with more extensive coverage of those elements we encounter in our everyday life. The entry on each element reveals where it came from, what role it may have in the human body, and the foods that contain it. There are also sections on its discovery, its part in human health or illness, the uses and misuses to which it is put, and its environmental role. Readers discover that the Earth consists of around 90 elements, some of which are abundant, such as the silicon and oxygen of rocks and soils, while some are so rare that they make gold seem cheap. Our own bodies contain about 30 elements, some in abundance, some in trace amounts; some vital to our health, and some that are positively harmful. A list of the main scientific data, and outline properties, are given for every element and each section ends with an "Element of Surprise," which highlights some unexpected way in which each element influences our everyday life.
Both a reliable reference source and a high browsable account of the elements, Nature's Building Blocks offers a pleasurable tour of the very essence of our material world.

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Review: Nature's Building Blocks: An AZ Guide to the Elements

User Review  - Goodreads

Buckets of fun! There's a chapter for each one of the elements, describing its history, its unique properties, its conventional use, and some random tid bits about it. This should be required reading for any chemistry class. Read full review

Review: Nature's Building Blocks: An AZ Guide to the Elements

User Review  - Josh - Goodreads

I got this book during my chemistry phase I had in elementary school. I carried this book around with me to random places, including the sandpit in our backyard. I didn't understand much of it but it ... Read full review


The elements AZ
The periodic table
the discovery of the elements in chronological order
Lists of elements and atomic numbers
The periodic table

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About the author (2001)

John Emsley lectured in chemistry for twenty-five years at in the University of London, and he is the author of over a hundred research papers. He is now Science Writer in Residence in the Chemistry Department at the University of Cambridge. Emsley's 'Molecule of the Month' column for The Independent, which ran from 1990 to 1996, brought home to a wide readership how chemistry impinges on every aspect of our daily lives. In 1993 he received a Glaxo Award for science writing, and in 1994 won the Chemical Industries Association's President's Award for science communication. John Emsley's much praised book The Consumer's Good Chemical Guide won the Rhone-Poulenc Science Book Prize in 1995. He lives in London.

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