100 Things To Ponder About The Periodic Table

The Elements An Illustrated History of the Periodic TableIt arrived. My advance copy of "The Elements, An Illustrated History of the Periodic Table" (Shelter Harbor Press, October 2012). The UPS driver pulled up to my driveway with book in hand while I was outside with my three dogs. Fortunately, the driver knows never to leave her truck without an arsenal of Milkbones to ward off my clan of Golden Retrievers who slobber, bark and jump/pounce anytime a visitor steps foot in my yard.

With Milkbones tossed in all directions, we were able to make the exchange quickly and without bloodshed. Before my dogs knew what happened, the UPS driver was gone and we were all back inside ripping open the package to reveal the much-anticipated content.

I'm a nerd – one of my favorite perks of being a journalist is getting advance copies of books to review. For the last several years the book stream has been light. But when the press release for this book crossed my desk, I quickly penned an e-mail requesting my copy.

The thing that got me was the tagline: Ponderables – 100 breakthroughs That Changed History. The coffee-table book is filled with 100 facts that reveal the chronological history of how the weighty problems in the world of chemistry led to great discoveries.

The 144-page book features spectacular photos and illustrations to accompany each "ponderable." And knowing that books compete with instant gratification that can be found on the Internet, the author, Tom Jackson, tackles each topic quickly and moves on to the next. In the back of the book is a removable fold-out concertina filled with oodles of facts. (In this instance, an oodle is equivalent to 1,000).

Trying to pick one knowledge-filled nugget to showcase is difficult, so I closed my eyes and opened the book – very scientific, I know.

No. 47 Avogadro's Law: "Largely ignored in his day, the work of Amedeo Avogadro lies at the heart of the modern Periodic Table. The law attributed to the Italian states that a volume of gas, irrespective of its constituents, contains the same number of particles as another gas sample of the same volume."

The nugget goes into more detail discussing that Avogadro's Law became the key to unlocking chemical formulae and atomic weights.

With 99 more Ponderables, you can be certain I will revisit this book in future posts.

Traci Purdum
Senior Digital Editor

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