We've covered Theodore Gray on Boing Boing a lot, and for good reason -- he's amazing. His Mad Science book was filled with spectacularly fun science experiments, he built a Periodic Table table with little compartments to hold samples of elements, and now he has a new coffee table photo book called The Elements: A Visual Exploration of Every Known Atom in the Universe.
Each element is treated to a gorgeous two page spread, with photos and a fascinating short history.
Did you know:
... if you keep your household smoke detector around for a couple of thousand years, most of the americium will have decayed into neptunium (wait another 30 million years or so and it will become thallium, which the CIA can use to make Castro's beard fall out, if he's still alive)
... if you touch tellurium you will smell like rotten garlic for a few weeks?
... arsenic is commonly added to chicken feed (to promote their growth)?
... a chunk of gallium will melt in your hand (you can buy a sample here)?
... a speck of scandium ("the first of the elements you've never heard of") added to aluminum creates a very strong alloy (like the kind used in the Louisville Slugger that was involved in a recent $850,000 lawsuit)? Books that reveal how truly weird our world is are always welcome in my home. This one's a gem.
Mark Frauenfelder is the founder of Boing Boing and the editor-in-chief of MAKE and Cool Tools. Twitter: @frauenfelder. Come and hear Mark speak at the ALA conference in Chicago on July 1.