The Illustrated Encyclopedia of the Elements
Author: Lisa Congdon
Publisher: Chronicle Books
Publish Date: July 13, 2021
File Type: Epub
When I was a little girl, I would sit at the kitchen table and watch my father work. After dinner he would write equations on graph paper. I knew he was a scientist, but the exquisite handwritten equations were all I knew about what my father did in his career as a physicist. At that time, I was intrigued, but science seemed mysterious and complicated to me. It wasn’t until I became an elementary school teacher in my early twenties and began teaching various science subjects to my students that science came to life for me. I loved learning with my students about the elements that make up the universe. Years later, I am no longer a teacher, but a professional artist, and making this book is a way for me to use my interest in science and my love for drawing pictures to bring the elements of the periodic table to life for kids and adults alike. Both art and science are enormously creative fields. Both require openness to innovation and rigorous discipline. Both force us to experiment with our ideas in the zone where our minds and hands come together. Artists and scientists dive deep into their subject matter and study things, such as people, culture, history, religion, and mythology. From these investigations, we have the opportunity to transform information into something new.
The periodic table is a catalog of everything tangible in our world. Everything we touch, eat, drink, and breathe is made up of the elements. Some elements are so common that they are part of our everyday vocabulary, such as oxygen, aluminum, and silver. Conversely, some elements, such as yttrium, antimony, and moscovium, are so obscure that their names and uses are unknown to many of us.
At first glance, the periodic table of elements might look like a boring, uninspiring chart. And if you look at it simply as a series of boxes, it will be pretty boring. However, if you dive into the table, you will begin to understand that it is not boring at all, nor is it mysterious or random, as I once thought. It is a chart that is organized by predictable truths about the way everything on Earth is built, starting with tiny atoms and even tinier protons, neutrons, and electrons.
With a few exceptions, nearly every element on the periodic table has a purpose in our world. Even some of the most poisonous or dangerous elements have compelling roles in our lives. Some elements keep our bodies working efficiently. Others kill deadly cancer cells and help us detect harmful diseases. Still others are mined from rocks for bridges, buildings, and airplanes. We are constantly finding new ways to use the elements in technology, health care, and the generation of energy to fuel our world.
If you are a person who likes to ask why and how, you might already be a scientist. In this book, I will introduce you to the dynamic and fascinating elements, the roles they play in our lives, and how they function in the world, as well as some of the compelling stories about the people who discovered them. Dmitri Mendeleev, the guy who organized the periodic table back in 1869, was a curious young person, just like you! Every discovery starts with curiosity.
|August 24, 2022
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