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Nature's Building Blocks : An A-Z Guide to the Elements Audio Download – Unabridged

4.8 out of 5 stars 36 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Audio Download
  • Listening Length: 25 hours and 19 minutes
  • Program Type: Audiobook
  • Version: Unabridged
  • Publisher: Audible Studios
  • Audible.co.uk Release Date: 22 May 2013
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00CXUI9XU
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank:

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Natures Building Blocks: An A-Z Guide To The Elements, is an outstanding book, and quite possibly the greatest science book I've ever read. It is filled with countless fascinating facts, such as why an octopus has blue blood and why some people can consume more than twice the lethal dose of Arsenic and live. It really is an excellent reference book for anyone interested in chemistry, biology, nutrition, medicine, or history, and you'll find yourself going back to it time and time again. It does get `slightly' scientific in places such as when it starts to talk about the various isotopes of an element, so some basic knowledge of chemistry is recommended. But it is not overly technical so it's not essential. The sections I enjoyed the most were the `medical elements' which I found extremely interesting. The book is very well structured and easy to follow. This is the kind of book that makes you feel smarter, a true joy to read and I recommend to all. No one could possibly be disappointed.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I read this book like a novel. It describes all the elements, in alphabetical order, with the history of their discovery, their economic use, their role in animals, the environment, and medicine, and their chemisty. I particularly enjoyed the "Element of surprise" section. There is also a short but fascinating description of the history of the discovery of the Periodic Table. This book can probably be enjoyed by someone without any scientific background whatsoever.
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Format: Paperback
Anyone from a chemistry geek (ie, me) to a person just curious about the world around them would find something to enjoy in this encyclopedic exploration of all the elements, natural and manmade. Even the rarest elements have a detailed entry, explaining their role in the environment, society, and an interesting fact. The "Element of Surprise" fact is perhaps the best treat of the book, showing an unexpected side to each atom. Along the way, a firm grounding in the history of chemistry, scientific measurements, and particle physics is given in easily accessed language. A perfect reference book to enjoy and then trot out when a lull in conversation demands an obscure anecdote about magnesium.
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Format: Paperback
When I first bought this book, I was a little sceptical. Was I really going to find the courage of reading through all the elements of the periodic table, including Hafnium and Niobium? And even if I did, was I going to enjoy it? Well, thanks to the talent of John Emsley, the answer is yes. Sure enough, you can't beat the old good elements like Iron, Gold, Oxygen and Carbon, and, yes, I did struggle with the like of Dubnium, Hassium and Meitnerium, but altogether, the book reads like a novel. The author manages to stir our interest with surprising anecdotes about the elements (see "element of surprise"). Interestingly, the nuclear origin of the elements is also discussed: Three elements were made in the "big bang", light elements up to Iron were made by stars such as the sun, and heavier elements were made by larger stars and supernovae. A very rich book indeed with many different topics for everyone's taste.
An idea for the next edition: A miniature version of the periodic table showing the position of the element in question would be greatly appreciated; this would avoid the tedious task of referring to the back pages and would help with the learning process.
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By A Customer on 5 Dec. 2001
Format: Hardcover
I am a student studying A-Level Chemistry and this was bought as a gift for me by my former Chemistry teacher. As I am particularly fascinated by the elements, I loved all of this book! It is as it says; easy to read, whether you are knowledgeable on Chemistry or not.
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By Sir Barnabas VINE VOICE on 30 Jun. 2007
Format: Paperback
Its been pretty thoroughly reviewed already but essentially the author takes each of the first 100 elements (those with an atomic number over 100 are lumped together in a chapter of their own) and details such things as its chemical properties, how it acquired its name and a history of its discovery, how the element is produced within stars, its role in human biology, any nutritional role, medicinal uses, military uses, its economic importance, environmental impact as well as any unusual or curious trivia e.g. Antimony pills being sold as re-usable laxatives in the middle ages!

There are also appendices on the periodic table, its development, basic atomic structure and a chronology of the discovery of the elements.

It actually makes very interesting reading and is one of those books that is equally good as a basic work of reference but can also be picked up and dipped into at any time. A welcome addition to my bookshelf!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As a chemistry teacher, this book is quite simply excellent. Whatever element you need to know about, its here - and not just boring facts. Its written in a style that draws you in - and before you know it, you have looked up 3 or 4 more elements just out of interest. Well worth the money - a great book to dip in and out of.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Fastidiously, expertly and with affection, John Emsley has compiled a factual bible that is just about as wonderful as it can be. If you seek every forensic detail of relevance about each remarkable element in our world (present yet usually disguised or elusive) then this is your one-stop-shop. It matters not that there is an absence of images and very few illustrations or graphics because the written descriptions are generally precise and imaginative while the tables are educational gems.

There are only two tiny misgivings for me: knowledge of these pure lumps, pools and puffs of matter must always include physical or sensory experience wherever possible. In most cases the Author writes about such aspects but in a scattered and occasionally deficient way.

For example, he mentions the bluish tinge of Chromium or Zinc but omits this observation in the case of the equally beautiful Osmium, Vanadium or even Gallium (greenish blue) and what about the greenish gold suffusion in most of the rare earth metals (with some notable exceptions)? Comparisons between pure and minimally tarnished metal samples reveal a subtle but extensive range of hues. Compared to the neutral shine of Aluminium: Tin and even Silver are noticeably more yellow.

Odours, particularly of gases but also solid or liquid elements, would be worth examining and placing in context; even if there is a familiarity - as in the Halogens. Ozone also has a characteristic smell; presumably that (not fluorides) is what we detect in treated mains water. I draw a line before taste and touch, unless common perceptions are accessible.
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