Saturday, March 16, 2013

The Elements: Building Blocks of the Universe


The Elements:  The Building Blocks of the Universe
by Dan Green
Scholastic, 2012.  108 pgs. Nonfiction

     With an attractive, colorful cover and an even more exciting interior, Dan Green's book about the elements is a mouthwatering blend of basic scientific fact (atomic weight, placement in the periodic table, etc.) and unusual, even bizarre facts.  Did you know, for instance, that 182,373 tons of gold is all that has ever been discovered, and that a thin coating of gold on astronauts' visors protects them from infrared radiation? Elements are grouped according to their properties; e.g., Rare earth metals, Noble gases, etc., and each page has eye-catching, often dramatic pictures of elemental forces in action, such as the explosion of the Hindenburg, the fiery reaction of sodium and water, the smelting of iron ore. For kids already interested in the natural world, chemistry, physics, explosions, poison, enormous structures, and why onions make us cry (sulfur compounds released by cutting), this book will be hog heaven.  For those not yet interested, it should be a major league kick starter.

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