Sunday, January 18, 2015

Book Review: Molecules- The Elements and the Architecture of Everything- Theodore Gray

Molecules: The Elements and the Architecture of EverythingMolecules: The Elements and the Architecture of Everything by Theodore Gray
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I've known about Theodore Gray for a long while. I've been a fan of him, his periodic table, and his webpage since I stumbled across it my first year teaching. I read the entirety of his webpage before he made his now famous poster or acquired the modern incarnation of his webpage based off it. I subscribed to Popular Science magazine solely because he wrote a monthly article for them at the time. I didn't mind cancelling the subscription either after I confirmed that he had stopped writing for them. Ten members of the Class of 2011 purchased the big version of his poster for me when they were freshmen as a Christmas gift. It hangs prominently in my classroom. I have been a fan for a while and so when his The Elements: A Visual Exploration of Every Known Atom in the Universe book came out I purchased it and read it cover to cover. I've looked at his Mad Science & Mad Science 2 books, but since they were just reprints of his Popular Science articles I decided not to purchase them. I'll admit that I haven't bought a lot of the ancillary merchandise nor did I buy the app , although I did snag it up when it became free.
So I was excited to learn that Theo was doing a sequel to The Elements. Again I have not purchased the app and I waited until I received the book as a Christmas gift to read it. I read it all the way through in about two days. I was not as visually appealing as The Elements, but there was still a lot that I learned from it. Theodore Gray even made fun of the book himself several times as he commented that it was difficult to find ways to make piles of white powder interesting. There were times where I wished the book spent more time on one [pigments] topic or less on others [fibers]. As much as I liked to molecular representation of molecules there were times where the differences only come out in 3-dimensions, and although I appreciate the consistency of format there were other times where it was broken to show complicated molecules and I wish the same had been done on these exceptions.
I was also excited to hear in a talk that he gave at Google that there will be a third in the future that will focus on Reactions. The first was certainly better, but I liked this book a lot and am glad to have it as a reference.

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