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Wonderful Life with the Elements

The following is a review of Wonderful
Life with the Elements: The Periodic Table Personified
We’re giving away a free copy of this book – read on for details.

Remember dozing off in high school chemistry class? If you think that
the Periodic Table of Elements is merely a boring compilation of chemical
elements, you haven’t read this book by Japanese artist Bunpei Yorifuji.

Bunpei’s introduction to chemical elements wasn’t a particularly good
one. When he was an art student, he heard that inhaling helium could raise
the pitch of his voice. So he decided to inhale the gas not from helium
balloons, which contain small amount of gas, but from helium canisters:


So I exhaled with all my might, opened one of the canisters, and filled
my lungs with as much helium as I could. And everything just went black.
I tried to breathe, but all I could really do was gasp, as no air would
grace my lungs. I could feel the warmth leaving my body as I started
to lose consciousness. It was only after this experience that I learned
that inhaling pure helium can lead to suffocation and death.

Since I was all alone in the lab, I decided it might be a good idea
to call out for help.

IN SUPER SOPRANO: "help meee …"

But that voice! Inhaling helium is dangerous in more than one way.
The first is that it suffocates you, and the second is that even if
you call for help, your cries will probably be dismissed as a bad practical

We’re surrounded with chemical compounds and elements – but how much
do we really know about them? As Bunpei’s experience tells us, it’s probably
a good idea to know something about the elements.

In Wonderful
Life with the Elements
, Bunpei draws every chemical element as
a unique character whose properties are represented visually. Heavy elements
are fat and man-made elements are robots. Even their hairstyles mean something:
plain and boring alkali earth metals sport pudding bowl cuts, the noble
gases have too-cool afros, and the rare lanthanides have astro hair.

Every detail is meticulously drawn: elements that have been known since
ancient times have long beards whereas newly discovered ones have pacifiers.
Even the clothes on the element’s back signify its use by mankind.

(Click to embiggen)

Take a look at more from the book:

We’re giving away one copy of Bunpei’s awesome book to a lucky commenter – Tell us which chemical element is your favorite and why.


From the brilliant mind of Japanese artist Bunpei Yorifuji comes Wonderful Life with the Elements, an illustrated guide to the periodic table
that gives chemistry a friendly face.

Why bother trudging through a traditional periodic table? In this periodic
paradise, the elements are people too. And once you’ve met them, you’ll
never forget them.

About the Artist
Born in 1973 in Nagano, Japan, Bunpei Yorifuji is a Musashino Art University
dropout. His other books include The Catalog of Death (Shi ni Katarogu)
and The Scale of Mind (Suuji no Monosashi). He has also co-authored
Uncocoro and The Earthquake Checklist (Jishin Itsumonooto),
among others. Find out more about Bunpei and his works at his website.

Wonderful Life with the Elements is published by No Starch Press
and is available from Amazon and at bookstores near you.

Authors and publishers: Want to feature your book
in front of millions of readers for free? Email info AT neatorama DOT
com for details on Neatorama’s Book Excerpt feature.

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October 22nd, 2012

Stranger to the World


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