review: wonderful life with the elements
Okay, chemistry students (and fans), what if you took every element in the Periodic Table of Elements and changed them into an illustrated character? Or better yet: What if you changed every element into an illustrated character where each thing they looked like and wore — their faces, clothes, hair, everything — helped you remember the different
qualities of each element?
Well, that would be really fun. Especially in lieu of, you know, just dragging yourself through a textbook. Plus, waaaaayyy easier to remember. And indeed, Bunpei Yorifuji’s book, Wonderful Life with the Elements, translated and beautifully bound by No Starch Press, does both things exceedingly well. With clever descriptions of each element’s properties and uses, along with fun line drawings of each element/character, this engaging book explains just about everything a chemist would need to know about each element, and other illustrated parts that describe how the different elements interact with one another. And there’s a bunch of funny stuff you don’t technically need to know, but will happily remember forever, anyway.
Especially for students who find chemistry a bit dry, or for any/all visual learners, Wonderful Life with the Elements is a godsend. Of course, fans of modern/punk art, Japanese illustration, and (you guessed it) chemists, would really enjoy this book also. It comes with a tear-out poster of the Table/characters as well, for easy access/memorization/lulz, too.
A word of (low-level) caution: As each of the little male elements are explained and illustrated, when the “clothing” aspects aren’t involved, well, there are no clothes. So, you know, if the idea of little number three’s, or vague parentheses, in certain areas of the anatomy sounds too risque, then Wonderful Life with the Elements probably is not the book for you. As for everybody else… cute and memorable periodic table learning ahead!
I sure wish they’d had this book when I took chemistry! And by the way, did you know sulfur is an antibiotic? Or that tungsten has the highest melting point of any element? Or that the word, “cobalt,” comes from the German word for “Goblin?” Or that today’s Internet wouldn’t be possible without the element, erbium. Me either. I mean, I’m relatively certain that I’ve never even heard the word “erbium” before. But after reading the delightful Wonderful Life with the Elements, I will never forget it.