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  • Published: 18 May 2021
  • ISBN: 9781718501225
  • Imprint: No Starch
  • Format: Hardback
  • Pages: 64
  • RRP: $29.99

Carbon

One Atom's Odyssey



An illustrated history of a single atom of carbon, tracing its many manifestations from the Big Bang to the present.

A richly illustrated history of a single atom of carbon, tracing its many manifestations from the Big Bang to the present.

Carbon: One Atom's Odyssey is an illustrated adaptation of 'Carbon,' a short story from Italian chemist, writer, and Auschwitz survivor Primo Levi. It traces the life story and many molecular manifestations of a single atom of this life-essential element.

You'll follow one atom from its spectacular birth 14 billion years ago through its harrowing journey on planet earth where it has become a basic building block of nearly 10 million known compounds in living things. You’ll learn that carbon:


• Is breathed in by the Peregrine Falcon
• Helps trees grow strong and tall
• Lets a moth's eye make sense of light
• Is found in your pencil as well as in your liver
• And even helps convert grapes into wine

In this wondrous graphic journey, clever narrative and detailed art help bring to life the natural world and teach you a thing or two about how it was created. For anyone with a general interest in chemistry, physics, and the science of the universe, this beautiful book will both educate and inspire. If you’re ready for a STEAM adventure, then let the journey begin!

  • Published: 18 May 2021
  • ISBN: 9781718501225
  • Imprint: No Starch
  • Format: Hardback
  • Pages: 64
  • RRP: $29.99

Praise for Carbon

“Carbon is one of those rare works that vividly conveys the wonder and excitement of scientific understanding. By combining stunning drawings with thoughtful meditations on one of life's central elements, John Barnett brings to life the many-layered way we think and learn about the natural world.”  —Sean Carroll, author of Something Deeply Hidden: Quantum Worlds and the Emergence of Spacetime “This gorgeous tribute to the element carbon, the chemical backbone of life on Earth, will remind you of all the ways that chemistry itself is beautiful, fundamental, and even (I say) just plain cool.”  —Deborah Blum, author of The Poisoner's Handbook: Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine in Jazz Age New York “A tribute to Primo Levi as much as it is to the remarkable carbon atom. For to John, as to many others, chancing upon 'The Periodic Table' was transformative. The images you see testify to how different the world becomes after that book finds its way into our imagination. . . . Here John Barnett invites us to follow the atom in its wondrous graphic journey.”  —Roald Hoffmann, Nobel Laureate in Chemistry (from the foreword) “Engrossing—a biography of one of the most important subjects on earth (and everywhere else).” —Bill McKibben, author of The End of Nature “A delightfully imaginative story of the whole wide universe and the mysterious connectedness of every little thing in it, including you and me. Barnett explores the magical continuity—the ebb and flow—of all matter with vivid intimacy and quirky humor, and his gorgeous hand-drawn illustrations will absolutely stun you. . . . I'll be urging this superb book on anyone I know at all interested in nature, art, and humanity.” —Rosemary Mahoney, author of Down the Nile and For the Benefit of Those Who See “John Barnett's book is artful chemistry: out of the movements of atoms, he creates poetry. Prepare for a brainy—and beautifully illustrated—intellectual adventure!” George Zaidan, executive producer at The American Chemical Society, author of Ingredients “Fans of Primo Levi’s The Periodic Table will love John Barnett’s exquisitely illustrated and poetic homage to Levi and carbon-based lifeforms. Carbon is a whimsical, heartfelt and profound meditation on the transitory nature of the element that makes life possible.” —Anil Ananthaswamy, Knight Science Journalism Fellow 2019-20, MIT, author of The Edge of Physics, The Man Who Wasn't There, and Through Two Doors at Once “The mesmerizing drawings driving the narrative of John Barnett’s Carbon constitute an insightful and personal tribute to Primo Levi. This small volume is a magnificent example of the power of Levi’s work to ignite our imagination.” —Alessandro Cassin, Director of Publishing, Centro Primo Levi NY “Barnett's lovely Carbon is enchanted, akin of Primo Levi.” —Dudley Herschbach, Professor Emeritus at Harvard University and 1983 Nobel Laureate in Chemistry "Charming and captivating - I love this book. The story of a transformative planetary element, told in delightful narrative with vivid drawn scenes, produced - how wonderfully - with the same heroic carbon that gives us life. John Barnett has succeeded in making the ordinary extraordinary, and there can be no better tribute to Primo Levi." —Gaia Vince, science journalist and author of Adventures in the Anthropocene (Winner of Royal Society Winton Prize for Science Books)

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