Newscripts: Live And In Color March 27, 2007Posted by lisajarvis in General.
Back in October, Newscripts ran an item about Theodore W. Gray’s beautifully constructed periodic table, which uses real samples to bring every element of the table to life. We at the magazine came to life here in Chicago when Gray brought his wares to the exhibition center—posters, place mats, individual element samples, and, most important, the live version of his table.
I had to elbow my way through a mob of people to reach it, but I managed to get up close and personal with the live version of “The Elements.” It lived up to the hype. The posters are probably more in my price range, but it would be pretty cool—inspirational even—to have the 10-foot glass-and-wood version mounted in my office. Bosses, take note. We may need to make some adjustments to the budget for next year.
Gray says for about two or three weeks after Newscripts ran, the site enjoyed “unusually good” sales. This is his first time at the ACS meeting, which Gray readily admits is his target audience. And if his constantly packed booth is any indication of how business is going, it seems like the three-hour drive from Gray’s base in Champaign, Ill., was well worth it.
Gray is discovering that all this publicity—C&EN, local papers, and even Popular Science have written about “The Elements”—can bring some unconventional science enthusiasts out of the woodwork.
Last November, Popular Science—Gray is also a contributor to the magazine—ran a three-page tear-out of “The Elements.” The sheet includes Gray’s mailing address, rather than a Web address, on the bottom as a means for readers to get more information about his wares. He has since received a flood of letters from prisoners, many of whom have requested he send them more information about elements.
Though that may not have been the response Gray expected, he felt compelled to respond to their interest in science. The end result, he jokes, is the “Books for Prisoners” charity, which is really just Gray sending the inmates books about science. They get one of three books: “Nature’s Building Blocks: An A to Z Guide to the Elements,” by John Emsley, “Uncle Tungsten: Memories of a Chemical Boyhood,” by Oliver Sacks, or “The Periodic Table,” by Primo Levi. So far, the charity has run him about $600 in books, which is all covered by the swell of sales in his periodic table.
Clearly, the beauty of the elements is spreading.