Lost in Translation

Sam Kean wrote a book about the periodic table of elements called The Disappearing Spoon. When the Chinese edition came out, he was surprised by the cover art, which included some element icons that were sexually suggestive and others that didn't make any sense whatsoever. Only a portion of the cover is shown here. He contacted the jacket designer, Bianco Tsai, who explained the thinking behind her choices for the illustration.
In the end, Tsai said, "I have to built a bridge to connect our culture to your book!" I still think her cover looks sharp, and if Tsai says that it bridges my book to Chinese culture, I believe her. If so, though, it's a one-way bridge. Trying to decipher the cover still leads to an uncanny feeling for me. Something I'd labored over for years, and written and rewritten until I'd practically memorized it, had became alien. It's what those poor characters in neurologist Oliver Sacks' books must feel like when they suddenly have a stroke or something and can't recognize their own faces in the mirror. It was yet another reminder that although the periodic table is universal, people's reactions to it are anything but.

Read the reasons behind the element icons and see if they make sense to you, at Slate. Link -via Buzzfeed

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