Sunday, June 26, 2005

A lovely book about... Chemistry?

While browsing at Borders this weekend, I found this beautiful book about chemistry.

I enjoyed my high school chemistry class partly because I enjoyed the subject and partly because it was taught by the best teacher in the whole school, Patsy Mueller. Despite this, I never took another chemistry class. I never tried to avoid it, it was just never in the syllabus. Consequently, I know embarrassingly little about chemistry.

Peter Atkins' book is 244 beautiful, glossy pages. It's easy to read, even for non-chemists. Each molecule is diagrammed, described, and related in structure to other molecules:
FORMALDEHYDE CH2O
We can think of the formaldehyde molecule as being obtained by removing two hydrogen atoms from a methanol molecule - one from the carbon atom and one from the oxygen atom. That is, in fact, the origin of the name
aldehyde (from alcohol dehydrogenated) given to compounds like formaldehyde that contain the group -CHO.
And that's just the first two sentences about formaldehyde! Each molecule gets anywhere from a paragraph to several pages of explanation, and there are many full-color photos of compounds in actions.

This book is educational and fun to read. It's also something that can be enjoyed a molecule at a time. As of today, I'm putting myself on the molecule-a-day plan.

1 comment:

Mark J Musante said...

Ha - nice diet plan.

OK, I'll have to check this out now.