The Chemical Educator, Vol. 9, No.3, Media Reviews, © 2004 The Chemical Educator


Media Review

Fritz Haber: Chemist, Nobel Laureate, German, Jew. By Dietrich Stoltzenberg. Chemical Heritage Press: Philadelphia, PA, 2004. Illustrations, xxv + 326 pp, hardbound, 15.8 ´ 23.4 cm. $40.00. ISBN 0-941901-24-6.

It is surprising that until a decade ago there was no adequate book-length biography of the chemist called “the greatest authority in the world on the relations between scientific research and industry” by John Desmond Bernal, the late crystallographer and historian of science. Morris Goran’s short book [1] was characterized by Haber’s friends and relatives as “often not very true.” Furthermore, Hermann Heinz Wille’s book, Der Januskopfe [2], is a novel rather than a biography, while Haber’s second wife Charlotte’s memoir, Mein Leben mit Fritz Haber [3], not only lacks historical context but also neglects his scientific contributions.

On the occasion of the 60th anniversary of his death, Haber found his ideal biographer in Dietrich Stoltzenberg, who possessed impeccable credentials for the task, to which he dedicated himself after presenting a paper on Haber at a seminar on the social responsibility of the scientist held by the Institut für die Geschichte der Naturwissenschaften und Technik at the Universität Hamburg. Now, a decade later, the long-awaited felicitous English translation of Stoltzenberg’s massive (xiv + 669 pp), comprehensive, and critically acclaimed biography, Fritz Haber: Chemiker, Nobelpreisträger, Deutscher, Jude [4],has finally appeared.

Stoltzenburg was born in 1926 as the son of manufacturer and chemist Hugo Stoltzenberg, who worked with Haber during World War I through 1920, and his wife, Margarethe (née Bergius), also a chemist and the sister of 1931 Nobel chemistry laureate Fritz Bergius, who was a colleague and former student of Haber’s. Therefore from his earliest youth he was familiar with Haber’s life and achievements. He is also an eminent industrial chemist, who received his doctorate in 1958 from the Technische Hochschule Karlsruhe for research on cyclic hydroperoxides and azohydroperoxides carried out under Rudolf Criegee’s supervision. Among his industrial positions, he was employed by Phoenix-Gummiwerke and Unilever in research, development, and production, and since his retirement in 1984, he has worked for various firms as a consultant on environmental issues. As a member of the Gesellschaft Deutscher Chemiker’s history of chemistry interest group and winner of this society’s Author’s Prize, he has published a number of articles on various topics in the history of 20th-century chemistry.

For his biography of Haber, a brilliant and ingenious chemist and industrialist but deeply flawed human being, who has been both revered and reviled, Stoltzenberg devoted eight years of research in archives, institutes, and libraries in Germany, England, Israel, and the United States, and he utilizes the primary and secondary literature, documents, and letters that have been either long-neglected or inaccessible as well as interviews with knowledgeable persons. He made extensive use of the Johannes Jaenicke Collection in the archives of the Max-Planck-Gesellschaft in Berlin-Dahlem. Jaenicke had been Haber’s assistant in Haber’s Kaiser-Wilhelm-Institut für Physikalische Chemie und Elektrochemie, and in the early 1950s Haber’s family and some of his former colleagues asked him to write a biography. Although Jaenicke collected many documents and had numerous discussions with Haber’s colleagues, friends, and relatives during the next two decades, he was unable to write the biography, and in Stoltzenberg’s words, “my work constitutes a lasting memorial to him” (p xviii).

According to Haber’s son by his second wife Charlotte Nathan, Lutz (Ludwig-Fritz) Haber, a historian of chemistry [5], who wrote the preface for both the German and English versions, Stoltzenberg’s book

describes not only the scientific and academic sides of my father, but it also comments upon the personal and ethical problems of a chemist in war and peace in order to give a fully developed and fair picture of the man (German version, p vii).

In 1996 the Chemical Heritage Foundation decided to publish an English translation of Stoltzenberg’s original German text, and the American Chemical Society Books Department later agreed to include it in the Modern Chemical Sciences Series—a joint ACS-CHF endeavor. The ACS discontinued its Books Department in 1998, soon after the English manuscript was completed, thus delaying the publication, which the CHF has finally accomplished.

Judicious deletion and abridgement of the German version (xiv + 669 pp), especially of chemical equations, reaction schemes, tables, and the references, which appear as endnotes concluding the chapters, has resulted in a book about half as long (xxv + 326 pp) that, while still retaining the essential features of the original work, should be more accessible to the lay reader. The number of illustrations (formal and informal portraits, drawings, a family tree dating back to about 1819, a map, title pages, documents, factories, apparatus, a bust, gravestone, etc.) has been reduced from 93 to 52, and the original name (11 double-column pages) and subject (7 double-column pages) indices have been reduced to a single 14 double-column-page index.

Stoltzenberg meticulously chronicles virtually every aspect of the 66-year-long series of triumphs and tragedies that constitute the life of the gifted, multifaceted, imaginative, and complex Haber. The topical rather than strictly chronological arrangement of the text has been retained. In the summary below, which gives some idea of the extent of the abridgements and where they occur, the number of pages in the English translation are followed by the number of pages in the German version (The comparison is not an exact one because the number and placement of the illustrations is different in the two books.).

Chapter 1, “Forebears” (7 pp, the shortest chapter; 9 pp), traces the Habers, a family name common among Eastern European Jews in the Polish region, from Pinkus Selig Haber, Fritz’s great-grandfather and the first named forefather in Fritz Haber’s family tree (p 2). Chapter 2, “Childhood and Youth” (14 pp; 19 pp), sketches Fritz Haber’s early years from his birth on December 9, 1868 in Breslau, Germany (now Wroclaw, Poland) as the oldest son of Siegfried Haber, a chemical and dye manufacturer, and his wife and first cousin, Paula, who died three weeks after Fritz’s birth, for which his father apparently held him responsible, through his receipt of his doctorate, under Carl Liebermann, from the Universität Berlin.

From Chapter 3, “Years of Study and Travel” (9 pp; 10 pp), we learn that Haber worked for short periods at three different factories to gain industrial experience, studied chemical technology under Georg Lunge at the Eidgenössisches Polytechnikum (Now the ETH) in Zürich, followed by research under Ludwig Knorr at the Universität Jena. He became disenchanted with what he considered the noncreative routine of organic chemistry. Chapter 4, “The Glorious Years in Karlsruhe” (38 pp; 83 pp), chronicles Haber’s years and his research at the Technische Hochschule Karlsruhe from his positions as Hans Bunte’s Assistent (1894–1896), Privat-Dozent (unsalaried lecturer) (1896-1898), ausserordentlicher Professor (1898–1906) and ordentlicher Professor of Physical Chemistry and Electrochemistry (1906–1911).

Chapter 5, “Nitrogen Fixation” (30 pp; 65 pp), discusses the state of the art at the turn of the 20th century, Haber’s contributions to the field, his patents, Carl Bosch’s contributions to scaling up the ammonia synthesis, and the latest successes of the Haber–Bosch process. Chapter 6, “Establishing the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute in Berlin” (13 pp; 24 pp), chronicles Haber’s rise to the position of Direktor (1911) of the newly established Kaiser-Wilhelm-Institut für Physikalische Chemie und Elektrochemie, the finest laboratory of its kind in the world; the building of the institute; its opening; and its first publications.

Chapter 7, “World War I” (34 pp; 103 pp, the longest chapter), describes the background of the conflict, Haber’s efforts to place science and the economy on a wartime footing, his role in both defensive and offensive chemical warfare, his supplying of nitrogen compounds for explosives and fertilizers, and Germany’s final defeat. His most famous—or infamous—war work was the development of chlorine as a war gas, first used on April 15, 1915 near Ypres, Belgium under his personal direction in an unsuccessful attempt to break the deadlock of trench warfare on the Western Front, which made him one of the world’s most hated persons [5]. Chapter 8, “Haber’s Research on Chemical Warfare after World War I” (13 pp; 24 pp), describes Haber’s participation in the secret preparation of chemical weapons, which he considered no more inhumane than other modern methods of warfare, from 1919 to 1933. Ironically, Zyklon B, one of the gases developed in his institute around 1920, was later used to murder concentration camp prisoners, including members of his own family.

Chapter 9, “Family and Friends” (41 pp, the longest chapter; 76 pp), recounts his marriage with Clara Immerwahr, the first woman to receive her doctorate at the Universität Breslau, whom he wed in 1901 [6]; his relationship with their son Hermann (b. 1902); Clara’s suicide in 1915 after Haber refused to abandon his gas warfare work; his marriage on October 25, 1917 to Charlotte Nathan, a young woman only slightly more than half his age, who divorced him in 1927; and his relations with their children, Eva (b. 1918) and Ludwig-Fritz (Lutz) (b. 1921), as well as with friends and colleagues such as Rudolf Stern, Albert Einstein, Richard Willstätter, and Carl Bosch.

Chapter 10, “The Nobel Prize and Succession to Emil Fischer’s Position” (8 pp; 10 pp), reports on the circumstances of the awarding in 1919 of the 1918 prize in chemistry to Haber “for the synthesis of ammonia from its elements,” a most controversial choice in view of the Allies’ listing him as a war criminal. Å. G. Ekstrand’s presentation address detailed the use of the synthesis for the manufacture of agricultural fertilizers but did not mention its use for the preparation of explosives, which permitted Germany to prolong World War I despite the British blockade. In 1920 Haber became Emil Fischer’s successor at the Universität Berlin.

Chapter 11, “Haber’s Institute and Scientific Work from 1919 to 1933” (32 pp; 88 pp), describes Haber’s unsuccessful attempts to extract gold from seawater to help repay Weimar Germany’s war reparations. Like many German Jews, Haber, who had converted to Protestantism during his twenties, went to great lengths to prove his patriotism to the Fatherland.

Chapter 12, “Haber’s Promotion of the Sciences, 1920–1933” (16 pp; 45 pp), discusses his contributions to science education, scientific research, and science policy as well as his attempts to reconnect German science and scientists to their colleagues in other countries in the post-World War I period.

Chapter 13, “Emigration and Death” (27 pp; 64 pp), describes Haber’s problems after Adolf Hitler’s rise to power resulting in his decision to resign his position on May 2, 1933, his last years at the institute, his sojourn at Cambridge University, his relations with Chaim Weizmann’s Palestine Project, and his final illness (heart attacks). He died in self-imposed exile on January 29, 1934 in Basel, Switzerland, was cremated, and his ashes were interred with those of his first wife Clara’s ashes.

Chapter 14, “Epilogue” (8 pp; 9 pp, the shortest chapter), discusses the obituaries, funeral and memorial addresses, and naming of Haber’s institute as the Fritz-Haber-Institut of the Max-Planck-Gesellschaft, which retains its high rank in the scientific world. According to British chemist J. E. Coates [7],

All who knew him will remember with lasting affection the man who enriched their lives. He will live on as a great chemist and will be honored for his services to humanity. He deeply wished to be remembered as someone who served his country in war and peace (p 310).

Since Stoltzenberg’s German biography was published, three books about Haber or aspects of his work have appeared: an account of his efforts to extract gold from sea water [8]; the Haber–Bosch process and its consequences [9]; and a lengthy (928 pp) biography by Margit Szöllösi-Janze, Professor of European History at the Universität Köln, which has not yet been translated into English [10].

Stoltzenberg’s book, in its newer version, remains the only authoritative, comprehensive, balanced, full-length biography of Haber for English-reading chemists. In accordance with its subtitle, it emphasizes his roles as chemist, Nobel laureate, German, and Jew. In the words of its author,

For those of us living at the turn of the twentieth century, the life and achievements of Fritz Haber in his time constitute a paradigm worth considering, for its negative as well as its positive aspects, and a spur to us to reflect on our own achievements and aspirations (p xxiii).

It is a sine qua non for chemists, historians, scientists, science policy makers, and anyone interested in German history during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

References and Notes

1.       Goran, M. The Story of Fritz Haber; University of Oklahoma: Norman, 1967.

2.       Wille, H. H. Der Januskopfe: Leben und Wirken des Physikochemikers und Nobelpreisträgers Fritz Haber; Buch Club 65: Berlin, 1970.

3.       Haber, C. Mein Leben mit Fritz Haber: Spiegelungen der Vergangenheit; Econ Publishers: Düsseldorf, 1970.

4.       Stoltzenberg, D. Fritz Haber: Chemiker, Nobelpreisträger, Deutscher, Jude; VCH: Weinheim, 1994. For a review see Kauffman, G. B. Ann. Sci. 1995, 52, 311–312.

5.       Lutz Haber was the author of The Poisonous Cloud: Chemical Warfare in the First World War; Oxford University Press: Oxford, 1986. In this book he relates how as late as 1968 two young men interrupted a ceremony at Karlsruhe commemorating the centenary of his father’s birth by unfurling a banner bearing the legend, “Celebration for a Murderer: Haber = Father of Gas Warfare.”

6.       For a biography of Clara see Leitner, G. von Der Fall Clara Immerwahr: Leben für eine humane Wissenschaft; Verlag C. H. Beck: Munich, 1993. For a review see Johnson, J. A. One Chemical Marriage. Chem. Heritage 1994 (Summer), 11 (2), 16–17.

7.       Coates, J. E. The Haber Memorial Lecture. Delivered before the Chemical Society on April 29th, 1937. J. Chem. Soc. 1937, 1642–1672.

8.       Hahn, R. Gold aus dem Meer: Die Forschungen des Nobelpreisträgers Fritz Haber in den Jahren 1922–1927; GNT Verlag: Diepholz, 1999. For a review see Stoltzenberg, D. Ambix 2002, 49, 83–84.

9.       Smil, V. Enriching the Earth: Fritz Haber, Carl Bosch, and the Transformation of World Food Production; MIT Press: Cambridge, MA, 2001. For reviews see Hollinshed, W. C. Fertilizer for Life. Chem. Eng. News 2001 (August 20), 79 (34), 61–62 and Stranges, A. N. Isis 2002, 93, 329–330.

10.     Szöllösi-Janze, M. Fritz Haber 18681934: Eine Biographie; Verlag C. H. Beck: Munich, 1998. For a review see Reinhardt, C. Ambix 2002, 49, 82–83.

George B. Kauffman

California State University, Fresno,

S1430-4171(04)03788-2, 10.1333/s00897040788a

Favorite Demonstrations for College Science. Edited by Brian R. Shmaefsky. An NSTA Press Journals Collection, NSTA Press: Arlington, VA, 2004. Illustrations, figures, tables. xvi + 175 pp, paperback, 21.2 ´ 27.5 cm. $25.56, NSTA members; $31.95, non-members. To preview and order online, Item No. PB185X: To order by phone: 1 (800) 277-5300. ISBN 0-87355-242-3.


When former students visit me, the parts of my lectures that they invariably recall most vividly are my lecture demonstrations, usually the more spectacular ones, even though in some cases almost half a century has elapsed. Fortunately, for those of us who regularly employ demonstrations, various collections for this purpose have appeared during the last few years.

Brian R. Shmaefsky, Professor of Biology and Service Learning Coordinator at Kingwood College, Kingwood, TX since 1992, is also a freelance science writer and president of his own industrial and safety training consulting firm. He has also been Co-editor and then Editor of the popular “Favorite Demonstration” column in the National Science Teachers Association’s Journal of College Science Teaching for more than a decade. From this feature he has selected for a most useful and handy collection 36 of the peer-reviewed, classroom-tested demonstrations designed specifically for upper-level high school and introductory college science courses published between the March/April 1993 and September/October 2003 issues.

Each demonstration employs equipment, materials, and reagents currently available from scientific supply companies or local stores. Most are inexpensive, simple to perform, and require a minimum of classroom or lecture time. Some can be modified into student inquiry activities or laboratory sessions. Science educators can also adapt or modify them for specific instructional requirements. Many of the articles include sections on materials, construction of apparatus, procedures and alternative procedures, results, discussions, and conclusions as well as diagrams, figures, graphs, equations, and references, where appropriate.

Many topics dealt with in different science courses overlap. For example, general biology courses include chemistry needed to understand cell function, while biology, chemistry, and physics all require knowledge of thermodynamics. Accordingly, a 2-page “Discipline Cross-Reference Guide” lists the potential interdisciplinary use of all 36 demonstrations, using the symbols B (biology), C (chemistry), Es (earth sciences), Gs (general science), and P (physics).

A unique and convenient feature is the inclusion for all but one of the demos of “SciLinks: The World’s a Click Away,” which allows the instructor or student to avoid searching hundreds of science Web sites to locate the best sources of information on a given topic. In a SciLinked text, such as this collection, a logo and keyword is provided for a concept that is being studied, along with a URL ( and a keyword code, which give access to an annotated listing of as many as 15 Web pages, all of which have been extensively reviewed by a team of science educators. For further information about this feature log on to

The first two sections of the book are applicable to all science disciplines. First, safety considerations appear in a 1-page “Safety Guidelines for Conducting Demonstrations;” in the first article, “The Rules of Research: Keeping Your Favorite Demonstrations Safe” (3 pp), which includes a checklist to be completed before and after performing the demonstrations. Safety precautions also occur repeatedly throughout the volume and in most of the demonstration articles themselves. Even the information provided about the cover, which illustrates the classic Van de Graaff generator, stresses safety precautions, of which I unfortunately was previously unaware (The demonstration should be performed only on healthy volunteers who do not have any prosthesis that can be affected by the electric current, e.g., a pacemaker or other implanted device).

The second section, “General Science Principles,” consists of two demonstrations (4 pp). The third and fourth sections, “Natural Sciences” (13 demonstrations, 54 pp), and “Physical Sciences” (20 demonstrations, 80 pp), include demos that exhibit principles spanning the artificial delineations between the sciences. The demos were placed into categories based on where the concepts are commonly taught in introductory science courses. The reader can browse through both the third and fourth sections for demos that deal with topics taught in any science discipline. Thus, in the “Natural Sciences” section three demos might be of interest to chemical educators, viz., “Electrophoresis for under Five Dollars: How to Do It, Cheap and Easy,” “Demonstrating the ‘Greenhouse Effect’: Illustrating Variations on an Atmospheric Phenomenon,” and “An Interactive Classroom Method to Demonstrate DNA Structure: Teaching Polymerization by Real-Life Participation.”

The “Physical Sciences” section contains demonstrations that will be most valuable to instructors of chemistry, physics, and physical sciences courses:

·  “Chemistry at Work: Generating Electricity Using Single Displacement Reactions”

·  “Simple ‘Jack-in-the-Box’ Demonstrations for Physical Sciences Courses: Five Easy Demos”

·  “An Eye-Opening Demonstration—The Catalytic Decomposition of Hydrogen Peroxide: Enhancing a Chemistry Lecture with a Common Eye-Care Product”

·  “The Ammonia Lava Lamp: A Colorful Demonstration of Diffusion”

·  “Stopping a Siphon Action by Reduction of Atmospheric Pressure: Demonstrating Physics with a Simply Constructed Apparatus”

·  “The Remsen Demonstration: ‘Nitric Acid Acts upon Copper’—A Colorful Slice of Chemistry’s History”

·  “The Johnson DC Electric Motor Recipe: A New Twist to the Mystery of the Electric Motor”

·  “Sulfuric Acid: King of Chemicals—History, Chemistry, and Some Demonstrations of H2SO4

·  “A Colorful Demonstration of Le Châtelier’s Principle: Observing the Effect of Stress on a Solution Containing Iron(III) and Thiocyanate Ions”

·  “From Lodestone to Neodymium: Demonstrating Lenz’s Law—An Innovative Approach to Teaching Magnetic Properties”

·  “Visualizing Chemical Reactions with the Pop-It Bead Model: Modeling the Dynamic Nature of Chemical Equilibrium (Part One of Two Parts)”

·  “Demonstrating Chemical Processes with the Transfer-Tube Model: Modeling the Dynamic Nature of Chemical Equilibrium (Part Two of Two Parts)”

·  “Does Black Paint Radiate Heat Better Than White Paint? Demonstrating Differences in Emission of Infrared Radiation”

·  “Demonstrating Allotropic Modifications of Sulfur: Re-creating Io’s Volcanic Surface”

·  “Demonstrating a Thermodynamics Fountain: Heating up the Classroom with an Energy Transfer Exercise”

·  “The Conductivity of Solutions: Laying the Foundation of Modern Chemical Thought”

·  “La Fiesta Radioactiva: Distinguishing Alpha, Beta, and Gamma Emissions from Orange-Glazed Dinnerware”

·  “Demonstrating the Principles of Column Chromatography: An Easy Introduction to a Useful Analytic Technique”

·  “The Roles of Different Mobile Phases in Liquid Chromatography: A Moving Demonstration of Chemical Interactions”

·  “A Limiting Reactant Demonstration: Making a Stoichiometric Concept Visible for Beginning Students”

A list of the 45 contributors includes not only institutional affiliations but email addresses as well. Shmaefsky is the author of seven of the articles, two of which (pp 69–71; pp 165–167) are coauthored with his son Timothy (age 15) and daughter Kathleen (age 12). A convenient index (three triple-column pages) facilitates location of material.

According to Shmaefsky,

These demonstrations were selected for this compilation because they accurately convey scientific principles in a manner that kindles student inquiry. Many of them are useful as “attention grabbers” for science talks to young children and the public….They are part of an overall instructional strategy that convinces students to seek a complete understanding of scientific doctrine (p ix).

I am pleased to recommend this collection, which, in my opinion, successfully fulfills his intentions.

George B. Kauffman

California State University, Fresno,

S1430-4171(04)03789-1, 10.1333/s00897040789a

Primo Levi: A Life. By Ian Thomson. Hutchinson: London, 2002. £25.00; Metropolitan Books, Henry Holt & Co.: New York, 2003. Illustrations. xviii + 583 pp, hardbound, 16.5 ´ 24.1 cm. $32.50. ISBN 0-8050-7343-4.

As I pointed out in my recent review [1] of Carole Angier’s The Double Bond: Primo Levi, A Biography [2], most English-speaking chemists are probably familiar with the secular, assimilated Jewish-Italian chemist, prize-winning novelist, writer of short stories and memoirs, essayist, poet, science fiction writer (under the pseudonym “Damiano Malabaila”), translator of scientific texts and novels, journalist, Holocaust survivor, Italian literary legend and celebrity, and one of the most important 20th-century European writers through The Periodic Table, the 1984 English translation of Levi’s 1975 best seller, Il sistema periodica [3]. During the 1990s, four Levi biographies, one in English, were published, but in 2002 two lengthy biographies appeared: Angier’s massive (914 pp) volume and Ian Thomson’s Primo Levi, the products of eight and ten years of research and writing, respectively. The American edition of Thomson’s book appeared one year later.

Ian Thomson (b. 1961), a freelance journalist and writer based in London, is an authority on Italian literature who has translated the novels of Sicilian crime writer Leonardo Sciascia into English and is the author of Southern Italy and Bonjour Blanc; A Journey through Haiti, which have been highly praised in both Great Britain and the United States. His biography of Levi, reviewed here, was praised in Britain as “the best sort of history” and “a model of its kind,” and it won the 2003 Royal Society of Literature Heinemann Award and was shortlisted for the 2003 Jewish Quarterly Wingate Prize for Non-Fiction. Because the facts of Levi’s life and career as recounted in Angier’s and Thomson’s books are essentially the same—both authors discuss every aspect in incredible and exhaustive detail, and both reach similar conclusions—I refer the reader to my review [1] of Angier’s volume for these particulars, and I will concentrate on the differences and similarities between the two biographies.

Unlike Angier, Thomson actually interviewed Levi and was one of the last persons to do so [4]. Levi’s son, Renzo, met Thomson in Turin for apéritifs, and like his mother, Levi’s widow Lucia, and sister, Anna Maria, would not answer questions about Levi. However, he confirmed that while the family would not help Thomson, they would not hinder his research. Also, unlike Angier, Thomson had previously written a number of articles, reviews, and interviews with Levi’s acquaintances, correspondents, editors, and other Italian writers such as Italo Calvino, Natalia Ginzburg, Leonardo Sciascia, and Alberto Moravia. He also had extensive access to Levi’s papers and family members.

Another major difference from Angier, who meticulously integrated Levi’s life with his writings, interpreted his life from them, and quoted extensively from his work, is mentioned by Thomson in his preface:

From the start, I was determined to construct a life of Primo Levi not found in his books. It seems to me dishonest, as well as dangerous, to recast Levi’s printed words in a biography. Levi contrived some elaborate autobiographical fictions, and that is partly why he is such a difficult subject for a biographer. So I set out to interview as many people as possible; under no circumstances would I take Levi’s own words as gospel (p xv).

Thomson is also extremely cautious in uncritically accepting the testimony of the persons whom he interviewed:

Levi was noted for his determination to protect his privacy and for keeping secret what he wished to keep secret. He often surrounded himself with people who were not well known: they were factory-hands, wine producers, metalworkers. Most of them would enthusiastically respond to my requests for information. But in a few cases their memories of Levi proved to be uncertain, tainted by third-party reminiscences or just dimmed with the years. Unreliable sources were one of the many pitfalls that awaited me as Levi’s biographer (p xvii).

Thomson left no stone unturned in locating persons who knew Levi, including a dwindling number of fellow Auschwitz survivors. Among his attempts to do so, he placed advertisements in the magazines Scientific American and Chemistry & Industry. His list of acknowledgments comprises six full pages and includes literally hundreds of names organized according to the various aspects of Levi’s life and career. I would venture to state that it is the longest list of acknowledgments that I have ever seen in a book. According to Thomson,

In the course of the five years of my research in Italy, Germany, Poland, America, and the United Kingdom, I interviewed more than 300 people, and corresponded with half that number again. I had six long interviews with Levi’s sister, Anna Maria [Apparently she had changed her mind after telling her brother Renzo that she would not talk to him.] (p xvi).

Thomson tells his story in 29 chapters and an epilogue. He makes a few minor mistakes in his discussions of chemical work that no one but a chemist would recognize, and he corrects errors made by others in their writing about Levi. Like Angier, he identifies real persons who figure as characters in Levi’s writings, but he does not try to integrate them into Levi’s life to the extent that she does. Similarly, he discusses Levi’s unfinished book, Il doppio legame, but not in anywhere near the detail. Also, he does not assign it the degree of importance that she does (She titled her biography The Double Bond [2]). Also, like Angier, he uses British spelling consistently, and he converts prices in Italian lire to British pounds, uses British expressions such as “boot” (American, trunk) of a car (p 367), and gives the British equivalents of Italian antidepressant drugs taken by Levi (for example, pp 489, 490).

Like Angier, Thomson has unearthed the most obscure minutiae about Levi, such as his fondness for fast cars, Louis Armstrong (p 111), Americana and American movies (pp 111, 224–225), and Ballantine’s whisky (p 250). He thoroughly chronicles Levi’s extensive travels and tours and devotes separate chapters to those in the United States in 1985, from which his immense international reputation stemmed (pp 433–443), and London in 1986 (pp 454–472). Although he includes an incredible amount of detail, he does not analyze Levi’s life to the extent that Angier does, and he does not adopt her “psychobiographical” approach in which she tries to understand Levi’s inner psychological life and motivations by applying psychological principles to interpret the evidence. In keeping with his more conventional approach, Thomson does not intrude at length into the text by describing the circumstances of his interviews and the persons whom he consulted, a technique that allowed Angier’s readers to observe her modus operandi in researching and writing her book, information that might be valuable to other biographers. Depending on his or her desires and needs, the reader may prefer the Thomson or Angier book on this basis alone.

Like Angier, Thomson rejects the romantic explanation for Levi’s suicide that it was Auschwitz that claimed him. Thomson concludes,

His suicide was provoked by his clinical depression, which was compounded by a complex web of factors. His mother’s illness, the prostate operations, the tide of historical revisionism, fears of mental incompetence: all these were provocations. But, however accommodating it is to see the concentration camp, or a domestic smothering, as the explanation, no one key will turn the lock. The real causes for suicide always remain fugitive, because the suffering of those who kill themselves is private and inaccessible (p 505).

Thomson concludes his preface:

Inevitably, much of the material I gathered is of tremendous significance to the Jewish people. I am not Jewish, and perhaps this fact gave me a useful objectivity in writing this book. Levi hesitated to call himself a “Jewish writer”, and wrote of Auschwitz not from a religious standpoint, but from the broader perspective of a secular humanist….His life and work mirrored his time, and this biography places him within the larger frame of the twentieth century….He was a difficult and complicated man. Yet he was loved by a multitude; I hope this book conveys some of the reasons why (p xviii).

In my opinion Thomson has admirably succeeded in attaining his goal.

Both Thomson and Angier include so much detail that perhaps only Levi’s most ardent devotees will want to read their books in their entireties. Because Thomson’s approach is faster-paced, more direct and straightforward, and less meandering and leisurely, Thomson is able to include as much detail in his 583-page tome as Angier does in her 898-page volume. His exclusive access to family members and correspondence also makes his biography more authoritative than hers. For these reasons I prefer Thomson’s shorter book. Although few general readers will probably want to read both works from cover to cover, Levi scholars and the most ardent Leviphiles will want to read both.

References and Notes

1.       Kauffman, G. B. Chem. Educator 2004, 9, 57–60; DOI 10.1333/s00897030764a.

2.       Angier, C. The Double Bond: Primo Levi, A Biography; Farrar, Straus and Giroux: New York, 2002.

3.       Levi, P. The Periodic Table; Rosenthal, R., transl.; Schocken Books: New York, NY, 1984. For a review see Kauffman, G. B. Isis 1986, 77, 330–332; reprinted in Short Story Criticism: Excerpts from Criticism of the Works of Short Fiction Writers; Segal, D., Ed.; Gale Research: Detroit, MI, 1993; Vol. 12, pp 264–265.

4.       Thomson, I. Primo Levi in conversation with Ian Thomson. Poetry Nation Rev. 1987, 14 (2), 58; After Auschwitz [interview with Primo Levi], Independent 1987 (April 14); Primo Levi: Obituary. Independent 1987 (April 13).

George B. Kauffman

California State University, Fresno,

S1430-4171(04)03790-2, 10.1333/s00897040790a

Nature Encyclopedia of the Human Genome. David N. Cooper, Editor-in-Chief; Nick S. T. Thomas, Assistant Editor. Nature Publishing Group; Macmillan Publishers, Ltd.: London, New York, and Tokyo, 2003. 5 volumes, xciv + 5159 pp., hardcover, 20.5 ´ 27.5 cm. $950.00, £675. ISBN 0-333-80386-8. In the USA or Canada order from Nature Publishing Group, 345 Park Avenue South, New York, NY 10010; Phone: (800) 336-0055; In the UK and the rest of the world order from Nature Publishing Group, The Macmillan Building, 4 Crinan Street, London N1 9XW, UK; Phone: +44 (0)20 7843 4734; For further information access

In 1990 an international group of scientists launched one of the most ambitious projects in history—the location of the approximately 100,000 genes comprising the human genome—the blueprint of human life. This Human Genome Project (HGP) was carried out by biologists, physicists, computer experts, engineers, biochemists, and an assortment of scientists and technicians. It was expected to locate, classify, and characterize the genetic defects responsible for hereditary diseases like Alzheimer’s disease; heart disease; cystic fibrosis; Huntington’s disease; breast, colon, and other cancers; muscular dystrophy; diabetes; obesity; and other illnesses [1, 2].

After years of work, the sequencing of the human genome was completed by two separate groups. One, led by J. Craig Venter of Celera Genomics, a private company, reported its results in a special issue of Science [3]. A second set of articles, produced by the group led by Francis S. Collins of the Human Genome Project, a publicly funded consortium of laboratories, appeared in the journal Nature [4]. On April 14, 2003 an international consortium of scientists announced the completion of the final version of the human genome map [5], “the most accurate edition to date of life’s genetic blueprint and the last milestone for one of the modern era’s grandest scientific endeavors” [2]. That same month also marked the 50th anniversary of the publication of James Dewey Watson and Francis Harry Compton Crick’s double-helical structure of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) in the April 25, 1953 issue of Nature [6].

The publication of the human genome sequence and the 50th anniversary of Watson and Crick’s discovery of the structure of DNA stimulated a renewed interest in genetics and genomics by the scientific community as well as the general public, whom the mass media informed of the latest cutting-edge developments in genetically modified crops, animals, and foods; cloning; forensic analysis; biotechnology; and other areas [7]. In June 2003 the Nature Encyclopedia of the Human Genome appeared—just in time to provide a comprehensive account of progress in these and related fields. The EHG was the brainchild of Sean Pidgeon, the former Commissioning Editor and Publisher of the Nature Publishing Group (NPG), who guided its development from inception to completion. In about 1998 he realized that the Human Genome Project was rapidly coming to fruition and that an authoritative encyclopedia would be both timely and useful for scientists and general readers. Work on the encyclopedia got underway in early 1999. Because the Collins HGP group and Watson and Crick reported their results in Nature, NPG was a most appropriate publisher.

The Editor-in-Chief, David N. Cooper, is Professor of Human Molecular Genetics at the Institute of Medical Genetics, University of Wales College of Medicine, Cardiff, UK, where Assistant Editor Nick S. T. Thomas is a Senior Research Fellow. Cooper, who is also Honorary Consultant in Molecular Genetic Medicine at the University Hospital of Wales, Cardiff, has written or co-authored four books, co-edited three books, and is European Editor of the journal Human Genetics, contributed seven articles to the encyclopedia. After holding postdoctoral positions at Göttingen, Lausanne, and London, he was Lecturer in Molecular Genetics at King’s College Hospital, London. For the past 13 years he has collaborated with Professor Michael Krawczak of the Universität Kiel (one of the EHG’s section editors) on the mechanics of mutation underlying human genetic disease, and the data sets from their research program have been made available to the scientific community through the Human Gene Mutation Database.

The NEHG emphasizes the interdisciplinary nature of the field. According to Cooper,

Human genetics has now become so broad that its impact is felt not only in the other biomedical sciences, including biochemistry, anatomy, physiology, pharmacology, epidemiology and paleontology, but also in the social sciences, psychology, philosophy, economics, demography and linguistics, not to mention politics (Vol. 1, p xi).

He explains his goal, which I think he has attained:

As new areas of scientific enquiry are developed, the challenge will be to integrate information from an increasingly disparate series of specialties whose practitioners will inevitably come to share less and less common ground. The Nature Encyclopedia of the Human Genome (Nature EHG) attempts to counter the trend towards fragmentation by promoting an integrated approach to the study of human heredity and emphasizing the interplay between genetics and principles on the one hand, and information acquisition and interpretation on the other. It is hoped that Nature EHG will also encourage scientists not to lose sight of the “big picture”, while also translating the often arcane advances of specialists into language that is intelligible to the widest possible audience (Vol. 1, p xii).

The NEHG can only be described in superlatives. It might without exaggeration be subtitled Everything You Always Wanted to Know about Genetics and Genomics. Its writing and editing team of some 1500 persons reads like a Who’s Who of human genetics and genomics. The product is a truly international venture. Its 11 section area editors were responsible for choosing the appropriate coverage and selecting eminent authors to write articles, from universities, research institutes, medical schools, and laboratories in the United Kingdom, United States, Germany, Switzerland, and the Netherlands, eight of whom also contributed a total of 35 articles (One contributed 10, and another contributed 15 articles). The editorial advisory board consisted of 52 members from leading centers of genomic research in the United Kingdom, United States, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Russia, and Switzerland.

The list of the 1396 contributors from universities, hospitals, laboratories, medical and historical centers in 31 countries (Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Czech Republic, China, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Malta, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Russia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Tanzania, the United Kingdom, and United States) comprises 32 double-column pages and includes their institutional affiliations, titles of their articles, and, in many cases, email addresses. Among the institutions represented are such leaders in the field as Cambridge’s Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology, the National Institutes of Health, the National Human Genome Research Institute, Cold Spring Harbor, and Rockefeller University. Typical of the attention to detail was the team of 12 experienced copy editors/proofreaders, who edited for style and consistency, ensured comprehensive coverage, and minimized unnecessary overlap between articles.

Although the 1,067 rigorously peer-reviewed, signed, and meticulously cross-referenced (in boldface) articles are alphabetically arranged, they are also classified according to 12 primary subject areas or topics, which, in turn, are further organized into a series of subcategories. Each volume includes a table of contents for that particular volume and a “Topical Outline of Articles” (eight triple-column pages) for the entire set (Some entries are listed more than once because the conceptual categories are not mutually exclusive. The entries themselves appear alphabetically in the main body of the work.). The main topics are: Structural Genomics; Functional Genomics; Chromosome Structure and Function; Evolution and Comparative Genomics; Genome Mapping and Sequencing; Genes and Disease; Behavioral and Psychiatric Genetics; Mathematical and Population Genetics; Proteomics; Bioinformatics; Biographies and Ethical, Legal, and Social Issues.

Contributors were provided with detailed guidelines, which, in addition to instructions on format and other matters, designated articles as one of eight types, which determined the length and readership level, indicating the degree of complex material. Level 1 articles were intended to be accessible to UK A-level students and undergraduates, advanced U.S. high school seniors (advance placement biology level), U.S. college freshmen and sophomores, and educated general readers. Level 2 articles were aimed at advanced undergraduates, postgraduates, researchers reading outside their fields, and scientifically literate general readers. Level 3 articles addressed highly in-depth topics or difficult issues and are aimed at advanced graduate students and practicing scientists in human genetics and related disciplines.

The eight article types, their level, and approximate lengths were: (1) Major overviews, 1, 4000 words; (2) Overviews, 1 or 2, 3000 words; (3) Topical articles, 2, 2000–3000 words; (4) technical articles, 3, 2000 words; (5) Definitional articles, any level, 300–700 words; (6) Case studies, 1 or 2, 1000–3000 words; (7) Biographies, 1, 750 words; and (8) Vignettes, 1, 20–500 words.

The NEHG, which amounts to some three million words and consistently uses International British English spelling, is comprised of five volumes:

·  Volume 1: “Absolute Pitch—Di George Syndrome and Velocardiofacial Syndrome (VCFS)” (xxii + 1135 pp, the longest volume; 216 articles).

·  Volume 2: “Digital Image Analysis—Gene Trees and Species Trees” (xviii + 977 pp, the shortest volume; 223 articles).

·  Volume 3: “Genome Databases—Mitochondrial Genome: Evolution” (xviii + 1023 pp; 222 articles).

·  Volume 4: “Mitochondrial Heteroplasmy and Disease—Relatives-based Tests of Association” (xviii + 1010 pp; 227 articles).

·  Volume 5: “Renal Carcinoma and von Hippel-Lindau Disease—Zuckerkandl, Emile” (xviii + 1014 pp; 179 articles). This volume also contains a list of contributors, an extensive glossary (37 double-column pages) defining some 2,000 terms from “ab initio” to “zymogen,” and a detailed subject index (111 quadruple-column pages) that includes some 33,000 terms and facilitates location of information.

The EHG is atrue work of art, printed on heavy glossy paper and featuring some 1500 illustrations, 158 also reproduced as consecutively numbered beautiful full-color plates (some full-page) on black paper (not included in pagination) in separate sections in each of the volumes. It is a paragon of organization, which makes it extremely user-friendly. Each article is designated as introductory, intermediate, or advanced and includes a brief summary and a list of its contents (section titles). Electronic links between related articles and between text and index terms are provided as well as up-to-date references or lists of “Further Reading,” some as recent as 2002. Many include impressive lists of Web links. Citations of figures and tables, some several pages in length, are in boldface type. Some of the subjects discussed are controversial, and a distinct effort has been made to enlist authors with contrasting views. Besides prominent scientists such as J. Craig Venter (“Shotgunning the Human Gene: A Personal View”), contributors include nonscientists such as sociologist Dorothy Nelkin (“Gene as a Cultural Icon”), environmental economist Jeremy Rifkin (“Patenting of Genes: A Personal View”), and philosopher of science Michael Ruse.

The 40 biographies from Oswald Theodore Avery (by his co-worker Maclyn McCarty) to Emile Zuckerkandl, many written by eminent authorities in their own right, include such pioneers as Sydney Brenner, Francis Crick, Charles Robert Darwin, Rosalind Elsie Franklin (by Aaron Klug), Gregor Johann Mendel, Linus Carl Pauling, James Dewey Watson, and Maurice Hugh Frederick Wilkins.

The presentation is similar to that of the same publisher’s Nature Encyclopedia of Life Sciences, which, unlike EHG, is available online and updated [8]. Almost half of the EHG references date from 2000–2002 so for the next few years the encyclopedia should be reasonably up-to-date, but because of the rapid pace of research in the field, this may not continue to be true. However, according to NPG,

Nature Publishing Group remains very committed to the content published in the print version of NEHG and to serving it in the best manner possible to the scientific community. We are currently investigating if and how we might meet the community’s online needs in a way, which is and will remain efficient [9].

The EHG is more detailed than other encyclopedias of the subject, for example, Brenner and Miller’s Encyclopedia of Genetics [10], which, however, may be more accessible to a lay audience.

As editor Cooper correctly points out,

Nature EHG is the first major reference resource devoted not only to the scientific basis of human genome research but also to its ethical, philosophical, and commercial ramifications (Vol. 1, p xii).

Considering the size and scope, the amount of research, writing, and editing involved in the set, the quality of the paper, illustrations, plates, and graphics, this authoritative but modestly priced encyclopedia is a real bargain that should appeal to advanced high school and college students, teachers in both secondary and tertiary education, academic and corporate researchers, clinicians and other health professionals, policymakers, journalists, as well as the interested general reader.

References and Notes

1.       Kauffman, G. B.; Kauffman, L. M. Map of Life: Science, Society, and the Human Genome Project. J. Coll. Sci. Teaching 1994, 24, 143; Molecular Miracles: Human Gene Therapy and the Future of Modern Medicine. J. Coll. Sci. Teaching December 1996/January 1997, 26, 221; Genome: Solving the Code of Life. J. Coll. Sci. Teaching 1997, 26, 365–366.

2.       Jasny, B. R.; Kennedy, D. The Human Genome. Science 2001, 291, 1153.

3.       Venter, J. C. et al. (273 coauthors). The Sequence of the Human Genome. Science 2001, 291, 1304–1351.

4.       Lander, E. S. et al. (101 authors). Initial Sequencing and Analysis of the Human Genome. Nature 2001, 409, 860-921; Bentley. D. R. et al. (101 authors).The Physical Maps for Sequencing Human Chromosomes 1, 6, 9, 10, 13, 20 and X. Nature 2001, 409, 942-943; Cheung, V. G. et al. (60 authors).Integration of Cytogenic Landmarks into the Draft Sequence of the Human Genome. Nature 2001, 409, 953–958.

5.       Henry, C. Human Genome Project Finished. Chem. Eng. News 2003, 81 (16)(April 21), 12; Pennisi, E. Reaching Their Goal Early, Sequencing Labs Celebrate. Science 2003, 300, 409; Human genome complete well ahead of schedule. Chem. & Ind. 2003, 8 (April 21), 4–5.

6.       Watson, J. D.; Crick, F. H. C. A Structure for Deoxyribose Nucleic Acid. Nature 1953, 171, 737–738; dna50/watsoncrick.pdf (accessed May 2004).

7.       Kauffman, G. B. DNA Structure: Happy 50th Birthday! The Chemical Educator 2003, 8, 219-230; DOI 10.1007/s00897030695a.

8.       Encyclopedia of Life Sciences; originally published online, April 2001 at htpp://; published as20 hardcover volumes; Nature Publishing Group, London, 2001; relaunched online as Nature Encyclopedia of Life Sciences; May 2003.

9.       Refo, Miles, e-mail to George B. Kauffman, May 4, 2004.

10.     Brenner, S.; Miller, J. H., Eds. Encyclopedia of Genetics; 4 vols.; Academic Press; Elsevier Scientific Publishing: Burlington, MA, 2001.

George B. Kauffman

California State University, Fresno,

S1430-4171(04)03791-1, 10.1333/s00897040791a

Einstein: The Passions of a Scientist. By Barry Parker. Prometheus Books: Amherst, NY, 2003. Illustrations. vii + 297 pp, hardbound, 15.8 ´ 23.4 cm. $28.00. ISBN 1-59102-063-48.


In 2000 Time magazine named Albert Einstein “Person of the Century,” and he is celebrated worldwide as a cultural icon not only in serious contexts but also in exhibits, movies, television programs, cartoons, comic strips, and other products of the mass media. In his book, Einstein in Berlin (Bantam Books: New York, 2003) Thomas Levenson has called Einstein “the first pop star of science.” One of us (GBK) even owns a T-shirt bearing his familiar head complete with his trademark unkempt, tousled hair and emblazoned with what is undoubtedly the most famous equation in the world, the one that proclaimed that matter and energy are equivalent and thus ushered in the nuclear age—E=mc2.

When Einstein died in 1955, he left behind more than 43,000 documents, including scientific manuscripts, letters, speeches, and political writings. Under the auspices of the Princeton University Press and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem these papers are being published; to date eight of the anticipated more than twenty volumes have appeared. Fortunately, much of this Einsteiniana is now available to anyone with access to the Internet. On May 19, 2003 the Albert Einstein Archives at the Hebrew University and the California Institute of Technology, where the Einstein Papers Project headquarters is located, started a new Web site, http://www.

To meet the great continuing demand for information about Einstein both by specialists and the public a large number of excellent biographies of Einstein have appeared recently. In Einstein’s Brainchild (Prometheus Books: Amherst, NY, 2000) Barry Parker, an award-winning science writer, author of a dozen highly acclaimed science books, and Professor of Physics at Idaho State University (1967–1997), focused on Einstein’s contributions to science. In the book under review, which he wrote to complement Einstein’s Brainchild, Parker focuses on Einstein’s life. In his words,

This is not a biography, but rather a detailed look at his obsessions and passions, what effect they had on his development as a scientist, and how they may have helped lead to his breakthroughs. Physics played a large role in Einstein’s early life, but he had a life apart from physics that certainly had some bearing on his development as a scientist (p 12).

While we agree with Parker’s evaluation of his second Einstein book, we do not agree that it is not a biography. Parker discusses Einstein’s entire life, both personal and professional, from his birth on March 14, 1879 in Ulm, Württemberg, Germany to his death at the age of 67 on April 18, 1955 in Princeton, NJ in sufficient detail so that the general reader can form a complete picture of Einstein and his contributions although the treatment of his later years is treated in less detail than his earlier ones. It may be read separately, apart from his earlier book. Einstein’s major scientific achievements—the photoelectric effect, Brownian motion, special and general relativity, cosmological constant, gravity, the search for the general theory, the theory of everything (TOE), etc. —are briefly elucidated in terms comprehensible to the layperson. Parker explains scientific terms as he uses them, but as a further aid for the general reader he provides a 6-page glossary that defines terms alphabetically from absolute motion to wavelength.

Parker has drawn on the most recent primary and secondary literature, which are listed in a 14-page “Notes” section as well as in an 8-page bibliography, both classified according to chapters. Eighteen of the 30 illustrations are drawings by Lori Scoffield-Beer based on photographs from the Albert Einstein Archives, which lend them an especially artistic appearance. The shortness of the 16 chapters and epilogue with prominent section headings and the index (six double-column pages) make the book ideal for both browsing and location of specific material.

In considering the aspects of Einstein’s emotional nature that exerted a profound impact on his life and career, Parker, in accordance with his book’s title, identifies five “passions.” First and foremost was Einstein’s love of learning, not only in physics but also in mathematics and philosophy, a trait that he manifested in his early youth, when he excelled in algebra. During his later years he became utterly absorbed with philosophy.

Einstein’s second passion was classical music, especially that of Mozart. Listening to and playing music (He was a skilled violinist since early childhood) served him not only for pleasure and recreation but also stimulated his scientific creativity. He enjoyed playing duets, especially with women (he on the violin, they on the piano). However, according to Parker, “his love for sailing equaled his love for music” (p 254). The book’s dust jacket shows Einstein on his sailboat.

Einstein’s third passion was his often turbulent relationships with women and family. Parker critically examines the influence of Einstein’s parents and their financial problems during his childhood (His father went bankrupt), his sister, two wives, liaisons with other women, and distant and strained relationship with the two sons (Hans Albert, b. May 14, 1904 and Eduard, b. July 28, 1910) of his first marriage. Although Parker is careful not to make value judgments, the picture that emerges is hardly flattering to Einstein.

As a couple with strong feminist leanings we were left with the distinct impression that while Einstein needed and used women, he did not particularly value or appreciate them. He felt isolated in school and later in life, and he viewed women as mother figures or “a shoulder to cry on” (p 180), and he relied on them to take care of him rather than the reverse. He always thrived on the attention of women, enjoyed flirting and talking with them, and rarely missed an opportunity to do so. After failing the entrance exam for Zürich’s world-famed Eidgenössisches Polytechnikum(now the Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule, ETH), the 16-year-old Einstein spent a year with the Winteler family in Aarau, where he attended a trade school and fell in love for the first time—with 18-year-old Marie Winteler. After leaving Aarau for Zürich, where he had been admitted to the Polytechnikum, the two exchanged letters, but he had lost interest in Marie. However, he still sent his dirty laundry for her to wash and return to him (p 53).

Einstein’s mother, Pauline, was a strong-minded, stubborn woman, who dominated her weaker husband, Herman, and frequently clashed with her similarly strong-minded, stubborn son, especially in her vehement objection to his first marriage, which took place in a civil ceremony on January 6, 1903 in Bern, where, as is well known, Einstein worked in the Swiss Patent Office. Although Einstein’s feelings toward his mother had long been ambivalent, he took her death in February 1920 very hard.

Einstein’s first wife, Mileva (née Marić), a fellow physics student at the Polytechnikum, was a Serb with health problems, who was three and a half years older than he and who bore him two sons in what soon became a loveless marriage. Her orderliness balanced his disorganized, absent-minded, and forgetful nature. Einstein and Mileva kept secret the birth before their marriage of a daughter, Liesrl, whom he never saw and whose existence came to light only when a cache of their letters was discovered after both their deaths. No one knows what became of her; she was probably adopted.

Because Einstein was married to Mileva during his most productive years, including the annus mirabilis (1905), when his five greatest articles appeared, and because she was also a physicist, several articles have suggested that she played a greater role in his breakthroughs than previously assumed. Parker cogently argues against her exerting any significant effect on his work. According to the agreement for their divorce that was finalized on February 14, 1919, Mileva and the children were to receive the Nobel Physics Prize money; Einstein had not yet received the prize, but he had been nominated since 1910 and was expected to receive it eventually. When he received the 1921 Prize (awarded in 1922), it was for his law of the photoelectric effect, not for his controversial relativity theory. Mileva suffered a nervous breakdown in 1916 and died on August 4, 1948.

Einstein’s second wife, Elsa, whom he married in a civil ceremony on June 2, 1919 and who was also his cousin, was a good cook who fed and cared for him and commiserated with him over his troubles with Mileva. The two were living together while Einstein was separated but still married to Mileva. As was the case with Mileva, he had reservations about marrying but acted from a sense of obligation rather than love. In this platonic marriage,

They had separate bedrooms at opposite ends of the apartment almost from the beginning. She said that she couldn’t sleep with him because he snored too much, and there’s no indication that Einstein wanted to sleep with her, either (p 205).

Ilse, Elsa’s daughter from an earlier marriage who lived with Einstein and her mother, was a good companion and listener. Helen Dukas, his secretary and amanuensis, who accompanied Einstein and his entourage to America in response to the increasingly threatening Nazi anti-Semitic menace, protected Einstein from disturbances from an inquisitive public. After facing earlier rejections, Einstein, following the confirmation of his theory of gravitation by observation of the bending of light around the Sun during the May 1919 eclipse, was instantly transformed into an overnight celebrity, with its attendant honors, awards, honorary degrees, and requests for lectures, funds, or favors. He was even asked to succeed Chaim Weizmann as President of Israel, an honor that he declined.

Einstein’s younger sister, Marie (usually called Maja), and he were very close, and he seemed to feel true love and empathy for her. He “was much more affectionate to her than he was to either of his wives” (p 244). He remained loyally by her bedside until her death on June 25, 1951, which affected him deeply. With this sole exception, women seemed to be a necessity for Einstein, but he did not appear to care for them very deeply.

In a poignant letter to the family of his best friend and sounding board for his ideas, Michele Besso, upon his death in 1955, Einstein, himself only a month before his own death, admitted with rare insight that he was aware of his own deficiencies:

What I most admired about him as a human being is that he managed to live so many years not only in peace but also in lasting harmony with a woman—an undertaking in which I twice failed rather disgracefully (p 257).

Einstein’s fourth passion was his strong antiwar sentiment and pacifism. From his earliest youth he deplored the militarism and strictness of his teachers and later referred to those in elementary school as “drill sergeants” and those in the Gymnasium (secondary school) as “lieutenants” (p 25). He always preferred self-study to formal classes. He twice renounced his German citizenship. The last chapter of the book (Chapter 15, “A Desire for World Peace”) is devoted largely to his humanist beliefs and efforts to promote a world government, which he considered as the only way to achieve global peace.

Einstein’s last passion was his utter obsession with discovering a unified theory of physics capable of explaining all the forces of the universe and his reluctance to accept the indeterminacy of quantum theory; one of his most famous bon mots was that “God does not play dice.” This attitude isolated him from the rest of the scientific community during his later life. Unfortunately, his quest to extend his general relativity theory into a theory of everything remained unfulfilled at his death.

The book’s errors are few and mostly “typos”: problems” not “problem” (p 28); “Einstein’s” not “Einstein” (p 34); “Laue?” not “Laue” (p 159); “Einsteins” not “Einstein’s” (p 177); “older” not “oldest” (pp 221 and 238; Einstein had only two sons); and “Strassmann” not “Strassman” (p 246). Also, Germany declared war on the United States not the reverse (p 248).

We are pleased to recommend this modestly priced, insightful, behind-the-scenes look, containing scores of fascinating stories and amusing anecdotes, at one of the greatest geniuses of all time who radically altered our view of the world. It should be of interest to students, their instructors, and anyone concerned with the human side of the 20th century’s most renowned scientist.

George B. Kauffman and Laurie M. Kauffman

California State University, Fresno,

S1430-4171(04)03794-9, 10.1333/s00897040794a

Quality Management in Teaching Laboratories. Universitat de Barcelona. codi=06026 (English version on video) (Catalan, Spanish and English versions on DVD) Price: 15 Euro. Contact Dr Ramon Compano (

“Quality Management in Teaching Laboratories” is a short video produced by the chemistry department at the University of Barcelona, with financial support from the University. It covers a variety of topics related to the operation of the chemistry teaching laboratory, but, being just twenty minutes in length, can only touch upon a few of the most important subjects.

The University of Barcelona has introduced a Quality Management System for all teaching laboratories in the chemistry faculty. It is not clear whether this video has been created as a tool to be used in promoting quality management within Barcelona University or as a product that has emerged from establishment of this system. Perhaps it is a bit of both.

After a short introduction which considers the question “What is quality?” the video concentrates on the impact of quality management upon several areas that are relevant within a teaching laboratory: personnel, facilities, equipment, chemical products, documentation, waste products, safety, and improvement. It will be apparent to anyone who operates a teaching laboratory that there is not enough time for entirely novel ideas to be introduced when just two or three minutes are available for each topic. As a result, the video concentrates on straightforward matters and sometimes it leaves one asking “so what?” For example, we are told that “Equipment must be managed correctly,” that the quality of chemicals should be “appropriate” for the use to which the chemical is to be put, and that solutions should be labelled.

But this is being over-critical. Quality management is a vital consideration in the teaching of experimental science, and while those who are responsible for running courses in practical chemistry will be familiar with most of the contents of this video, the advice throughout is sensible and practical. The video advises that procedures should be established that reduce the quantity of waste chemicals and the risks that they pose to a minimum. This is standard stuff, but we are also reminded that students should deal with chemical wastes as soon as they are generated, not leave them to be dealt with later. Obvious maybe, but something that is not always considered when practical manuals are being written.

The video emphasises the central role of safety and also argues that attempts must always be made to improve operations; few operations are ever entirely safe, no experiment is ever perfect, so efforts to enhance quality should always be made.

The video is slick and well produced. The commentary is by a native English speaker, which will encourage its adoption in countries where the native language is not Spanish. The photography is clear and professional and the laboratory sessions filmed are well thought out and do not, as far as I could tell, show any unsafe practices.

This video does not offer much that will be new to those running large, established practical programs; however, its advice is sensible, and the video is well designed and very affordable, being sold at what must be close to cost price. It would be viewed only occasionally by those with direct responsibility for practical courses in chemistry, but it does provide useful background material. In this respect, it would be particularly relevant to those members of a department who, while they might have formal responsibility for overseeing a practical course, do not have the day-to-day experience that is acquired by actually running one. This is a useful resource from which many chemistry departments should benefit.

Hugh Cartwright

University of Oxford, Oxford, England,

S1430-4171(04)03795-8, 10.1333/s00897040795a

Inorganic Syntheses, Vol. 34. John R. Shapley, Editor-in-Chief. Wiley-Interscience: Hoboken, NJ, 2004. Figures. xx + 260 pp, hardcover, 15.5 ´ 23.5 cm. $94.95. ISBN 0-471-64750-0.

This popular series, designed “to provide all users of inorganic substances with detailed and reliableprocedures for the preparation of important and timely compounds,” plays an extremely important role in the burgeoning literature of inorganic chemistry. Because each preparation is experimentally checked independently for reproducibility and yield in a laboratory other than that of the submitters and the sources of reagents are given, Inorganic Syntheses is recognized worldwide as the primary source for the preparation of a multitude of useful inorganic substances. The series is a truly international undertaking; this volume includes submitters and checkers from academic and governmental laboratories in 16 countries. Furthermore, because it includes not only substances traditionally considered inorganic but also those of concern to workers in other fields, it is of interest to the entire scientific community.

This latest volume in the series, which John R. Shapley of the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign has dedicated to John A. Osborn (1940–2000), “who first showed [him] the fun to be had in exploring inorganic syntheses,” continues the pattern of the last three volumes, viz., “specific thematic chapters along with other contributions that together reflect the diversity of inorganic synthetic activities in modern research.” The volume under review includes procedures for preparing 146 individual substances, collected in 50 numbered sections in five chapters andarranged in approximate order of increasing complexity for the compounds.

Chapter 1, “Main Group Compounds” (48 pp; 10 sections; 28 compounds), contains procedures for the synthesis of compounds, some interesting in their own right and others primarily interesting for their use in the preparation of metal complexes. These include diborane(4) compounds that are key reagents in transition-metal-catalyzed diborane and Suzuki–Miyaura coupling reactions; [B{3,5-(CF3)2C6H3}4], a versatile, highly soluble, noncoordinating counter-ion; anionic (phosphino)borate ligands; aluminum complex cations that are widely used as reagents in organic synthesis; tabular a-alumina, one of the most industrially significant bulk electronic and structural ceramic materials; and aperoxynitrite salt, which results in vivo from the direct reaction of superoxide and nitric oxide.

Chapter 2, “Organometallic and Coordination Complexes” (47 pp; 10 sections; 35 compounds), features procedures for largely monomolecular compounds, with central elements ranging across the periodic table and a variety of ligand types. Among these are addition compounds of MoO2Br2 that are useful precursors for the synthesis of species relevant in catalytic chemical and biochemical oxotransfer processes; oxorhenium oxazoline complexes for oxygen atom transfer (OAT) reactions; allyl and dienyl ruthenium complexes that are becoming increasingly important in organometallic chemistry and homogeneous catalysis; tris(4,7-diphenyl-1,10-phenanthroline)ruthenium(II) chloride, an important luminescent probe for oxygen, which is used for a variety of analytical applications; cationic Pt(II) complexes of tridentate amine ligands that are useful substrates for mechanistic studies in substitution reactions of planar tetracoordinate complexes; and cadmium(II) complexes that can be used tomodel biologically relevant zinc enzymes such as carbonic anhydrase.

In contrast, Chapter 3, “Transition Metal Carbonyl Compounds” (37 pp, the shortest chapter; 8 sections; 19 compounds), focuses specifically on compounds containing carbonyl ligands. The chapter includes syntheses of a carbonyl tungsten(0)-fullerene-60 derivative; dodecacarbonyl-triruthenium, an efficient catalyst precursor for achieving selective carbon–carbon bond formation and cleavage in a number of significant organic transformations; dicarbonylbis(hexafluoroacetylacetonato)ruthenium, a possible CVD (chemical vapor deposition) source reagent for highly conductive thin films; and diolefin and carbonyl rhodium(I) and iridium(I) compounds used as starting materials for preparing catalyst precursors and polynuclear complexes or clusters.

Chapter 4, “Cyanide Compounds” (51 pp, the longest chapter; 11 sections; 42 compounds), deals with an increasingly accelerating field of research in which the cyanide ligand is used as a linking agent in the assembly of polynuclear metal complexes with the purpose, for example, of attaining unique magnetic properties. Syntheses include those of hexacyanometallates as templates for discrete pentanuclear and heptanuclear bimetallic clusters; a mixed-valence heptanuclear iron complex; potassium hexacyanochromate(II) and its 13C-enriched analog; cyano-bridged molecular clusters containing paramagnetic transition metal ions that can function as nanoscale magnets at cryogenic temperatures; cyanometal-substituted derivatives of the Fe4S4 cluster core; tricyanometalate building blocks and organometallic cyanide cages; and cyanide-bridged iron(II)-M(II) molecular squares, where M = Fe, Co, and Cu.

Chapter 5, “Cluster and Polynuclear Compounds” (49 pp; 11 sections; 22 compounds), includes syntheses of compounds such as a tetranuclear lanthanide-hydroxo complex with a cubane-like [Ln4(m3-OH)4]8+ cluster core, a compound useful as chemically modified and controllable precursors to sol-gel materials; synthetic hydrolases for catalyzing the hydrolytic cleavage of DNA and RNA, and new paradigms for radiographic contrast agents; tetradecachlorohexatantalum octahydrate; polyoxomolybdate clusters: giant wheels and balls, among the most complex discrete inorganic species; tetrakis {(h6-1-isopropyl-4-methylbenzene)ruthenium(II)tetra-oxomolybdate(VI)}, which can provide molecular models for heterogeneous catalysts derived from organometallic complexes adsorbed at metal oxide surfaces; Os3(CO)10(m-H)(m-OH) by a silica-mediated synthesis; triosmium complexes of fullerene-60; and triphenylphosphine-stabilized gold nanoparticles.

Many of the preparations involve starting materials or products that are flammable; lachrymatory; irritating; noxious; air-, moisture-, or temperature-sensitive; toxic; pyrophoric; corrosive; carcinogenic; teratogenic; or potentially explosive, but any hazards are specifically identified, and safety precautions are emphasized. The volume is replete with detailed diagrams of the frequently complicated apparatus or equipment required for many of the preparations, some of which involve time-consuming proceduresand most of which pose a real challenge for even experienced students.

The current emphasis on the compounds targeted for ongoing research make this volume, which maintains the high standards set by its predecessors, particularly timely and useful. It should also stimulate new research ideas, the results of which will, in turn, serve to nurture future volumes in the series.

George B. Kauffman

California State University, Fresno,

S1430-4171(04)03793-X, 10.1333/s00897040793a

Chemistry and Chemical Reactivity, 5th edition (with CD-ROM). By John C. Kotz, Paul M.Treichel, Patrick A. Harman, and Jack C. Kotz. Brooks/Cole: Monterey, CA, 2002. 1184 pp, hardcover, 1.71 ´ 10.39 ´ 8.91 in. $140.95. ISBN 0-03-033604-X.

One tends to feel after a while that when one has seen one General Chemistry textbook, nearly all originating in the USA, one has seen them all. The competition is so intense for the general chemistry market that books must all have essentially the same features. For example, it is now de rigueur for books to come with a bundled interactive CD-ROM of exercises, simulations, visual material, and Web links. Chemisty & Chemical Reactivity is no exception and it is a fine example of the genre. The syllabus for general chemistry is also fairly well defined in the U.S.A. with a starter of basic chemical ideas, a main course of elementary physical chemistry, a taste of organic chemistry, a frisson of radioactivity, and a pinch of inorganic chemistry. This book is no exception and organic chemistry, as usual, gets short shrift with one chapter entitled “Carbon—just another element” in a set of four chapters on structure and bonding. Inorganic chemistry gets two chapters if you don’t include radiochemistry.

The strengths of this book are in the efforts made to present the material simply, with lots of illustrations, examples, worked problems, and extensive end-of-chapter problems. There are numerous interesting vignettes to enliven the basic diet and provide examples of everyday chemistry. The goals of each chapter are given at the start and the key objectives and terms are summarized at the end; students are encouraged to review the concepts covered and to practice skills. These are useful learning features. A helpful feature of general chemistry books is a glossary where key terms and ideas are defined briefly. At first I thought that this book didn’t have one until I realized it was integrated into the index, so that for some index items definitions are given together with the page references. I find a separate glossary more helpful. Many chemical reactions are shown as color photos and others are given on the CD-ROM together with hundreds of interactive exercises listed at the start of the book.

This book and others like it are useful in the first year of four-year chemistry degrees, as in Ireland and Scotland or as resource material at A-level, the highest school-level qualification in the U.K. They are less useful for U.K. chemistry degrees because the level is too low, except for remedial purposes. I often recommend to first-year students who are finding topics difficult that they start with a general chemistry book, rather than a more specialized book, which often has more equations than illustrations, so they can get a feel for the basic ideas and their application. Grasping and visualizing the ideas makes it easier to tackle more difficult extension material in the same area. This book is the fifth edition of a standard textbook and it is not significantly better or worse than other alternative offerings; however, your students would not be disappointed with it.

Peter E. Childs

University of Limerick, Limerick, Ireland,

S1430-4171(04)03796-7, 10.1333/s00897040796a

Encyclopedia of Surface and Colloid Science. Arthur T. Hubbard, Editor. Marcel Dekker, Inc.: New York/Basel, 2002. 4 volumes. Figures, tables. xlix + 5667 pp, hardcover and online, 21.5 ´ 28.4 cm. Purchase options: One-time, up-front purchase for continuing access for the Life-of-Edition (4 years of new and updated content); Print (ISBN 0-8247-0633-1): $1500.00; Online, including Life-of Edition (ISBN 0-8247-0519-X): $2,100.00; Combination Print and Online + Life-of-Edition (ISBN 0-8247-0859-8): $2,250.00; Life-of-Edition Add-On to Print (ISBN 0-8247-0519-X): $750.00.Institutional orders for Dekker encyclopedias cannot be placed through Subscriptions are governed by an access/site license. For ordering information or customer service: email,; phone, 1-800-228-1160 (USA, Canada, and South America) or 0041-61-260-63-00  (Europe, Far East, Middle East, and Africa).

Although a number of handbooks on surface and colloid science are available including one by the editor [1–5], this set appears to be the first encyclopedia for the field. The Editor of this encyclopedia, Arthur T. Hubbard, is Director of the Santa Barbara Science Project, Santa Barbara, CA; the author or coauthor of many publications; Editor of Dekker’s Surfactant Science Series; Coeditor of the Journal of Colloid & Interface Science; and Chairman of the American Chemical Society’s Colloid & Surface Chemistry Division.

In keeping with the interdisciplinary nature of the subject, thisauthoritative, comprehensive reference set draws together the interface-related aspects of various fields, including applied mathematics, biology, biochemistry, chemistry, computer science, engineering, materials sciences, medicine, physics, and other fields. Naturally occurring interfaces of this genre are fundamental to all living systems, while synthetic interfaces play important roles in catalysis, filtration, foods, lubrication, mineral processing, paints, pharmaceuticals, polymers, soaps, soils, and other practical processes.

The encyclopedia deals with fundamental theories and recent research, defines terminology, explains concepts, summarizes experimental findings, supplies key references, identifies important applications, and suggests directions for future work. Among the latest developments discussed are those in drug delivery; enzyme behavior; protein adsorption; colloids; emulsions; foams; gels; fine particles; chemical behavior at electrochemical, fluid-fluid, polymer, soil, mineral, and atmospheric boundaries; mechanisms of catalysis, transport, and adsorption; characterization of fatty acids and lipids; commercial uses for membranes; and contemporary modes of environmental remediation.

The encyclopedia comprises four massive volumes, each of which weighs about seven pounds, which makes them somewhat awkward to handle and use:

·  Volume 1, “Absorption of Ions into Droplets” to “Diffuse Reflectance Spectroscopy of Iron Oxides,” pp 1–1446, the longest volume, ISBN 0-8247-0757-5.

·  Volume 2, “Diffusion at Oxide and Related Surfaces” to “Internal Structure and Rheological Properties of Ferrofluids: Approach by Means of Computer Simulations,” pp 1447–2826, the shortest volume, ISBN 0-8247-0758-3.

·  Volume 3, “Inverse Gas Chromatography at Infinite Dilution as a Method to Determine the Structural and Chemical Features of Activated Carbon Surfaces” to “Polypeptide Behavior at Interfaces,” pp 2827–4254, ISBN 0-8247-0759-1.

·  Volume 4, “Porous Glass” to “Zeta-Potential of Polymer Surfaces,” pp 4255–5667, ISBN 0-8247-0796-6.

Although the pagination in the volumes is consecutive and each volume bears a separate ISBN number, in contrast to most encyclopedias information for the entire set is contained in each volume. Every volume includes a complete list of the titles and pages of all 400 alphabetically arranged and signed articles (“Brief Contents”—four double-column pages on the inside front and inside back covers), which is repeated in an 11-page table of contents that contains the names of the authors (pp xxv–xxxv); the names and institutional affiliations of the 12 advisory board members from the United States, Japan, Sweden, and Taiwan; a 15-page list of the 670 distinguished contributors from universities and research institutes around the world (pp v–xx); the encyclopedia’s aims and scope (p xxi) and preface (p xxiii); and a 12-page “Topical Contents” (pp xxxvii–xlix) listing the titles and authors of the articles classified according to eight main categories:

1.      Biologically Relevant Interfaces (44 articles in six subcategories)

2.      Dispersed Systems and Colloids (49 articles in five subcategories)

3.      Electrochemistry of Interfaces (23 articles in four subcategories)

4.      Fluid-Fluid Interfaces (55 articles in nine subcategories)

5.      Polymer Interfaces (32 articles in six subcategories)

6.      Soil, Mineral, and Atmospheric Interfaces (42 articles in 11 subcategories)

7.      Solid Surfaces, Including Solid-Fluid Interfaces (83 articles in 16 subcategories)

8.      Theory of Interfaces (72 articles in 16 subcategories).

Articles, which range in length from six to 57 pages, usually contain an introduction, background information or historical overview, discussion of theoretical basis and experimental results, applications, references (mostly dating from the late 1990s through 2000), conclusions, and, in a few cases, a glossary and list of suggested readings. Unfortunately, no cross-references are included. A large, white capital letter of the alphabet (A, B, C, etc.) on a black square on each right hand page helps the user to locate articles easily. The set contains more than 11,000 tables, drawings, equations, and photographs and more than 20,000 references. Each volume contains an extremely detailed index (63 triple-column pages) for the entire set.

Because more than 100,000 publications on surface and colloid science appear annually in the literature, Dekker provides subscribers and readers with new encyclopedia content online each quarter. Prices for eight recent individual articles published online range from $36.00 to $60.00 ( A list of titles and authors for 110 upcoming updates is available at product/productid/E-ESCS/sub?n=u.

This encyclopedia will be a valuable reference source for a variety of users: students encountering interface and colloid science for the first time; senior scientists wanting to become more familiar with interfaces; interface specialists desiring news of recent developments, ideas, or insights; and persons involved in literature research on interface science and its applications.

References and Notes

1.       Hubbard, A. T., Ed. Handbook of Surface Imaging and Visualization; CRC Press: Boca Raton, FL, 1995.

2.       Nalwa, H. S. Handbook of Surfaces and Interfaces of Materials, 5 volumes; Academic Press: San Diego, CA, 2001.

3.       Osada, Y. et al., Eds.; Ishida, H., Transl. Gels Handbook, 4 volumes; Academic Press: San Diego, CA, 2001.

4.       Holmberg, K. Handbook of Applied Surface and Colloid Chemistry, 2 volumes; Wiley: Hoboken, NJ, 2002.

5.       Birdi, K. S., Ed. Handbook of Surface and Colloid Chemistry, 2nd ed.; CRC Press: Boca Raton, FL, 2003.

George B. Kauffman

California State University, Fresno,

S1430-4171(04)03797-6, 10.1333/s00897040797a