The Chemical Educator, Vol. 10, No.3, Media Reviews, © 2005The Chemical Educator


Media Reviews

Our Lives: Encounters of a Scientist. By István Hargittai.Akadémiai Kiadó, Member of Wolters Kluwer Group: P.O. Box 245, H-1519, Budapest, 2004. Illustrations. 261 pp, 16.2 ´ 24.1 cm.; €30, also available at $30.00 from or International Specialized Book Services, 920 N.E. 58th Ave., Suite 300, Portland, OR 97213;; Phone: (800) 944-6190 or (503) 287-3093; FAX: (503) 280-8832 (hardbound); ISBN 963-05-8101-9.

Since his first interview with a Nobel laureate—that of Nikolai Nikolaevich Semenov (Chemistry, 1956), in September, 1965, István Hargittai, Professor of Chemistry at the Budapest University of Technology and Economics, Research Professor of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences at Eötvös University, member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences (1993), the Academia Europæa (1994), and foreign member of the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters (1988), holder of honorary doctorates from Moscow University (1992), the University of North Carolina, Wilmington (2000), and the Russian Academy of Sciences (2004), and an interviewer par excellence, has immersed himself first-hand in all manner of Nobeliana.

For his influential but unfortunately short-lived quarterly Springer-Verlag magazine, The Chemical Intelligencer, which was published for six years(1995–2000) he interviewed 120 Nobelists, sometimes with his wife and frequent collaborator Magdolna (Magdi). These interviews enabled him to satisfy his interest in the personal aspects of science, which is displayed on almost every page of Our Lives. Many of these interviews have appeared or will appear in his projected six-volume series of books Candid Science, five volumes of which have been published [1–5]. Hargittai has used much of the specific material from the interviews in Candid Science to arrive at generalizations about the prizes and prize winners in The Road to Stockholm [6], which I consider the best general book on the science prizes commemorating the centenary of the Nobel Prizes.

Similarly, Hargittai has used material on Nobel laureates and other well-known and unfamiliar scientists from Candid Science in the latest of his 25 books. When my wife Laurie asked me what kind of a work Our Lives was, I told her that it defies categorization. In my opinion, it is a work for which the Latin phrase sui generis was designed. It is part biography, part autobiography, part history, part science, and part essay, in the sense of Samuel Johnson’s definition of a “loose sally of the mind.”

Each of the book’s 19 chapters is named after a Nobel science laureate (chemist, physicist, or biomedical scientist), all but one of whom (Odd Hassel), Hargittai had interviewed and all of whom have appeared in Candid Science or the Chemical Intelligencer. He chose Nobel laureates since the prize “is the only scientific recognition that is well known broadly” (p 8). After detailing the main features of the laureate’s life and work, Hargittai selects an aspect or aspects that resonate with experiences in his own life. In a kind of free association he summons up reflections and reminiscences from his ordeals and encounters, which he seamlessly weaves into moving and engrossing tales. He accurately describes the result as

a collage whose components are largely self-contained; the book need not be read in sequence. By blending these personal stories together with my experiences with famous scientists, I aimed at showing that scientists are also human beings, that science can be and is often done in adversity, and it also gave me an opportunity to communicate some science in a gentle way (p 8).

My wife and I have reviewed a number of Hargittai’s books, I have corresponded with him for several decades, and I served as Contributing Editor of the Chemical Intelligencer’s History feature so I thought that I was fairly familiar with the events of his life. Yet I learned many facts and facets of his life and work that were entirely new and unknown to me and that increased my already great respect for him and his achievements.

According to Árpád Göncz, President of Hungary from 1990–2000, who wrote the foreword,

This book is deeply personal—a literary creation, and at the same time an authentic document of science history. It presents an unembellished chronicle of a family that was made to endure the privations and horrors of a mercilessly haunting era in the history of our country. Whether in its multilayered totality the message that emerges is one of sorrow and foreboding, or of optimism and resilience of the human spirit, readers will have to decide for themselves, according to their own values, hopes and fears (p 5).

Like Joseph Conrad, whose native language was Polish but who won fame as a novelist writing in English, Hargittai’s English prose is impeccable. Although his mother tongue is Hungarian, and Our Lives was published by a Hungarian publisher, he wrote it in English for his wife Magdi, his son Balázs (b. 1970) and daughter Eszter (b. 1973), both of whom will most probably settle in the United States, and to his future grandchildren [7]. However, it is to the memory of his mother, Magdolna (née Brünner), whose example taught him “perseverance and tolerance, defiance and social solidarity” (p 8), that he has dedicated the book.

The chapter titles and a brief summary of their contents should give the prospective reader some idea of the wide scope of Hargittai’s book (Nobel Prize fields: C, chemistry—10; P, physics—4; M, physiology or medicine—5; and PE, peace—1; F, female—2; J, Jewish—9; H, Hungarian—2; and †, deceased—5):

1.      Sune Bergström (10 pp) 1982 PM, † [2, pp 542–547], who received the prize for his research on prostaglandins, and the late Donald Cram, who received the 1987 chemistry prize for creating the new field of supramolecular chemistry, are examples of the many great scientists who lost their fathers during their childhood or never knew them. Hargittai uses this theme to relate his early family life and tells how his father, Jenö Wilhelm (In 1959 István changed this family surname, which is a common German first name, to the Hungarian name Hargittai), was killed in 1942 in a forced labor unit.

2.      Marshall Nirenberg (13 pp) 1968 PM, J [2, pp 130–141] did not have the satisfaction of his parents’ witnessing his success, and Hargittai tells about the maternal (Brünner) side of his family and his memories of his and his mother’s experiences at a concentration camp (lager) during their deportation in 1944–1945.

3.      Philip Anderson (11 pp) 1977 P [4, pp 586–601] received the prize for his studies of disordered systems in the solid state. Hargittai describes his early acquaintance with physics and mathematics, and he discusses topics as variegated as U.S. President Jimmy Carter, physicist Edward Teller, novelist Arthur Koestler, and the Allies’ failure to bomb Auschwitz (He feels that both the concentration camp and the railway lines should have been bombed). He, his mother, and brother and a few thousand Hungarian Jews were en route to Auschwitz when at the last minute they were diverted to Austria.

4.      Frederick Sanger (13 pp) 1958 C, 1980 C [2, pp 72–83], the only person to receive two Nobel prizes in chemistry, was greatly influenced by his older brother, which leads Hargittai to describe his relationship with his older brother Sándor, before and during their confinement at the concentration camp and their liberation by the Russians, who raped every woman in the camp.

5.      Roald Hoffmann (11 pp) 1981 C, J [1, pp 190–209], the chemist and poet [8] who shared the prize with Kenichi Fukui “for their theories, developed independently, concerning the course of chemical reactions,” and the Hungarian-born immunologist George Klein, who emigrated to Sweden, both lost their fathers in their early lives and, like Hargittai, had mothers who remarried after World War II. Hargittai tells of his relations with his stepfather, József Pollák.

6.      Herbert Hauptman (12 pp) 1985 C, J [3, pp 292–317] shared the prize with Jerome Karle “for their outstanding achievements in the development of direct methods for the determination of crystal structures.” Their careers fascinated Hargittai because their field of endeavor was close to his and had a special appeal to him since they both faced difficulties in getting their education. All three had to battle anti-Semitism [9, 10], and Hargittai recounts how his mother ingeniously overcame anti-Semitism and the Hungarian bureaucracy in getting him admitted to a gimnázium (secondary school) and Budapest’s Eötvös University.

7.      Odd Hassel (10 pp) 1969 C, † [1, pp 158–163], who shared the prize with Derek H. R. Barton “for their contributions to the development of the concept of conformation and its application to chemistry,” and his pupil, Otto Bastiansen, one of Hargittai’s mentors, were pioneers in Hargittai’s research area, the determination of molecular structure by electron diffraction. Hargittai discusses his fascination with symmetry [11], his choice of a profession, his doctoral research at Budapest, his relations with Bastiansen and other mentors, and his inability to present his invited lecture in Oslo to celebrate Bastiansen’s 60th birthday in 1978 because he was denied permission for foreign travel since his older brother had defected to Israel (His lecture, in Norwegian translation, was the only one from the meeting that was published).

8.      Nikolai Semenov (13 pp) 1956 C, † [1, pp 466–475], the Soviet chemist who shared the prize with Sir Cyril N. Hinshelwood “for their researches into the mechanism of chemical reactions,” was the first great scientist whom Hargittai ever interviewed (in 1965 in Budapest, where Semenov received an honorary degree from the University of Technology). Hargittai discusses Soviet science, Nobel physics laureates Pyotr Kapitsa and Lev Landau, crystallographer Aleksandr Kitaigorodskii, and discrimination against Jews in the USSR. He also relates his own impressions of Russia and Russian science (In 1965 he received his Master’s degree from Moscow University, where he had worked from 1961 to 1965).

9.      Manfred Eigen (13 pp) 1967 C [3, pp 368–377], the German physical chemist who shared the prize with Ronald W. G. Norrish and George Porter “for their studies of extremely fast chemical reactions, effected by disturbing the equilibrium by means of very short pulses of energy,” was impacted negatively by World War II, which prevented him from pursuing music, his first choice of a profession. Hargittai segues from Eigen to Hungarian-Jewish physical chemist László Kiss [12], who, with his twin brother were subjected to Josef Mengele’s infamous experiments on twins. He also includes excerpts from Kiss’ Auschwitz diary.

10.    Gertrude Elion (12 pp) 1988 PM, F, J, † [1, pp 54–71], who shared the prize with Sir James W. Black and her colleague George H. Hitchings for developing new immunosupressive drugs, was a poor Jewish girl from New York City, whose research career might never have materialized had World War II not made it easier for women and Jews in the United States to find opportunities for employment that might have otherwise been closed to them. Hargittai discusses her life and work and also that of Hungarian mathematician Vera Turán (née Sós), known as Vera Sós, Hungarian-Jewish mathematicians Paul Turán (her husband) and Paul Erdős, and Nobel physics laureate Arno Penzias and the persecutions of Jews in Europe.

11.    George Olah (10 pp) 1994 C, J, H [1, pp 270–283], the Hungarian-Jewish chemist who won the prize “for his contributions to carbocation chemistry” [13], wrote his autobiography [14], but he considered the details of his life in Hungary closed and rather than dwelling on his past grievances, he concentrated on the new challenges in the United States. Hargittai notes that “When famous scientists refrain from speaking about their roots, it may be an attempt to consider their past closed and move on with their lives” (p 133). He discusses the hardships faced by Olah and the Hungarian-Jewish physical chemist Michael Polanyi, father of the 1986 Nobel chemistry laureate, John C. Polanyi, and he speculates why the former received the prize, while the latter did not. Olah and Ronald J. Gillespie shared pioneering work on superacids, and Hargittai relates how he collaborated with Gillespie on molecular models and coauthored a book on the subject with him [15].

12.    Leon Lederman (11 pp) 1988 P, J [4, pp 142–159], who received the prize for proposing a technique for showing the structure of elementary particles, leads Hargittai to consider the impossibility of forecasting scientific discoveries such as the violation of parity. Hargittai then discusses his lifelong fascination with symmetry. Ironically, his work on his first book on the subject [11] was facilitated by what he jokingly calls “an internal sabbatical leave,” the removal in 1978 of his passport following his brother’s defection to Israel. He reflects on tyranny in many forms such as McCarthyism in the United States and Stalinism in the East, and he tells the story of his favorite poet, Miklós Radnóti, and he quotes from Radnóti’s last poem written a few months before he was shot by Hungarian guards.

13.    Rudolf Mößbauer (10 pp) 1961 P [4, pp 260–271], who discovered recoilless nuclear resonance absorption, which was developed into the new type of spectroscopy that bears his name, furnishes Hargittai with a prototype of the new generation of German academics who entered science after World War II.  Hargittai characterizes the behavior of German academics concerning the period 1933–1945 as “amnesia,” and he discusses the incredible history of German human genetics during the Third Reich as uncovered by Benno Müller-Hill [16] as well as his own observations of German scientists and the Holocaust.

14.    Harold Kroto (12 pp) 1996 C, J [1, pp 332–357], who shared the prize with Robert Curl and Richard E. Smalley for the discovery of the fullerenes, leads Hargittai to relate the story of Russian and Japanese predecessors of the discovery and to pursue the theme of originality in science. From this he segues to various aspects of World War II, including the kamikaze suicide bombers, subjugation of women by the Japanese into prostitution as “comfort women,” and the dropping of the nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. (He thinks that, “While for the war and saving lives it would have been the wrong decision not to use the atomic bombs, it was a tragedy for mankind” (p 171)).

15.    Linus Pauling (12 pp) 1954 C, 1962 Pe, † [1, pp 2–13], the only person to receive two unshared Nobel Prizes [17], provides Hargittai with “an opportunity to mention a few events about which my impressions have been colored by my prior experiences,” including an extreme example of politics interfering with science—the great resonance controversy in the Soviet Union, his experience with American students, a racist incident at the University of Connecticut, from which Elie Wiesel received an honorary degree, and again, more considerations of the Holocaust.

16.    Bruce Merrifield (9 pp) 1984 C [2, pp 206–219], received the prize “for his development of methodology for chemical synthesis on a solid matrix,” which gives Hargittai the opportunity of discussing Rockefeller University’s role in the biomedical sciences (About 20 of its faculty have been Nobel laureates). He then relates at length the career of Hungarian organic chemist Arpád Furka, who used Merrifield’s methodology to develop combinatorial chemistry, which resulted in a paradigm change in producing, isolating, and purifying peptides.

17.    James Watson (11 pp) 1962 PM [2, pp 2–15], who shared the prize with Francis H. C. Crick and Maurice Wilkins for their discovery of the structure of DNA, is the starting point for a discussion of the persons involved in the race for the double helix as well as Watson’s personality and idiosyncrasies as revealed in interviews at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory and Budapest.

18.    Eugene Wigner (11 pp) 1963 P, J, H † [4, pp 2–19], received the prize not for any particular discovery but for a body of important contributions to theoretical physics. In response to a Hungarian translation of Wigner’s essay on the limits of science in Élet és Irodalom (Life and Literature) Hargittai wrote his first publication. He describes his meeting with his fellow Hungarian Wigner at the University of Texas and anti-Semitism in Hungary.

19.    Rosalyn Yalow (12 pp) 1977 PM, F, J [2, pp 518–523], a daughter of poor East European Jewish immigrants, received the prize for her development of the radioimmunoassay (RIA) technique and encountered many difficulties in her career. Through Magdi, Hargittai became aware of the discrimination faced by women in science. He discusses his marriage with Magdi and his opinions about religion, Israel, Anti-Semitism, the Holocaust, and the role of the scientist in our modern world. Magdi’s bout with breast cancer made them both aware of their vulnerability and the power of science at every step of her successful treatment.

Among the dazzling array of disparate topics we find discussions of government and public service; gender bias and feminism; Nobel politics; research planning; the Great Depression; music; the Big Bang; censorship; communism and anti-communism; crystallography; drugs; the human genome project; mathematics; molecular structure; quantum mechanics; books, films and television programs; religious beliefs and science; history of science; authorship of articles, the scientific establishment; experiment vs. theory; science and nationalism; the role of imagination in science and the arts; science and society; World War II and its aftermath; Lysenkoism; the arms race; social systems; the peer review  system; poetry; music; jokes; and many of the most important events of the 20th century, both scientific and nonscientific, and, of course, Hargittai’s personal reactions to them.

Although intended for the general reader, this fascinating book is nevertheless meticulously documented with 15 pages of notes, including references to primary and secondary sources as late as 2004 as well as detailed explanations and annotations of matters in the text. It contains 43 illustrations, including 19 portraits of Nobelists (many taken by István or Magdi) and 12 family portraits, and a name index (nine double-column pages). A three-page list of chronologies is divided into general and personal events.

Despite his prolificacy, Hargittai is an extremely careful writer and proofreader so the few errors that inevitably creep into any book are “typos” or minor lapses: “College” for “Collège” (de France, p 42); “me and Magdi” for “Magdi and me” (p 49); “Erlenmayer” for “Erlenmeyer” (p 69); “due” for “due to” (p 85); and “Bastansen’s” for “Bastiansen’s” (p 89).

This book affected me to a greater degree than any of Hargittai’s previous works. A perceptive observer of and articulate commentator on science and society, he has now reached the age at which most of us reflect on our lives and attempt to make sense of all that we have undergone. His first-hand accounts of the horror that he suffered are difficult for those of us lucky enough to be born in the United States to scarcely imagine. For those, like me, who have admired Hargittai and his accomplishments for many years, it acquainted me with numerous events in his life of which I was completely unaware. For those who have not followed his career and scientific contributions, it will provide an engrossing introduction to his life and work against the background of one of the most turbulent times in history. For everyone it is a cautionary tale about the direction in which our society may heedlessly be heading.

According to Hargittai,

Although this book is a personal account, I believe that some of my life experience has a more general relevance. I like to think that, in a small way, it is also a part of what is referred to as the Middle European experience, which has had much to offer to world culture….I like to think that most of my negative life experience will not be repeated in future generations, but to make sure it does not, we need to remember the past. In this sense, I feel that my negative experiences are more instructive than the positive ones. To be sure, I have had many pleasant experiences in my life and my basic approach to life has been optimistic (p 8).

Hargittai’s tale of his encounters with life and science is a tribute to the resilience of the human spirit.

References and Notes

1.       Hargittai; I.; Hargittai, M., Ed. Candid Science: Conversations with Famous Chemists; Imperial College Press: London, England, 2000. For a review see Kauffman, G. B.; Kauffman, L. M. Chem. Educator 2002, 7, 184–186; DOI 10.1333/s00897020570a.

2.       Hargittai; I.; Hargittai, M., Ed. Candid Science II: Conversations with Famous Biomedical Scientists;Imperial College Press: London, England, 2002; distributed by World Scientific Publishing Co.: Singapore; River Edge, NJ; London, England. For a review see Kauffman,G. B. Chem. Educator 2003, 8, 90–93; DOI 10.1333/s00897030663a.

3.       Hargittai; I.; Hargittai, M., Ed. Candid Science III: More Conversations with Famous Chemists; Imperial College Press: London, England, 2003; distributed by World Scientific Publishing Co.: Singapore; River Edge, NJ; London, England. For a review see Kauffman, G. B. Chem. Educator 2004, 9, 52–55; DOI 10.1333/s00897030763a.

4.       Hargittai; M.; Hargittai, I. Candid Science IV: Conversations with Famous Physicists; Imperial College Press: London, England, 2004; distributed by World Scientific Publishing Co.: Singapore; River Edge, NJ; London, England.

5.       Hargittai; B.; Hargittai, I. Candid Science V: Conversations with Famous Scientists; Imperial College Press: London, England, 2005; distributed by World Scientific Publishing Co.: Singapore; River Edge, NJ; London, England. 

6.       Hargittai, I. The Road to Stockholm: Nobel Prizes, Science, and Scientists; Oxford University Press: Oxford, England; New York, 2000. For a review see Kauffman, G. B.; Kauffman, L. M. Chem. Educator 2003, 8, 233–236; DOI 10.1333/s00897030696a.

7.       In the fall of 2002 Hargittai prepared a Hungarian version of this book, which appeared as Életeink: Egy tudományos kutató találkozása a 20, századdal; Typotex: Budapest, 2003.

8.       Kauffman, G. B. Roald Hoffmann. In Biographical Encyclopedia of Scientists; Olson, R.; Smith, R., Eds.; Marshall Cavendish Corporation: New York, 1998; Vol. 3, pp 635-637. For reviews of Hoffmann’s books of poetry see Kauffman, G. B. The Metamict State. J. Chem. Educ. 1989, 66, A47; Memory Effects: Poems by Roald Hoffmann. Chem. Educator 2005, 10, 64–66; DOI 10.1333/s008970578a; Kauffman, G. B.; Kauffman, L. M. Poets in the Laboratory [Gaps and Verges] Angew. Chem., Int. Ed. 1990, 20, 1488–1489.

9.       Although anti-Semitism is now increasing in Europe, it has decreased markedly in the United States during my lifetime. I offer two pieces of anecdotal evidence. First, the classic Yiddish joke, the chicken goniff (thief), which has many variants: A chicken goniff is in court and speaks Yiddish with his lawyer while the judge listens. I don't recall the dialogue, but the punch line occurs when the judge interrupts in Yiddish. The humor arose from the surprise that the judge, a member of the gentile establishment, could possibly be Jewish! Now, of course, there are literally thousands of Jewish judges in the United States (Just think of all those on TV alone!) so the joke is no longer funny. Second, when I received my B.A. (Honors) degree in 1951, the chemical industry was still reputed to be anti-Semitic, but by 1993 the chairman and CEO of Dupont was Irving S. Shapiro.

10.      Through the year 2000 128 Nobel laureates—more than one-fifth of science laureates—were of Jewish parentage (21, chemistry; 37, physics; 39, physiology or medicine; 10, literature; 8, peace; 13, economics). For a list see Feldman, B. The Nobel Prize: A History of Genius, Controversy, and Prestige; Arcade Publishing Company: New York, 2000; pp 407–411. This over-representation of Jews among Nobel laureates has been ascribed to the increased drive to produce caused by anti-Semitic discrimination, and the fact that there were no Israeli Nobelists was cited as confirmation of this view. However, in 2004 Avram Hershko (a Hungarian Jew who emigrated to Israel in 1950) and Aaron Ciechanover of the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa shared the chemistry prize with Irwin A. Rose of the University of California, Irvine.

11.     Hargittai; I.; Hargittai, M., Ed. Symmetry through the Eyes of a Chemist; VCH Publishers: New York, 1986. For a review see Kauffman,G. B. J. Chem. Educ. 1987, 64, A249. This book, which was also translated into Russian (MIR: Moscow, 1989), was based on the earlier book published in Hungarian as Szimmetria egy kémikus szemével; Akadémiai Kiadó: Budapest, 1983.

12.     Hungarians have been well represented among intellectuals, and many of them were Jewish. See McCagg, Jr., W. O. Jewish Nobles and Geniuses in Modern Hungary; East European Quarterly, Boulder; Distributed by Columbia University Press: New York, 1972.

13.     Kauffman, G. B.; Kauffman, L. M. George Andrew Olah: An Interview with the 1994 Nobel Chemistry Laureate. Chem. Intelligencer April, 1995, 1 (2), 6–13; Scientists: Past and Present: The Master of Hydrocarbons: George Olah has radically expanded our understanding and mastery of the processes by which we make fuels, lubricants, plastics, and pharmaceuticals. The World & I September 1995, 10 (9), 168–175; Profiles in Chemistry: Nobel Superchemist: For Olah, awarded the 1994 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his seminal research on “superacids” and carbocations, chemistry has been a full-time hobby. Today's Chemist at Work September, 1995, 4 (8), 53–54, 72.

14.     Olah, G. A. A Life of Magic Chemistry: Autobiographical Reflections of a Nobel Prize Winner; Wiley-Interscience: New York, 2001. For a book review see Kauffman, G. B.; Kauffman, Chem. Educator 2002, 7 (4), 241–243; DOI 10.1333/s00897020587a.

15.     Gillespie, R. J.; Hargittai, I. The VSEPR Model of Molecular Geometry; Allyn & Bacon: Boston, MA, 1991.

16.     Müller-Hill, B. Tödliche Wissenschaft; Rowohlt: Hamburg, 1984; translated into English as Murderous Science: Elimination by Scientific Selection of Jews, Gypsies, and Others in Germany, 1933-1945; Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press: New York, 1998.

17.     Kauffman, G. B.; Kauffman, L. M. An Interview with Linus Pauling. J. Chem. Educ. 1996, 73, 29–32; Scope and depth of Linus Pauling's life still breathtaking. Fresno Bee, August 21, 1999, B7; World still benefits from brilliance of Linus Pauling. Fresno Bee, February 24, 2001, p B7; Pioneer, Reformer, Scientist for the Ages: Linus Pauling, one of “the 20 greatest scientists of all time,” was the only person to win two unshared Nobel Prizes. Today's Chemist at Work, 2001, 10, 99–100, 103–104.

George B. Kauffman

California State University, Fresno,

S1430-4171(05)03917-9, 10.1333/s00897050917a

Van Nostrand’s Encyclopedia of Chemistry, Fifth Edition. Glenn D. Considine, Editor-in-Chief; Greg Gallagher and Peter H. Kulik, Associate Editors. Wiley-Interscience: Hoboken, NJ, 2005. Figures, tables. xv + 1831 pp, hardcover. 22.4 ´ 28.6 cm. $195.00. ISBN 0-471-61525-0.

The latest edition of this well-known, concise, comprehensive, and accessible general chemistry reference work continues its tradition of excellence maintained through almost half a century. Under the title of the Van Nostrand Reinhold Encyclopedia of Chemistry it appeared in four previous editions (1956, 1966, 1973, and 1984), and this fifth edition reflects the progress and change that have taken place during the past two decades with more than 75 percent new text. Chemistry has expanded into new fields, and this development, together with the impact of related sciences on chemistry, has required the inclusion of numerous new topics and considerable reorganization of the format to accommodate the central science’s rapidly growing interdisciplinary nature.

Simultaneously, chemistry has continued its trend toward greater specialization and compartmentalization, while increasing numbers of scientists, engineers, and technologists have required a knowledge of chemistry because of its importance in diverse technologies such as electronics, communications, energy sources and conservation, biotechnology, waste handling, pollution abatement, molecular biology (a type of chemistry), and the development of pharmaceuticals, biologicals, and chemotherapeutic methodologies. In addition to the usual “classical” chemistry topics, the volume considers green chemistry, forensic chemistry, supramolecular chemistry, combinatorial chemistry, materials chemistry, nanotechnology, and fuel cell technology. Brief biographies of scores of scientists, both historical and contemporary (Nobel chemistry laureates through 1996) are also included.

Previous positive features of the series have been continued. The encyclopedia has been designed to be approachable by students of all ages. The discussion of each topic begins with a simple definition expressed in plain terms, followed by a more detailed treatment, augmented by sometimes extensive “Additional Reading” suggestions, and Internet references.

In order to accommodate the much wider areas of interest in chemistry and to provide sufficient coverage of the progress made during the past two decades the number of entries, the major ones of which are signed, has been increased from about 1250 in the 4th edition to more than 2750, alphabetically arranged from “AAAS” (American Association for the Advancement of Science) to “Zymolytic Reaction” and ranging in length from a single sentence to many double-column pages (The 11-page article on “Genetics and Gene Science (Classical)” contains an abridged chronology of progress in genetic science (1543–1988) and a list of major events in the U.S. Human Genome Project and related projects (1983–2001)). Numerous mathematical and chemical equations and structural formulas are provided. Inclusion of additional material has been accomplished without resulting in an unwieldy, long volume by condensing the text using more tables, figures, and graphics. The interior references, in which one article refers to another article offering additional or related coverage, as well as the visual aids and expanded subject index (51-triple-column-page index with page references in boldface type to indicate primary articles and page numbers followed by “t” to indicate material in tables) have been entirely revised so as to provide much greater ease in navigating through the volume.

In addition to the usual topics included in a chemical encyclopedia the editors have emphasized the following:

·  Advanced processes: catalytic conversion, cryogenics, dialysis, freeze-concentrating, drying, preserving, molecular distillation, photonuclear reactions, reverse osmosis, semipermeable membranes, molecular sieves, solvolysis, supercooling, superfluidity, thermoelectric cooling, and ultrafiltration.

·  Strategic raw materials: several hundred economic minerals and important raw materials used in chemical processing.

·  Chemistry of metals: greater stress on metallurgical phenomena and processes.

·  Energy sources and conversion: biomass; batteries; fuel cells and their technology; hydrogen as a fuel; liquid and gaseous fuels from coal, oil shale, and tar sands; nuclear fission and fusion; lithium for thermonuclear reactors; insulating materials; and solar energy.

·  Wastes and pollution: carcinogens, air pollution, water treatment and pollution, cytoxic chemicals, dioxin, biphenyls, and radioactive waste handling.

·  Analytical instrumentation: new tools for determining trace materials in p.p.m. and p.p.b., for example, by chromatography.

·  Growing use of food chemicals: intermediate-moisture food technology, and major food additives such as anticaking agents, antimicrobial agents, bodying and bulking agents, coating materials, flavoring and flavor enhancers, humectants, and polymers.

·  Structure of matter: molecular biology, biotechnology, and comprehensive coverage from subatomic particles to macromolecules.

·  New and improved materials: metal alloys, glass fibers for fiber optic communications, aerogels, plastics, graphite structures for aircraft, xanthan gum for the food industry, dyes, smart materials, YIGs and YAGs for the electronics industry, cavitands, metalloids, metalloproteins, electroconductive polymers, and superconductors.

·  Plant chemistry: allopathic substances, anthocyanins, betalaines, gibberellic acid and plant growth hormones, herbicides, insecticides, maleic hydrazide growth inhibitors, agricultural control chemicals, and new concepts in insect control.

·  Biochemistry and biotechnology: amino acids, antiobiotics, antimetabolites, coenzymes, contractile proteins, dietary minerals, endorphins, enkephalins, enzymes, fermentation, hormones, immunochemistry, pharmaceuticals, recombinant DNA, vitamins, and the effects of chemicals in biological systems.

The Editor-in-Chief, Glenn D. Considine, is the son of the late Douglas M. Considine, who was editor of Van Nostrand’s Scientific Encyclopedia for more than three decades. Several hundred scientists, engineers, and university-level educators from around the world provided detailed information, graphics, and editorial guidance for the entries, and an abridged list (seven double-column pages) includes more than 450 individuals and groups, and in some cases the titles of their articles, who contributed to the encyclopedia.

The “Additional Readings” at the end of many of the articles now include both updated print (books and articles—with titles—as recent as 2004) and Internet references, which provide additional knowledge on scores of topics. The Internet references enable users to find the “first places” to access for further information without first wading through thousands of “hits.”

The 5th edition of Van Nostrand’s Encyclopedia of Chemistry continues the progressive treatment of earlier editions; a simple definition leads to a more extensive discussion, which makes it an essential resource for both students and experienced professionals. This latest edition of a popular, standard, and critically acclaimed desktop reference source, featuring a host of state-of-the-art entries, belongs in personal, institutional, academic, professional, and industrial libraries.

George B. Kauffman

California State University, Fresno,

S1430-4171(05)03918-8, 10.1333/s00897050918a

Teaching University Students Chemistry: Approaches your colleagues have tried. by Jill Barrett, Technical and Educational Services Ltd, 37 Ravenswood Road, Bristol BS6 6BW UK 1996. 188 pp. £14.00. ISBN 0-947885-33-1.

Teaching University Students Chemistry: approaches your colleagues have tried is a short book of ideas. A few verge on the daft, most are rather straightforward, but some are nuggets of real potential. Jill Barrett has distilled some 76 published papers on the art of teaching chemistry into 188 concentrated pages aimed at anyone who is looking to improve their teaching and, thereby, student learning.

Most of the papers used as source material for the book were originally published in mainstream science journals such as the Journal of Chemical Education or the Journal of College Science Teaching. A smaller number appeared in less widely read journals, such as Chemical Engineering in Australia, Chemical Education Engineering, or Improving College and University Teaching. Each paper is summarized by Barrett in from one to four pages. Bullet points or numbering are used, though not always consistently, to identify the key ideas, the resources required, the favorable outcomes (assuming that there are some) and the problems that may arise when what is proposed is put into action. The aim of the book is succinctly described by the author in a short preface:

This booklet brings together some approaches in tertiary teaching that practising chemistry teachers have tried. The methods and ideas have been abstracted from published journal articles and placed in a context of what is currently accepted as good teaching in higher education.

There is no attempt made to make this a definitive selection. The teaching and learning approaches recorded here are easily summarised in one or two pages and come from journals that are available in most university and college libraries.

If you are one of the many academics looking for new ideas to try in the classroom this booklet provides an introduction to the wealth of strategies available in chemical education journals.”

Titles of the ten chapters give the flavor of the book.

1.      Teaching University students (a brief introduction)

2.      Assessment: Diagnostic testing of students and the provision of additional assistance (8 papers summarized)

3.      Assessment: Organising and marking assessment tasks (8 papers)

4.      Evaluating teaching and courses (6 papers)

5.      Linking with industry and the community (4 papers)

6.      Laboratory teaching (18 papers)

7.      New technologies (3 papers)

8.      Lecturing and alternatives (20 papers)

9.      Enhancing students’ writing skills (8 papers)

10.    Student well-being. (1 paper)

This short text is limited is several respects. Although I have only recently received a copy, the book dates from 1996, and in some ways it has not aged well. For example, chapter 7, on “New Technologies,” contains summaries of just three papers. Not only does this underrate the importance of technology in current teaching, (and probably its importance even in 1996), but the three contributions relate to papers originally published as long ago as 1995, 1994, and 1989. These describe the use of online databases, computer projection in a lecture theatre, and laser disks. These are indeed approaches that “your colleagues may have tried,” but the approaches were tried so long ago that they will in large measure have been discarded, or at least seriously modified, by now.

In other areas, the material covered is sufficiently elementary that one wonders whether its inclusion is really justified. For example, four pages are devoted to a discussion entitled “Seeking student feedback on how they use and regard the course textbook.” (Curiously, the four-page summary presented in the book is one page longer than the original article published in the Journal of College Science Teaching.) In devising a suitable questionnaire we are urged to ask for student responses to such statements as

In general I have found the text extremely/moderately/ somewhat/rarely/hardly ever or never useful as a learning tool in understanding the course


I found the most useful feature of the text to be ...

followed by

I found the biggest weakness of the text to be...”

This hand-holding is irritating: any instructor able to teach a chemistry course would undoubtedly be capable of thinking up such questions on his or her own, and it is hard to see what is to be gained by reproducing such self-evident advice in the book.

There is, as one would expect in a book that reports work that was published eight or more years ago, not much that is fresh and original. In the section on Laboratory Exercises, for example, there is some emphasis on finding alternatives to cookbook-type experiments, using instead guided-inquiry methods, or linking experiments into outside topics. Nothing very new there, and there were no “Gosh, what a great idea!” moments in reading this section, or indeed any other section, of the book.

Nevertheless, despite these reservations, there is much that makes this book worth reading. After a couple of decades in the lecture theatre as a chemistry (or indeed any other kind of) teacher, it is easy to assume that you know it all—or at least that you know all the important bits. You can keep the students interested during your lectures and get the science across—what more is needed? Gradually, the desire to learn about and adopt the best practices of others seems to fade. Deep down though, one is aware that there always remains more to learn. Bright ideas that others have published do slip by and in collecting together many of these ideas in one place this book performs a helpful service to chemists.

In addition, the 500-words-tells-it-all approach that Barrett has adopted, while it offers no more than a taster of each topic, does make for easy reading. Over a cup of coffee it is possible to skip through a dozen ideas, and if just one of these can be incorporated into the lecture or the practical course the book will be worth its purchase price.

This is not the kind of book into which one is likely to dip repeatedly. A single pass would be sufficient to identify promising ideas that might be followed up by tracking down the relevant references. However, in collating so many ideas relating to the fundamentals of chemistry teaching and describing them in a straightforward and palatable way, Barrett has provided a useful service. Outdated or trivial in places it may be, but anyone with an interest in science teaching would do well to read this book. If it provides only a single idea worth incorporating into the way you teach—and it will—the time will have been well spent.

Hugh Cartwright

Oxford University, UK,

S1430-4171(05)03919-7, 10.1333/s00897050919a

Handbook of Spectroscopy. Günter Gauglitz and Tuan Vo-Dinh, Editors. Wiley-VCH: Weinheim, Germany, 2003. 2 volumes, lx + 1137 pp; 17.6 ´ 24.5 cm.; hardcover. $520.00; ISBN 3-527-29782-0.

Spectroscopy, the science dealing with the interactions between electromagnetic radiation and matter, has recently undergone an explosive growth because of innovations in methodologies and instrumentation, which offer possibilities for new applications and novel analytical techniques for solving common analytical problems and dealing with new challenges. Research, analytical, and environmental scientists as well as industrial engineers who are frequently confronted with the ever-increasing complexity of everyday sample analysis require an easily accessible source of information and an authoritative guide on how best to apply currently available spectroscopic methods to their particular fields of interest and to their specific applications.

To deal with this need Günter Gauglitz of the Institute for Physical and Theoretical Chemistry, Universität Tübingen and Tuan Vo-Dinh of the Advanced Biomedical Science and Technology Group at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory have produced a handbook that provides a straightforward introduction to spectroscopy, what it can accomplish, and how to apply it effectively. Their Handbook of Spectroscopy also provides a lucid, objective, and integrated account of the multifaceted wealth of information that can be derived from spectra. It deals with the entire range of the electromagnetic spectrum and the physical mechanisms involved, from rotation processes in molecules to nuclear phenomena.

In addition to providing introductory material, the handbook is a comprehensive guide to state-of-the art practices in all of spectroscopy’s major fields. The treatment of each field presents the most up-to-date developments in methodologies, techniques, instrumentation, and data treatment. The volume shows the researcher or practicing spectroscopist how to select the most suitable technique for a given application, how to choose the best methods of sample preparation and spectra recording, and how to interpret the results. It also guides the reader to selected compilations of significant data.

Not merely another treatise on the theory of spectroscopy but a practical day-to-day laboratory guide based on 300 questionnaires completed by spectroscopists at academic and industrial laboratories, the handbookutilizes an academic level appropriate for the newcomer to the various areas of spectroscopy that requires no specialized knowledge beyond the level of a graduate student in the physical or life sciences. This international venture involves 41 contributors, who include Tuan Vo-Dinh, from academic, industrial, and governmental laboratories in 12 countries—the United States (12); Germany (10); Austria, the Czech Republic, Finland, the UK (three each); France (2); and Belgium, Canada, Latvia, Japan, and Spain (one each). It is a meticulously organized work, being divided into 11 sections (many with introductions) and 24 chapters that are subdivided into numbered sections, subsections, and sub-subsections.

Replete with hundreds of figures, tables, mathematical equations, and chemical formulas and equations, the handbook includes data tables in standardized format that compare different methods to save time and costs as well as analysis of a large number of measured spectral data and use of such information sources as databases and spectral libraries. The first volume contains a preface and list of contributors and their addresses. Each separately paginated volume contains a 23-page table of contents for the entire work. A 34-double-column-page index in Volume 2 facilitates location of material. The hundreds of references include books and articles as recent as 2003.

A list of the sections and chapters and their lengths shows the wide range of topics dealt with in the handbook:

Volume 1 (xxxii + 599 pp)

Section I, “Sample Preparation and Sample Pretreatment” (33 pp, the shortest section)

Chapter 1, “Collection and Preparation of Gaseous Samples” (13 pp)

Chapter 2, “Sample Collection and Preparation of Liquids and Solids” (19 pp)

Section II, “Methods 1: Optical Spectroscopy” (129 pp)

    Chapter 3, “Basics of Optical Spectroscopy” (9 pp, the shortest chapter)

Chapter 4, “Instrumentation” (21 pp)

Chapter 5, “Measurement Techniques” (19 pp)

Chapter 6, “Applications” (80 pp)

Section III, “Methods 2: Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy” (158 pp, the longest section)

Chapter 7, “An Introduction to Solution, Solid-State, and Imaging NMR Spectroscopy” (32 pp)

Chapter 8, “Solution NMR Spectroscopy” (60 pp)

Chapter 9, “Solid-State NMR” (58 pp)

Section IV, “Methods 3: Mass Spectrometry” (36 pp)

Chapter 10, “Mass Spectrometry” (34 pp)

Section V, “Methods 4: Elemental Analysis” (132 pp)

Chapter 11, “X-Ray Fluorescence Analysis” (56 pp)

Chapter 12, “Atomic Absorption Spectrometry (AAS) and Atomic Emission Spectrometry (AES)” (76 pp)

Section VI, “Methods 5: Surface Analysis Techniques” (103 pp)

Chapter 13, “Surface Analysis Techniques” (100 pp)

Volume 2 (xxviii + 538 pp)

Section VII, “Applications 1: Bioanalysis” (147 pp)

Chapter 14, “Bioanalysis” (145 pp, the longest chapter)

Section VIII, “Applications 2: Environmental Analysis” (119 pp)

Chapter 15, “LC-MS in Environmental Analysis” (92 pp)

Chapter 16, “Gas Chromatography/Ion Trap Mass Spectrometry (GC/ITMS) for Environmental Analysis” (24 pp)

Section IX, “Applications 3: Process Control” (133 pp)

        Chapter 17, “Optical Spectroscopy” (18 pp)

        Chapter 18, “NMR” (19 pp)

        Chapter 19, “Process Mass Spectrometry” (20 pp)

        Chapter 20, “Elemental Analysis” (41 pp)

Section X, “Hyphenated Techniques” (59 pp)

Chapter 21, “Hyphenated Techniques for Chromatographic Detection” (55 pp)

Section XI, “General Data Treatment: Data Bases/Spectra Libraries” (68 pp)

Chapter 22, “Optical Spectroscopy” (28 pp)

Chapter 23, “Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy” (19 pp)   

Chapter 24, “Mass Spectrometry” (17 pp)

According to the editors,

Because light is rapidly becoming an important diagnostic tool, it is our hope that the Handbook will be a valuable companion to the practicing spectroscopist and will stimulate a greater appreciation of the usefulness, efficiency, and potential of spectroscopy (Vol. 1, p xxix).

I think that their book fulfils their hope, and I am pleased to recommend the Handbook of Spectroscopy as an up-to-date, authoritative, comprehensive reference source providing rapid access to essential information for a wide audience involved in the research, teaching, learning, and practice of spectroscopic technologies both to newcomers as well as to advanced practitioners of the field and to academic, industrial, and technical libraries.

George B. Kauffman

California State University, Fresno,

S1430-4171(05)03920-8, 10.1333/s00897050920a

Chemistry: Foundations and Applications. Joseph J. Lagowski, Editor in Chief. Macmillan Reference USA, An Imprint of the Gale Group, a Division of Thomson Learning, Inc.: New York, 2004. 4 volumes. Figures, tables, photographs. cviii + 1514 pp. 21.9 ´ 28.5 cm. $395.00; ISBN 0-02-865721-7.

This latest addition to the Macmillan Science Library, a series of four-volume comprehensive core science encyclopedias (Related titles deal with chemistry [1], physics [2], earth sciences [3], the environment [4], plant sciences [5], biology [6], weather [7], energy [8], animal sciences [9], computer sciences [10], genetics [11], mathematics [12], and space sciences [13]), is edited by longtime Journal of Chemical Education editor Joe Lagowski, who contributed a number of entries, assisted by a board of four distinguished associate editors.

This attractively priced encyclopedia, intended as a “one-stop information” reference set for high school, community college, and college students as well as public library patrons, deals with the history of chemistry, its laws, applications, and sub-disciplines. The set reviews the history of “the central science” from the Bronze Age and alchemy up to the latest developments in modern chemistry. It explains principles, laws, and theories, and it examines the nature of matter and chemical processes. Standard laboratory experiments are presented, along with proper methodologies, protocols, and safety practices.

Applications are emphasized, and, wherever possible, the entries demonstrate that chemistry is an integral part of everyday life. The encyclopedia shows how chemical substances are essential components of many common items, including food, fabrics, cosmetics, drugs, and thought processes. Biographies of past and present scientists are featured, along with discussions of the impact and applications of their work. The many branches of chemistry are reviewed, including inorganic, industrial, atmospheric, and computational chemistry as well as biotechnology. The topics deal with many National Science Education Standards and follow science curricula.

Although most (71) of the encyclopedia’s 214 contributors are academic, government, industrial, and medical authorities from the United States, 18 other countries are represented—Canada (11); the United Kingdom (7); Brazil (4); Germany and Israel (3 each); Australia and South Africa (2 each); and Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Japan, New Zealand, Spain, and Switzerland (one each). 

The encyclopedia's 509 articles, arranged alphabetically from acetaminophen (Tylenol or Excedrin) to zwitterions, discuss a broad range of topics generally associated with chemistry. With a few exceptions, for example, Paul Berg (Vol. 1, pp 111–112) and Richard Willstätter (Vol. 4, pp 279–280), all of the entries are signed.

The user will find articles on elements and compounds; descriptions of processes and mechanisms; explanations of the basic nature of matter; as well as a wide range of entries dealing with the practical application of chemical substances, such as adhesives, artificial sweeteners, ceramics, detergents, disposable diapers, fertilizer, food preservatives, forensic chemistry, gasoline, hair dyes and hair treatments, herbicides, irradiated foods, new battery technology, rubber, salt, semiconductors, solid-state devices, and superconductors. Many of the articles are particularly current or environmentally relevant (for example, air pollution, ethics, fossil fuels, freons, global warming, green chemistry, ozone, recycling, sustainable energy use, and water quality) or oriented toward students or youths (for example, acne medication and careers in chemistry). The current concern with diet and health is reflected in such entries as carcinogen, lipids, low density lipoprotein (LDL), phospholipids, and triglycerides, while advances in genetics are exemplified by articles on clones, polymerase chain reaction (PCR), recombinant DNA, RNA synthesis, and James Dewey Watson.

The set contains biographies of 140 past and contemporary chemists, physicists, and other scientists (13 of them women—Mary Caldwell, Gerty Cori, Marie Sklodowska Curie, Gertrude Belle Elion, Rosalind Franklin, Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin, Frances Kathleen Oldham Kelsey, Kathleen Lonsdale, Lise Meitner, Maud Menten, Agnes Fay Morgan, Florence Seibert, and Rosalyn Yalow; and three African-Americans—George Washington Carver, Emmett Chappelle, and Percy Julian) from Abu Bakr Muhammed ibn Zakariya Al-Razi to Richard Zsigmondy. Entries range in length from one paragraph to 14 pages (synthetic polymers), are alphabetically arranged, and include cross-references (designated with asterisks in the margins or at the end of the text in small capital letters) to guide readers to related entries and specific topics. Technical terms that are defined in the margins are designated with boldface type in the text, and gray-shaded boxes in the margins present additional information.

Most entries contain carefully selected bibliographies, with references (some as recent as 2003) primarily to books and journals readily available, in both accessibility and reading level, to high school students such as the Journal of Chemical Education, as well as Internet web sites. About 300 black and white illustrations, some full-page, as well as chemical and mathematical equations, chemical structures, reaction schemes, tables, and diagrams clarify the matters discussed in the text.

The continual evolution of chemistry is reflected in the treatment of the elements. Separate entries are included for the first 104 elements (through rutherfordium). The remaining elements have been recently discovered or exist only as short-lived species and therefore are not readily available for the usual chemical studies that reveal their bulk properties or reactivity and much of their “standard chemistry.”

Each of the four volumes, which have different ISBNs, contains a table of contents for all four volumes (six double-column pages), a two-page preface, a list of the names and addresses of contributors (four triple-column pages), a 19-page glossary alphabetically arranged from acetylcholine to zwitterion, and a detailed (68 triple-column pages), comprehensive index to all the volumes. Each volume also includes a four-page “For Your Reference” section of three tables (selected metric conversions; alphabetical table of the elements; and common abbreviations, symbols, and acronyms), a periodic table, and a topical outline (four triple-column pages).

The outline is a complete alphabetical list of all the articles in a general overview of the principal areas of chemistry arranged according to the following topics: Analytical Chemistry Applications (41), Aqueous Chemistry (9), Astrochemistry (1), Biochemistry (96), Biographies (140), Chemical Substances (13), Computing (4), Elements (111, including individual elements and families), Energy (19), Environmental Chemistry (13), History (1), Inorganic Chemistry (6), Medicine (22), Organic Chemistry (14), Physical Chemistry (14), Radiation (4), Reactions (7), States of Matter (4), and Structure (14).

In many cases the best authorities have been selected as authors (for example, Peter Atkins for kinetics, Charles E. Carraher, Jr. for polyesters and synthetic polymers, Darleane C. Hoffman for transactinides, Frank A. J. L. James for Humphry Davy, Vladimir Karpenko for alchemy, George B. Kauffman for Alfred Werner, and Anthony S. Travis for dyes and pigments). The set is virtually error-free; “radition” for “radiation” (Vol. 4, pp 54 and 55), “Van Helmont” for van Helmont” and “Van’t Hoff” for “van’t Hoff” (p XIV of all volumes), and the listing of Johannes Rydberg under “Chemical Substances” (p XV of all volumes) as well as his correct listing under “Biographies” are the only minor mistakes that I could find.

Chemistry: Foundations and Applications is available in ebook format (ISBN 0-02-865913-9) through Gale Virtual Reference Library, which delivers a wealth of reference content in a database format and allows libraries of any size, based on user’s needs and usage patterns, to develop collections at their own pace and within their own budgets. This new reference option, which does not require special hardware or an online reader, offers 24/7 remote access, circulation of reference content, cross-searching, and expanded searching for difficult-to-find material. For a guided tour of the Gale Virtual Reference Library and a list of available titles log onto For pricing or further information call 1-800-877-4253 or email galeord@ For a list of sales offices and distributors outside the U.S. and Canada visit

One of the features of this comprehensive compendium of useful knowledge about general chemistry that makes it attractive to chemical educators is its relatively modest price ($395) compared to the prices of other, multivolume chemical encyclopedias such as Kirk-Othmer, Ullmann, Comprehensive Coordination Chemistry, Comprehensive Organometallic Chemistry, etc., whose costs are in the thousands of dollars, pricing them out of the range affordable to individuals. Also, unlike these specialized encyclopedias, the Macmillan set covers all of chemistry. Among other competitors within the price range of an individual buyer, the one-volume McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia of Chemistry (Parker, S. P., Ed. in Chief, 2nd ed.; McGraw-Hill, New York, 1993; $99.50) went out of print in November 1996, but other possibilities [14, 15] are available.

The excellent, lucid writing, meticulous organization, and comprehensive range of Chemistry: Foundations and Applications make it an indispensable source of information on chemistry, and I am pleased to recommend it as a handy, first-line, user-friendly reference source for high school, community college, and beginning undergraduate college students as well as interested laypersons. It also belongs in libraries serving such an audience as a usefulsupplement to more specialized encyclopedias, dictionaries, and handbooks.

References and Notes

1.       Macmillan Encyclopedia of Chemistry; Lagowski, J. J., Ed.-in-Chief; 4 vols.; Macmillan Reference USA, Simon & Schuster Macmillan: New York, 1997). This similar encyclopedia, also edited by Lagowski, was intended for a more academic audience, and it provides additional coverage of some topics. For a review see Kauffman, G. B. J. Chem. Educ. 1998, 75, 1393–1394.

2.       Macmillan Encyclopedia of Physics; Macmillan Reference USA, An Imprint of the Gale Group, a Division of Thomson Learning, Inc.: New York, 1996.

3.       Macmillan Encyclopedia of Earth Sciences; Macmillan Reference USA, An Imprint of the Gale Group, a Division of Thomson Learning, Inc.: New York, 1996.

4.       Macmillan Encyclopedia of the Environment; Macmillan Reference USA, An Imprint of the Gale Group, a Division of Thomson Learning, Inc.: New York, 1997.

5.       Macmillan Encyclopedia of Plant Sciences; Robinson, R., Ed.; Macmillan Reference USA, An Imprint of the Gale Group, a Division of Thomson Learning, Inc.: New York, 2000.

6.       Macmillan Encyclopedia of Biology; Robinson, R., Ed.; Macmillan Reference USA, An Imprint of the Gale Group, a Division of Thomson Learning, Inc.: New York, 2001.

7.       Macmillan Encyclopedia of Weather; Macmillan Reference USA, An Imprint of the Gale Group, a Division of Thomson Learning, Inc.: New York, 2001.

8.       Macmillan Encyclopedia of Energy; Zumenchik, J., Ed.; Macmillan Reference USA, An Imprint of the Gale Group, a Division of Thomson Learning, Inc.: New York, 2001.

9.       Macmillan Encyclopedia of Animal Sciences; Cobb, A., Ed., Macmillan Reference USA, An Imprint of the Gale Group, a Division of Thomson Learning, Inc.: New York, 2001.

10.     Macmillan Encyclopedia of Computer Sciences; Flynn, R., Ed.; Macmillan Reference USA, An Imprint of the Gale Group, a Division of Thomson Learning, Inc.: New York, 2002.

11.     Macmillan Encyclopedia of Genetics; Macmillan Reference USA, An Imprint of the Gale Group, a Division of Thomson Learning, Inc.: New York, 2002.

12.     Macmillan Encyclopedia of Mathematics; Macmillan Reference USA, An Imprint of the Gale Group, a Division of Thomson Learning, Inc.: New York, 2002.

13.     Macmillan Encyclopedia of Space Sciences; Dasch, P., Ed.; Macmillan Reference USA, An Imprint of the Gale Group, a Division of Thomson Learning, Inc.: New York, 2002.

14.     Van Nostrand’s Encyclopedia of Chemistry, 5th ed.;Considine, G. D., Ed.; Wiley-Interscience: Hoboken, NJ, 2005; xv + 1831 pp., $195.00. For a review see Kauffman, G. B. Chem. Educator 2005, 10,235–236; DOI s00897050918a.

15.     McGraw-Hill Concise Encyclopedia of Chemistry; McGraw-Hill: New York, 2005; 500 pp, $24.95. This one-volume encyclopedia is based on content from the somewhat dated 5th edition of the McGraw-Hill Concise Encyclopedia of Science & Technology, 1982.

George B. Kauffman

California State University, Fresno,

S1430-4171(05)03921-7, 10.1333/s00897050921a

CRC Handbook of Thermodynamic Data of Polymer Solutions at Elevated Pressures. Christian Wohlfarth, CRC Press/Taylor & Francis Group: Boca Raton, FL, 2005. 641 pp. ₤155.00. ISBN 0-8493-3246-X.

Those scientists who associate the CRC Press with chunky, sometimes obscure, hugely detailed reference books will feel instantly at home with The Handbook of Thermodynamic Data of Polymer Solutions at Elevated Pressures. It claims to offer

…the only complete collection of high-pressure thermodynamic data pertaining to polymer solutions at elevated pressures to date—all critical data for understanding the physical nature of these mixtures and applicable to a number of industrial and laboratory processes in polymer science, physical chemistry, chemical engineering, and biotechnology.

The data are drawn from journal articles, dissertations, and other sources and include sections on vapor-liquid equilibria, gas solubilities, liquid–liquid equilibria, high-pressure fluid-phase equilibria for polymer systems in supercritical fluids, enthalpic and volumetric data, and tabulations of second virial coefficients. A short introduction provides a brief outline of the data to follow and includes definitions of such routine parameters as number average, mass average, mole fraction, mass fraction and similar quantities, a list of symbols, and two pages of references. The data begin on page 17 and continue in an almost unbroken stream of numerical data (interrupted only by short lists of references) for more than six-hundred pages. Three appendices follow and the book is completed by a one-page index—the shortest I have ever come across in a six-hundred page text about a scientific subject.

If curling up with a glass of wine and a good book for an evening of reading sounds like an attractive option, this is certainly a book to leave on the shelf. However, for those whose research involves work with polymers at high pressure, it could prove a considerable time-saver, bringing together into a single convenient text data from numerous different and widely scattered sources. With a price tag of more than one hundred and fifty pounds, this book is not cheap, and most copies will be purchased by libraries. However, this text continues the CRC’s long tradition of publishing detailed and authoritative compilations of data; if your work lies in this highly specialized area, this text falls into the “must-have” category.

Hugh Cartwright

Oxford University, UK,

S1430-4171(05)03922-6, 10.1333/s00897050922a

Ullmann’s Processes and Process Engineering. Wiley-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KgaA: Weinheim, Germany, 2004. 3 volumes. Figures, tables, photographs. l + 2301 pp. 17.8 ´ 24.5 cm. $740.00; ISBN 3-527-31096-7.

Ullmann’s Processes and Process Engineering makes available as a separate 3-volume handbook the information on industrial chemical processes, unit operations, process engineering, and reactor design and optimization contained in the latest (6th) print edition of the 40-volume Ullmann’s Encyclopedia of Industrial Chemistry (Kellersohn, T., Elvers, B., Hawkins, S., Winter, U., Eds.; Wiley-VCH: Weinheim, Germany 1998; For a review see Kauffman, G. B. Chem. Educator 2000, 5, 49–52; DOI 10.1333/s00897000360a).

The 72 detailed and meticulously edited articles with extensive bibliographies were contributed by 118 industrial and academic authorities, most of whom are located in Germany (75), the United States (19), and the United Kingdom (10). The other authors hail from the Netherlands (3), South Africa (2), and Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Israel, Japan, Sweden, Switzerland (one each).

Because the 6th edition of Ullmann’s Encyclopedia of Chemical Technology contains 800 major articles by 3000 authors, a list of the articles contained in Ullmann’s Processes and Process Engineeringwill be of interest to prospective buyers:

Volume 1 (xviii + pp 1-658, the shortest volume)

Separation Processes

Separation Processes, Introduction

Heat Exchange


Distillation and Rectification

Reactive Distillation


Liquid-Liquid Extraction

Liquid-Solid Extraction



Dust Separation

Membranes and Membrane Separation Processes

Process-Scale Chromatography

Biochemical Separations

Volume 2 (xvi + pp 661-1515, the longest volume)

Separation and Classification—Solid-Liquid Separation

Solid-Liquid Separation, Introduction


Centrifuges, Filtering


Centrifuges, Sedimenting


Separation and Classification—Solid-Solid Separation

Solid-Solid Separation, Introduction



Air Classifying

Mineral Sorting

Magnetic Separation

Electrostatic Separation

Electrochemical and Chemical Deposition

Gravity Concentration

Dense Medium Separation



Mixing, Introduction


Continuous Mixing of Fluids

Mixing of Highly Viscous Media

Mixing of Solids

Particle Technology

Solids Technology, Introduction

Particle Size Analysis and Characterization of a Classification Process

Crystallization and Precipitation

Drying of Solid Materials

Dry Cleaning

Size Reduction

Spraying and Atomizing of Liquids

Size Enlargement

Solids Handling

Heat Generation

Pinch Technology


Electrically Generated Heat

Radiation Heating

Cooling Tower Technology

Direct Heating with Circulating Heat Carriers

Volume 3 (xvi + pp 1519–2301)

Processes and Special Conditions

Refrigeration Technology

Cryogenic Technology

High-Pressure Technology

Vacuum Technology


Principles of Process Engineering

Principles of Chemical Reaction Engineering

Biochemical Engineering

Model Reactors and Their Design Equations

Reactor Types

Reactor Types and Their Industrial Applications

Stirred Tank and Loop Reactors

Tubular Reactors

Fixed-Bed Reactors

Fluidized-Bed Reactors

Bubble Columns

Three-Phase Trickle-Bed Reactors

Reaction Columns

Thin-Film Reactors

Metallurgical Furnaces

Chromatographic Reactors

Membrane Reactors


The handbook retains the referenced and cross-indexed nature of the parent reference work, and the articles present excellent overviews as well as in-depth details. The subject and author indexes facilitate navigation within and across the topics, and the numerous illustrations, clear diagrams, tables, and charts enhance the presentations and provide a unique level of detail.

Each of the volumes contains a table of contents for all three volumes and lists of symbols and units, conversion factors, powers of ten, abbreviations, frequently cited companies, country codes, and a periodic table. Volume 3 contains an alphabetical list of the names, addresses, and article titles for contributors as well as a detailed, comprehensive subject index (37 double-column pages of very small print) for all the volumes.

I am pleased to recommend Ullmann’s Processes and Process Engineering as a handy, invaluable, convenient, and up-to-date source of information for chemical engineers, chemists, patent attorneys, marketing managers, anyone involved in the chemical process industry, as well as technical, industrial, and academic libraries.

George B. Kauffman

California State University, Fresno,

S1430-4171(05)03923-5, 10.1333/s00897050923a

Encyclopedia of Polymer Science and Technology. Herman F. Mark.Kroschwitz, J. I., Ed.;Wiley-Interscience, A John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Publication: Hoboken, NJ, 2003–2004. 12 volumes. Figures, tables, photographs. cccxlii + 9435 pp. 18.6 ´ 25.9 cm. $4200.00.

Although not the world’s first polymer chemist, Herman Francis Mark (1895–1992) [1, 2] is known as the father of polymer science because of his numerous contributions to polymer science education and research, first in Europe and then in the United States. Born in Vienna, Austria, in 1922 he joined Fritz Haber’s Kaiser-Wilhelm-Institut für physikalische Chemie und Elektrochemie in Berlin-Dahlem, and from 1927–1932 he was an Assistant Director of IG Farbenindustrie at Ludwigshafen am Rhein, then the largest German chemical corporation. Because of the growing Nazi threat, he returned to his birthplace and became Professor of Chemistry at the Universität Wien (1932–1938), where he developed the world’s first academic curriculum in polymer science and technology when only a few laboratories, mostly in industry, cultivated the subject and when no university courses were available.

After the Austrian Anschluss Mark migrated to Canada, where he became Research Manager for the Canadian International Pulp and Paper Company (1938–1940) before joining the faculty of the Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn, where in 1944 he organized the Institute of Polymer Research, the first of its kind in the United States, which he served as Director until 1964. With the help of Dean R. Kirk and Donald F. Othmer he persuaded Interscience Publishers to publish Kirk-Othmer’s Encyclopedia of Chemical Technology, an American version Of Ullmann’s Encyklopädie der technischen Chemie. (now published in English as Ullmann’s Encyclopedia of Industrial Chemistry).

In 1964 Wiley began to publish the Encyclopedia of Polymer Science and Engineering under Mark’s editorship. Mark began the preface by summarizing the past and present of the field:

Since Goodyear’s discovery of the vulcanization of rubber in 1839, Hyatt’s discovery of plasticized cellulose nitrate [celluloid] in 1870, Chardonnet’s manufacture of a man-made fiber [rayon] in 1884, and Baekeland’s synthesis of phenolic resins [bakelite] in 1909, the pace of polymer science and technology has been accelerating dramatically. This has been the case during the last 40 years [1920s–1960s], when astonishing progress has been made in elucidating the nature of macromolecules and the mechanism of their formation, in devising entirely new classes of giant molecules, in finding practical methods of fabricating them, and in inventing innumerable ways of employing them for human benefit. We have truly entered the “Age of Polymers.”

The second edition, edited by Mark, appeared in 1985–1990 and comprised 17 volumes, a supplement, an index, and a CD-ROM version. It dealt with a more mature science but one that still included exciting events. Although the development of entirely new classes of polymers had essentially ceased, the modification of polymer properties by synthesis, blending, and processing became more highly evolved. Continued elucidation of the mechanisms of structure and polymerization resulted in greatly improved control of the polymerization process and its products, and the importance of polymers in everyday life accelerated.

Rechristened the Encyclopedia of Polymer Science and Technology and still bearing his name, Mark’s encyclopedia has now appeared in a third edition of 12 volumes printed on acid-free paper. In a new century and nearly four decades after its inception, research in the Age of Polymers continues, with the help of new, improved, and increasingly sophisticated analytical methods and techniques.

Like Gaul, the encyclopedia is divided into three parts, each with separate ISBNs. The individual volumes, which also have separate ISBNs, are separately paginated. Each volume contains a one-page preface, a one-page introduction, and a 15-page list of conversion factors, abbreviations, and unit symbols. Each also includes lists of the contents for that particular volume and the names and affiliations of the contributors with the titles of their articles. The concluding volumes for the three parts (Volumes 4, 8, and 12) also contain a list of the names and affiliations of the contributors with the titles of their articles and a general cumulative index of double-column pages in small print for the set to date (Volume 4, 113 pp; Volume 8, 166 pp; Volume 12, 227 pp).      

The 287 detailed, carefully edited, signed articles with extensive bibliographies were contributed by 473 industrial and academic authorities, many of whom are women and most of whom are located in the United States (330), Germany (25), and the United Kingdom (23). The other countries represented are Australia (19), France and the Netherlands (10 each), Israel and Japan (9 each), Italy (7), Greece (6), Sweden (3), Austria, Belgium, China, Poland, Singapore, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey, and Ukraine (2 each), and India, Korea, Finland, and Taiwan (one each). The entries are arranged alphabetically within each of the three parts, which, like the individual volumes, may be purchased separately:

Part 1 (ISBN 0-471-28824-1), 2003

Volume 1, “Acetylenic Polymers, Substituted” to “Coatings,” 24 articles (xxviii + 739 pp) (ISBN 0-471-25053-8)

Volume 2, “Coextrusion” to “Hyperbranched Polymers,” 30 articles (xxviii + 743 pp) (ISBN 0-471-25054-6)

Volume 3, “Injection Molding” to “Polysulfides,” 33 articles (xxviii + 744 pp) (ISBN 0-471-25055-4)

Volume 4, “Polysulfones” to “Weathering,” 24 articles (xxviii + 779 pp) (ISBN 0-471-25056-2)

Part 2 (ISBN 0-471-28781-4), 2003

Volume 5, “Acoustic Properties” to “Cyclopentadiene and Dicyclopentadiene,” 23 articles (xxviii + 776 pp) (ISBN 0-471-27509-3)

Volume 6, “Degradation” to “Magnetic Polymers,” 25 articles (xxviii + 735 pp) (ISBN 0-471-27508-5)

Volume 7, “Metal-Containing Polymers” to “Rigid-Rod Polymers,” 25 articles (xxviii + 752 pp) (ISBN 0-471-27510-7)

Volume 8, “Semi-Crystalline Polymers” to “Ziegler-Natta Catalysts,” 25 articles (xxviii + 712 pp, the shortest volume) (ISBN 0-471-27511-5)

Part 3 (ISBN 0-471-28780-6), 2004

Volume 9, “Acrylic Fibers” to “Ethylene Oxide Polymers,” 24 articles (xxviii + 827 pp) (ISBN 0-471-27512-3)

Volume 10, “Fillers” to “Polymerization, Free Radical,” 28 articles (xxx + 837 pp) (ISBN 0-471-27513-1)

Volume 11, “Plastics Processing” to “Solid-State Extrusion,” 23 articles (xxx + 866 pp) (ISBN 0-471-27514-4)

Volume 12, “Surface Analysis” to “Yield and Crazing in Polymers,” 17 articles (xxviii + 925 pp, the longest volume) (ISBN 0-471-27516-6)

Now that we are well into the ”Information Age,” advances in computer technology have impacted the publishing industry. In this sphere Mark was also ahead of his time when he wrote in the preface of the encyclopedia’s first edition:

With the increasing volume of technical literature, it has become an unfortunate fact that even mature scientists and technologists are no longer able to absorb the entire flow of articles, particularly those outside of their immediate interest.

To take advantage of electronic publishing to satisfy the need for organized, cutting-edge coverage of essential subjects in polymer science and technology the third edition of Mark’s encyclopedia began to appear online in October 2001 for authorized users (

I agree with editor Jacqueline I. Kroschwitz that the latest edition of this critically acclaimed, standard reference work is

an entirely new encyclopedia in a format familiar to those acquainted with the earlier editions. All of the articles…have been rewritten and updated and many new subjects have been added, reflecting the progress and evolution of polymer science and technology. The results, however, will be familiar to the users of the earlier editions: comprehensive, authoritative, accessible, lucid. The Encyclopedia is an indispensable information source for all producers and users of polymeric materials and those engaged in fundamental research regarding macromolecules (p ix).

This encyclopedia belongs in every academic, industrial, and technical library. Individuals who cannot afford the entire set may consider purchasing separate volumes. In 1990 Wiley published an inexpensive ($150.00) compact, one-volume desk reference [3] that contained condensed articles on all of the subjects covered in the 2nd edition of Mark’s Encyclopedia of Polymer Science and Engineering. The abridged and condensed versions were written by professional writers, reviewed for accuracy by the original authors or their colleagues, and updated wherever necessary. Although Jackie Kroschwitz is no longer with Wiley, perhaps another editor will prepare a similar, modestly priced, condensed, one-volume version of the 12-volume 3rd edition that will be within the price range of individual purchasers.

References and Notes

1.       Kauffman, G. B. Herman Mark (1895–1992): American Polymer Chemist and Educator. In World of Chemistry; Young, R. V.; Sessine, S., Eds.; The Gale Group: Farmington Hills, MI, 2000, pp 669–670.

2.       2.       Mark penned his autobiography shortly before his death less than a month short of his 97th birthday: Mark, H. F. From Small Organic Molecules to Large: A Century of Progress; Profiles, Pathways, and Dreams; Seeman, J. I., Series Ed.; American Chemical Society: Washington, DC, 1993. For a review see Kauffman, G. B.; Kauffman, L. M. Angew. Chem, Intern. Ed. Engl. 1994, 33, 1117–1118.

3.       Concise Encyclopedia of Polymer Science and Engineering; Kroschwitz, J. L., Ed.; John Wiley & Sons: New York, 1990. For a review see Kauffman, G. B. Am. Scientist 1992, 80, 82.

George B. Kauffman

California State University, Fresno,

S1430-4171(05)03924-4, 10.1333/s00897050924a







The Science of Cooking. Peter Barham. Springer-Verlag: Berlin/Heidelberg/New York, 2001. Figures, tables. vii + 244 pp; 16.0 ´ 23.9 cm. $39.95; ISBN 3-540-67466-7

Peter Barham, Reader in Physics at Bristol, UK, columnist for The Manchester Guardian, and winner of the prestigious Institute of Physics Prize for Promoting the Public Awareness of Physics (1999), has long been involved in popularizing science in Great Britain by lecturing on television and radio programs on food science. Thanks to his unique marriage of science and cooking, he helped Heston Blumenthal to be selected as the world’s best chef. National Public Radio referred to him as a “gastrophysicist.” On his web site Barham states,

I really do have a life outside Polymer Physics! I am particularly interested in food and physics and the public understanding of science. I combine most of my interests through public schools lecture demonstrations on the science of cooking while my interest in penguins has taken me as far away as Antarctica [1].

Barham’s book, dedicated to his wife Barbara and based on his experiences presenting popular science lectures, is intended to show how an understanding of physical and chemical processes helps to unravel the mysteries of why certain recipes work and why others fail. Barham maintains that cooking can be regarded as an experimental science and that this understanding should improve the cook’s performance in the kitchen, which is no different from most science laboratories. 

In Barham’s words,

Anyone following any recipe in the kitchen is in effect performing a scientific experiment. Cooks who learn from their experiences with recipes and manage to improve their skills are doing no less than scientists working in their laboratories….I apply the same methodologies when at work in my Physics laboratory, or at home in my kitchen. When preparing a dish for the first time, I follow a recipe….Once the dish is finished, then it is tested—by eating it! Then the results are analysed. Was the meal good? How could it be improved?

Then, when I next prepare the same dish, I make appropriate amendments to the recipe that I believe will provide the desired changes in the final dish. Once again` it is tested and more improvements suggest themselves, and so on. This process of continual revision of the recipe is just an adaptation of the experimental approach to science (p 1).

After Chapter 1, “Introduction (3 pp, the shortest chapter), Chapters 2 to 5 present the fundamental science underlying the chemical and physical changes that occur in foods as they are cooked and an appreciation of how we taste and savor our foods. The level of the presentation is sufficient to enable readers to gain some scientific understanding without including so much detail that the important principles are lost. These chapters are intended as a short primer and reference source so that readers can find more information on aspects that particularly interest them.

The remaining chapters (Chapters 6 to 13) demonstrate the science underlying various types of cooking by discussing specific illustrative recipes. Each chapter begins with a short introduction briefly discussing the main scientific principles, with cross-references to earlier chapters whenever appropriate, followed by several recipes illustrating these principles in practice.

All the recipes have been carefully written so that there is a good reason, to which attention is drawn, for every ingredient and for every instruction and to show what may go wrong if one is ignored. Each main recipe includes descriptions of things that could go wrong, usually from Barham’s personal experience, some comments as to why these may have occurred, and suggestions for correcting the problems.

Many chapters provide separate panels of text in smaller print, shaded in gray, describing interesting and relevant science and other matters, intended not only to enliven the text but also to aid in understanding some of the science involved in the recipes. The longest and most hilarious of these, “My worst nightmare—Lutefisk!” (pp 103–105), recounts Barham’s encounter with a Norwegian head of a large chemical company, who treated him to a Christmas dinner of Norway’s national dish, lutefisk (dried cod rehydrated with lye), which he succeeded in consuming only by washing it down with repeated swigs of akvavit. This fish story (Pardon the pun!) is a perfect blend of science, Scandinavian cuisine (including its history), and humor.

Barham believes that once one understands how a given recipe works, one can adapt it to produce different and interesting results. Therefore, after the main recipes, in each chapter he suggests several variations intended to stimulate the reader to invent his or her own recipes. Most of the chapters end with a few science experiments to try at home. These are intended to illustrate some of the scientific issues dealt with in the book, to help the reader to improve his or her culinary skills, or just to have some fun. Most are suitable for persons of all ages, but some require adult supervision. To quote Barham:

I hope that a few families will have some real fun and learn some interest in science from working their way through these experiments. If I can influence a few keen youngsters to take up a science career, I will be well pleased! (p 3).

Here are some of the topics dealt with in the specific chapters:

·  Chapter 2, “Sensuous Molecules—Molecular Gastronomy” (23 pp), discusses atoms and molecules, saturated and unsaturated fats, oils, sugars, polysaccharides and starches, glutens, swelling on heating, proteins, collagen, gelatin, gels, soaps, bubbles, and foams.

·  Chapter 3, “Taste and Flavour” (7 pp), deals with the senses of taste and smell and chemical reactions in cooking, including the Maillard (browning) reactions.

·  Chapter 4, “Heating and Eating—Physical Gastronomy” (16 pp), discusses why we heat our food, the difference between heat and temperature, methods of heat transfer, and methods of heating in cookery with boiling an egg as a detailed example (pp 45–47) [2]. Of all the chapters, this one contains the largest number of complex mathematical equations, which involve calculus.

·  Chapter 5, “Cooking Utensils, Methods and Gadgets” (11 pp), describes hand and power tools, types of cooking vessels, how to prevent foods from sticking to cooking vessels, and non-stick finishes such as teflon.

·  Chapter 6, “Meat and Poultry” (25 pp), explains the structure of meat, what makes it tough or tender, key points for cooking meat, and steaks and stews.

·  Chapter 7, “Fish” (16 pp), discusses methods of cooking (steaming, sautéing, frying, baking, roasting, and grilling) and preserving (smoking) fish. Among the recipes is, of course, the traditional British “fish and chips” (p 99).

·  Chapter 8, “Breads” (15 pp), examines the structure and types of flour, yeast, leavened and unleavened breads, rolls, and pizzas.

·  Chapter 9, “Sauces” (27 pp, the longest chapter), deals with thickening mechanisms, starch based sauces, vegetable and meat stocks, vinaigrettes, mayonnaise, fondues [3], and oil-water emulsions.

·  Chapter 10, “Sponge Cakes” (24 pp), tells how to prevent cakes from collapsing after cooking, why the mixture must have the correct consistency before putting it into the oven, and why there are differences in recipes in cookbooks. It also discusses some general issues that arise when baking sponge cakes. Among the experiments is an explosive one involving the generation of carbon dioxide from baking powder that will appeal to adolescent boys (pp 175–176).

·  Chapter 11, “Pastry” (24 pp), discusses short crust, raised pie, puff, and choux pastry; fruit pies; and another traditional British delicacy—steak and kidney pie (pp 183–184).

·  Chapter 12, “Soufflés” (12 pp), gives specific directions for various soufflés. Because cooking them depends on making good stable foams, which are merely collections of bubbles, the “experiment to try for yourself” (pp 209–210) applies the same principles to make bubbles big enough for you to get inside them!

·  Chapter 13, “Cooking with Chocolate” (25 pp), differs somewhat from the other chapters by concentrating more on the history and production of chocolate than on its uses in cookery. Nevertheless, it includes recipes for savory Mexican chocolate sauce (mole), truffles, Easter eggs, and “plastic” chocolate.

Because Barham exclusively uses the System International (SI) or metric system of measurements, which “are the units used in all science laboratories throughout the world and leave no room for ambiguity,” rather than the Imperial or U.S. system, he has included a 4-page section, “Weights and Measurements,” of conversion tables for weights, volumes, temperatures, and distances as well as other useful conversion tables. A 5-page alphabetical glossary of terms from acids to viscosity and a 3-page annotated bibliography of food science texts, general cookery books, and science texts with items as recent as 1999 contribute to the volume’s usefulness. An index (4 double-column pages) facilitates location of material.

Some interesting or useful facts that we never knew before include:

Hot water freezes more quickly than cold water. Barham writes, “If you find it hard to believe, then try it for yourself” (p 39).

“Preventing food from sticking to cooking vessels” (pp 59–60) explains why some of the cleanup in our kitchen is such a chore and how we can improve it.

Game birds that fly about a lot possess all dark meat because they use all their muscles, whereas turkeys, chickens, and other domesticated animals have both light and dark meat because they seldom need to use all their muscles (p 69).

In this modern age it is unnecessary to sift flour even though most recipes call for it (p 171).

Barham’s book is replete with 22 numbered figures and many more tables, diagrams, and structural formulas as well as many relevant and amusing anecdotes. Its explanations are lucid, and the text, written consistently in British English, is easy to understand except that occasionally British terms may puzzle American readers (Do you know what an “airing cupboard,” “hob,” “mains,” “pips,” plasticine,” and “spotted dick” are?). Also, American readers will need to convert all measurements to the metric system. Furthermore, all the illustrations are black and white and not very appealing visually or to the palate although one of us (G.B.K.) gorged himself with chocolate while reading that chapter.

Although other books on the science of cooking are available [4–6], this volume is a welcome addition to the genre, and, with the caveats mentioned in the previous paragraph notwithstanding, we are pleased to recommend it to nutritional scientists, food technologists, cooks, “foodies,” and chemists interested in foods and their preparation

References and Notes

4.       Dr. P. J. Barham. (accessed May 2005). Also see Pete and Barb’s Penguin Pages. (accessed May 2005).

5.       For more on this topic see the article celebrating National Chemistry Week, 2000: Kauffman, G. B. Chemistry class begins in your family’s kitchen: Every cook is a practicing chemist who applies fundamental chemical principles whether or not he or she is aware of this. Let’s consider the egg. It’s one of our kitchen’s simplest chemical systems. The Fresno Bee, November 11, 2000, p B7.

6.       For more on this topic see Kauffman, G. B.; Kauffman, L. M.Swiss Cheese Fondue: Chemistry in the Kitchen. Chem. Educator 2001, 6, 385–388; DOI 10.1333/s00897010512a.

7.       Wolke, R. L. (with recipes by M. Parrish). What Einstein Told His Cook: Kitchen Science Explained; W. W. Norton: New York, 2002.

8.       Bell, H. P.; Feuerstein, T.; Günter, C. E.; Hölsken, S.; Lohmann, J. K. What’s Cooking in Chemistry: How Leading Chemists Succeed in the Kitchen; Wiley-VCH: Weinheim, 2003.

9.       McGee, H. On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen; Scribner: New York, 2004.

George B. Kauffman and Laurie M. Kauffman

California State University, Fresno,

S1430-4171(05)03925-3, 10.1333/s00897050925a

The Chicago Guide to Communicating Science. Scott L. Montgomery. University of Chicago Press: Chicago/London, 2003. Figures. xi + 228 pp; 15.3 ´ 22.7 cm. $40.00, £28.00, hardbound, ISBN 0-226-53484-7; $15.00, £10.50, paperback, ISBN 0-226-53485-5.

This handy, modestly priced book is a volume in the “Chicago Guides to Writing, Editing, and Publishing” series, of which the most familiar volume is probably Kate L. Turabian’s A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations, well known to those of us who pursued advanced degrees. In February 2003 the Medical College of Wisconsin selected it as its MCW Libraries’ Book of the Month.

The book’s author, Scott L. Montgomery, a consulting geologist, writer, and independent scholar, is the author of hundreds of articles, monographs, and reports in the earth sciences as well as several textbooks and translations. He is also the author of several books on the history of science and scientific language such as Science in Translation: Movements of Knowledge through Cultures and Time (University of Chicago Press: Chicago/London, 2000). During his long career he has played a variety of roles—“essayist, freelancer, translator, scriptwriter, speaker, critic, reviewer, ghostwriter, copywriter, editor, fix-it boy, messenger, secretary, and (not least) rejectee” (p ix). This 16-chapter book is a product of his multifaceted experience.

Montgomery maintains that his guide differs from others in the genre in treating scientists not as “literary underdogs” unable to express themselves intelligibly but as “full-fledged writers or speakers, who understand that the transfer of their knowledge to others is part of the essence of research” (p ix). He believes that good writing results from imitating, adapting, and learning from other writers as good models of expression rather than from grammatical rules, punctuation, and standards. Consequently, his guide views the scientist, in part, as a writer or communicator. In his words:

It has been my intent to offer a series of clear and realistic choices for how to develop skill at either a functional or a superior level, on a personal basis, and in direct awareness of the realities of writing, speaking, and publishing in science today. At the same time, part of this book is also aimed at teaching the scientist-author something about the nature and history of his or her discourse, as a living, evolving phenomenon (p x).

Montgomery offers detailed, realistic, and practical advice on all types of scientific communication such as abstracts, research papers, conference talks and other oral presentations, technical reports, review articles, book reviews, grant proposals, email messages, interviews with the public and the media, and use of the Internet. He proceeds stepwise through samples from a variety of scientific disciplines and precisely shows how to choose and use such models, where and how to revise different texts, how to employ visual and graphic means to enhance the presentation of ideas, and why writing is actually a form of experimentation.

Montgomery also traces the evolution of scientific expression over time, which provides a crucial context for understanding the nature of present-day technical communication. An editor himself, he tells the reader how to choose a journal in which to publish and how to survive and profit from the reviewing process. Because English has now become the lingua franca of science, because scientists must learn to read, speak, and write in this tongue, and because an increasingly large proportion of graduate students in American universities are foreign-born, his chapter, “For Researchers with English as a Foreign Language,” should be most useful to persons who are not yet completely fluent in English. A 6-page selected bibliography lists books and articles as recent as 2001 on scientific communication as well as papers that Montgomery has used as models to emulate.

I am pleased to recommend this straightforward, realistic, and accessible guide, which is written with elegance and humor, to anyone—from graduate student to senior scientist—concerned with improving the effectiveness of communicating scientific ideas or data to colleagues or the general public.

George B. Kauffman

California State University, Fresno,

S1430-4171(05)03926-x, 10.1333/s00897050926a