The Chemical Educator, Vol. 10, No.4, Media Reviews, © 2005 The Chemical Educator
Science Says: A Collection of Quotations on the History, Meaning, and Practice of Science. Selected and edited by Rob Kaplan. A Stonesong Press Book, W. H. Freeman & Co.: 41 Madison Ave., New York, 10010, 2001. xvi + 254 pp; 14.8 ´ 17.1 cm.; hardbound. $19.95; ISBN 0-7167-4112-1.
Rob Kaplan, coeditor of A Passion for Books, a Quality Paperback Book Club dual main selection and Book of the Month Club alternate selection, has held senior-level positions with several New York-based publishing companies and since 1998 heads his own literary firm, Rob Kaplan Associates. In Science Says he has selected and arranged thematically a most entertaining and useful collection of almost a thousand thought-provoking and insightful science-related quotations, both familiar and unfamiliar to me, that range in length from a sentence to an entire page. The breadth and scope of the book may be glimpsed from the titles of the 14 sections, which are intended to express “the spirit of science:”
· Science, Spirit, and Religion
· Chaos and Order
· What Science Is… and Is Not
· Where Did We Come From and Where Are We Headed?
· Imagination, Intuition, Curiosity, and Creativity
· How Scientists Do Science
· Good and Evil, Life and Death
· What Can We Know, and What Must Remain a Mystery?
· Science and Society
· The Science of Mathematics, and the Mathematics of Science
· Ambition, Success, and Failure
· Scientists on Scientists
· Humankind’s Place in the Universe
· …And All Else Under the Heavens
Among the few chemists quoted are Homer Adkins, James B. Conan, Humphry Davy, Antoine-Laurent Lavoisier, Hermann Walther Nernst, Friedrich Wilhelm Ostwald, Sir George Porter, and Glenn T. Seaborg. Physicists, biologists, mathematicians, and other scientists are more adequately represented. Nonscientists quoted are as diverse as Woody Allen, St. Thomas Aquinas, Lord Byron, George Carlin, Noam Chomsky, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Havelock Ellis, Sigmund Freud, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr., Thomas Jefferson, John Maynard Keynes, Martin Luther, Maria Montessori, Mao Tse-Tung, Friedrich Nietzsche, Pope Pius XII, Bertrand Russell, George Sand, Lily Tomlin, Virgil, and Max Weber.
The collection is very carefully organized, a statement that cannot be made about other books in this genre. Within each subject area, the quotations are organized alphabetically by the name of the person being quoted. Whenever there is more than one quote from a particular person, they are arranged chronologically in three tiers: (1) quotations for which the original date of utterance or writing is known; (2) quotations for which this date is not known and is organized according to the publication dates of the books from which they were taken; and (3) quotations attributed to the person quoted and for which there are no specific citations.
The form of the citations is determined by the sources, which are a book by the person quoted; a paper, essay, or article by the person quoted included in a collection of his or her work; a book written or edited by a person other than the one quoted; a paper, essay, or article by the person quoted included in an anthology edited by another person; a paper, essay, or article by the person quoted included in a newspaper or periodical; a newspaper or periodical; a speech or lecture by the person quoted; or a letter by the person quoted. In some cases quotations are cross-referenced (in brackets) to other quotations in the same section, as when one statement is a response by its author to a statement by another author or when several authors have made statements about the same subject. A detailed (12 double-column-page) index of authors facilitates the location of quotations by specific persons. The book has been carefully proofread. The only error that I could find was “Humphrey for Humphry” (Davy), a common mistake (pp 72, 225, and 246).
Quoting Sir Isaac Newton’s dictum, “If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants,” Kaplan thinks that
from the perspective of the scientist, gathering together the thoughts of scientists (as well as nonscientists) on the history, meaning, and practice of the discipline of science is a particularly appropriate endeavor. And yet Science Says is by no means intended only for the scientist, but—perhaps even more—for the nonscientist as well. We live in an increasingly chaotic and complex world—much of that chaos and complexity brought on by science….As a result, science and those who eloquently speak and write about it have become central to how we view ourselves and the world (pp xi–xii).
Consequently, I am pleased to recommend this handy volume of some of the best wit, wisdom, aphorisms, bons mots, and inspiration that has been written or spoken about science from ancient times to the present day not only to scientists and science educators but also to nonscientists concerned with science and technology.
George B. Kauffman
California State University, Fresno, email@example.com
The Harmonious Universe: The Beauty and Unity of Scientific Understanding. Keith J. Laidler. Prometheus Books: 59 John Glenn Drive, Amherst, NY 14228-2197, 2004. Figures, tables. x + 370 pp; 15.8 ´ 23.4 cm.; hardbound. $28.00; ISBN 1-59102-187-1.
A pioneer in chemical kinetics and authority on the physical chemistry of enzymes, Keith J. Laidler (1916–2003)  has devoted his life to the understanding and communication of science. Born in England, he received his B.A. (1937), M.A. (1955), and D.Sc. (1956) degrees from Oxford University, his PhD. degree (1940) from Princeton University, and was a National Research Council, Canada Postdoctoral Fellow (1940–1942). After a decade at the Catholic University of America (1946-1955), he spent the remainder of his academic career at the University of Ottawa (1955–1981), where he served as Chairman of the Department of Chemistry and Vice-Dean of the Faculty of Science. He was the author of 13 books and more than 250 articles.
Laidler’s numerous honors include the University of Ottawa’s Award for Excellence in Research (1971), the Chemical Institute of Canada’s Union Carbide Award for Chemical Education (1974) as well as the Queen’s Jubilee Medal (1977), the Centenary Medal (1977), and the Henry Marshall Tory Medal (1987), all from the Royal Society of Canada, and an honorary degree from Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, B.C., Canada (1997). In his honor the Canadian Society for Chemistry’s Noranda Award was renamed the Keith Laidler Award in 2004. For his work in the history of physical chemistry the American Chemical Society’s Division of the History of Chemistry awarded him its Dexter Award “for outstanding contributions to the history of chemistry” (1996).
Most chemists of my generation learned physical chemistry, especially kinetics and thermodynamics, from Laidler’s textbooks. In addition to his books intended for chemists, especially in his later years he devoted much of his time to writing books for a wider audience—laypersons interested in science [2-5]. With The Harmonious Universe, the latest of these, this internationally renowned chemist-turned-historian has created another delectable treat, a veritable tour de force liberally laced with a host of entertaining historical anecdotes. The book’s title is derived from a 1945 quotation by Albert Einstein: “We have to admire in humility the beautiful harmony of the structure of the world—as far as we can grasp it.”
Today science is having a powerful influence on our material lives and is transforming our culture. For these reasons, it is useful for all of us to have a clear understanding of the methods of science and of how science influences the whole of society.…My intention is to illuminate a broad spectrum of topics that I think will help the general reader to gain some understanding of the methods of science and of the broad conclusions to which science leads….I have limited my discussions to those aspects of science that I think the nonscientist reader will find most interesting and helpful, and I have indicated some of the difficulties that scientists have had in reaching their conclusions (p 9).
Laidler vividly depicts the panorama of our universe from its subatomic realms to the vast reaches of outer space. In so doing he cogently demonstrates the unity underlying the seeming diversity of the manifold objects in the universe, shows us how best to appreciate its beauty, complexity, and order, and illustrates the way in which scientists uncover Nature’s secrets.
After “A Few Points about Mathematics and Measurement” (5 pp) and a “Prelude” (3 pp) summarizing the contents of the book, Laidler discusses in 11 chapters the historical development of our knowledge of some of the most important, far-reaching, and unifying concepts and conclusions of chemistry, physics, astronomy, geology, and biology that are an integral part of our scientific heritage and relevant to our daily lives. He demonstrates how the evidence from all these fields leads to a picture of the formation and development of a harmonious universe and of life within it.
In Chapter 1, “The Microscopic Universe” (37 pp), Laidler presents the evidence for the existence of atoms and subatomic particles and discusses how atoms of the different elements combine to form the millions of molecules known to exist. In Chapter 2, “The Electromagnetic Universe” (43 pp, the longest chapter), he considers the relationship between light and electricity, the electromagnetic forces that hold together atoms and molecules, and how they affect the nature of our universe. In Chapter 3, “The World of Energy” (33 pp), he details the different forms of energy, Einstein’s insight that matter and energy are convertible, the first two laws of thermodynamics , entropy, Maxwell’s demon , and how energy controls everything that happens and how fast it happens. In Chapter 4, “Packets of Energy” (19 pp), he shows that energy cannot be assumed to be continuous but, like atoms, is discontinuous and exists in tiny packets called “quanta”  as postulated by Planck’s quantum theory (1900), which, in turn, led to Niels Bohr’s theory of the hydrogen atom (1913), quantum mechanics, and Werner Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle. In Chapter 5, “The Theory of Relativity” (24 pp), he deals with Einstein’s special (1905) and general (1916) theories, the interconvertibility of matter and energy (E = mc2), and nuclear fission and fusion.
Of all the chapters, Chapter 6, “The Subatomic Universe” (22 pp), will be the most difficult for the nonscientist reader. It contains all the five tables in the book (types of subatomic particles, hadrons, leptons, quarks, and the three generations of particles). Chapter 7, “Our World and Our Universe” (24 pp), presents a brief history of geology (Neptunian and Vulcanian theories, continental drift, etc.) and astronomy (Copernican theory, gravity, inverse square law, Doppler principle, quasars, pulsars, black holes, and dark matter). Chapter 8, “Our Changing Universe” (32 pp), discusses the big bang theory, the origin of the universe, the formation of the Earth and its age, and some of the processes that occur in the stars. Chapter 9, “Living Things” (32 pp), considers, inter alia, vitalism, Lamarck’s inheritance of acquired characteristics, Mendel’s basic laws of heredity, Darwin’s theory of evolution, the structure of DNA, the Miller-Urey synthesis of amino acids (1953), molecular genetics, genetic engineering, and mutations. Laidler emphasizes,
Nothing that we know about biological systems is incapable of explanation in terms of the same laws of nature that have been found to apply in all of the branches of science, such as physics and astronomy, that apply to inanimate systems. We thus have no reason to question the beauty and harmony of scientific understanding (p 257).
Chapter 10, “Chaos Theory” (16 pp), explores the general direction of evolution from a single species to an increasing diversity of species, that is, to increased disorder or, in extreme cases, to chaos. Laidler makes the case that chaos theory is of equal significance as relativity and quantum theory for our understanding of the universe. In Chapter 11, “Scientific Truth” (10 pp, the shortest chapter), he tackles the problem of the different types of truth—religious, legal, historical, and scientific truth. He deals with intuitive and empirical methods, reliance on authority, and objectivity. Laidler concludes this—his last book—with a statement that is an ideal swan song for a scientist trying to convince nonscientists of the power of his chosen field in solving the problems faced by humankind:
Science has had remarkable success in arriving at the concept of a harmonious universe by the use of the judicial method of investigation. I am convinced that the world would be a much better and happier place if all of us followed the same method (p 318) .
Although the book is intended for the general reader and he admits to simplifying matters at times, Laidler has not hesitated to include structural formulas and mathematical, chemical, and nuclear equations in those cases where he deems them necessary for an understanding of his story. Replete with 61 figures (33 of which are portraits of the most important of the many scientists discussed in the text), the book also includes 10 pages of notes and references as recent as 2001, six pages of suggested reading, a 19-page alphabetical glossary defining terms from absolute temperature to white dwarf, and a 16-double-column-page index.
Laidler’s book is liberally sprinkled with dozens of fascinating and amusing anecdotes, some familiar to me and many not. A reviewer concerned with what he considers the short shrift that religion receives in the book is annoyed by these, and he warns that “readers shouldn’t place much stock in them” . Many of these were taken from another source . I found them delightful and appealing, and Laidler has been meticulous in pointing out those that may be apocryphal.
The Harmonious Universe contains numerous interesting facts of which I was previously unaware. For example, although I knew of British astrophysicist Arthur Eddington’s role in the expedition that observed the solar eclipse of May 29, 1919, which provided the first experimental proof of the theory of relativity and made Einstein the best known media celebrity on the planet, I didn’t know that Eddington was a devout Quaker who was a conscientious objector to military service and that a group of distinguished scientists lobbied the Home Office to grant him an exemption. According to Laidler,
If this had not been granted to him he might have been sentenced to jail and at the very least would have been obliged to forsake scientific work and undertake work in agriculture or in industry (p 168).
Some other facts that were new to me: The World Wide Web was developed at CERN (p 186). Mendel’s first name was originally Johann; he adopted the name Gregor on his ordination in 1847 (p 326).
The book’s errors are few and minor, mostly misspellings of proper names: “Hendricus” for “Henricus” (van’t Hoff, pp 49 and 369); “Rudolph” for “Rudolf” (Hertz, pp 95, 96, and 361); “Konrad” for “Conrad” (Röntgen, pp 98 and 367); “Zurich” for “Zürich” (pp 120, 151, 155, and 164); “recognize” for “recognized” (p 133); “Maric” for “Marić” (Mileva, p 155); and “Freiburg” for “Freiberg” (p 201).
In my opinion Laidler has eminently attained his goal of helping “the general reader to gain some understanding of the methods of science and of the broad conclusions to which science leads” (p 9). This modestly priced, inspiring, entertaining, and lucidly written tome makes an ideal gift for anyone interested in the progress of science, especially its human dimensions in the vast, impersonal universe, from its inception with an emphasis on developments over the past two centuries.
References and Notes
1. For biographical information see Conway, B. E. Int. J. Chem. Kinetics 1981, 13, 787 and for obituaries see Can. Chem. News 2004, 56 (10), 5 and Brubacher, L. J. CHEM 13 NEWS May, 2004, 321, 2.
2. Laidler, K. J. The World of Physical Chemistry; Oxford University Press: New York, NY, 1993. For a book review see Kauffman, G. B. Canadian Chem. News (L'Actualité Chimique Canadienne) October, 1994, 46 (9), 48–49.
3. Laidler, K. J. To Light Such a Candle: Chapters in the History of Science and Technology; Oxford University Press: Oxford, England; New York, NY, 1998. For an essay-review see Kauffman, G. B. Chem. Eng. News May 4, 1998, 76 (18), 63.
4. Laidler, K. J. Energy and the Unexpected; Oxford University Press: Oxford, England, 2002. For a review see Rogers, C. Isis 2004, 95, 680–681.
5. Laidler, K. J. Science and Sensibility: The Elegant Logic of the Universe; Prometheus Books: Amherst, NY, 2004.
6. Throughout the book Laidler skillfully uses analogies and everyday language to explain otherwise abstruse scientific concepts. For example, he expresses the first two laws of thermodynamics as “You can’t get something for nothing” and “You can’t even break even” (p 123).
7. Laidler has dealt elsewhere with many of the topics in the book, for example, Laidler, K. J. The Story of Maxwell's Demon. CHEM 13 NEWS February, 1992, 210, 8–10. For a review of this article see Kauffman, G. B. J. Coll. Sci. Teaching 1992, 22, 131–132.
8. In this chapter Laidler shares one of my pet peeves:
Whenever you hear a politician promising a quantum leap, meaning that it is big and important, remember that in reality, changes from one quantum state to another are always tiny and usually occur in a completely unpredictable way! (p 136).
See Kauffman, G. B. The Origin of the Term “Quantum.” in Michael Gartner's "A Word about Words," The Fresno Bee, November 19, 1984, p. B6; Origin of the Term “Quantum." J. Chem. Educ. 1987, 64, 383; Nonoxymoronic Quantum Leap. J. Coll. Sci. Teaching 1991, 21, 7.
9. Laidler has dealt with the concept of truth in the convocation address for his honorary degree from Simon Fraser University: To tell the truth: Laidler, K. J. A university teaches us how to sort through information and discern the truth. Simon Fraser News July 31, 1997, 9 (6); http://www.sfu.ca/mediapr/sfnews/1997/July31/opinion.html (accessed July 2005).
10. Evans, J. “Harmonious Universe” entertains, neglects religion. Science & Theology News March 2005, http://www. stnews.org/articles.php?article_id=162&category=books (accessed July 2005).
11. Gratzer, W. Eurekas and Euphorias: The Oxford Book of Scientific Anecdotes; Oxford University Press: Oxford, England, 2002.
George B. Kauffman
California State University, Fresno, firstname.lastname@example.org
Handbook of Combinatorial Chemistry: Drugs, Catalysts, Materials. K. C. Nicolaou, R. Hanko, and W. Hartwig, Editors. Wiley-VCH: Weinheim, Germany, 2002. 2 volumes, lxii + 1114 pp. 17.6 ´ 24.5 cm.; hardcover. $565.00; £225.00; ISBN 3-527-30509-2.
Combinatorial chemistry, one of the most active fields of research today, employs techniques used to synthesize, purify, analyze, and screen large numbers of chemical compounds much more quickly and more inexpensively than previously possible. Its direct precursor was the solid-phase synthesis of polypeptides  developed by R. Bruce Merrifield of Rockefeller University during the 1960s for which he received the 1984 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. His pioneering work was followed by advances in laboratory automation. The field was initially developed by the search for new drugs in the pharmaceutical industry, but it is now applied to other areas.
Classical synthetic chemistry involves the stepwise preparation and purification of one compound at a time. In contrast, combinatorial chemistry makes possible the concurrent synthesis of thousands of different molecules within a short period of time, usually without the need for the intermediate separation of compounds involved in the synthetic pathway and usually involving automation. These procedures, stimulated by pressures within the pharmaceutical industry to speed up the drug discovery process, allow the production of new substances faster and in much larger numbers than is possible by standard synthetic techniques.
The earliest and most common method involves attaching molecular species to a solid substrate such as a plastic bead and carrying out chemical reactions on the species. After each reaction the mixture is split among several containers and then recombined or carried out in parallel containers. The resulting mixture of compounds—a so-called “molecular library”—may contain thousands of individual species. Screening, i.e., analyzing these libraries, can be used to identify compounds of interest, and their isolation and identification can be accomplished by various methods. Recent developments permit combinatorial syntheses to be performed in solution, which increases the versatility and scope of the technique.
As more and more increasingly elegant techniques are invented and more and more applications are discovered, several books on the field in general and its various aspects, some written by contributors to the present handbook, have appeared [2–7], showing that combinatorial chemistry has become an integral part of academic and industrial research. The Handbook of Combinatorial Chemistry is a mechanism-based and application-oriented reference source that deals with the general basics of synthetic chemistry in all its forms, applications from the life sciences, chemistry, and material sciences, and compound library design and synthesis. My interest in it and the field is personal as well as professional. My former student, colleague, and friend, Richard A. Houghten, founder of the Torrey Pines Institute for Molecular Studies, San Diego, California, a drug discovery company using combinatorial chemistry to create novel, small molecule drug candidates, is one of the leaders in the field. An internationally known authority on peptide and pharmaceutical chemistry, in 1985 he synthesized 260 peptides in polypropylene mesh containers encapsulating polystyrene resin, a popular technique known as the “tea-bag” method  (pp 5 and 183).
The Cyprus-born and London-educated K. C. (Kyriakos Costas) Nicolaou, Darlene Shiley Professor of Chemistry, Chairman of the Department of Chemistry, and Skaggs Professor of Chemical Biology at the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California, also holds a joint appointment as Professor of Chemistry at the University of California, San Diego. One of the world’s most cited chemical researchers (A recent list ranked him as number eight with a total of 7,971 citations.), he is a leading authority on total synthesis of natural products, synthetic methodology, combinatorial chemistry, and chemical biology and the recipient of a host of awards and honorary degrees. His most recent American Chemical Society award is the 2005 Arthur C. Cope Award for excellence in organic chemistry. His coeditors, Rudolf Hanko and Wolfgang Hartwig are prominent researchers at the Bayer Aktiengesellschaft, the former being Head of BU Fine Chemicals of Bayer’s Chemical Division at Leverkusen and the latter being Leader of International Research, Geschäftsbereich Pharma at Wuppertal.
Their handbook addresses “the various aspects of combinatorial chemistry in order to facilitate further advances in the field as well as to aid the reader in his or her practice of combinatorial chemistry” (p 7).This international venture involved 73 eminent contributors, including the three editors, from academic and industrial laboratories in 7 countries—Germany (37); the United States (26); Hungary (5); Japan (2); and Denmark, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom (one each). This meticulously organized work is divided into five parts and 35 chapters (most with introductions and conclusions) that are subdivided into numbered sections, subsections, and sub-subsections.
The handbook includes hundreds of figures, tables, diagrams, photographs of equipment, chemical and mathematical equations, chemical formulas, and reaction schemes. Both volumes contain a table of contents for the entire set and a list of contributors and their addresses. A 16-double-column-page index in Volume 2 facilitates location of material. The hundreds of references include books, articles, and web sites as recent as 2001. An online version is available for license through Wiley Interscience (http://www3. interscience.wiley.com/cgi-bin/bookhome/109872516 or http: //www3.interscience.wiley.com/aboutus/onlinebooks.html). A list of the sections and chapters and their lengths shows the wide range of topics dealt with in the handbook:
Volume 1 (xxxi + pp 1–609)
Part I, “General Aspects”
Chapter 1, “Combinatorial Chemistry in Perspective”
Chapter 2, “Introduction to Combinatorial Chemistry”
Chapter 3, “Solid Phase and Soluble Polymers for Combinatorial Synthesis”
Chapter 4, “Linkers for Solid-phase Synthesis”
Chapter 5, “Encoding Technologies”
Chapter 6, “Instrumentation for Combinatorial Chemistry”
Part II, “Synthetic Chemistry”
Chapter 7, “Radical Reactions in Combinatorial Chemistry”
Chapter 8, “Nucleophilic Substitution in Combinatorial and Solid-phase Synthesis”
Chapter 9, “Electrophilic Substitution in Combinatorial and Solid-phase Synthesis”
Chapter 10, “Elimination Chemistry in the Solution- and Solid-phase Synthesis of Combinatorial Libraries”
Chapter 11, “Addition to CC Multiple Bonds (Except for CC Bond Formation)”
Chapter 12, “Addition to Carbon-Hetero Multiple Bonds”
Chapter 13, “Chemistry of the Carbonyl Group”
Chapter 14, “Oxidation Except CC Double Bonds”
Chapter 15, “Reductions in Combinatorial Synthesis”
Chapter 16, “Cycloadditions in Combinatorial and Solid-phase Synthesis”
Chapter 17, “Main Group Organometallics”
Chapter 18, “Enolates and Related Species in Combinatorial and Solid-phase Synthesis”
Chapter 19, “Solid-phase Palladium Catalysis for High-throughput Organic Synthesis”
Chapter 20, “Olefin Metathesis and Related Processes for CC Multiple Bond Formation”
Volume 2 (xxxi + pp 611–1114)
Part III, “Special Synthetic Topics”
Chapter 21, “Solid-phase Synthesis of Natural Products and Natural Product-like Libraries”
Chapter 22, “Solid-phase Synthesis of Heterocyclic Systems (Heterocycles Containing One Heteroatom)”
Chapter 23, “Multicomponent Reactions”
Chapter 24, “Strategies for Creating the Diversity of Oligosaccharides”
Part IV, “Molecular Design and Combinatorial Compound Libraries”
Chapter 25, “Design Criteria”
Chapter 26, “Estimation of Physicochemical and ADME Parameters”
Chapter 27, “Virtual Compound Libraries and Molecular Modeling”
Chapter 28, “Erythropoietin Sensitizer—A Case Study”
Chapter 29, “Estimation of Stability and Shelf Life for Compounds, Libraries, and Repositories in Combination with Systematic Discovery of New Rearrangement Pathways”
Part V, “Novel Applications of Combinatorial Chemistry”
Chapter 30, “Concepts of Combinatorial Chemistry in Process Development”
Chapter 31, “High-throughput Screening Applied to Process Development”
Chapter 32, “Combinatorial Methods in Catalysis”
Chapter 33, “Diversity-Based Identification of Efficient Homochiral Organometallic Catalysts for Enantioselective Synthesis”
Chapter 34, “Combinatorial Aspects of Materials Science”
Chapter 35, “Reprogramming Combinatorial Biology for Combinatorial Chemistry”
I am pleased to recommend the Handbook of Combinatorial Chemistry as an up-to-date, authoritative, comprehensive reference source that should be indispensable for synthetic, organic, and medicinal chemists; chemical biologists; and material scientists.
References and Notes
1. Merrifield, R. B. Solid Phase Peptide Synthesis. I. The Synthesis of a Tetrapeptide. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 1963, 85, 2149–2154.
2. Terrett, N. K. Combinatorial Chemistry; Oxford University Press: New York, 1998.
3. Jung, G., Ed. Combinatorial Chemistry: Synthesis, Analysis, Screening; Wiley-VCH: Weinheim, Germany, 1999.
4. Fenniri, H. Combinatorial Chemistry: A Practical Approach; Oxford University Press: New York, 2000.
5. Bannwarth, W.; Felder, E., Eds. Combinatorial Chemistry; Wiley-VCH: Weinheim, Germany, 2000.
6. Zaragoza Dörwald, F. Organic Synthesis on Solid Phase: Supports, Linkers, Reactions; Wiley-VCH: Weinheim, Germany, 2000.
7. Beck-Sickinger, A.; Weber, P. Combinatorial Strategies in Biology and Chemistry; Wiley-VCH: Weinheim, Germany, 2002.
8. Houghten, R. A. General Method for the Rapid Solid-phase Synthesis of Large Numbers of Peptides: Specificity of Antigen-Antibody Interaction at the Level of Individual Amino Acids. Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. USA 1985, 82, 5131–5135.
George B. Kauffman
California State University, Fresno, email@example.com
Named Organic Reactions, 2nd edition. Thomas Laue and Andreas Plagens (translated into English by Claus Vogel). John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.: Chichester, England, 2005. Structural formulas, reaction schemes. x + 310 pp. 15.2 ´ 22.7 cm. $125.00, hardbound; ISBN 0-470-01040-1; $50.00, paperback; ISBN 0-470-01041-X.
This handy source book by Thomas Laue and Andreas Plagens of the Volkswagen Aktiengeschellschaft, Wolfsburg (formerly of the Technische Universität Braunschweig), originally published in German , was first felicitously translated into English by Claus Vogel of the Leibniz-Institut, für Polymerforschung, Dresden (formerly of the Universität Magdeburg) . According to the authors, “Name reactions are still an important element of organic chemistry....used as short expressions in order to ease spoken as well as written communication....[They] are a perfect aid for learning the principles of organic chemistry.”
Their book is not intended to replace an organic chemistry textbook but is “a reference work on name reactions, that is also suitable for easy reading and learning, as well as for review for an exam in organic chemistry.” This compact collection contains sections on 117 significant named reactions (The authors state that it contains “about 135.”) from classical and modern organic chemistry, alphabetically arranged from the Acyloin Ester Condensation to the Wurtz Reaction and ranging in length from one page (Delépine Reaction, p 83) to seven pages (Diels–Alder Reaction, pp 88–95), respectively. One hundred three of the reactions bear the names of chemists, whereas the remaining 14 are named for the type of reaction such as Diazo Coupling, Glycol Cleavage, Haloform, Hydroboration, Malonic Ester Synthesis, Ozonolysis, and Vinylcyclopropane Rearrangement. The authors made their selection based on the importance of the reactions for modern preparative organic chemistry and for today's organic chemistry courses.
This 2nd English edition, completely revised from the 1st English edition, contains five more sections than the 112 sections in the 1st English edition (Barton Reaction (pp 25–28), Baylis-Hillman Reaction (pp 28–31), Stille Coupling Reaction (pp 264–267), Suzuki Reaction (pp 271–274), and Swern Oxidation Reaction (pp 274–276)). Key reactions such as the Sharpless Epioxidation (pp 254–258) and the Heck Reaction (pp 154–159) have been completely revised and increased in length from 2-1/2 to 4-1/4 pages and 2-3/4 to 5 pages, respectively. The Sharpless Epioxidation section now includes the Sharpless Dihydroxylation (pp 256–258), and the Heck Reaction section also now includes the sila-Sonogashira reaction (pp 158–159). The total number of pages has been increased from 288 pp (1st edition) to 310 pp (2nd edition). New references have been added wherever necessary.
Each section begins with the name of the reaction, followed by a subtitle giving a one-sentence description, a formula scheme depicting the overall reaction, and an initial paragraph with an introductory description. The major portion of each section presents clearly outlined reaction mechanisms, side-reactions, and variants and modified procedures with respect to product distribution and yields. Recent and older examples of the application of the particular reaction or method are given along with references to the original literature; these examples are not intended to deal with every aspect but are chosen from a didactic viewpoint for advanced students. In addition to the reference to the very first publication to show the origin of the reaction's name and how it was explored or developed, review articles are cited, together with recent articles. A 4-page (2 columns per page) index facilitates location of material. Unlike the 1st edition, which was available only in a hardbound version, the 2nd edition is available in both hardbound and paperback versions.
Thumbnail sketches of the discoverers would have added another dimension for those interested in the history of organic chemistry, but they would have added to the length and cost of the volume. For example, British historian of chemistry Peter J. T. Morris has written an article on relatively unknown discoverers of name reactions and is particularly interested in the few women chemists involved in these reactions . Thumbnail sketches would have disclosed that the discoverers of the Hunsdiecker Reaction (which is included) and the Piloty-Robinson Reaction (not included) were wives of the male chemists involved. Most of the principal name reactions of organic chemistry are represented in Laue and Plagens' collection, an exception being the Ullmann reaction (coupling of two aromatic nuclei on heating aryl iodides with activated copper).
This book is an essential guide to named organic reactions for chemistry students, organic chemists, and chemists in general.
References and Notes
1. The latest edition of the German version of this book is Laue, T.; Plagens, A. Namen- und Schlagwort-Reaktionen der Organischen Chemie, 4th ed.; B. G. Teubner, GWV Fachverlage GmbH: Stuttgart, Leipzig, Germany, 2004.
2. Laue, T.; Plagens, A. Named Organic Reactions; John Wiley & Sons: New York, NY, 1998. For a review see Kauffman, G. B. Chem. Educator 2000, 5, 96–97; DOI 10.1333/s00897000374a.
3. Morris, P. J. Named Reactions—Forgotten Chemists. Chem. & Ind. December 20, 1999, 24, 968–972.
George B. Kauffman
California State University, Fresno, firstname.lastname@example.org
What Einstein Told His Cook: Kitchen Science Explained. Robert L. Wolke (with recipes by Marlene Parrish). W. W. Norton & Company: New York/London, 2002. Figures, tables. xviii + 350 pp; 16.3 ´ 23.9 cm. USA $25.95, Canada $37.99; ISBN 0-393-01183-6.
Robert L. Wolke, Professor Emeritus of Chemistry at the University of Pittsburgh, author of the syndicated Washington Post column, “Food 101,” that has been running for seven years, and Consulting Science Editor for Cook’s Illustrated Magazine, received an award from the Association of Food Journalists, the James Beard Foundation Award for best newspaper column, the International Association of Culinary Professionals’ Bert Greene Award for best newspaper food writing, and the American Chemical Society’s 2005James T. Grady-James H. Stack Award for Interpreting Chemistry for the Public, of which he said, “This one means an awful lot to me because it is from my own chemistry colleagues” . An educator and lecturer with a national reputation for his ability to make science understandable and enjoyable for non-technically inclined people, he is the author of Impact: Science on Society , Chemistry Explained , What Einstein Didn’t Know , and What Einstein Told His Barber , numerous articles on food, science, travel, and language as well as dozens of scientific research papers. Among his many distinctions, he is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records for the discovery of the radioactive beta-emittingisotope with the longest half-life .What Einstein Told His Cook, Wolke’s first food book, was nominated by both the James Beard Foundation and the International Association of Culinary Professionals for the best food reference book of 2002.
The road leading to this books began when Wolke met and married food writer, restaurant critic, and cooking teacher Marlene Parrish, to whom the book is dedicated and who “developed and tested all the recipes in the book, each one specifically designed to illustrate and put to work a scientific principle being explained” (p xvii). “They may be thought of as a lab course that you can eat” (p xiv).
Of the two possible approaches to explaining kitchen science Wolke rejects the “college method,” which attempts to supply answers before the questions arise, in favor of the “experience method”:
But what if you didn’t have to plow through a lot of science, yet every time you were mystified by something you could ask a scientist to explain that specific problem, no more and no less? While you can’t have a scientist (much less an Einstein) always at your elbow, the next best thing might be to have at your disposal a compilation of answers to questions that you yourself might be likely to come up with, along with plain, no-nonsense explanations of what’s happening….In this book I have selected well over a hundred questions that have been asked of me by real-life cooks, readers of my Food 101 column in the Washington Post and other newspapers (p xiv).
The following list includes some of the questions that should give you an idea of the book’s 137 topics (questions and answers) and 34 recipes. Each of the chapters is prefaced by an introduction ranging in length from less than a page to four pages:
· Chapter 1, “Sweet Talk” (15 topics, 6 recipes, 36 pp), deals with the human senses and with sugars as representative of the family of carbohydrates.
Did you know that roads can be paved with molasses? How can you soften hardened brown sugar? Why do cooked foods turn brown? . What do we owe to Christopher Columbus’s mother-in-law? . Did you know that starch is made of sugar or that “raw sugar” isn’t raw? How do you dissolve two cups of sugar in one cup of water? . What’s the difference between the different kinds of artificial sweeteners?
· Chapter 2, “The Salt of the Earth” (9 topics, 2 recipes, 26 pp), tells about the physical and chemical roles that salt plays in our foods, including preservation.
Did you know that “sea salt” may have come from a mine? Why do we salt the water for boiling pasta? Can you remove excess salt from your soup? . Does salt tenderize meat? What are the differences between the various kinds of salt substitutes? What’s different about kosher salt?
· Chapter 3, “The Fat of the Land” (14 topics, 2 recipes, 28 pp), focuses on what fats are and how we use them so that we can better interpret and evaluate the health aspects of the different kinds of fats.
Do you know the difference between a fat and a fatty acid? What makes fat saturated or unsaturated? What makes fats turn rancid? Did you know that nonfat cooking sprays are mostly fat? Why does European butter taste so good? . How do they get corn oil out of corn, which is a low-fat food? How do they homogenize milk?
· Chapter 4, “Chemicals in the Kitchen” (15 topics, 2 recipes, 31 pp), looks at some of the “chemicals in our foods”—not in the sense of food additives, but stressing that ultimately all our foods are nothing but chemicals.
Do you know what’s in your tap water? How do baking powder and baking soda differ? Can the aluminum in baking powder cause Alzheimer’s disease, which Wolke jokingly calls “what’s-his-name’s disease”? What is cream of tartar? Is it related to tartar sauce or steak tartare? What is MSG and does it really enhance flavors? What Japanese taste sensation is sweeping this country? Is your balsamic vinegar real? Why do potato chips have green edges?
· Chapter 5, “Turf and Surf” (22 topics, 10 recipes, 53 pp, the longest chapter), describes what makes animal protein from the land and from the sea look and cook differently.
Why is red meat red? . Why does your ground beef look as if it came from the Old Gray Mare? Why do people say that the meat nearest the bone is always the sweetest? What do bones contribute to a stock? Why does my gravy turn out to be either lumpy or greasy? Does fish have to smell fishy? Are clams or oysters on the half shell still alive when we eat them? Why do clams and oysters have shells that are hard as a rock whereas shrimp and crab shells are like hard plastic? . How do you deal with a live clam, oyster, crab, or lobster?
· Chapter 6, “Fire and Ice” (16 topics, 2 recipes, 38 pp), explains how our two most common kitchen appliances—the refrigerator and stove—are used to keep our food from spoiling and to make it more palatable and digestible, respectively.
How should you compare kitchen ranges? Is there a rule of thumb about how long it takes to cook something at different altitudes? What’s better for grilling—charcoal or gas? Did you know that all the alcohol doesn’t boil off when you cook with wine? Did you know that hot water can freeze before cold water? Does it ever really get hot enough to fry an egg on the sidewalk? . Would you like to learn a surprising way to defrost frozen foods?
· Chapter 7, “Liquid Refreshment” (17 topics, 5 recipes, 35 pp), discusses the three main types of beverages—hot water extracts of plant materials; those containing carbon dioxide, whether present naturally from fermentation or deliberately added for its “fizziness;” and those containing alcohol, whether directly from fermentation or deliberately enhanced by distillation.
Why does your coffee taste like acid? How do they decaffeinate coffee? Does espresso contain more caffeine than regular coffee? Did you know that herbal teas are not tea? Does drinking soda and belching contribute to global warming? What’s the best way to keep soda pop from going flat? Should you sniff the wine cork in a restaurant? How much alcohol is there in your drink? Is there any alcohol at all in a non-alcoholic drink?
· Chapter 8, “Those Mysterious Microwaves” (12 topics, 2 recipes, 19 pp, the shortest chapter), examines the subject about which Wolke has probably received more questions than any other. He proclaims, “It is the first new way of cooking in more than a million years” (p 252).
What do microwaves do—and not do—to your food? Why does microwaved food sometimes have to stand for a while after it’s been heated? What makes a container “microwave safe”? Why mustn’t you put metal in a microwave oven? How can you keep microwave-heated water from blowing up in your face? Do microwaves destroy the nutrients in food?
· Chapter 9, “Tools and Technology” (17 topics, 3 recipes, 52 pp), deals with a variety of high-tech kitchen gadgets such as magnetic induction coils, light ovens, thermistors, and computer “brains,” while it teaches the reader how to use familiar items such as frying pans, measuring cups, knives, and pastry brushes to best advantage.
Why doesn’t anything stick to nonstick cookware? Are pressure cookers safe? What’s the best way to store kitchen utensils? What’s the latest scientific research on juicing limes? Why are “instant-read” thermometers so slow? Can you really cook with light? Why do crackers and matzos have little holes in them? Is irradiated food safe?
The book concludes Wolke’s journey through “the only place on Earth where miracles really do happen every day; our wild and wonderful kitchens” with a dialogue in which the White Rabbit explains to Alice the uses of the separate refrigerator compartments.
Each of the sections is self-contained so the book is eminently suited for browsing. Recipes and other supplementary materials are printed in light gray boxes. Two of the recipes have been adapted from previous publications by others—Chocolate Velvet Mousse (pp 30–31)  and Champagne Jelly (p 239) .
A four-page alphabetical glossary of 31 terms from acid to triglyceride and a two-page annotated bibliography of seven technical science books without recipes and less technical books with recipes, some as recent as 2001, contribute to the volume’s usefulness. A detailed index (26 double-column pages) makes the book especially user-friendly.
Wolke’s book is replete with 14 illustrations by Alan Witschonke as well as many relevant and amusing anecdotes. Cooking, as Wolke makes eminently clear, is both a science as well as an art. He makes cuisine seem humorous and easy to understand the hows, whys, and magic that occur in the kitchen. Although other books on the science of cooking are available [17-19], this volume is a welcome addition to the genre. Unlike Barham’s book , which consistently uses the Système International (SI) or metric system of measurements and which we reviewed in the last issue, Wolke’s book employs the Imperial or U.S. system , making it much easier for American readers to use. Also, Wolke’s book contains fewer experiments and is less technical and more humorous.
What Einstein Told His Cook is an engrossing, witty, lucid, and insightful book that provides a host of answers to questions that you’ve probably always wondered about as well as those that you’ve never imagined. We heartily recommend it to nutritional scientists, food technologists, cooks, “foodies,” and chemists interested in foods and their preparation
References and Notes
1. Incomparable foodie. Science 2004, 306, 225.
2. Wolke, R. L. Impact: Science on Science; Saunders College Publishing: Philadelphia, PA, 1975.
3. Wolke, R. L. Chemistry Explained; Prentice-Hall: Englewood Cliffs, NJ, 1980.
4. Wolke, R. L. What Einstein Didn’t Know: Scientific Answers to Everyday Questions; Birch Lane Press: New York, NY, 1997; Replica Books: Bridgewater, NJ, 2000.
5. Wolke, R. L. What Einstein Told His Barber: More Scientific Answers to Everyday Questions; Dell Publishing Company: New York, NY, 2000.
6. McWhirter, N.; McWhirter, R., Eds. Guinness Book of World Records; Bantam Books: New York, 1979; p 175. The Guinness citation was for cadmium-113, the longest-lived single beta emitter known at the time—a mere 9 million billion years (Greth, W. E.; Gangadharan, S.; Wolke, R. L. Beta Instability in Cadmium-113. J. Inorg. Nucl. Chem. 1970, 32, 2113). The half-life record for a beta-emitter was later superseded by vanadium-50. Bismuth-209 now holds the record for alpha emitters.
7. “Browning” is due to the still not completely understood Maillard reactions named after French biochemist Louis Camille Maillard (1878-1936). For a biography see Adrian, J. Louis C. Maillard: De la médecine à l’alimentation; Éditions Tec & Doc: Paris, 1999.
8. She owned a sugar plantation, which probably gave him the idea of taking some sugar cane to the Caribbean on his second voyage to the New World in 1493 (p 8).
9. Sugar can hydrogen bond with water molecules and can also squeeze into empty spaces between the water molecules. In fact, with adequate heating you can dissolve as many as five cups of sugar in one cup of water. That’s how candy is made (p 22).
10. Wolke describes several experiments that he carried out to test whether simmering some chunks of raw potato would accomplish this (It didn’t). He suggests that the only sure method is to add unsalted stock (pp 58–62).
11. European butter contains more fat (p 78).
12. The red color is not due to hemoglobin but to myoglobin, another red, iron-containing, oxygen-carrying protein (p 126).
13. In a typical example of his corny humor and use of puns for titles, Wolke calls this section “Between a rock and a carapace” (p 168).
14. Wolke describes several of his experiments and anecdotal evidence about this phenomenon. One of us (GBK) describes a successful experiment on a related phenomenon, frying an egg by use of the heat liberated by mixing lime (CaO) with water, which is also not an urban myth: Kauffman, G. B.; Pennington, S. D. Favorite Demonstration: Sunny Side Up! The Exothermic Slaking of Lime," J. Coll. Sci. Teaching 1992, 22, 66–68; Kauffman, G. B. It can be done [Frying an egg by slaking lime, calcium oxide]. The Fresno Bee, July 28, 2003, p B8.
15. Barrenechea, T. Chocolate Mousse with Olive Oil. In The Best American Recipes 2000: The Year’s Top Picks from Books, Magazines & the Internet; McCullough, F.; Hamlin, S, Eds.; Houghton Mifflin Co.: Boston, MA, 2000; pp 290–291.
16. Shere, L. Champagne Jelly. In The Best American Recipes 1999: The Year’s Top Picks from Books, Magazines & the Internet; McCullough, F.; Hamlin, S, Eds.; Houghton Mifflin Co.: Boston, MA, 1999; p 155.
17. Barham, P. The Science of Cooking; Springer-Verlag: Berlin/Heidelberg/ New York, 2001. For a review see Kauffman, G. B.; Kauffman, L. M. Chem. Educator 2005, 10 (3), 245–246; DOI10.1333/s00897050925a.
18. 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.
19. McGee, H. On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen; Simon & Schuster: New York, 2004.
20. In a single exception, “Black Raspberry Coffee Cake” (pp 297–298), Wolke employs metric units, “just to show you what it will be like in the year 3000,” but he also includes American equivalents in parentheses “so if you wish you can ignore the metrics.”
George B. Kauffman and Laurie M. Kauffman
California State University, Fresno, email@example.com