The Chemical Educator, Vol. 11, No.2, Media Reviews, © 2006 The Chemical Educator
Humphry Davy: Life Beyond the Lamp. Raymond Lamont-Brown. Sutton Publishing Limited: Phoenix Mill, Thrupp, Stroud, Gloucestershire GL5 2BU, England, 2004. Telephone: (01453) 731114. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.haynes.co.uk. 17 illustrations. xxiii + 199 pp, hardcover. 16.2 ´ 24.0 cm. $39.25; £18.99. ISBN 0-7509-3231-7.
In my acceptance address for the American Chemical Society's 1993 Pimentel Award in Chemical Education, I discussed the persons and events shaping my career, spending considerable time in tribute to my first scientific hero—Humphry Davy (1778–1829), a true romantic and one of the most fascinating and exemplary chemists of all time. The rags-to-riches saga of this poor Cornish youth and his rapid rise to the professorship of the Royal Institution, popular science lecturer par excellence, darling of London society, especially among the ladies, recipient at the age of 33 of a knighthood from the Prince Regent, and president of the Royal Society, the highest position in British science, at the age of 41, made an indelible impression on my adolescent mind. What a role model for a young person determined upon devoting himself to "the central science"!
I emulated my hero in every possible way. Like Davy, my first experiments were pyrotechnical. In my boyish enthusiasm, I followed his dangerous propensity by testing the physiological effects of various substances on myself. In Davy's case, this practice may have contributed to his early death at age fifty. I duplicated his preparation of nitrous oxide by heating ammonium nitrate before the Texas City explosion of April 16, 1947, the United States' worst industrial accident, made me aware of the danger inherent in heating this endothermic substance. I unsuccessfully tried to duplicate Davy's electrolytic preparation of metallic potassium (As one of the founders of electrochemistry (a term that he himself coined), he was the first to isolate potassium and sodium (1807) and barium, strontium, calcium, and magnesium (1808)).
Davy achieved fame as a poet as well as a chemist and natural philosopher, the term then used to designate what we now call scientist. Among his friends were the Romantic bards Wordsworth, Byron, and Coleridge. I too began to write poetry on chemical themes, and later, as a professor, I devoted considerable time to preparing lectures and demonstrations—activities to which Davy and his "greatest discovery," his protégé Michael Faraday, excelled. Thus I have long had a personal and professional interest in any books or articles about the man who successfully aspired to become the Newton of his day (Sir Humphry was the first scientist to be knighted since Newton, and when he received a baronetcy, the highest honor conferred on a British scientist, he surpassed Sir Isaac himself. Incidentally, Faraday declined a knighthood that he was offered).
Davy was born on December 17, 1778 in Penzance, Cornwall, the first of five children of an often unemployed woodcarver, whose death when Humphry was 16 left his mother with debts, forcing her to support the family by opening a millinery shop. Little in his plebian background presaged his “future reputation as the most respected—and disliked—man of science ever” (p 78). He was largely self-taught, learning chemistry by reading Lavoisier's Traité élémentaire de chimie in English translation.
Apprenticed at sixteen to an apothecary-surgeon, Davy seemed destined to become a physician. In 1798 Thomas Beddoes appointed Davy his assistant at his Pneumatic Institute at Clifton near Bristol, where the 20-year-old youth analyzed the oxides of nitrogen that provided John Dalton with the data to support his law of multiple proportions. Davy's study of 1800 on the physiological effects of nitrous oxide—“the first historically recorded suggestion that [it] could be a source of anæsthesia” (p 44)—aroused considerable popular as well as scientific attention and made inhaling laughing gas a fashionable fad.
Davy became Assistant Lecturer in Chemistry and Laboratory Director (1801), Lecturer (1802), and Professor (1802) at the Royal Institution, which, supported by money paid to attend his public lectures, became the world’s first established research institute as well as Britain's premier research institution. His zeal and showmanship in popularizing his experimental discoveries in chemistry, electrochemistry, agriculture, geology, and catalysis brought him the patronage of influential people. His inventions included the carbon arc light, miner's safety lamp, and cathodic protection to prevent corrosion of the copper hulls of warships, a principle still in use today. He favored facts above theories and was skeptical of Dalton's atomic theory. At a time when a scientific career was most unusual, he became a professional scientist when only the Astronomer Royal could be so described.
Davy was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society (1802), one of its two Secretaries (1807), and in 1820, its President (reelected in 1826). On April 11, 1812, being a social climber, he entered into a childless and unhappy marriage (Both spouses possessed explosive tempers) with the bluestocking widow and heiress Jane Apreece, formally marking his entrance into the upper classes of class-conscious Regency society, which was governed by patronage. In 1812 he published his Elements of Chemical Philosophy, dedicated to his bride. In 1813, at the pinnacle of his meteoric career, he resigned his professorship and began to travel about Europe, accompanied by his wife, Faraday, and two chests of apparatus to continue his experiments. In France he elucidated the true nature of iodine. In Italy he carried out some of the earliest analyses of pigments used in ancient paintings and ignited a diamond to prove that it was identical with graphite. After 1820 his health deteriorated, and he died on May 28, 1829 in Geneva. His relatively short life was motivated by his urge to understand nature and to apply this knowledge to useful purposes. Unfortunately, he left no school of disciples to continue his work.
All these events—and more—are objectively but empathically portrayed by Raymond Lamont-Brown, a former Lecturer in the Departments of Continuing Education at the Universities of Dundee and St. Andrews and a freelance writer since 1965 with more than 50 titles on Scottish subjects, folklore, biography, history, and Victorian and Edwardian Scotland. In writing this book, he has drawn extensively on almost all the previous volumes on Davy as well as accounts of Davy’s published work, notebooks, poetry, prose, and letters located in archives and libraries in Cornwall, Switzerland, England, and Scotland. He includes numerous excerpts, some as long as two pages in length, from these documents.
Lamont-Brown differentiates his book from the numerous earlier biographies [1–16], scientific, popular, and juvenile, which he cites and quotes from, as follows:
Much of the modern material on Davy dwells on his chemical background, or has been prepared as study material for a scientific audience. So this volume attempts to look more clearly at Davy the man; to bring him once more to the forefront of public recognition as a brilliant communicator of difficult science; and to dispel as many myths about him as possible. The book aims to offer a sense of Davy’s achievements as a man who was not only a star of the Royal Institution but someone who brought his science to the dinner tables of society and the parlours of the middle classes (p xxii).
Sutton Publishing was founded in 1979 in Gloucestershire as “a small press catering for a growing demand from people keen to learn about the history of their immediate surroundings,” and it has produced both academic and trade books. In 2000 it was purchased by Haynes Publishing PLC, a leading motor manual publisher.
Although the book is intended as a popular one for a nonscientific audience and no formulas or equations are provided, every quotation is meticulously acknowledged in the Notes (14 pp); and an annotated four-page bibliography is classified into “Works by Humphry Davy;” “Works on Sir Humphry Davy;” “Other Works;” “Learned Journals,” “Papers, Gazetteers and Notebooks;” and “Supplementary Works…” It contains 17 black-and-white illustrations, including James Gillray’s frequently published cartoon , as well as a diagram of Davy’s famous Safety Lamp, from which the book’s title is derived (p 130), an alphabetical list of short thumbnail sketches of his “Contemporaries, Rivals and Colleagues,” who figure in the book, and a collection of seven quotations, “Humphry Davy as Others Saw Him,” that includes the familiar, humorous clerihew:
Sir Humphry Davy
He lived in the odium
Of having discovered sodium (p xi).
Every person of consequence in the book, scientist and nonscientist alike, is identified by birth and death dates. Particularly useful are the “Chronology” of Davy’s life (pp xii–xiii) and the family trees of Lady Davy (p 91) and Humphry Davy (p 178), which I haven’t seen in other Davy biographies. Considering the detail in which Lady Davy is discussed, it is unfortunate that her portrait is not included although one of her distant relative Sir Walter Scott and a picture of his home at Abbotsford are provided. British spelling is used consistently throughout, and almost all of the British expressions should be readily understandable to readers on my side of the Atlantic (On their European sojourns Davy and especially his haughty wife treated Faraday as a “dogsbody” (p 113), which I learned through Google is a British Royal Navy term for “a lowly person who gets all the dirty jobs”).
Although I consider myself familiar with the Davy saga, I was surprised to learn—or I had forgotten—that “Literary critics have detected the figure of Humphry Davy in [Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein or the Modern Prometheus’s] Professor Waldman of the University of Ingolstadt, and have traced some of the professor’s dialogue to Davy’s own opinions” (p xviii). Sir Humphry and Lady Jane Davy aroused considerable hostility and jealousy for their snobbery and propensity for name-dropping and social climbing, and Lamont-Brown carefully distinguishes between anecdotes that are false and those that are true. A 10-page Epilogue that follows the previous 11 chapters deals with events following Davy’s premature death. A name and subject index (four double-column pages) facilitates location of material.
The number of errors is small and usually “typos” or misspelled proper nouns: “Goriometer” for “Goniometer” (p xviii); “they” for “he or she” (p xxii); “discover” for “discoverer” (p xxii); “forefathers” for “forefathers’” (p 2); “Guiseppe” for “Giuseppe” (Volta, p 47); “Frederick” for “Friedrich” (Wöhler, p 21); “Woolaston” for Wollaston” (p 63); “phosphorous” for “phosphorus” (Figure 3); “Academia del” for “Accademia dei” (Lincei, p 121); “Frederich” for “Friedrich” (Gauss, p 147); “Geneve” for “Genève” (p 167); “executor” for “executrix” (p 170); and “nee” for “née” (p 178). Also, oxymuriatic acid is chlorine not hydrochloric acid (p 126), and mercury cyanide is a compound not an element (p 174).
Lamont-Brown summarizes Davy’s life and achievements as follows:
This volume has endeavoured to pull together Humphry Davy’s strengths and weaknesses to offer some clues as to the real man behind the scientific legend. We see him, too, moving from a youth of radicalism, and perhaps republicanism, to become an adult rich, poetic, a romantic dilettante who came to enjoy his title and fawned on those with honors a notch or so above his….Of Davy’s strengths it can be said that he lived for science; and that he wanted science to be useful for all. Yet he remained an unconventional scientist. He was a skilled laboratory operator with the ability to see right into the heart of a problem rapidly; in this he was in the forefront of establishing laboratory techniques which remained standard practice until the twentieth century. He was a gifted lecturer able to show, by quick reasoning and independence of mind, his expertise as an experimenter. His ability to offend those who honoured him, though, was legendary. Many assembled at his death to decry his character; they criticised him as over-ambitious and vain, prickly about personal criticism and longing too much to rise above others….Yet by sheer force of personality and reputation as a chemist, Davy did leave the Royal Society in a stronger position than he had found it on his election as President (pp 175–176).
Lamont-Brown has vividly depicted the life and times of the greatest creative scientist in Regency Britain along with the development of science and its institutions during this crucial historical period. I heartily recommend this inexpensive, engaging, and meticulously researched and documented biography in which the author relates events in the life of one of chemistry’s brightest luminaries to the social, political, and cultural context of his time. It should serve as an excellent introduction for both scientist and nonscientist, and its extensive references will enable the reader to pursue more details about the man whom no less than the Swedish chemist Jöns Jacob Berzelius called “sitt tidehvarfs störste chemist” (the greatest chemist of his time).
References and Notes
1. Paris, J. A. The Life of Sir Humphry Davy, Bart., L.L.D., late President of the Royal Society; Henry Colburn and Richard Bentley: London, 1831.
2. Davy, J. Memoirs of the Life of Sir Humphry Davy, LL.D., FRS; 2 vols.; Longman Rees: London, 1836.
3. Mayhew, H. The Wonders of Science; Or, Young Humphry Davy, (the Cornish apothecary’s boy, who taught himself natural philosophy and eventually became president of the Royal Society). The life of a wonderful boy, written for boys; Harper & Brothers: New York, 1856.
4. Davy, J. Fragmentary Remains, Literary and Scientific, of Sir Humphry Davy, with a Sketch of his Life and Selections from his Correspondence; Churchill: London, 1858.
5. Thorpe, T. E. Humphry Davy: Poet and Philosopher; Cassell & Co.: London, 1896.
6. Gregory, J. C. The Scientific Achievements of Sir Humphry Davy; Oxford University Press: Oxford, 1930.
7. Kendall, J. Humphry Davy: Pilot of Penzance; Faber & Faber: London, 1954.
8. Ellis, A. W.; Willis, E. C. Laughing Gas and Safety Lamp: The Story of Sir Humphry Davy; Abelard-Schumann: New York, 1954.
9. Treneer, A. The Mercurial Chemist: A Life of Sir Humphry Davy; Methuen: London, 1963.
10. Hartley, Sir H. Humphry Davy; Nelson: London, 1966.
11. Carrier, E. O. Humphry Davy and Chemical Discovery; Chatto & Windus: London, 1967.
12. Russell, C. A. Sir Humphry Davy; Open University Press: Milton Keynes, England, 1972.
13. Siegfried, R.; Dott, Jr., R. H. Humphry Davy on Geology; University of Wisconsin Press: Madison, 1980.
14. Knight, D. M. Humphry Davy: Science and Power; Blackwell Publishers: Cambridge, MA, 1992; 2nd ed., Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, England, 1998. For reviews see Kauffman, G. B. Chem. Eng. News 1993 (August 2), 71(31), 32–33 and Chem. & Ind. 1999 (March 1), 5, 186–187.
15. Fullmer, J. Z. Young Humphry Davy: The Making of an Experimental Chemist; American Philosophical Society: Philadelphia, PA, 2000. For a review, see Kauffman, G. B. Chem. Educator 2002, 7, 401–403; DOI 10.1333/s00897020644a.
16. Davy, J., Ed. The Collected Works of Sir Humphry Davy; Introd. by D. M. Knight; 9 volumes; Thoemmes Press: Bristol, UK; Sterling, VA, 2001. For a review see Kauffman, G. B. Chem. Educator 2004, 9, 337–339; DOI 10.1333/s00897040832a.
17. For a discussion of James Gillray’s famous caricature of a lecture at the Royal Institution involving the administration of nitrous oxide and depicting a gleeful Davy with a bellows see Kauffman, G. B.; Mattson, B.; Swanson, R. P. Celebrating Chemistry and Art: Bicentennial of a Famous Caricature. CHEM 13 NEWS 2002 (January), 299, 20–22. For a color version of the caricature and information on the preparation of N2O log onto http://mattson.creighton.edu/N2O (accessed Mar 2006).
George B. Kauffman
California State University, Fresno, email@example.com
Modern Nuclear Chemistry. Walter Loveland, David J. Morrissey, and Glenn T. Seaborg. Wiley-Interscience: Hoboken, NJ, 2006. Tables, figures, charts. xiv + 671 pp. 16.0 ´ 24.1 cm.; hardcover. $99.95; ISBN 0-471-11532-0.
Walter D. Loveland, who received his B.S. degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1961 and his doctorate from the University of Washington in 1966, has been a faculty member since 1968 at Oregon State University, where he is Professor of Chemistry and Head of the Nuclear Chemistry Group. He is primarily interested in the study of nucleus-nucleus collisions at low, intermediate, and high energies. Among his previous books [1–3] two have involved Glenn T. Seaborg as a coeditor  or coauthor . He spent the fall of 1999 at Michigan State University’s National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory (NSCL), where he wrote a portion of Modern Nuclear Chemistry.
David J. Morrissey, Distinguished Professor of Chemistry and member of the NSCL (Associate Chairman, 1995–1999) at Michigan State University, earned his B.S. degree from the Pennsylvania State University in 1975 and his PhD. from the University of California, Berkeley in 1978. From 1978 to 1981 he was a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory, and in 2004 he served as Chairman of the American Chemical Society’s Division of Nuclear Chemistry and Technology. His research is concerned with experimental studies of heavy ion-induced nuclear reactions and nuclear reaction mechanisms.
The late Glenn T. Seaborg (1912–1999), of course, needs no introduction. The co-recipient (with Edwin M. McMillan) of the 1951 Nobel Prize “for their discoveries in the chemistry of the transuranium elements,” he was University Professor of Chemistry and Chancellor at the University of California, Berkeley, co-founder and Chairman of the Lawrence Hall of Science, and he discovered ten elements, including the one that bears his name, seaborgium (atomic number 106) . Before his untimely death he participated in the planning, development, writing, and reviewing of Modern Nuclear Chemistry.
Although many excellent textbooks of nuclear physics and nuclear chemistry are in print, including the classic texts of Gerhart Friedlander , Loveland, Morrissey, and Seaborg decided to write the book under review here more than five years ago. They justified their decision as follows:
Much of the mainstream of nuclear chemistry is now deeply tied to nuclear physics, in a cooperative endeavor called nuclear science. At the same time, there is a large, growing, and vital community of people who use the applications of nuclear chemistry to tackle a wide-ranging set of problems in the physical, biological and environmental sciences, medicine, and engineering. We thought it was important to bring together, in a single volume, a rigorous, detailed perspective on both the “pure” and “applied” aspects of nuclear chemistry (p xv).
Their book provides up-to-date, in-depth discussions of the latest developments and research in both the theoretical and practical aspects of the rapidly evolving field of nuclear and radiochemistry. The authors present nuclear chemistry and its related applications at a level suitable for advanced undergraduate or graduate courses in science or engineering. They assume that the students using their text have prior or concurrent instruction in physics or modern physics and possess some skill in dealing with differential equations. They do not assume a previous knowledge of quantum mechanics, which they use in a schematic way; they use its conclusions but without utilizing or demanding a rigorous, complete approach. For those students with a limited background in quantum mechanics they include some salient features in the appendices. Because the amount of material in the text is too large for a one-quarter or one-semester course and somewhat too small for a year-long course, instructors can select whatever material they consider most suitable for their needs.
Each of the 19 chapters includes an introduction as well as end-of-chapter homework problems that are largely examination questions used at Oregon State University and are considered an integral part of the text since they illustrate and amplify the main principles of each chapter. The worked examples should be most helpful to students. All the chapters conclude with references—as recent as 2004—and bibliographies (some annotated) except for Chapter 11, which does not include a bibliography. Numerous figures, diagrams, tables, nuclear and mathematical equations, and even a cartoon by Sid Harris (p 29) are provided. The material in Chapter 15 on transuranium elements is a condensation of Seaborg and Loveland’s earlier book on the subject . A section of color plates (14 pages), which duplicates some of the black-and-white figures, is included between pp 400–401. The index (four double-column pages) is adequate but could have been longer.
A list of the chapters and appendices shows the wide range of topics dealt with in this textbook:
Chapter 1, “Introductory Concepts” (28 pp)
Chapter 2, “Nuclear Properties” (28 pp)
Chapter 3, “Radioactive Decay Kinetics” (34 pp)
Chapter 4, “Radiotracers” (38 pp)
Chapter 5, “Nuclear Forces” (8 pp, the shortest chapter)
Chapter 6, “Nuclear Structures” (40 pp)
Chapter 7, “a Decay” (22 pp)
Chapter 8, “b Decay” (22 pp)
Chapter 9, “g-Ray Decay” (28 pp)
Chapter 10, “Nuclear Reactions” (49 pp, the longest chapter)
Chapter 11, “Fission” (32 pp)
Chapter 12, “Nuclear Reactions in Nature: Nuclear Astrophysics” (34 pp)
Chapter 13, “Analytical Applications of Nuclear Reactions” (17 pp)
Chapter 14, “Reactors and Accelerators” (45 pp)
Chapter 15, “The Transuranium Elements” (36 pp)
Chapter 16, “Nuclear Reactor Chemistry” (32 pp)
Chapter 17, “Interaction of Radiation with Matter” (39 pp)
Chapter 18, “Radiation Detectors” (41 pp)
Chapter 19, “Radiochemical Techniques” (33 pp)
Appendix A, “Fundamental Constants and Conversion Factors” (3 pp)
Appendix B, “Nuclear Wallet Cards” (22 double-column pages)
Appendix C, “Periodic Table of Elements” (1 p)
Appendix D, “List of Elements” (2 pp)
Appendix E, “Elements of Quantum Mechanics” (21 pp)
Loveland and Morrissey summarize their hopes for the textbook:
Our aim is to convey the essence of the ideas and the blend of theory and experiment that characterizes nuclear and radiochemistry. We have included some more advanced material for those who would like a deeper immersion in the subject. Our hope is that the reader can use this book for an introductory treatment of the subject of interest and can use the end-of-chapter references as a guide to more advanced and detailed presentations. We also hope the practicing scientist might see this volume as a quick refresher course for the rudiments of relatively unfamiliar aspects of nuclear and radiochemistry and as an information booth for directions for more detailed inquiries (p xvi).
In my opinion their hopes have been amply fulfilled, and I am pleased to recommend Modern Nuclear Chemistry as an authoritative, comprehensive but succinct, state-of-the-art textbook for advanced students as well as a valuable reference source for practicing scientists and engineers.
References and Notes
1. Wang, C. H.; Willis, D. L.; Loveland, W. D. Radiotracer Methodology in the Biological, Environmental, and Physical Sciences; Prentice-Hall: Englewood Cliffs, NJ, 1975.
2. Seaborg, G. T.; Loveland, W., Eds. Nuclear Chemistry; Hutchinson-Ross: Stroudsberg, PA, 1982; reprints of the most significant papers in nuclear chemistry from the earliest work with annotations and English translations.
3. Seaborg, G. T.; Loveland, W. D. The Elements Beyond Uranium; John Wiley & Sons, Inc.: New York, NY, 1990. For an essay-review see Kauffman, G. B. Chem. Eng. News May 13, 1991, 69 (19), 55–56.
4. Kauffman, G. B. In Memoriam Glenn T. Seaborg (1912–1999), Nuclear Pioneer, Educator, and Public Servant. Chem. Educator 1999, 4, 77–79; DOI 10.1333/s000897990290a.
5. Friedlander, G.; Kennedy, J. W. Introduction to Radiochemistry; John Wiley & Sons: New York, NY, 1949; Nuclear and Radiochemistry; John Wiley & Sons: New York, NY, 1955; Friedlander, G.; Kennedy, J. W.; Miller, J. M.; Introduction to Radiochemistry; John Wiley & Sons: New York, NY, 1964; Friedlander, G.; Kennedy, J. W.; Miller, J. M.; Nuclear and Radiochemistry; John Wiley & Sons: New York, NY, 1981.
George B. Kauffman
California State University, Fresno, firstname.lastname@example.org
The Joy Of Chemistry.By Cathy Cobb and Monty Fetterolf. Prometheus Books: New York, 2005. 393 pp, £14.93, $26. ISBN 1-59102-231-2.
Cathy Cobb and Monty Fetterolf have set out to explain the key concepts of chemistry to a non-expert, non-student, adult audience. The book was inspired by The Joy of Sex and The Joy of Cooking and, like them, aims to demystify the subject material and replace hang-ups with understanding and appreciation. Throughout the book the reader is encouraged to understand the principles, see the wider context, and experience short and easy demonstrations that can be conducted in the kitchen or garden quite safely. The demonstrations require no equipment that wouldn’t be available in most kitchens and most of the ingredients (reagents) will either be in your kitchen or can be bought from supermarkets, pharmacists, or hardware stores. The safety precautions are sensible, sufficient, and level-headed. The level is approximately British A-Level (corresponding to the sort of chemistry students tackle in the final two years of high school), or slightly higher, but without the mathematical details and the drudgery of a syllabus.
The first part of the book covers basic principles of chemistry. The electronic structure of atoms is related to the periodic table and the pattern of reactivity displayed by individual elements. Redox chemistry is covered with stories about fire and corrosion. Acid-base chemistry is put into context with swimming pools and curdling milk, while phase changes are explained by reference to collapsing bridges and pizzas gone bad! In Part II these principles are then applied to some specialist fields: organic chemistry, inorganic chemistry, biochemistry, and analytical chemistry. The importance of chirality, coordination chemistry, amino-acids, and the basics of the science in CSI are all discussed, using the principles that the reader mastered during Part I.
First, I liked this book, both personally and has a teacher. It has an informal and humorous style that is clearly aimed at its adult audience, who it manages not to patronize. Many basic science books are tedious to read with the eyes of a professional to whom the content is already very familiar; this book was not tedious and I learned a few things about everyday chemistry that I had not given much thought to. On one occasion I even learned something that is of immediate application to a piece of research I’m doing. The way the authors give the material a context is well done. The real world situations are spread nicely between big industrial or engineering processes and the daily chemistry happening in our homes or offices. The demonstrations are well thought out in general and are a welcome return to experiencing science. Much educational research has pointed out the importance of allowing and encouraging people to experience the material they are trying to master and this book has over twenty-three demonstrations directly linked to the chemistry discussed in the text. This thoughtful use of real, unsupervised demonstrations comes as a welcome change in a world where chemical education is being undermined by restrictions on practical work imposed by unimaginative interpretation of safety regulations and legal concerns. All the experiments described could be carried out in a classroom and many are of direct relevance to those who teach chemistry formally in schools and those who try to bring chemistry to the public in their spare time.
Although I have sung this book’s praises I must now level some criticism. Few things made by human hands are perfect, but there are too many errors and inconsistencies in this book. Individually they are mostly of no consequence, but when read cover-to-cover their frequency was annoying. Much could have been done by better proof-reading and editing. spotted several examples of the following:
· Errors of theory or convention. sugar is not a hydrocarbon, despite the comment on page 79 nor is a hydrocarbon “mostly composed of hydrogen and carbon.” The freely available Wikipedia defines a hydrocarbon correctly as “any chemical compound that consists only of the elements carbon (C) and hydrogen (H).” Sugar is a carbohydrate.
· Inconsistency. In one sentence (page 99) fluorine is described as “has only one filled shell, and second, of all the second-row elements without a filled shell […].” It either has a filled shall or it doesn’t; I know what they mean, but it’s potentially confusing.
· Proof-reading oversights. The text on page 180 clearly describes water as being an example of oxygen seeking to fill its outer shell to give eight electrons. The diagram that accompanies it has only seven dots round the ‘O’-symbol.
· Just plain confusing. On pages 65 and 111 the octet rule is introduced. This rule is a perfectly reasonable formalism for teaching students about the first- and second-row elements, but to speak of the s shell of helium as being an octet is confusing. Presumably we would therefore describe zinc as having a filled octet despite having 10 electrons in its d-orbitals? To my mind the octet rule is better introduced as electron counting for simple s- and p-block elements—or, preferably, just as a tool when we discuss the preference for filled shells. It’s not hard to remember s = 2, p = 6, d = 10, and f = 14.
Finally, I have a couple of quibbles with the shopping list. I had never heard of laundry bluing, and by the results of a quick Web search, people who had, described it as very difficult to find and old-fashioned. I would also not have known what lye was either without Google to let me know it was sodium or potassium hydroxide. Most drain cleaners describe it as caustic soda. A web search suggested that saltpetre may a controlled substance in the UK that has been substituted for in many products, due to an unfortunate habit of being used in bombs. The shopping list could be translated into modern British English and a quick check made that these materials can still be easily obtained from obvious suppliers in the UK.
After all this it sounds like I’m being very hard on the authors; I don’t mean to be. ntroducing chemistry to the public in an understandable, interesting, and postive way is notoriously difficult and few people bother to try. That the authors have bothered to try and that they made such a creditable attempt is something they should be proud of. I shall certainly take good ideas and inspiration from this book when I present chemistry and my research to the public and schools. The second edition to this book would be much inproved by addressing errors and inconsistencies.
The Gray Cancer Institute, Middlesex, HA6 2JR email@example.com
American Chemical Society Directory of Graduate Research 2005. Prepared by the Committee on Professional Training, American Chemical Society: Washington, DC, 2005. Hardbound, 21.7 ´ 28.3 cm. $89.00. To order by phone using credit card, call 1-800-227-5558 or 1-202-872-4600; FAX 1-202-872-6067; to order online, log on to http://www.chemistry.org and use the “Quick Find” tool to get to ACS Online Store. ISBN 0-8412-3875-4.
The latest edition of this standard reference work, published biennially since 1953, contains a wealth of data on 665 academic departments or divisions in universities and colleges in the United States and Canada that offer organized curricula leading to master's and doctor’s degrees in eight chemistry-related fields: chemistry, chemical engineering, biochemistry, medicinal/pharmaceutical chemistry, polymers and materials science, marine science, toxicology, and environmental science.
A frequently consulted source of up-to-date information on U.S. and Canadian academic research and researchers, the DGR is continually relied upon by undergraduates and their faculty advisors in selecting a graduate school suited to their particular interests and talents. By studying the data presented in this directory and by being attentive to the quality of the research publications whose references are given here students can evaluate some factors in the choice of a graduate school. It is also a sine qua non for libraries, academic institutions and their chemistry and chemistry-related departments, chemically oriented businesses, and researchers needing to know who is carrying out research critical to their own.
In each of the eight sections arranged according to field, the institutions are listed alphabetically. For each department, information on the degrees offered, fields of specialization, chairperson's name, telephone and FAX numbers, and web sites are followed by an alphabetical list of faculty members. For each researcher, the following information is provided: year of birth, academic rank, degrees received, major postdoctoral appointments, field of research, specific subjects of current research interest, telephone and FAX numbers, e-mail addresses, the titles and complete reference citations in chronological order of all his or her articles published during 2003 and 2004 (88,983 citations), and the names of candidates completing their master's and doctor's degrees under the faculty member's supervision during the period along with the thesis titles.
Special statistical summaries appear in the introductory section for all the departments. These provide information on the number of doctor's and master's degrees granted in 2002-2003 and 2003-2004, and as of September 2004 the number of first-year and total graduate enrollments, the number of postdoctoral appointments, and the number of full-time and part-time faculty members. A faculty index of 10,858 names makes the directory user-friendly.
The American Chemical Society also maintains DGRweb, a searchable online database of faculty and institutions listed in the DGR. For the first time the 2005, 2003, 2001, and 1999 editions are available online free of charge. For details see http://chemistry.org/education/DGRweb. Suggestions for changes to the information in the directory should be e-mailed to the Secretary of the ACS Committee on Professional Training at firstname.lastname@example.org.
George B. Kauffman
California State University, Fresno, email@example.com
Ida Noddack (1896–1978): Personal Recollections On the Occasion of 80th Anniversary of the Discovery of Rhenium. By Fathi Habashi. Métallurgie Extractive Québec: 800 rue Alain #504, Sainte Foy, Québec, Canada G1X 4E7, 2005; distributed by Librairie universitaire du Québec: Pavillon Maurice-Pollack, Cité Universitaire, Sainte Foy, Québec, Canada G1K 7P4; Telephone: (418) 656-2600; FAX: (418) 656-2665.Illustrations. vii + 156 pp; 15.2 ´ 23.2 cm.; Can. $35.00; U.S.$30.00; plus postage (hardbound); ISBN 2-922-686-08-6.
This short book is a true labor of love. Written by Fathi Habashi, Professor of Extractive Metallurgy at Laval University in Québec City, Canada, who is a prolific author and editor , it was published by Métallurgie Extractive Québec, a nonprofit publisher devoted to the diffusion of extractive metallurgy literature. Although he claims not to be an authority on his latest book’s subject, Habashi has written several articles about Ida Noddack , rhenium , and her prediction of uranium fission  and has mentioned her in several of his earlier books.
To some extent Habashi’s book is an autobiography with an emphasis on his relations with Noddack. It is largely both personal and visual. It contains 48 illustrations (Many are photographs taken by Habashi, and one is a stamp of a uranium processing plant (p 58), not surprising in view of his interest in philately ) and facsimile copies of letters from Noddack to Habashi. In Habashi’s words,
I have neither been a co-worker of the Noddacks nor a rhenium researcher. But since Prof. Friedrich August Henglein (1893–1968) [to whose memory the book is dedicated] in Karlsruhe was the cause of my introduction to the Noddacks, beside [sic] his great impression on my career, I had to devote some pages to his memory. Therefore, this work is neither a scholarly work nor a full biography of the Noddacks. It is simply a personal recollection of my acquaintance with Frau Ida Noddack….I am most grateful to Frau Noddack, whose writings inspired me to have a new look at the Periodic Table  (p v).
Chapter 1, “Biographical Note” (15 pp), sketches the life and career of Ida Noddack (née Tacke) (1896–1978), who was a 28-year-old geochemist, when, with her future husband, Walter Noddack (1893–1960), whose life and career are also sketched, she co-discovered rhenium. Also, in a critique of Enrico Fermi’s results, she predicted the existence of nuclear fission. The Noddacks were unsuccessfully nominated four times for the Nobel Prize in Chemistry . A chronology of her life and a chronological list of her publications from 1920 to 1969 are included.
Chapter 2, “Meeting the Noddacks” (5 pp), describes how Habashi, as a young Egyptian chemical engineer on his first trip to Europe, met the Noddacks. Chapter 3, “IUPAC 1961” (3 pp), tells of Habashi’s meeting again with Henglein at the Montréal Congress of the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry. Chapter 4, “Rhenium 1965” (2 pp, the shortest chapter), lists the publications and patents on rhenium by researchers at the Kennecott Copper Company. Chapter 5, “Hydrometallurgy 1969” (7 pp), recalls Habashi’s attendance at a hydrometallurgy symposium in Cologne and his Rhine cruise with Noddack.
In Chapter 6, “Ida Noddack, 75 & Element 75” (4 pp), Habashi tells of his move to Laval University in Québec and his articles commemorating Noddack’s 75th birthday . Chapter 7, “The Missing Elements” (21 pp), discusses in some detail the elements predicted by Mendeleev (eka-manganese, atomic number 43, and dvi-manganese, atomic number 75) and their discovery by Carlo Perrier and Emilio Gino Segrè in 1939 (technetium) and by Noddack, Tacke, and Berg in 1925 (rhenium) , respectively. The chemistry, industrial production, and applications of these elements as well as Paul K. Kuroda, the Oklo phenomenon, and Pieter Van Assche are included.
Chapter 8, “Nuclear Chemistry at the Time of Noddacks” (6 pp), surveys the main events in the field and Ida Noddack’s interpretation of Enrico Fermi’s results on bombarding uranium with neutrons . Chapter 9, “Germany at the Time of Noddacks” (10 pp), deals with the status of women, the political climate, and anti-Semitism in Germany and the resulting emigration of chemists and physicists from the Third Reich, many of whom are listed in a table (p 72). Chapter 10, “Epilogue” (5 pp), highlights the negative influences on the Noddacks’ reputation, developments in nuclear energy, and the failure of Lise Meitner and Ida Noddack, the female scientists who correctly interpreted nuclear fission, to receive the Nobel Prize. Chapter 11, “Letters” (24 pp), presents facsimile copies of 12 handwritten letters (in German) from Ida Noddack to Habashi from June 4, 1969 to August 12, 1973, along with English summaries of their contents, which, although not containing any scientific information, demonstrate her “human side” during the last years of her life.
Chapter 12, “Papers” (38 pp, the longest chapter), reproduces in facsimile four historical articles by Noddack discussed earlier in the book: (1) a two-part paper announcing the discovery of rhenium  and masurium (never confirmed) [8, 10], along with an English translation by G. Michiels and Pieter Van Assche; (2) a criticism of Fermi’s paper postulating the formation of a transuranium element on neutron bombardment and proposing instead the fission of the uranium atom , along with an English translation by Hans G. Graetzer; (3) a short communication  commenting on Otto Hahn and Fritz Straßmann’s classic article  and calling attention to her previous article (Number 2, above); and (4) her last paper published in the 1968 Mendeleev Symposium (in Russian)  translated from her original typewritten German manuscript, which is also reproduced. Chapter 13, “Appendix” (6 pp), reproduces five letters responding to Habashi’s unsuccessful proposal that Noddack visit the United States. Chapters 1, 3, and 7-10 contain Suggested Readings, and the index (four double-column pages) facilitates location of material.
Unfortunately, Habashi’s book contains a number of errors. In the first sentence of Chapter 1 (p 1) and several places later (pp 6 and 43) he characterizes rhenium (atomic number 75, which Walter Noddack, Ida Tacke, and Otto Berg discovered in 1925), as the last naturally occurring element to be discovered. Actually, this distinction belongs to the alkali metal francium (atomic number 87), discovered in 1939 by Marguerite Perey (1909–1975) . Also, the statement that element 43…should have the abundance of ruthenium, followed by the statement, “This proved to be quite accurate” (p 45) is incorrect, for the abundance of technetium is nil. Furthermore, Lise Meitner died in 1968 not 1967 (p 39), James Chadwick discovered the neutron in 1932 not 1921 (p 64), and Harriet Brooks never determined the density of radon (formerly emanon) and in any case it would not have been in 1898 (p 71; radon was not discovered until 1900 and was not isolated until 1908).
Other less serious or typographical errors are “beside” for “besides” (p v); “Physikalisch-Technischen” for “Physikalisch-Technische” (Reichsanstalt or Bundesanstalt, pp 2, 7, 14 (twice), 15 (twice), and 155); “Montreal” for “Montréal” (pp 23 and 24); “troupes” for “troops” (pp 30 and 55); “Lisa Metiner” for “Lise Meitner” (p 42); “Friedrich Ernst” for “Friedrich Ernst Dorn” (p 42); “Dwi-manganese” for “Dvi-manganese” (pp 44 and 153); “Reich Mark” for “Reichsmarks” (p 47); “addition” for “additional” (p 51); “originates” for “originated” (p 55); “Element 93” for the correct and less provocative title “On Element 93” (p 65); “Arstid” for “Aristid” (von Große, p 87); and “Odolen Koblic” for “Koblic, Odolen” (p 155).
Habashi states his goal for his book:
It is hoped that this collection of photographs and comments will fill a gap in the history of chemistry and stands as a souvenir album in tribute for a most distinguished research chemist (p v).
In our opinion he has fulfilled this modest purpose.
References and Notes
1. One of Habashi’s recent books is From Alchemy to Atomic Bombs: History of Chemistry, Metallurgy, and Civilization; Métallurgie Extractive Québec: Québec, Canada, 2002. For a review see Kauffman, G. B. Chem. Educator 2003, 8, 340–342; DOI 10.1333/s00897030731a.
2. Habashi, F. Ida Noddack, 75 & Element 75. Chemistry 1971, 44 (2), 14-15; Ida Noddack (1892–1978). Bull. Can. Inst. Min. & Met. 1985, 78, 90–93.
3. Habashi, F. Rhenium Seventy Years Old. In Rhenium and Rhenium Alloys; Bryskin, B. D., Ed.; The Metallurgical Society: Warrendale, PA, 1997; pp 15–36.
4. Habashi, F. Fiftieth Anniversary of Uranium Fission. Contributions of Two Women Scientists. Bull. Can. Inst. Min. & Met. 1989, 82, 80-84;Fifty Years Ago: An Historical Note on Uranium Fission. Bull. Hist. Chem. 1989, 3, 15–16.
5. Habashi, F.; Hendricker, D.; Gignac, C. Mining and Metallurgy on Postage Stamps; Métallurgie Extractive Québec: Quebec, 1999 (paperback).
6. After his March 4, 1999 seminar, “A New Look at the Periodic Table,” for the CSUF Chemistry Department, Habashi kindly presented GBK with a T-shirt depicting this table, which appears on the inside front cover of the book.
7. Walter Noddack was nominated by Walter Nernst for 1932 and 1933 and by A. Deissmann and K. L. Wagner for 1933; Ida Noddack was nominated by Walter Nernst and K. L. Wagner for 1933; both Noddacks were nominated by W. J. Müller for 1935 and A. Skrabal for 1937 (Crawford, E., Compiler. The Nobel Population 1901-1950: A Census of the Nominations and Nominees for the Prizes in Physics and Chemistry. Uppsala Studies in the History of Science, 30; Universal Academy Press: Tokyo, Japan, 2002; pp 278, 279, 283, 284, 292, 293, 300, 301. For a review see Kauffman, G. B. Chem. Educator 2005, 10, 406–407; DOI 10.1333/s000897050958a).
8. Noddack, W.; Tacke, I.; Berg, O. Die Ekamangane. Naturwissenschaften 1925, 13, 567–574. In a recent evaluation of the discovery of “nipponium,” supposed to be element 43 by Masataka Ogawa in 1908, and confirmed but not published by his son Eijiro in the 1940s, Kenji Yoshihara remeasured a photographic plate of an X-ray spectrum taken by Ogawa and found that the spectral lines were those of rhenium. Thus actually, rhenium was discovered many years before Noddack, Tacke, and Berg’s work (Yoshihara, H. K. Discovery of a New Element “Nipponium”: Re-evaluation of the Pioneering Works of Masataka Ogawa and His Son Eijiro Ogawa. Spectrochimica Acta 2004, B59, 1305–1310; Yoshihara, K.; Kobayashi, T.; Kaji, M. Ogawa Family and Their “Nipponium” Research: Successful Separation of the Element 75 before Its Discovery by Noddacks. Historia Scientiarum 2005, 15, 177–1900).
9. Noddack, I. Über das Element 93. Angew. Chem. 1934, 47, 653–655. According to Eduardo Amaldi:
She did not give any argument in favour of this interpretation and therefore her suggestion appeared as a speculation aiming more to point out a lack of rigor in the argument for the formation of transuranic elements than a serious explanation of the observations. This remark seems to be supported by the fact that she did never try to do experiments on irradiated uranium as she certainly could have done (Amaldi, E. From the Discovery of Artificial Radioactivity to the Discovery of Nuclear Fission. La radioactivité artificielle a 50 ans 1934–1984; Les Ulis: Les Editions de Physique, CNRS: Paris, 1984, pp 1–23).
10. For a recent historical account of the activities of the Noddacks at the Université Strasbourg during the war years of 1941–1944 see Crawford, E.; Olff-Nathan, J. La science sous influence: L’Université de Strasbourg, enjeu des conflits franco-allemands 1872–1945; Editions la Nuée Bleue: Strasbourg, 2005. According to the Noddacks, they continued to pursue the concentration of masurium for many years after Perrier and Segrè’s discovery of technetium:
The reasons which hampered the enrichment and preparation of the element (43 masurium) for a long time are the extraordinary rarity of the element and the lack of raw material. In 1944 we had succeeded in an important enrichment, but then all samples were lost and the work had to be interrupted for 5 years (Noddack, W.; Noddack, I. Vorkommen und Anreicherung des natürlichen Elements 43. Angew. Chem. 1954, 66, 752; a reference not included in Habashi’s list of Ida Noddack’s publications, pp 10–13).
Fritz Paneth reports:
During the War W. Noddack was appointed professor of inorganic chemistry in Strasbourg by the occupying power; when in 1945 the French chemists returned, they found the symbol Ma painted on the wall of the main chemistry lecture theatre in a large representation of the Periodic System (Paneth, F. A. the Making of the Missing Elements. Nature 1947, 159, 8–14).
Although the discovery of masurium has never been confirmed, the history of its purported discovery has been a perennial topic for chemists and historians of science. For example, some articles and letters include: Kauffman, G. B. Fred H. Heath and the Discovery of Element 43. Florida Acad. Sci. Quarterly Journal, March 1963, 26(1), 1-3; Van Assche, P. The Ignored Discovery of the Element Z = 43. Nuclear Physics 1988, A480, 205–214; Herrmann, G. Technetiumor Masurium—A Comment on the History of Element 43. Nuclear Physics 1989, A505, 352–360;Hayashi, A. M. An Elemental Mystery: Who Really Discovered Element 43? Sci. American February 2000, 282 (2), 18; Zingales, R. From Masurium to Trinacrium: The Troubled Story of Element 43. J. Chem. Educ. 2005, 82, 221–227; Wagner, H. J. Some Footnotes on the History of Masurium. J. Chem. Educ. 2005, 82, 1309; Kauffman, G. B. More on Element 43. J. Chem. Educ. 2005, 82, 1310.
11. Noddack, I. Bemerkung zu den Untersuchungen von O. Hahn, L. Meitner und F. Straßmann über die Produkte, die bei der Bestrahlung von Uran mit Neutronen entstehen. Naturwissenschaften 1939, 27, 213.
12. Hahn, O.; Straßmann. F. Über den Nachweis und das Verhalten der bei der Bestrahlung des Urans mittels Neutronen entstehenden Erdalkalimetalle. Naturwissenschaften 1939, 27, 11–15.
13. Noddak-Takke, I. Periodicheskaia Systema i Poiski Ekamargantsa (The Periodic System and the Search for the Eka-Manganese Elements). In Sto Let Periodicheskogo Zakona Khimicheskikh Elementov, Kokl. Yubileinogo Mendeleev, S’ezda; Semenov, N., Ed.; Nauka: Moscow, 1969; pp 99–102.
14. Adloff, J.-P.; Kauffman, G. B. Francium (Atomic Number 87), the Last Discovered Natural Element. Chem. Educator 2005, 10, 387–394; DOI 10.1333/s00897050956a.
George B. Kauffman
California State University, Fresno, firstname.lastname@example.org
Université Louis Pasteur, Strasbourg, France F-67100, email@example.com
An Introduction to Chemistry. By Mark Bishop. Chiral Publishing. Available online at http://preparatory chemistry.com/ Free for occasional use, $20 for regular use. CD $29.95.
Mark Bishop has written a very readable textbook (http://preparatorychemistry.com/) aimed at students who take a one-semester basic chemistry course to prepare themselves for the college-level two-semester general chemistry course. This text may also be used by students seeking to satisfy a science requirement for graduation and for students in health-related or other programs that require a one-semester introduction to general chemistry.
The author is very successful in his attempt to present the material at a basic level without assuming any background knowledge. The clarity of Bishop’s textual explanations is of superb quality. Furthermore, the author has included a variety of original figures, photographs, and diagrams that should help students visualize an extremely important aspect of the way chemists think—the particulate nature of matter. His emphasis on the conceptual side of chemistry at the expense of the mindless number-crunching that appears to be the norm in many introductory chemistry books should be of great pedagogical value.
In his preface to instructors (http://preparatory chemistry.com/Bishop_Preface.pdf), Mark Bishop expresses his dissatisfaction with the disjointed way knowledge is presented in introductory chemistry textbooks. He points out that this was one of the main reasons for the writing of this book. The author identifies the early presentation of unit conversions as one of the factors contributing to this disjointedness. Rightly, Bishop presents the mathematical side of chemistry later on when its connection to chemistry is more apparent. The author considers the shifting of unit conversions from the beginning to the middle of the semester to be “the single most beneficial change” in his preparatory chemistry course. He offers a second, early-conversions version of his text that follows the traditional approach used in other books, presenting instructors with the option of teaching unit conversions in detail early in the course.
Mark Bishop admirably addresses another major factor in the disjointedness seen in introductory chemistry textbooks—the lack of a hierarchical build-up of the topics from atoms to molecules to changes of matter. For example, one cannot meaningfully describe the differences between physical and chemical changes unless students are familiar with elements and compounds; therefore, Chapters 2 and 3 are dedicated to a rather dense overview of the structural aspects of matter including descriptions of atoms, ions, etc.
The presentation of those ideas is done perfectly well; however, in my view, the extent of the coverage of this material may appear a bit overwhelming for beginning students. The presentation of some of the information could have been postponed until later chapters. Many of the same topics (such as gases, Lewis electron-dot structures, covalent bonds, etc.) are re-isited in later chapters in more detail. From that perspective, this text follows the gradually elevating spiral approach that is typical for other introductory chemistry textbooks found on the market—a first round that covers the basic ideas, followed later by a review of the same ideas in more detail. It seems to me that this approach by itself creates a sense of disorientation among our students, a sense that chemistry is simply a collection of disconnected topics. On the other hand, the spiral approach has its pedagogical benefits. The early introduction of basic ideas makes it possible to do more meaningful laboratory experiments near the beginning of the course.
I was impressed with the author’s skilful treatment of the strengths of acids and bases without having to introduce the concept of chemical equilibrium and equilibrium constants first. In addition, the book provides students with plenty of worked-out examples as well as numerous end-of-chapter problems. The author makes his narrative interesting with many real-world connections and references to everyday environmental and medical concerns.
The table of contents, periodic table, text chapters, student study guide chapters, appendices, answers to selected problems, and the complete glossary/index can be viewed on the Web site as Adobe Acrobat files. All of these files are of the quality that you would expect from any modern text, including photographs, illustrations, and a professional layout. The Web site also includes Shockwave animations, tutorials, checklists for each chapter, PowerPoint presentations, chapter maps, glossary quizzes, and Chime structures.
Overall, I found Bishop’s Web-based text a refreshingly well-written alternative to the commercially available introductory chemistry books. In my view, it is clearly superior in its emphasis on the conceptual side of chemistry, its coverage of the mathematical aspects, its visuals, and its Web-based support materials.
Last, but not least, Mark Bishop allows free access to his work, only asking for a very small contribution ($20) from those who use the site on a regular basis. I find this approach admirable. The fact that an experienced educator dedicated so much time and effort to create a unique tool that is available to all students speaks volumes about the nature of the people who choose teaching as a profession. There is free Web access to the complete text and its tools for students who find the $20 payment a financial burden. There is also an option to buy a CD for $29.95, which contains the complete text and its tools. A black-and-white printed version of text including access to the Web site is available directly from the author (firstname.lastname@example.org) for $39.95 or for $59.95 from a college bookstore.
Mary Baldwin College, Staunton, VA 24401 email@example.com
Natural Products Isolation, Second Edition. Satyajit D. Sarker, Zahid Latif, and Alexander I. Gray, Editors. Humana Press: Totowa, NJ, 2006. Tables, figures. xii + 515 pp, 15.7 × 23.5 cm. Hardcover, $135.00; ISBN 1-59259-955-9.
The first edition of Natural Products Isolation, edited by Richard Cannell and published in 1998, immediately became a must-have reference for natural products chemists. With its detailed instructions and numerous specific examples employing natural product extraction and chromatography techniques, the text served both as a how-to manual for the beginning natural products chemist, and as a general reference for those more experienced in the field. Sadly, Dr. Cannell passed away shortly after the publication of his excellent text.
Since then, there have been a number of developments in the field, which necessitated a second edition. This book, edited by Satyajit Sarker, Zahid Latif, and Alexander Gray has retained many of the features that made the first edition so helpful. Clear fractionation schemes give an overview of the steps involved in a particular isolation, while excellent tables bring together procedural information with examples and practical tips. Some of my favorite tables in the book include: TLC solvent systems and spray reagents in Chapter 3; ion-exchange column examples and elution conditions in Chapter 6; properties of selected polymeric adsorption resins in Chapter 15; and chromatographic supports used for separation of water-soluble components in Chapter 16. Most references to items such as chromatography resins are accompanied by supplier names and, in some cases, catalog numbers to make them easy to find. Perhaps most significant are the hundreds of examples from actual isolations that provide a context (as well as valuable experimental information) for the techniques presented.
Moreover, the second edition improves on the original in many ways. Three entirely new chapters have been added. A chapter on “Hyphenated Techniques,” written by Satyajit Sarker and Lutfun Nahar, gives a broad introduction to recent developments in LC-MS, LC-NMR, and other hyphenated techniques for the isolation and dereplication of natural products, and for related fields such as chemotaxonomy and metabolomics. A concise but important chapter on “Purification by Solvent Extraction Using Partition Coefficient,” by Hideaki Otsuka fills a void in the original text (although this chapter would have been more logically placed before the chapters on chromatography). A new chapter on the “Isolation of Microbial Natural Products” by Russell Barrow complements existing chapters on plant and marine natural products isolation.
In addition to the new chapters, several other changes were made to give a more readable second edition. Several chapters were reordered (with the exception noted above) according to the actual order in which the techniques would be performed in a real isolation. For example, the chapter on planar chromatography (including TLC) now comes before the chapter on low-pressure column chromatography. Several chapters were also rewritten or edited to remove theoretical explanations and mathematical expressions in favor of specific protocols and practical advice. The introduction to the second edition is notably shorter; it is literally an overview of the field, providing a nice perspective on the origins of natural products and the direction in which the field is moving. The introduction also makes a case for the continued importance of natural products, which was absent in the first edition.
Each chapter in the second edition begins with a brief summary of the topics covered, and notes are used at the end of many chapters to provide tips and experimental details. Some chapters also include “Suggested Readings” for those interested in a deeper understanding of the topic (or who miss the theoretical explanations and mathematical expressions).
A listing of the chapters gives an impression of the scope of the book:
Chapter 1, “Natural Product Isolation: An Overview”
Chapter 2, “Initial and Bulk Extraction”
Chapter 3, “Supercritical Fluid Extraction”
Chapter 4, “An Introduction to Planar Chromatography”
Chapter 5, “Isolation of Natural Products by Low-Pressure Column Chromatography”
Chapter 6, “Isolation by Ion-Exchange Methods”
Chapter 7, “Separation by High-Speed Countercurrent Chromatography”
Chapter 8, “Isolation by Preparative High-Performance Liquid Chromatography”
Chapter 9, “Hyphenated Techniques”
Chapter 10, “Purification by Solvent Extraction Using Partition Coefficient”
Chapter 11, “Crystallization in Final Stages of Purification”
Chapter 12, “Dereplication and Partial Identification of Compounds”
Chapter 13, “Extraction of Plant Secondary Metabolites”
Chapter 14, “Isolation of Marine Natural Products”
Chapter 15, “Isolation of Microbial Natural Products”
Chapter 16, “Purification of Water-Soluble Natural Products”
Chapter 17, “Scale-Up of Natural Product Isolation”
Chapter 18, “Follow-Up of Natural Product Isolation”
While this second edition of Natural Products Isolation represents, on the whole, an improvement over the first edition, several of the chapters contained flaws that are worth mentioning. Chapter 5 was reworded in a vague and awkward way, introducing a number of typographical errors. Chapters 6 and 18 also contain typographical errors that were absent in the first edition. Strangely, several figures that were sufficiently high-resolution in the first edition appear at much lower resolution in this book (as though they were scanned in from the original text).
More importantly, certain figures and other details that would be of use to the beginning natural products chemist were removed from the book. For example, a nice table and figure in the first edition showing how to develop a solvent system for low-pressure column chromatography using TLC was not included in the second edition. The new chapter on “Dereplication and Partial Identification of Compounds” removed many useful sections from the first edition, including sections on nuisance compounds and how to detect them, and on prioritizing extracts, along with a nice table of natural product databases. Lastly, the chapters on marine and microbial natural products each contain redundant sections that repeat material that was covered in the chapters on chromatography.
Despite these flaws, I strongly recommend Natural Products Isolation to anyone interested in this ancient yet ever-changing field. The book assumes no prior knowledge and will serve as a lifeline for graduate students starting out in the field. Furthermore, the sheer volume of information contained in the tables and numerous examples will also make it a handy reference for the experienced natural products chemist.
Katherine N. Maloney
Harvard Medical School, firstname.lastname@example.org