Molecules at an Exhibition: Portraits of Intriguing Materials in Everyday Life

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9780192862068: Molecules at an Exhibition: Portraits of Intriguing Materials in Everyday Life
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What ingredient in Coke can remove rust from chrome? What is the bitterest substance on earth? What is the worst smelling one? In this entertaining tour of chemistry, John Emsley answers these and many other questions as he illuminates the materials that make up our world. Dozens of lively articles explore such well-known molecules as water, oxygen, and glass; versatile plastics like polypropylene, polystyrene, and polyurethane; even "elements from hell" such as Sarin (a lethal nerve gas). With no formulas, equations, or molecular diagrams to baffle the non-expert, each piece blends history, science, and anecdote, with many intriguing facts added to the mix.
"The world of chemistry has never been made as entertaining," writes Nobel Prize-winning chemist Roald Hoffmann. Indeed, this book will fascinate everyone curious about the chemicals in the foods we eat, the clothes we wear, and the air we breathe.

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Reading Molecules at an Exhibition is like listening to a charmingly eccentric British chemistry professor lecture over lunch. In fact, that's just what John Emsley is, and he's expanded his "Molecule of the Month" column series in the Independent into this gallery of molecular portraits, organized into loose themes such as "Testing Your Metal" and "Elements from Hell." He informs us about his favorite molecules through droll anecdotes and basic chemistry. Throughout the book, Emsley exhibits a reverence for industrially useful chemicals that comes across as a grumpy rejoinder to chemo-phobes: "Quit griping.... A little plastic wrap won't hurt you!" Not that he ignores the dangers of some molecules; in fact, he gleefully reports the tiny doses of things such as the nerve gas sarin sufficient to kill you. Other compounds are the subject of Emsley's genuine admiration:

For those who still have to live in shacks of corrugated iron and plywood, a temporary answer is to spray the building with polyurethane, which makes them livable in [sic] by keeping out insects and the heat of the Sun, and making them soundproof.... Nor will the investment be wasted when people are rehoused: they can cut the polyurethane into panels with a knife and use it as insulation in their new new [sic] home.
While Molecules sometimes reads like a paean to the green revolution (which we now know has been responsible for bioaccumulation of carcinogenic pesticides in food webs and the appearance of chemical-resistant insect pests), Emsley does make a strong point for efficient recycling and reuse of the plastics and chemicals we produce in such staggering quantities. And one can forgive him his enthusiasm for technological developments in chemistry. After all, chemicals really are amazing, and it's rewardingly fun to find out how they fit into our diets, our biochemistry, and our daily lives, especially when the education is hidden in fact-filled essays suitable for party entertaining. --Therese Littleton

About the Author:


John Emsley is Science Writer in Residence at the Imperial College of Science, Technology, and Medicine. A regular broadcaster on scientific topics, Emsley wrote the "Molecule of the Month" column for The Independent from 1990 to 1996. He lives in London.

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Book Description Oxford University Press, United Kingdom, 1999. Paperback. Condition: New. Revised ed.. Language: English . Brand New Book. What is it in chocolate that makes us feel good when we eat it? What s the molecule that turns men on? What s the secret of Coca-Cola? In this fascinating book, John Emsley takes us on a guided tour through a rogue s gallery of molecules, some harmful some pleasant, showing how they affect our lives. There are eight galleries in all, full of individual portraits on molecules that are to be found on a daily basis in the home, the environment, and in our bodies-from caffeine to teflon, nicotine to zinc. Find out how Mozart met his death, how Hitler could have saved the Third Reich from defeat, and many more interesting snippets in this highly entertaining, and often surprising book. A broad audience, regardless of whether it has a background in chemistry, will enjoy browsing and reading it. Nature a fine example of popular science writing at its best. It is educational, interesting, may prove inspirational and therefore deserves to find a very wide readership. THES highly readable and entertaining New Scientist. Seller Inventory # AOP9780192862068

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Book Description Oxford University Press, United Kingdom, 1999. Paperback. Condition: New. Revised ed.. Language: English . Brand New Book. What is it in chocolate that makes us feel good when we eat it? What s the molecule that turns men on? What s the secret of Coca-Cola? In this fascinating book, John Emsley takes us on a guided tour through a rogue s gallery of molecules, some harmful some pleasant, showing how they affect our lives. There are eight galleries in all, full of individual portraits on molecules that are to be found on a daily basis in the home, the environment, and in our bodies-from caffeine to teflon, nicotine to zinc. Find out how Mozart met his death, how Hitler could have saved the Third Reich from defeat, and many more interesting snippets in this highly entertaining, and often surprising book. A broad audience, regardless of whether it has a background in chemistry, will enjoy browsing and reading it. Nature a fine example of popular science writing at its best. It is educational, interesting, may prove inspirational and therefore deserves to find a very wide readership. THES highly readable and entertaining New Scientist. Seller Inventory # AOP9780192862068

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Book Description Oxford University Press, United Kingdom, 1999. Paperback. Condition: New. Revised ed.. Language: English . This book usually ship within 10-15 business days and we will endeavor to dispatch orders quicker than this where possible. Brand New Book. What is it in chocolate that makes us feel good when we eat it? What s the molecule that turns men on? What s the secret of Coca-Cola? In this fascinating book, John Emsley takes us on a guided tour through a rogue s gallery of molecules, some harmful some pleasant, showing how they affect our lives. There are eight galleries in all, full of individual portraits on molecules that are to be found on a daily basis in the home, the environment, and in our bodies-from caffeine to teflon, nicotine to zinc. Find out how Mozart met his death, how Hitler could have saved the Third Reich from defeat, and many more interesting snippets in this highly entertaining, and often surprising book. A broad audience, regardless of whether it has a background in chemistry, will enjoy browsing and reading it. Nature a fine example of popular science writing at its best. It is educational, interesting, may prove inspirational and therefore deserves to find a very wide readership. THES highly readable and entertaining New Scientist. Seller Inventory # BTE9780192862068

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Book Description Oxford University Press, USA. Condition: New. 1999. 1st Edition. Paperback. What is it in chocolate that makes us feel good when we eat it? What's the molecule that turns men on? What's the secret of Coca-Cola? In this book, the author takes us on a guided tour through a rogue's gallery of molecules, some harmful, some pleasant, showing how they affect our lives. Num Pages: 272 pages. BIC Classification: PD; PN. Category: (G) General (US: Trade). Dimension: 195 x 130 x 18. Weight in Grams: 202. . . . . . Books ship from the US and Ireland. Seller Inventory # V9780192862068

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Book Description Oxford University Press, USA, 1999. Condition: New. 1999. 1st Edition. Paperback. What is it in chocolate that makes us feel good when we eat it? What's the molecule that turns men on? What's the secret of Coca-Cola? In this book, the author takes us on a guided tour through a rogue's gallery of molecules, some harmful, some pleasant, showing how they affect our lives. Num Pages: 272 pages. BIC Classification: PD; PN. Category: (G) General (US: Trade). Dimension: 195 x 130 x 18. Weight in Grams: 202. . . . . . . Seller Inventory # V9780192862068

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