Some of the most exciting scientific developments in recent years have come not from theoretical physicists, astronomers, or molecular biologists but instead from the chemistry lab. Chemists have created superconducting ceramics for brain scanners, designed liquid crystal flat screens for televisions and watch displays, and made fabrics that change color while you wear them. They have fashioned metals from plastics, drugs from crude oil, and have pinpointed the chemical pollutants affecting our atmosphere and are now searching for remedies for the imperiled planet. Philip Ball, an editor for the prestigious magazine "Nature, " lets the lay reader into the world of modern chemistry. Here, for example, chemists find new uses for the improbable buckminsterfullerene molecules--60-atom carbon soccerballs, dubbed "buckyballs"--which seem to have applications for everything from lubrication to medicine to electronics.
The book is not intended as an introduction to chemistry, but as an accessible survey of recent developments throughout many of the major fields allied with chemistry: from research in traditional areas such as crystallography and spectroscopy to entirely new fields of study such as molecular electronics, artificial enzymes, and "smart" polymer gels. Ball's grand tour along the leading edge of scientific discovery will appeal to all curious readers, with or without any scientific training, to chemistry students looking for future careers, and to practicing chemical researchers looking for information on other specialties within their discipline.
Winner of the 1994 Award for Best Professional/Scholarly Book in Chemistry, Association of American Publishers "In this very readable and enjoyable book, Ball [offers] a whirlwind guided tour through some of the most exciting topics in modern chemistry, molecular physics, and materials science... Lucidly written ... with an acute awareness of recent advances and an excellent understanding of their intrinsic scientific content."--Physics World "A tour de force of popular science writing."--John Postgate, The Times Literary Supplement "This book is like a clean fresh breeze, and puts the image of chemistry back into proper perspective... [It] should be used ... to help convey to students ... enthusiasm for modern research."--Rudolph Fahnenstich, Angewandte Chemie "It covers almost every possible recent development in chemistry in just the right amount of detail... The old disciplines of organic, inorganic and physical chemistry of the stuffy textbooks are ploughed over and a new patchwork of fields created to fill their place."--David Bradley, New Scientist