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Elegant solutions : ten beautiful…

Elegant solutions : ten beautiful experiments in chemistry (edition 2005)

by Philip Ball

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Title:Elegant solutions : ten beautiful experiments in chemistry
Authors:Philip Ball
Info:Cambridge, UK : Royal Society of Chemistry, c2005.
Collections:Your library
Tags:History of chemistry

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Elegant Solutions: Ten Beautiful Experiments in Chemistry by P. Ball





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Choose ten exemplary chemistry experiments. The synthesis of nylon? Bakelite, the first man-made polymer? The structure of DNA? The fixing of nitrogen? The discovery of buckyballs? Sorry, but none of those made the list of veteran science writer Philip Ball. Mr. Ball was looking for something other than mere importance. He was seeking "elegance", or "beauty" in the experiments he chose for this fascinating book. Some of his examples are not usually considered to be within the realm of chemistry, but that is fine with me. I have always thought that the goals of science education should not be restricted by artificial "disciplinary" boundaries. Mr. Ball's objective in Elegant Solutions is to identify experiments that are particularly inspiring, because they so clearly illuminate an important principle or represent a turning point in science. Louis Pasteur's "by hand" resolution of chiral tartaric acid is an example of the "elegance" criterion. Not only did the unlikable Mr. Pasteur painstakingly separate crystals that were mirror images of one another - he also provided insight into the meaning of his experiment. The isolation of radium by Marie Curie earned the Nobel in physics, but her work was almost all chemistry, and it is appropriate that her contribution be recognized in that light. Other supposed physics that made the list are Rutherford and Cavendish, but "alchemist" Jan Baptista van Helmont gets the leadoff essay, for his quantitative proof that plants are made of more than soil. ( )
  hcubic | Jan 27, 2013 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0854046747, Hardcover)

Devising and performing a scientific experiment is an art, and it is common to hear scientists talk about the 'beauty' of an experiment. What does this mean in chemistry, the experimental science par excellence? And what are the most beautiful chemical experiments of all time? This book offers ten suggestions for where beauty might reside in experimental chemistry. In some cases the beauty lies in the clarity of conception; sometimes it is a feature of the instrumental design. But for chemistry, there can also be a unique beauty in the way atoms are put together to make new molecules, substances not known in nature. The ten experiments described here offer a window into the way that chemists think and work, and how what they do affects the rest of science and the wider world. This book aims to stimulate the reader to think anew about some of the relationships and differences between science and art, and to challenge some of the common notions about particular 'famous experiments'. Elegant Solutions: Ten Beautiful Experiments in Chemistry is accessible to all readers, including those without a scientific background and can provide an unusual point of entry into some of the basic concepts of chemistry. Phillip Ball is a renowned, prolific, award winning science writer.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:40:40 -0400)

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