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The Genie in the Bottle: 67 All-New…

The Genie in the Bottle: 67 All-New Commentaries on the Fascinating… (2001)

by Joseph A. Schwarcz

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Joe Schwarcz's second collection of essays (see my pick for May for the first) about chemistry in everyday life begins with a Preface in which he confronts a door-to-door salesman of water filters with some basic information about the chemistry of water treatment. It nicely complements the Michael Shermer's comments about bottled water, above. Schwarcz continues with sections on the chemistry of health, food, history, a miscellany ("Chemistry Here, There, and Everywhere"), and some examples of pseudoscience. Because of my interest in that last topic, I ended up reading this book backwards. It doesn't make any difference - Schwarcz does an outstanding job of explaining chemistry to a lay audience, and the chapters can be read in any order. ( )
  hcubic | Feb 8, 2013 |
This is a fun little book that is exactly what the sub-heading on the book says it is: 67 commentaries on the fascinating chemistry of everyday life. I work as a chemist and I did enjoy reading this book.

The book is broken up into 5 main sections. There is a section on Health Matters, Food Matters, Chemistry Everywhere, learning from the past, and Silly stories. The Health Matters and Food Matters are the most organized sections of the book. The mini-stories in the these two sections deal exclusively with health or food. Each section had a collection of short anecdotes. The anecdotes average at 3-4 pages per length with some being shorter and a few being significantly longer.

This book is definitely geared more toward the average joe than to a chemist. That being said, there is enough chemistry addressed to interest your everyday chemist too. I was a bit disappointed that I had heard a lot of these stories before; they are things I've read about in headlines or just have general knowledge of. But for everything I had heard of there were two things I hadn't heard about.

There is a lot of fun miscellaneous information in this book. Depending on how much of that you want to retain this book could be a quick or a slow read. I personally had trouble reading large portions of it at once because it was just so much information to assimilate. Especially in the later sections the anecdotes tend to jump around willy, nilly. You may be reading about how Hydrogen was discovered then, in the next anecdote, you are reading about Silly Putty. I found that I enjoyed the book (and remembered all the fun facts) the best when I read a few anecdotes a day.

The writing style is done very well. There is a lot of tongue-in-cheek humor and there are a lot of cleverly worded passages. This is a chemistry book that will amuse and interest everyone. I personally applaud it for bringing chemistry to the masses. Chemistry is awesome and interesting; and it is wonderful that Schwarcz can make it interesting for everyone. I plan on checking out his additional collections of chemistry anecdotes in the future. ( )
1 vote krau0098 | Jan 27, 2010 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0805071385, Paperback)

Looking for a headache cure? Try willow bark. Wondering how that ice cream got its color? Could be from bug juice. Giving us the lowdown on these and other chemical phenomena, The Genie in the Bottle reveals the fun and fascinating secrets collected by popular science writer Dr. Joe Schwarcz.

Blending quirky chemistry with engaging tales from the history of science, Schwarcz offers a different twist on licorice and straight talk on travel to the dark side of the sun, along with the skinny on chocolate research, ginkgo biloba, and blueberries. Find out how spies used secret inks and how acetone changed the course of history. Dr. Joe even solves the mystery of exploding shrimp and, of course, delves into the secret of the genie in the bottle.

Infused with Schwarcz's humor and his fondness for the wonders of magic and science, The Genie in the Bottle celebrates some of the the most amazing corners of our universe-and our cupboards.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:19:27 -0400)

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Insert summary here. The Genie in the Bottle makes science downright fun. Dr. Joe Schwarczblends quirky anecdotes about everyday chemistry with engaging talesfrom the history of science. Get a different twist on licorice andtravel to the dark side of the sun. Control stinky feet and bend spoonsand minds. Learn about the latest on chocolate research, flax, ginkgobiloba, magnesium, and blueberries. Read about the ups of helium andthe downs of drain cleaners. Find out why bug juice is u.… (more)

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