Paul S Braterman

From Stars to Stalagmites

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Feynman once selected, as the single most important statement in science, that everything is made of atoms. It follows that the properties of everything depend on how these atoms are joined together, giving rise to the vast field we know of today as chemistry. In this unique book specifically written to bridge the gap between chemistry and the layman, Braterman has put together a series of linked essays on chemistry related themes that are particularly engaging.
The book begins with the age of the earth, and concludes with the life cycle of stars. In between, there are atoms old and new, the ozone hole mystery and how it was solved, synthetic fertilisers and explosives, reading the climate record, the extraction of metals, the wetness of water, and how the greenhouse effect on climate really works. A chapter in praise of uncertainty leads on to the “fuzziness” and sharing of electrons, and from there to molecular shape, grass-green and blood-red, the wetness of water, and molecular recognition as the basis of life.
Organised in such a way as to illustrate and develop underlying principles and approaches, this book will appeal to anyone interested in chemistry, as well as its history and key personalities. Where many other titles have failed, this book succeeds brilliantly in capturing the spirit and essence of chemistry and delivering the science in easily digestible terms.
Contents:The Age of the Earth — An Age-Old QuestionAtoms Old and NewThe Banker Who Lost His HeadFrom Particles to Molecules, with a Note on HomoeopathyThe Discovery of the Noble Gases — What's so New About Neon?Science, War, and Morality; The Tragedy of Fritz HaberThe Ozone Hole Story — A Mystery with Three SuspectsRain Gauge, Thermometer, Calendar, WarningMaking MetalIn Praise of UncertaintyEverything is FuzzyWhy Things Have ShapesWhy Grass is Green, or Why Our Blood is RedWhy Water is WeirdThe Sun, The Earth, The GreenhouseIn the Beginning
Readership: Intellectually curious non-scientists, scientists who are interested in the wider context of chemistry, and (perhaps most important) teachers at all levels who wish to show their classes that chemistry is not a mass of dead data, but a vibrant cultural activity.
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458 printed pages
Original publication
2012

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