100 Most Important Chemical Compounds: A Reference Guide

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What is a chemical compound? Compounds are substances that are two or more elements combined together chemically in a standard proportion by weight. Compounds are all around us - they include familiar things, such as water, and more esoteric substances, such as triuranium octaoxide, the most commonly occurring natural source for uranium. This reference guide gives us a tour of 100 of the most important, common, unusual, and intriguing compounds known to science. Each entry gives an extensive explanation of the composition, molecular formula, and chemical properties of the compound. In addition, each entry reviews the relevant chemistry, history, and uses of the compound, with discussions of the origin of the compound's name, the discovery or first synthesis of the compound, production statistics, and uses of the compound.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Giving both general and scientific information that might be useful to a variety of users, this is recommended for large public and college/university libraries, especially those serving chemistry departments."


Library Journal

"The author has included anecdotal information about people, places, and products pertaining to the compound, as well as useful historical information….The clear writing makes this volume accessible to lay readers….A useful addition."


School Library Journal

"[T]he text in The 100 Most Important Chemical Compounds adds another dimension to information about chemicals. This title will be useful for chemistry reference collections in both large and small libraries."



"Myers offers his criteria for inclusion on his list—compounds that were chosen because of their importance to health, industry, and society, and because of their historical impact. Although one can criticize that alternative compounds have been left off any list such as this, there are a wide variety of compounds represented, including pharmaceuticals, natural products, and commodity chemicals, alongside obvious entries such as water and ammonia. Entries are arranged alphabetically by compound name. Each entry is two to four pages long and includes basic chemical information (Chemical Abstracts Service Registry Number, select physical properties, molecular formula), followed by a narrative discussing the compound's history, significance to society, and general chemistry and use. However, the human side is not forgotten. Roles of many significant scientists, inventors, and companies are detailed in the development and use of these compounds. The book includes a concise yet informative introductory chapter dealing with basic chemistry principles and concepts, as well as a glossary and a table of common and ancient names of substances…. Recommended. General readers; lower- and upper-division undergraduates; two-year technical program students."



"The 100 Most Important Chemical Compounds is filled with fascinating information. It concludes with a glossary of chemical terms and an extensive bibliography. The author proposes that this book would be especially useful for science teachers and for students needing a general review of common chemical compounds. It is also a wonderful source for persons interested in the history of science."


Association for Women in Science

Library Journal

Chemicals play a role in our everyday lives, from the water we drink to the air we breathe. Here, Myers (environmental science, Alaska Pacific Univ.) provides information on 100 chemicals important to society, heath, and industry. He opens with an introduction to chemical compounds and a summary of the entry format. The discussion of chemicals that follows includes acetic acid (the acid in vinegar), xylene (a chemical used to make plastics and polyester), the synthetic pesticide DDT, penicillin, chlorophyll, and methane. The three- to five-page A-to-Z entries contain each chemical's name, formula, structure, mass, CAS number, melting and boiling points, and density as well as information on its importance and, in some cases, history. The book closes with a table of common names, a guide to further reading, and a glossary. Because there is no mention of selection criteria, readers are left wondering why these particular chemicals are discussed.

Correction:In the review of Anti-Americanism: History, Causes, and Themes(LJ9/1/07), the publisher was listed incorrectly. The publisher is not Greenwood but Greenwood World Publishing, a separate imprint.

—Linda Zellmer
School Library Journal

Gr 7 Up -The introduction to this in-depth, alphabetically arranged work provides an overview of the science of chemical compounds and explains the format of the entries. Each one begins with a line drawing portraying the compounda€™s structure, followed by a heading listing its chemical name, Chemical Abstract Services (CAS) number, molecular formula, molar mass, composition, melting point, boiling point, and density. The densely laid out main text discusses the compounda€™s chemistry, history, manufacture, and societal impact. The author has included anecdotal information about people, places, and products pertaining to the compound, as well as useful historical information. For example, the entry on hydrogen peroxide discusses its use in propelling the space capsules of the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo programs. Tables, maps, and illustrations (a schematic of a nuclear power plant, archival cartoons) appear throughout. The clear writing makes this volume accessible to lay readers. Endnotes include a list of the a€œCommon and Ancient Names of Substances.a€ A useful addition.-Maren Ostergard, King County Library System, Issaquah, WA

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780313337581
  • Publisher: ABC-CLIO, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 8/30/2007
  • Pages: 352
  • Age range: 12 - 17 Years
  • Product dimensions: 7.00 (w) x 10.00 (h) x 0.81 (d)

Meet the Author

RICHARD L. MYERS is Professor of Environmental Science at Alaska Pacific University. He has taught chemistry, oceanography, meteorology, and physics classes and conducted research on urban environmental issues. His work has appeared in the Journal of Environmental Health,The Northern Engineer, Journal of Chemical Education, andJournal of College Science Teaching. His teaching awards include the Carnegie Foundation Alaska Professor of the Year, Higher Education Award from the United Methodist Church, President's Forum Teaching Award, and Ohaus Award for Innovations in College Science Teaching. teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in chemistry, statistics, and environmental science. Dr. Myers' published research includes work on air quality, water quality, science education, and science and the humanities.

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