Creations of Fire: Chemistry's Lively History from Alchemy to the Atomic Age / Edition 1

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In this fascinating history, Cathy Cobb and Harold Goldwhite celebrate not only chemistry's theories and breakthroughs but also the provocative times and personalities that shaped this amazing science and brought it to life. Throughout the book, the reader will meet the hedonists and swindlers, monks and heretics, and men and women laboring in garages and over kitchen sinks who expanded our understanding of the elements and discovered such new substances as plastic, rubber, and aspirin. Creations of Fire expands our vision of the meaning of chemistry and reveals the oddballs and academics who have helped shape our world.

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Editorial Reviews

Excellently written...highly recommended.
Martin Saltzman
Well-written, witty and erudite. An excellent introduction for anyone interested in the development of chemistry.
Library Journal
As professors of chemistry, the authors could have approached the history of their science from a technical perspective, but they chose instead to place it within the broader framework of social, cultural, and political circumstances. Although their treatment of people and events is at the introductory level, their broad time line begins with chemistry in the Stone Age and ends with current areas of interest such as superheavy elements and the polymerase chain reaction. Along the way, the coverage includes alchemy, cold fusion, and many more popular subjects, as well as less familiar topics like the contributions of Lise Meitner and Marie Lavoisier. Several other concise histories are available (e.g., H.W. Salzberg's From Caveman to Chemist, American Chemical Society, 1991), but this book's light and often humorous style makes it especially appealing to the general reader. Recommended for both history of science and chemistry collections.-Jan Williams, Monsanto Co., St. Louis
Chemical technology has fostered the development of civilizations, altered the course of wars, generated the industrial revolution, and created the petroleum products and plastics that fuel the modern world. This history of chemistry from its most ancient beginnings celebrates theories and breakthroughs through the 20th century, and also looks at the alchemists, swindlers, monks, heretics, kitchen-table inventors and giants of the scientific world. An introduction for lay readers as well as professional chemists. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780738205946
  • Publisher: Basic Books
  • Publication date: 11/28/2001
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 496
  • Sales rank: 743,537
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Cathy Cobb, Ph.D., is Assistant Professor of Chemistry at Augusta College.Harold Goldwhite. Ph.D., is Professor of Chemistry at California State University, Los Angeles. Cathy Cobb, Ph.D., is Assistant Professor of Chemistry at Augusta College.Harold Goldwhite. Ph.D., is Professor of Chemistry at California State University, Los Angeles.

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Table of Contents

1 ca. 100,000-300 BCE: Prehistoric Chemist to Chemical Philosopher - The Seeds 3
2 ca. 300 BCE - 600 CE: Alexandria and Alchemy 27
3 ca. 200 BCE - 1000 CE: From Rome to Baghdad 51
4 ca. 1000-1200: Alchemy Translates from East to West 69
5 ca. 1300-1500: The Evolution of European Alchemy 89
6 ca. 1600: Philosophers of Fire 107
7 ca. 1700: The Search for System and Phlogiston 127
8 ca. 1700: Revolution! 151
9 ca. 1800-1848: Apres Le Deluge 171
10 ca. 1800-1848: The Professional Chemist 185
11 ca. 1848-1914: Thermodynamics - The Heat of the Matter 213
12 ca. 1830-1914: Organic Chemistry - Up from the Ooze 235
13 ca. 1848-1914: Inorganic Elements and Ions - New Earths and Airs 257
14 ca. 1848-1914: Analytical, Industrial, and Biochemistry - Creations of Coal 283
15 ca. 1914-1950: Quantum Chemistry - The Belly of the Beast 309
16 ca. 1914-1950: Polymers and Proteins: Links in the Chain 337
17 ca. 1914-1950: New Materials and Methods - Organic and Inorganic Chemistry Grow 359
18 ca. 1914-1950: Chemical Kinetics - Boom or Bust 377
19 ca. 1914-1950: Radiochemistry - Dalton Dissected 391
20 The Best Is Yet To Come 415
Endnotes 431
Annotated Bibliography 449
Index 453
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