Reactions: The Private Life of Atoms by Peter Atkins, Hardcover | Barnes & Noble
Reactions: The Private Life of Atoms

Reactions: The Private Life of Atoms

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by Peter Atkins
     
 

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Illustrated with remarkable new full-color images—one or more on every page—and written by one of the world's leading authorities on the subject, Reactions offers a compact, pain-free tour of the inner workings of chemistry.
Reactions begins with the chemical formula almost everyone knows—the formula for water, H2O—a molecule

Overview

Illustrated with remarkable new full-color images—one or more on every page—and written by one of the world's leading authorities on the subject, Reactions offers a compact, pain-free tour of the inner workings of chemistry.
Reactions begins with the chemical formula almost everyone knows—the formula for water, H2O—a molecule with an "almost laughably simple chemical composition." But Peter Atkins shows that water is also rather miraculous—it is the only substance whose solid form is less dense than its liquid (hence ice floats in water)—and incredibly central to many chemical reactions, as it is an excellent solvent, being able to dissolve gases and many solids. Moreover, Atkins tells us that water is actually chemically aggressive, and can react with and destroy the compounds dissolved in it, and he also shows us what happens at the molecular level when water turns to ice—and when it melts.
Moving beyond water, Atkins slowly builds up a toolkit of basic chemical processes, including precipitation (perhaps the simplest of all chemical reactions), combustion, reduction, corrosion, electrolysis, and catalysis. He then shows how these fundamental tools can be brought together in more complex processes such as photosynthesis, radical polymerization, vision, enzyme control, and synthesis.
Peter Atkins is a world-renowned chemist who has taught at Oxford for decades and has an established track record as a popular science writer. In this crystal-clear, attractively illustrated, and insightful volume, Atkins treats the reader to a fantastic introductory tour—in just a few hundred colorful and lively pages.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
"When chemists shake, stir, and boil their various fluids, they are actually coaxing atoms to form new links, links that result in forms of matter that perhaps have never existed before in the universe." Chemist and Oxford University fellow Atkins (The Periodic Kingdom) provides detailed descriptions of the reactions that occur in everyday life, using language that, while elevated, will be accessible for the armchair scientist. Each chapter focuses on a particular type of reaction, including: precipitation, neutralization, combustion, reduction, oxidation separately and in combination, catalysis, and more. Atkins then discusses reactions of organic chemistry, which resembles "the careful crafting of a cathedral, stone by stone, and decorating it with exactly the right ornaments." He reviews light-initiated reactions, from photochromism to photosynthesis, including a discussion of vision, enlivening the fairly dry subject with frequent historical and scientific examples, as well as humorous comments. For example, he compares a negatively-charged ion sniffing out a positively-charged nucleus to a heat-seeking missile. Concise and enlightening, the book suits science educators, students, and hobbyists.
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Library Journal
Author of almost 60 books, Atkins (fellow, Lincoln Coll., Univ. of Oxford; coauthor, Physical Chemistry) here offers chemistry at its most rudimentary. In fewer than 300 pages, he maps out the very basics of the structure of matter and how chemists operate, combine, and create new compounds. Atkins begins the dialog with water—a substance with which everyone is familiar in all of its states. Then, he progresses at a deliberate pace to more complex compounds but always keeps to recognizable experiences. With a straightforward approach, he avoids technical terminology and addresses readers directly, creating the illusion that he and his readers are having a private conversation. The text is heavily supported by illustrations. VERDICT Readers with little or no knowledge of chemistry will benefit the most from this work, but those with some science familiarity will appreciate its lessons.—Margaret F. Dominy, Drexel Univ. Lib., Philadelphia

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780199695126
Publisher:
Oxford University Press, USA
Publication date:
11/01/2011
Pages:
200
Product dimensions:
5.82(w) x 8.72(h) x 0.71(d)

Meet the Author

Peter Atkins is Fellow of Lincoln College, University of Oxford. He is the author of almost 60 books, which include the world-renowned textbook Physical Chemistry, now in its ninth edition. He has also written a number of books for a general readership, including Galileo's Finger: The Ten Great Ideas of Science, The Periodic Kingdom, Molecules, and The Laws of Thermodynamics: A Very Short Introduction. He has been a visiting professor in France, Israel, New Zealand, and China, and continues to lecture widely throughout the world.

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