The Same and Not the Same / Edition 1

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Positioned at the crossroads of the physical and biological sciences, chemistry deals with neither the infinitely small, nor the infinitely large, nor directly with life. So it is sometimes thought of as dull, the way things in the middle often are. But this middle ground is precisely where human beings exist. As Hoffmann shows in his inspired prose, the world observed at its molecular level is complex and agitated, as are the emotions of the supposedly dispassionate scientists who explore it. In The Same and Not the Same the vital tensions of chemistry are revealed; with down-to-earth explanations, Hoffmann uncovers the polarities that power, rend, and reform the world of molecules. When we wash an apple before eating it, we are thinking not merely of the dirt that may still be on it but of the pesticides used in agricultural production. When we take medication, we expect relief for our pain but also fear side effects. The Same and Not the Same shows this ambivalence to be only one of a number of dualities pervading the world of molecules. The theme of identity, reflected in the title of the book, is central to the story. Other dualities, from stasis and dynamics, to creation and discovery to the rich complexity of revealing and concealing, are lucidly delineated for nonscientist and scientist alike. The Same and Not the Same also offers a rare and compelling personal statement of the social responsibility of scientists. Unabashedly confronting some of the major ethical controversies in chemistry today, the book strives for balance in facing the pressing ecological and environmental concerns of our time.

An accessible insider's view of chemistry, this volume helps explain a science that to most of us remains shrouded in mystery. Hoffmann explores the pressing environmental and ecological issues of our time, and confronts some of the major ethical controversies in chemistry today. More than 100 illustrations and photos enhance this sweeping exploration of modern chemistry.

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Editorial Reviews

This [is a] refreshing, often controversial panorama of science as it is really conducted by talented, fallible human beings . . . by one of America´s most respected chemists and joint winner of the 1991 Nobel Prize for Chemistry.
Malcolm W. Browne
Hoffmann . . . has never given up his lifelong campaign to illuminate the beauties of chemistry for the unenlightened . . . . The Same and Not the Same consists of roughly equal parts art and science, and its relaxed style, uncomplicated explanations, and clever illustrations could qualify it as a primer for chemistry haters.
Nobel laureate Hoffmann (physical sciences, Cornell U.) explains to general readers the questions chemistry deals with, the methods used to do so, and the significance it makes in our lives. He compares the molecular realm to the middle scale between infinitely large and small where humans live, and demonstrates the ambiguous characteristics and behavior of chemicals. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780231101394
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press
  • Publication date: 1/30/1997
  • Series: George B. Pegram Lecture Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 294
  • Product dimensions: 6.08 (w) x 8.96 (h) x 0.86 (d)

Meet the Author

Roald Hoffmann was born in Zloczow, Poland, in 1937. Having survived the Nazi occupation, he arrived in the U.S. in 1949, after several years of post-war wandering in Europe. He graduated from Stuyvesant High School, Columbia University, and proceeded to take his Ph.D. in 1962, at Harvard University, working with W. N. Lipscomb and Martin Gouterman. Dr. Hoffmann stayed on at Harvard University from 1962-1965, as a Junior Fellow in the Society of Fellows. Since 1965, he has been at Cornell University, where he is now the Frank H. T. Rhodes Professor of Humane Letters Emeritus. Professor Hoffmann is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, The American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Philosophical Society. He has been elected a Foreign Member of the Royal Society, the Indian National Science Academy, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, the Finnish Society of Sciences and Letters, the Russian Academy of Sciences, the Nordrhein-Westfällische Academy of Sciences, and the Leopoldina. He has received numerous honors, including over twenty-five honorary degrees. He is the only person ever to have received the American Chemical Society's awards in three different specific subfields of chemistry -- the A. C. Cope Award in Organic Chemistry, the Award in Inorganic Chemistry, and the Pimentel Award in Chemical Education. As well as two other ACS awards. In 1981, he shared the Nobel Prize in Chemistry with Kenichi Fukui. "Applied theoretical chemistry" is the way Roald Hoffmann likes to characterize the particular blend of computations stimulated by experiment and the construction of generalized models, of frameworks for understanding, that is his contribution to chemistry. In more than 500 scientific articles and two books he has taught the chemical community new and useful ways to look at the geometry and reactivity of molecules, from organic through inorganic to infinitely extended structures. Dr. Hoffmann participated in the production of a television course about chemistry. "The World of Chemistry" is a series of 26 half-hour programs developed at the University of Maryland and produced by Richard Thomas. Dr. Hoffmann is the Presenter for the series, which has been aired on PBS beginning in 1990, and has been shown widely abroad. Roald Hoffmann has also written popular and scholarly articles on science and other subjects. His poetry has appeared in various literary magazines. Two collections, entitled "The Metamict State" (1987) and "Gaps and Verges" (1990), were published by the University of Florida Press; "Memory Effects," was published in 1999 by the Calhoun Press of Columbia College, Chicago. At the end of 2002 two poetry collections were published by Roald Hoffmann, "Soliton," by Truman State University Press, and volume of selected poems translated into Spanish, "Catalísta."

Columbia University Press

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Table of Contents

Part One: Identity--the Central Problem 1. Lives of the Twins2. What Are You?3. Whirligigs4. Fighting Reductionism5. The Fish, the Worm, and the Molecule6. Telling Them Apart7. Isomerism8. Are There Two Identical Molecules?9. Handshakes in the Dark10. Molecular MimicryPart Two: The Way It Is Told 11. The Chemical Article12. And How It Came to Be That Way13. Beneath the Surface14. The Semiotics of Chemistry15. What DOES That Molecule Look Like?16. Representation and Reality17. Struggles18. The Id Will OutPart Three: Making Molecules 19. Creation and Discovery20. In Praise of Synthesis21. Cubane, and the Art of Making It22. The Aganippe Fountain23. Natural/Unnatural24. Out to Lunch25. Why We Prefer the Natural26. Janus and NonlinearityPart Four: When Something is Wrong 27. Thalidomide28. The Social Responsibility of ScientistsPart Five: How, Just Exactly, Does it Happen? 29. Mechanism30. The Salieri Syndrome31. Static/Dynamic32. Equilibrium and Perturbing ItPart Six: A Life in Chemistry 33. Fritz HaberPart Seven: That Certain Magic 34. Catalyst!35. Three Ways36. CarboxypeptidasePart Eight: Value, Harm, and Democracy 37. Tyrian Purple, Woad, and Indigo38. Chemistry and Industry39. Athens40. The Democratizing Nature of Chemistry41. Environmental Concerns42. Science and Technology in Classical Democracy43. Anti-Plato; or, Why Scientists (or Engineers) Shouldn't Run the World44. A Response to Worries About the Environment45. Chemistry, Education, and DemocracyPart Nine: The Adventures of a Diatomic 46. C2 In All Its GuisesPart Ten: The Dualities That Enliven 47. Creation Is Hard Work48. Missing49. An Attribute of the Devil50. Chemistry Tense, Full of Life?51. Cheiron

Columbia University Press

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