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Transforming Matter: A History of Chemistry from Alchemy to the Buckyball (Johns Hopkins Introductory Studies in the History of Science)

Levere, Mr. Trevor H.

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ISBN 10: 080186609X / ISBN 13: 9780801866098
Editore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2001
Usato Condizione very good
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Gently used. Expect delivery in 2-3 weeks. Codice inventario libreria 9780801866098-3

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Chemistry explores the way atoms interact, the constitution of the stars, and the human genome. Knowledge of chemistry makes it possible for us to manufacture dyes and antibiotics, metallic alloys, and other materials that contribute to the necessities and luxuries of human life. In Transforming Matter, noted historian Trevor H. Levere emphasizes that understanding the history of these developments helps us to appreciate the achievements of generations of chemists.

Levere examines the dynamic rise of chemistry from the study of alchemy in the seventeenth century to the development of organic and inorganic chemistry in the age of government-funded research and corporate giants. In the past two centuries, he points out, the number of known elements has quadrupled. And because of synthesis, chemistry has increasingly become a science that creates much of what it studies.

Throughout the book, Levere follows a number of recurring themes: theories about the elements, the need for classification, the status of chemical science, and the relationship between practice and theory. He illustrates these themes by concentrating on some of chemistry's most influential and innovative practitioners. Transforming Matter provides an accessible and clearly written introduction to the history of chemistry, telling the story of how the discipline has developed over the years.

Recensione: In 1980, writes historian Trevor Levere, University of California physicists turned an "unimaginably small sample of bismuth into gold," turning one element into another through the medium of a particle accelerator. We call such things experimental science; a medieval scholar would have called it alchemy, a lay observer magic--all of which, by Levere's account, describe modern chemistry.

The history of chemistry is being rewritten every day, notes Levere. In the last three decades alone, more than 7.5 million chemical compounds have been discovered, while great advances have been made in our understanding of the chemical composition of the heavens and our own planet. Locating its origins in ancient and medieval alchemy, the quest to divine the nature of the universe, Levere traces the development of chemistry over a series of conceptual forward steps: from Francis Bacon's development of experimental method to Lavoisier's elucidation of the part of oxygen in combustion and respiration, from Mendeleyev's invention of the periodic table of the elements to the manufacture of modern microcircuitry (which, Levere observes, "involves nearly one hundred different chemical processes").

Much as science has progressed, the author notes, the alchemical aspects of chemistry have not disappeared, as that California experiment shows. What lies ahead is anyone's guess, but, Levere concludes, the history of chemical science is one of ever-changing boundaries, and "there is no reason to assume that this fluidity will come to a sudden stop." --Gregory McNamee

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Dati bibliografici

Titolo: Transforming Matter: A History of Chemistry ...

Casa editrice: The Johns Hopkins University Press

Data di pubblicazione: 2001

Condizione libro: very good

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