The Chemical Century: Molecular Manipulation and Its Impact on the 20th Century

Richard J. Sundberg

April 3, 2017 by Apple Academic Press
Reference - 744 Pages - 9 Color & 108 B/W Illustrations
ISBN 9781771883665 - CAT# N11656

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Features

  • Relates chemical principles to everyday applications, such as in consumer products, fossil fuel use, polymers, agriculture, food production, nutrition, construction, weapons, and drugs
  • Provides specific examples of how discovery and innovation occurred, along with sections describing biographical, historical, or political/economic background pertaining to the particular subject
  • Puts the chemical material in a broader context, such as by relating fuel use to global warming, food production to obesity, drug availability to economic and regulatory factors, etc.
  • Covers many topics that have received little attention to date

Summary

This fascinating new volume provides a comprehensive yet concise overview of the chemical aspects of some of the major innovations and changes that occurred during the 20th century, relating chemical structures and properties to real-life applications.

Developed for a course taught by the author for several years at UVA, the author covers the important and consequential developments in chemistry and explains their everyday, real-life applications. These include such topics as consumer products, fossil fuel use, polymers, agriculture, food production, nutrition, explosives, and drugs. The section Molecular Biology and Its Applications includes examples of the application of biotechnology and genetic engineering. The book answers such questions as

• What does "octane number" mean?

• What is "Spandex"?

• What are all the ingredients in my frozen pizza and why are they there?

• What is in my favorite headache remedy and how does it work?

• How can medications affect mental outlook and function?

• How are genetically modified organisms obtained and how are they used?

Broad in scope, The Chemical Century provides understandable examples of discoveries and their applications along with brief anecdotal information on some to the major contributors and the circumstances under which the discoveries were made. Interspersed in most of the chapters are brief summaries discoveries. These sections include a variety of biographical, historical, or political/economic background pertaining to the particular subject.

The major economic, environmental, and regulatory aspects are touched upon as well. For example, the book considers hydrocarbon fuels and their role in global warming; the issue of residues in foods; and multi-drug resistance and antibiotics.

There is little detailed chemistry, but the material is clear in describing chemical structures and in relating those structures to the properties of the materials. The book includes numerous figures and tables to illustrate and convey complicated information. Many chemical structures, including about 50 schemes with multiple structures, are clearly and simply presented as well.