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Elegant Solutions: Ten Beautiful Experiments in Chemistry

By: Philip Ball

212 pages, b/w illus

Royal Society of Chemistry

Hardback | Dec 2005 | #156522 | ISBN: 0854046747
Availability: Usually dispatched within 2-3 weeks Details
NHBS Price: £19.95 $26/€22 approx

About this book

Devising and performing a scientific experiment is an art, and it is common to hear scientists talk about the 'beauty' of an experiment. What does this mean in chemistry, the experimental science par excellence? And what are the most beautiful chemical experiments of all time? This book offers ten suggestions for where beauty might reside in experimental chemistry. In some cases the beauty lies in the clarity of conception; sometimes it is a feature of the instrumental design. But for chemistry, there can also be a unique beauty in the way atoms are put together to make new molecules, substances not known in nature. The ten experiments described here offer a window into the way that chemists think and work, and how what they do affects the rest of science and the wider world.

One of Ball's objectives is to encourage us to think about what an experiment is and what role experiments play in the evolution of science. The whole book is full of vivid characters, pointed anecdote and insightful comment, and is a delight to read. It is accessible to any reasonably well-motivated non-chemist, and would make a fine present for such a person. -- Chemistry & Industry, 15th May 2006 (Martyn Berry) Chemistry and Industry It is rare for a book on chemistry to involve such feelings of awe as this one does. Elegant Solutions is an absolute delight, completely fulfilling Armstrong's words about the chemist being full of feeling. Wherever you work in chemistry, this book will have something to help you, to set you thinking, and to make you proud of your professional calling. Make sure you get a copy. -- Education in Chemistry, March 2006 (John Nicholson) Education in Chemistry I highly recommend Ball's book, which makes much of chemistry. Accessible to the nonchemist. -- Bulletin for the History of Chemistry, Vol 31, Number 1 (2006) (Leo B Slater) Bulletin for the History of Chemistry This book is particularly strong in that it is readily accessible by a general readership. It provokes you to think about how aesthetic values are related to experimental virtues. -- Joachim Schummer, International Journal for Philosophy of Chemistry This is a delightful (beautiful?) book that deserves a wide audience...The book contains ten chapters that do more than describe individual experiments; they put it in the context of contemporary thought and attitudes and the characters of the chemists themselves. It should be read by A-level students to put their learning in context and by undergraduates to examine the experimental excellent addition to Phillip Ball's growing list of popular science titles. -- Physical Sciences Educational Reviews, Volume 8, Issue 2, October 2007 (Roy Lowry) Reviews (Formally Physical Sciences Educational Reviews) NO LONGER RUNNING


Introduction: What is an Experiment? What is Beauty?; Section 1: Asking Questions of Nature; Chapter 1: How Does Your Garden Grow?; Chapter 2: An Element Compounded; Chapter 3: New Light; Chapter 4: The Marvellous Glass Balloon; Chapter 5: The Elements Came in One By One; Divertissement 1: Chemistry as Theatre; Section 2: Posing New Questions; Chapter 6: Molecules Take Shape; Divertissement 2: Myths and Romances; Chapter 7: Life and How to Make It; Chapter 8: Not So Noble; Section 3: The Art of Making Things; Chapter 9: Nature Rebuilt; Chapter 10: Plato's Molecules; Divertissement 3: Chemical Aesthetics.

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Phillip Ball is a renowned, prolific, award winning science writer.

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