ChemEd X contributors and staff members are continually coming across items of interest that they feel others may wish to know about. Picks include, but need not be limited to, books, magazines, journals, articles, apps—most anything that has a link to it can qualify.
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John Emsley writes about chemistry for the lay person, but manages to bring to light facts and anecdotes that will delight chemists and chemical educators. What is "the worst smell in the world"? - and how is it used to protect us? What radioactive element is used in smoke detectors? What's the secret of Coca Cola? What chemical turns men on?
Amongst the components of the refuse of modern societies, the one that potentially could supply the largest amount of energy on combustion is plastics (which are, of course, processed petroleum). So why are there not more efforts to convert this resource to energy, instead of putting nearly all of it into landfills?
The modern world is filled with wondrous products of science.
This is the third volume in a series by Edward Tufte (the others are "The Visual Display of Quantitative Information", and "Envisioning Information"). All three are beautifully crafted books that are a delight to read and to handle. The most recent one brings the reader's attention to the use of graphics, narrative, and numbers to convey motion, process, mechanism, cause and effect.
Ellen Ullman is a middle-aged female software engineer. Those adjectives usually don't describe a single person. As a philosophical and forthright spokesman for a segment of the society most often characterized by its lack of social and verbal abilities, she is also singular in that way.
Neurologist Oliver Sacks is author of two previous recent best-selling books, "Awakenings" and "The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat", both of which dealt with his specialty, pathologies of the human brain. In "Island of the Colorblind", Sacks takes us traveling to the islands and atolls of the Pacific: Guam, Rota, Pohnpei, and Pingelap.
If you have ever wondered (as I have) how a fever thermometer actually works (but have never felt good enough while you were wondering to do any investigation) then you should look at this article in "How Things Work", a feature of The Physics Teacher edited by H. Richard Crane of the Physics Department of University of Michigan.
"Chemical Achievers" is a book intended to encourage the incorporation of the history of chemistry into the regular chemical curriculum by bringing to life the people responsible for the discovery or invention of chemical ideas and products.
In "Invention by Design", Henry Petroski (Professor of Civil Engineering and History at Duke University) describes the creative process by which objects as ubiquitous and as familiar as paper clips, aluminum soda cans, zippers, and "lead" pencils have arisen. In so doing, he invites the reader into the human activity of engineering.
As humankind grabs control of its own genes, as well as those of the animals and plants with which we share Earth, a plethora of ethical questions must be faced - ignoring them for the time being does not mean they are avoided.