Modern chemistry and its wonders
A popular account of some of the more remarkable recent advances in chemical science for general readers (Contains Illustrations)
My recently published book Triumphs and Wonders of Modern Chemistry met with such an enthusiastic welcome by the chemical reading public, having run through two editions and been translated into Russian in the comparatively short time which has elapsed since publication, that when my publishers approached me with the request to write a companion volume to that work, treating of matters omitted for want of space in the first book, I gladly acceded to their proposal. The present book is the result.
The treatment is popular, technicalities being avoided as much as possible. However, in it I suppose the reader to be familiar with the ordinary conceptions of chemistry, such as have already been explained in a popular manner in the first book.
The book is not intended for students wishing to study for one or other of the innumerable examinations of our somewhat chaotic educational system. Rather it is intended to interest the cultured general reader in some of the really wonderful achievements of scientific chemistry. The subjects chosen include both technical and pure scientific advances, with which the writer has had special opportunities to become conversant.
The reception accorded to the first volume, not only in the reviews but also in the numerous letters which have reached me from practically all parts of the world, has convinced the writer that the work met a real want and that a considerable demand exists for a book of this type. There exists a wide public interest in scientific problems who have neither the leisure nor the inclination to master the technicalities and enter into the minutiae of the regular textbook of chemistry the latter type of book also labours under the disadvantage that only such things can be discussed therein as are likely to have academic ex- amination questions set on them.
In addition to interesting general readers, the book may possibly prove useful to popular lecturers and chemistry teachers in need of interesting illustrative facts for their routine chemical classes. Popular books on science, although depreciated by professional scientists, yet serve an extremely useful purpose in bringing home to the mass of the people the enormous importance of Science to the State. The greatest care has been taken to keep the subject matter thoroughly up-to-date. Much of the material here appears in book form for the first time.
In every case, the most recent authorities, not only English but foreign as well, have been consulted. No one authority has been slavishly followed, but an endeavour has been made to put every fact in a fresh and original way.
Consequently, the reader will find many old problems presented afresh in a novel form and treated on lines different from those usually adopted in the ordinary chemical textbook. By such means I hope to bring the reader into immediate contact with the thoughts of the great leaders of science, whose ideas, usually buried away in the transactions of learned societies, are inaccessible to all but the specialist. Seeing that this book is being issued during our struggle with the Germans, it will not be irrelevant to mention that for many years chemists have been urging that in any war that we might have with Germany, our enemies would be all the more formidable because of their high scientific education and attainments.
The scientists of this country have been advocating that there should be national encouragement and support of the useful kind of scientific man, that our manufacturers should employ men who have scientific qualifications, and that into the ranks of those who govern us there should be introduced a much larger leaven of men of science. Unhappily this advice fell upon deaf ears. A war with Germany is, in a great measure, a contest be- tween chemists, and British chemists believe that if the government would have listened to them, the Germans would have been beaten in the early stages of the great war and that thousands upon thousands of lives would have been saved; they say that in the Autumn of the year 1914, Germany was saved from a crushing defeat because she had possessed the sense to encourage her chemists.
In these pages, the author hopes that he will be able to reveal the marvels of chemistry, and at the same time to make plain the importance of scientific studies in national affairs.
I. THE WONDERLAND OF MODERN CHEMISTRY . . i
II. THE ROMANCE OF SOME SIMPLE NITROGEN COMPOUNDS 24
III. THE ROMANCE OF EXPLOSIVES 51
IV. RADIUM AND THE NEW CHEMISTRY .... 88
V. THE MYSTERY OF THE PERIODIC LAW . . .112
V. THE MYSTERY OF THE PERIODIC LAW . . .112
VI. THE RADIOELEMENTS AND THE PERIODIC LAW. 135
VII. MODERN ALCHEMY 150
VIII. APPLICATIONS OF ELECTRICITY TO CHEMISTRY. -157
IX. THE ROMANCE OF THE HYDROCARBONS . . . 175
X. THE ROMANCE OF SUGAR 225
XI. THE ROMANCE OF ALCOHOL . . - . . 242
XII. THE ROMANCE OF COAL-TAR . . . 262
XIII. THE ROMANCE OF COMMON SALT .... 291
XIV. METALLIC FIRESTONES 328
XV. ARTIFICIAL PRECIOUS STONES 336
INDEX ........ . 349
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