Science popularizer Cathy Cobb takes a unique approach to explaining the concepts of physical chemistry by telling the story of the geniuses and eccentrics who made groundbreaking discoveries in this fascinating field that bridges chemistry, physics, and mathematics. The result is entertaining and illuminating.
Her tale is about the colorful varieties of human character as well as the struggles to understand the workings of the material world. Through true stories of rebels, recluses, heroes, and rogues, she helps the reader to discover how one idea built upon another and how an elegant discipline arose out of centuries of difficult trial and error.
Starting with the ancient Greeks, Cobb takes the reader on a sweeping tour of history. She shows how an understanding of basic chemical properties gradually arose out of ancient Greeks mathematics, Muslim science, medieval “magick,” and the healing arts. Her tour continues through the scientific revolution, the emergence of physical chemistry as an independent discipline, and up to the present. Today, physical chemists contribute to the fields of chemical physiology, chemical oscillations and waves, quantum mechanics, and the curious and promising field of nanotechnology.
This absorbing, eloquently written history of science is loaded with intuitive imagery, everyday analogies, and a colorful cast of characters who are guaranteed to entertain as well as edify.