Wednesday, December 12, 2007

New Book Profile: The Periodic Table

New Book Profile

Title: The Periodic Table: Its Story and Significance QD467.S345 2007 (New Book shelf)
Author: Eric R. Scerri
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Year: 2007
249 pages

Dr. Eric Scerri, lecturer in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at UCLA, has written a book that explores the development, both historical and philosophical, of the periodic table of elements. In addition, the book examines the relationship between chemistry and physics. Scerri states in his introduction

One can still consider the more modern question of whether chemistry reduces to its sister science of physics...It is this question that forms the underlying theme for this entire book, and it is a question that is addressed more and more explicitly in later chapters as the story reaches the impact of modern physical theories on our understanding of the periodic system. (p. xviii)

Ten chapters begin with the historical origins of the table, including the concept of an element and its changing meaning throughout early scientific thought, continue through Mendeleev's predictions, to the impact of the nucleus and atomic number, and finally to modern quantum mechanics and astrophysics. Written in a manner accessible to students with some knowledge of chemistry, this book will provide a fascinating basis for students about to embark on more serious study of chemistry and/or physics, whether one agrees or disagrees with Scerri's premise.

A Nature (Q1.N2) magazine review of the book

Bensaude-Vincent, B. (18 January 2007). Display elements. Nature 445, 263-4.

discusses Scerri's argument that chemistry cannot be simply reduced to physics. Although the reviewer finds the introductory historical overview somewhat cliched, she approves of later arguments, especially those surrounding the discovery of isotopes and Niels Bohr's atomic model.

This may be an interesting book to take home for the holidays. Remember the library's holiday hours
Wednesday until 1 am
Thursday until 1 am
Friday until 5 pm
December 15-16 CLOSED Semester End
December 17-18 8:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. Semester End

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