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Biophysical Chemistry. By Alan Cooper

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The final chapter highlights a relatively small, but growing class of palladium(ii)-catalyzed transformations that
do not involve redox chemistry; the catalyst remains in the + 2 oxidation state
throughout the reaction. These reactions include numerous successful asymmetric applications, including electrocyclic reactions, conjugate additions to
a,b-unsaturated carbonyl compounds
and aldol reactions.
It is difficult to imagine a more effective introduction to and overview of the
field of organopalladium chemistry.
Shannon S. Stahl
University of Wisconsin, Madison (USA)
Biophysical Chemistry
By Alan Cooper.
Royal Society of
Chemistry, Cambridge 2004.
184 pp., softcover
£ 14.95.—ISBN
Biophysical Chemistry is one of a series
of textbooks for early undergraduate
students. The intention of this series is
to provide students with short singletopic texts, which present the basic principles of the underlying subject in a comprehensive but didactically ambitious
way. That is not easily done, especially
in an interdisciplinary field such as biophysical chemistry, which can be
approached from either the physical or
the biological side. Here the author
promises in his preface a non-intimidating experimental approach. And indeed,
the subject is not treated as an application of physics to biochemistry. Only
key equations are presented, and every
topic is introduced with regard to its
application to biological macromolecules. The figures not only show schematic diagrams but also provide the
reader with a lot of experimental examples and instrumental setups. And
although it is a rather short book, it
covers all essential topics of modern biophysical chemistry, including proteomics
and single-molecule detection.
The book is divided into six chapters,
which present the basic principles of biological molecules, spectroscopy, mass
spectrometry, hydrodynamics, thermodynamics, kinetics, chromatography,
and single molecules. Each chapter
starts with a definition of learning objectives and ends with a summary of key
points. Worked problems and their solutions are presented throughout the
book; additional problems conclude
each chapter and are answered at the
end of the book. Additional aspects
and information are presented in highlighted boxes and marginal comments,
and a list of scientific references and further reading provides the reader with a
lot of material for advanced studies.
However, as well as this, in principle,
excellent didactic structure, this book
also shows conceptual weaknesses. To
give an overview of the most important
areas of biophysical chemistry in only
180 pages is certainly an enormous challenge, and requires a careful selection of
topics. But unfortunately, the balance
between general aspects of biophysical
techniques and more specialized applications is not always achieved. For
example, it would certainly have been
a better idea to spend a few more
words on molecular vibrations in general, rather than introducing specialized
techniques of Raman spectroscopy. In
some cases the definition of basic
terms is neglected. CD spectroscopy is
presented without a proper explanation
of the term chirality. A more clear
explanation of entropy would have
been useful, because many students fail
to get a proper idea of this thermodynamic quantity. And though starting
with a chapter about general properties
2005 Wiley-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim
of biological macromolecules is a
useful idea, the explanation of a proteins secondary structure with the
accompanying figure will not help
anyone to get an idea of an a helix or a
b-sheet. The attempt to present the
enormous amount of biophysical concepts and techniques in such a comprehensive way leads to a constant walk
on the edge. Whereas the chapter on
spectroscopy sometimes falls into the
style of a mere enumeration of methods,
other chapters, such as those on mass
spectrometry and kinetics, are wellfocused and give a good introduction
to the underlying aspects and setups.
So can I recommend this book?
People who are more interested in the
underlying theoretical principles of biophysical chemistry will be disappointed,
but that is not the intended readership,
as the author emphasizes. It is written
for beginners in this field, such as undergraduate students and people approaching from the biological side. These
groups of people are often scared by
complicated mathematical equations,
and this book shows that you do not
really need many of them to understand
the underlying principles. Although not
all chapters are perfectly done in terms
of structure and choice of topics, the
book is well-suited as a comprehensive
introduction to the field. The authors
clear and simple style, which is nevertheless not trivializing, will equip the
inexperienced reader with a good
framework for more detailed studies
on this subject. Despite all the above
criticisms, I really appreciate the main
message of Alan Cooper: Dont be
scared to move into biophysical chemistry.
Martin Kahms
Max-Planck-Institut fr Molekulare
Dortmund (Germany)
DOI: 10.1002/anie.200485214
Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2005, 44, 997 – 998
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chemistry, coope, biophysics, alan
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