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Book Review A Random Walk Through Fractal Dimensions. By B. H. Kaye

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The book includes an excellent and entertaining outline of
the history of the scientific study of lectins, which goes back
more than a hundred years. Every chapter makes it clear,
even to the non-specialist reader, that this history will be
enriched by further additions as a result of studies that are
now in progress or will be carried out in the future. This gives
one an extra incentive to absorb the information presented
here, so as to provide a basis for following and understanding such future developments as they occur. Therefore it is to
be hoped that the book will be widely read, and that it will
not be too long before a new updated edition appears. However, the reader interested in this topic is not advised to wait
for such a new edition. It is to be hoped, and is indeed likely
in view of the quality and presentation of the material in this
well set out and easily digestible survey, that readers+specially those who are not lectins specialists-will be motivated
to keep informed about progress in relevant sectors of the
field of lectins. Finally, it can be assumed that some of the
information that this book contains, such as the role of
lectins in viral and bacterial infections or in transport of
glycoproteins, will also in due course find its way into the
standard textbooks.
Hans-Joachim Gabius [NB 1097 IE]
Max-Planck-Institut fur experimentelle Medezin,
Gottingen (FRG)
A Random Walk Through Fractal Dimensions. By B. H .
Kaye. VCH Verlagsgesellschaft, Weinheim/VCH Publishers, New York 1989. xxv, 421 pp., hardcover DM 138.00
(paperback DM 64.00).-ISBN 3-527-26468-X/0-89573496-6
The concept of fractals, invented by Benoit B. Mandelbrot,
has by its vivid imagery altered ways of scientific thought to
an extent that is perhaps greater than that caused by the
second law of thermodynamics. It is doubtless also because
of this graphic quality that a large number of scientists have
already become involved with this new tool. Publications
reviewing this subject are therefore to be welcomed. The
book by B. H . Kaye is neither a handbook nor a work of
reference; instead it contains exactly what its title promises :
a random walk through fractal dimensions, confined to the
scientific and mathematical aspects. The mathematical procedure of fractals is likewise a random one, but it certainly
does not lack a plan. Its basic operations are governed by
strict rules, but these are then applied to random numbers.
Although fractals are ultimately a mathematical device, formulas are avoided in the book. Regrettably, this is taken so
far that one is not even given a mathematical definition of
the term “fractal”. An extreme case is the chapter entitled
“Mathematical Description of Fractal Clusters”, which contains only two quite unimportant formulas. The vague references in the text to “famous” names in the field are rather
annoying; for more detailed information one has to refer to
the bibliography.
The value of the book lies in its plentiful illustrations and
the directness of its style, together with the fact that, due to
the absence of mathematical detail, it is very easy to read. It
is therefore very suitable as a first introduction to the topic.
It can be used as a supplement to basic treatments of the
subject, in particular to those by Mandelbrot or to those that
deal with special aspects. It offers a wealth of new examples
drawn from mathematics, scientific statistics and various
fields of science. The main emphasis of the application examAngew. Chem. Int. Ed. Engl. 30 (1991) No. 3
ples is in the author’s special field of dispersed phases. The
book also serves as a stimulus for further research.
Erich Robens [NB 1115 IE]
Institut fur Anorganische und Analytische Chemie
der Universitat Mainz (FRG)
Structure and Reactivity in Reverse Micelles. (Series: Studies
in Physical and Theoretical Chemistry, Vol. 65). Edited by
M . P . Pileni. Elsevier, Amsterdam 1989. xviii, 379 pp.,
hardcover. HF1 285.00. -ISBN 0-444-88166-2
This book, which is published as Volume 65 in the series
“Studies in Physical and Theoretical Chemistry”, is concerened with topical problems in the field of reverse micelles.
It consists of 21 individual contributions by different authors, most of whom do not confine themselves to a narrow
definition of reverse micelles but also include microemulsions in this class. The aspects emphasized in the articles fall
under three headings: the applications of various analytical
techniques, solubilization, and chemical reactions in reverse
micelles and microemulsions. The treatment of structural
problems which is promised in the book’s title is limited to
that arising in the chapters on analytical techniques and
solubilization, and is mainly restricted to “classical” reverse
micelles.
The analytical techniques that are described include methods of investigating structure, such as light-, X-ray- and neutron-scattering measurements, as well as electron microscopy and various spectroscopic methods. First the applicability
of each individual technique to the study of structure and
reactions in reverse micelles is discussed, then particular
types of reverse micelles are used as examples to illustrate the
capabilities and limitations of the various analytical methods.
In the articles on solubilization in reverse micelles and
microemulsions the main emphasis is on discussions concerning the site of the preferential solubilization and the
associated structural changes. Also the various solubilization techniques and their advantages and disadvantages are
discussed in detail.
The reactions that can be carried out in reverse micelles
and microemulsions include such widely different processes
as pulse radiolysis, electron transfer, photoreactions, the
preparation of clusters of metallic and semiconducting elements, polymerizations and enzymic catalysis. Although
here too the reactions are in some cases used to gain more
detailed knowledge about the structures of reverse micelles,
the dominant theme is the idea of using reverse micelles as
variable microreactors.
The form of the book, consisting of separate individual
contributions, has made it possible to present a very wide
range of topics within the overall theme of reverse micelles.
The articles provide the reader with numerous up-to-date
references to original papers on each of the topics treated.
Representatives of widely differing schools of thought such
as P . L. Luisi and K. Martinek have an opportunity to put
their views; this area of research is thereby presented, with its
attendant controversies, as one that is active and exciting,
and in which one can still expect many interesting developments.
Although good use has been made of the opportunities
presented by a book made up of separate contributions, one
is left with the usual problems of this format: the following
of a central theme is sacrificed in favor of breadth of subject
matter. The attempt by P.L. Luisi to provide an aid to
orientation alongside the contributions dealing with their
0 VCH Verlagsgesellsrhafi mbH. W-6940 Weinheim.1991
0570-0833/91/0303-0339$3.50+ .25/0
339
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