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Book Review Arrhenius From Ionic Theory to the Greenhouse Effect. (Series Uppsala Studies in the History of Science Volume 23.) By E

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organometallic compounds concludes
Part 2.
The third and final part, consisting of
nearly 90 pages, deals with the synthesis of
functionalized acetylenes. As well as
derivatives with halogens, nitrogen, or
phosphorus as heteroatoms, followed by
metal acetylides, some unusual functionalities are also included, for example in the
synthesis of alkynols, the less stable tautomeric form of ketenes.
Most of the synthetic methods described are illustrated by describing at
least one practical example. Each chapter
is accompanied by a comprehensive bibliography giving the reader quick access to
original publications and laboratory
Volume 5 is concerned with carbon
compounds containing two heteroatoms,
one of which has a multiple bond. In accordance with the overall scheme of this
work, Part 1 covers compound classes
containing a C=O group. The first few
chapters deal with methods for synthesizing carboxylic acids and their derivatives :
acid halides, carboxylic acids, esters, thiocarboxylic acids and derivatives, and carboxylic acid amides. The methods are
classified according to their degree of general applicability, the degree of functionalization of the carboxylic acid derivative,
and the types of synthetic strategies that
can be used (reactions without change of
oxidation state, addition reactions, oxidations). A disadvantage of this treatment is
that it includes no information about the
preparation of carboxylic acids from
reagents such as auxiliary-bound amides,
which are nowadays an essential part of
the synthetic chemist’s armory. The chapter by Mulzer is a concise and informative
description of methods for selective esterification and lactonization, such as those
based on activation of carboxyl or hydroxyl groups, and also includes addition
reactions of chiral esters. Two further
chapters cover synthetic routes to amides,
including lactams and N-heterosubstituted amides. The methods, treated according to the degree of substitution of the
carboxylic acid moiety, include acylation
of amines, hydrolysis methods, rearrangements, and N-functionalization reactions.
Transition-metal-catalyzed methods for
synthesizing amides and lactams are also
described, as too are methods based on
a-oxidation of amines. Part 1 ends with
synthetic routes to acylsilanes, acylgermanes, and acyi-metal compounds.
Part 2 of this volume deals with compounds containing a fragment of the form
X = C-Y Six chapters are devoted to
thiono derivatives of carboxylic acids and
their selenium and tellurium analogs.
0 VCH VerlagsgesellschafrmbH. 0-69451
These are followed by a further six chapters that concentrate on routes to iminoacyl compounds (imidoyl halides, iminoethers, amidines, and a-heterodiazo
compounds. Next are three chapters on
the synthesis of compounds containing a
carbon - heteroelement multiple bond
with a second heterosubstituent at the aposition. The first of these are a-heterosubstituted phosphoranes, which are followed by a-heterosubstituted silenes,
germenes, and borenes. This part ends
with a detailed survey of methods for
preparing Fischer carbene complexes and
analogous compounds.
Part 3 is devoted to carbonic acid
derivatives with sp-hybridized carbon.
Synthetic strategies for preparing isocyanates, isothiocyanates, carbodiimides,
cyanates, thiocyanates, cyanamides, and
organometallocyanides are described in
detail. Some more unusual compound
classes are also included, such as silaketenes, other metallaketenes, and phosphaalkynes.
In these two volumes the editors have
admirably fulfilled their purpose of
providing a route into the literature for
the chemist seeking synthetic methods for
a particular functional group. This is
helped by the clear systematic arrangement mentioned above and by the comprehensive subject index. Nevertheless,
when we come to consider the index volume (Vol. 7), we can no longer avoid asking the question: “Is it still appropriate
nowadays for a literature survey of this
kind to be published in book form?”.
With regard to Volume 7 itself, the answer
must be: “No”. If this index volume had
been replaced by a diskette, the saving in
weight would have been 2.9 kg, and the
required shelf space would have been reduced by 6.7 cm. However, for the main
text volumes (which are, of course, more
important), the question cannot be answered so simply. With these one is likely
to gain at least as much from chance discoveries, when looking for something else
or leafing through at random, as from focussed searches. But here again one must
ask whether, in the electronic age, publishers should not hold these undoubtedly
very useful compilations in the form of
in-house data bases that can be updated,
and offer them to users in that form. This
would, at least in principle, avoid the
problem that, owing to the long time
needed to complete a large book project
of this kind, parts of it are already outdated by the time the work is published. The
effects of this time delay can be clearly
seen in the bibliography, as the numbers
of references fall off noticeably after 1992;
for example, in Volume 5 we find over 250
Weinheim. 1997
citations from 1992, about 150 from 1993,
less than 100 from 1994, and only 23 from
In reviews of works of this kind, it is
usual to end with a verdict to the effect
that no library with pretensions of being
scientificcan afford not to buy the work in
question. However, one must also ask
how the money for it can be found, at a
time when more and more primary journals are having to be axed from libraries’
order lists (and when the few that remain
are often no longer put into bindings). In
any case, it is difficult to avoid the impression that the enormous numbers of comprehensive series, encyclopedias, and lexicons appearing in the last few years could
be rather like the barrage of rockets and
loud bangs that comes just before the end
of a firework display : one can more or less
dismiss the idea that such a tour de force
is about to be repeated (perhaps even in an
extended form).
Henning Hop5 Burkhard Konig,
Ullrich Jahn
Institut fur Organische Chemie
der Technischen Universitat
Braunschweig (Germany)
Arrhenius: From Ionic Theory to the
Greenhouse Effect. (Series :Uppsala
Studies in the History of Science, Volume 23.) By E. Crawford. Watson
Publishing International, Canton,
MA, 1996. XIII, 320 pp., hardcover
$49.95.-ISBN 0-88135-166-0
According to Swedish-born historian
and sociologist of science Elisabeth Crawford, senior research fellow at the Centre
National de la Recherche Scientifique
(CNRS) and member of the Institute for
the History of Science at the Louis Pasteur University, Strasbourg, France, scientists can be divided into three categories: ‘“truly great men’. . .whose work
revolutionized the scientific worldview”,
“‘great men’. . .who left their mark on an
entire discipline”, and “those who do not
fit any particular category because their
work spreads over several disciplines or is
carried out on the boundaries of two or
more disciplines.” Arrhenius, Sweden’s
most prominent scientist and the bestknown internationally since Berzelius, belongs to the interdisciplinary category.
Book-length biographies which perpetuate the myths advanced by Arrhenius
himself exist in German (Ernst Riesenfeld
[Arrhenius’s brother-in-law], Svante
Arrhenius, Akademische Verlagsgesellschaft, Leipzig, 1931) and in Russian
(Yurii I. Solov’ev, Svante Arrhenius
Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. Engl. 1997, 36, No. 13/14
(185Y-lY27), Nauka, Moscow, 1990).
Crawford’s biography, seven years in the
making and the first in English, recreates
Arrhenius’s three major scientific fields,
or “projects” as she prefers to call them:
(1) his work in electrochemistry and physical chemistry, including specifically his
most creative achievement, the theory of
electrolytic dissociation, for which he was
awarded the 1903 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, although he regarded himself as a
physicist; (2) his cosmic physics, in which
he was the first to show a quantitative link
between changes in atmospheric carbon
dioxide and the earth’s temperature and
climate and to propose a model for what
is now called the “greenhouse effect”; and
(3) his application of the quantitative
methods of physical chemistry to biology,
thus creating immunochemistry, a field
which he named. Each project was shaped
by different national-cultural and social
contexts and occupied him for roughly a
decade. Thus (1) took place in Sweden
and Latvia during the 1880s, (2) in Sweden during the 189Os, and (3) belongs to
German chemistry, biology, and medicine
during first decade of the twentieth century. Thus Ai-rhenius’s crossing of disciplinary boundaries was to some extent coincidental with crossing national ones.
Arrhenius’s important work in cosmology
(volcanoes and earthquakes, auroras,
magnetic storms, solar spots and flares,
and the development of galaxies and nebulae), though not dealt with in the detail
accorded to the three projects, is not neglected, particularly his triumph of science popularization, Varldumas utveckling (English translation: Worlds in the
Makfng, 1908; German translation: Werden der Wrl/en, 1908), which was a simplified and abbreviated version of his unsuccessful Lrhthuch der kosmischen Physik
According to Crawford, Arrhenius’
penchant to undertake such different
projects was related to his love of ideas
and of controversy. His love of ideas was
the major source of inspiration for his scientific achievements, which arose not
from experimental work but from his
imagination and wide reading of old and
new scientific literature. Not being tied to
a single “investigative pathway” predetermined by instrumentation or experimen-
Angm Chim l n t . Ed EnxI. 1997, 36, N o . 13/14
tal materials, he was able to roam at will
through those fields of science that had
not yet been compartmentalized into specialties. His unusual ideas and their
startling results involved him in considerable polemics, but his love of controversy,
which he shared with many of his contemporaries, involved him in more conflicts
than these ideas seemed to warrant. These
polemics are best known to most modern
chemists in his fight, together with his
fellow “ionists” Wilhelm Ostwald and
Jacobus Henricus van? Hoff, for the acceptance of his electrolytic dissociation
theory and the emerging field of physical
chemistry in Europe and the United
States. However, he sought out opponents
to attack even when their objections did
not merit his attention. His adversarial
tactics, which persisted into his middle
age and became part of his scientific
style, marked the last major battle of his
scientific life-his
conflict with Paul
Ehrlich concerning toxin-antitoxin reactions, which set the agenda for several
years of theoretical and experimental
Because of Arrhenius’s adversarial view
of science, Crawford was forced to find
the true facts behind the highly personal
and colorful but self-serving and propagandistic accounts that he gave of his battles. Thus she “decided at the outset to
discount Arrhenius’s own versions of
events unless corroborated by other
sources.” For example, his claim that his
ionic theory was contained in his dissertation of 1884 (whereas it did not appear
until 1887, in his celebrated article in
the first volume of the newly founded
Zeitschrift fur physikalische Chemie), has
become part of the lore of the history of
science. Crawford attributes Arrhenius’s
propensity for such myth-making to what
his son Olof, a n agricultural botanist and
soil scientist, called “a wound that never
healed”-the humiliation that he felt he
had suffered in 1884 when the “Uppsala
physicists” did not award his dissertation
the highest grade, thus denying him a docentship at Uppsala.
During the late 1970s Crawford carried
out the first study of the background to
the awarding of the Nobel Prizes in
physics and chemistry, using the recently
opened archives a t the Royal Swedish
8 VCH Verlagsgesellschafi mhH, 0-69451 Weinheim,1YY7
Academy of Sciences (The Beginnings of
the Nobel Institution: The Science Prizes,
1901-1915, Cambridge University Press,
Cambridge, 1984; and with John L. Heilbron and Rebecca Ullrich, The Nobel
Population 1901- 1937, Office for History
of Science and Technology, University of
California, Berkeley, 1987). Arrhenius
had been the key figure in the creation of
the Nobel Institution, and she consulted
these archives and others in Sweden, Germany, Denmark, and the IJnited States,
as well as Arrhenius’s extensive correspondence with scientists around the
world and the primary and secondary literature. She documents in detail Arrhenius’s using his influential position to
block the Nobel Prize of Wdlther Nernst,
his former friend but later Ehrlich’s ally,
for a decade and a half.
Crawford consistently views Arrhenius’s work in the context in which it
arose. For example, she provides an entire
chapter, “Sweden in the 1890s”, as background for his work in cosmic physics.
Although she does not neglect the events
in Arrhenius’s personal life, her emphasis
is on their relationship to his career. His
brief, unhappy first marriage, to his private assistant Sofia Rudbeck, a chemistry
graduate of Uppsala University, who typified the new emancipated woman, “die
Nordische Frau”, by whom he had a son,
is dealt with in about a half dozen pages,
while his second, longer, and happy marriage, to Maria (Maja) Johansson, by
whom he had three children, is relegated
to one sentence and a one-sentence footnote. In contrast, Crawford devotes a full
page to ‘Maria’s brother and Arrhenius’s
friend, Johan Erik Johansson, Professor
of Physiology (1900-1927) at the
Karolinska Institute. Thus her carefully
documented book containing references
as late as 1994 is better characterized as a
scientific rather than a personal biography. It should fulfill her hope of furthering “the comprehension of a Iittle-understood scientist who exerted an important
influence on the development of the sciences in the late nineteenth and early
twentieth centuries.”
George B. Kauffmun
California State University
Fresno, CA (USA)
0570-0833~97/3613-l551$1 7 . 5 l ~ i . 5 0 ~ 0
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