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Book Review From Small Organic Molecules to Large A Century of Progress. (Series Profiles Pathways and Dreams. Series editor J. I. Seeman.) By H. F

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The Grand Old Man of Polymer Science
Peptide and Protein Hormones. Structure, Regulation, Activity. A Reference Manual. By W. KGnig. VCH Verlagsgesellschaft, Weinheim/VCH Publishers, New York, 1993. X, 280 pp.,
hardcover DM 198.00, $ 135.00.ISBN 3-527-2841 7-611-56081-21 1-7
The author ofthis book is a well-known
expert in the field of structure-activity relationships of peptide hormones. It is 25
years since the publication of The Peptides
by Schroder and Liibke; now at last we
again have a handbook which serves as a
guide and rapid source of information on
most aspects of peptide hormones. The
most important qualities that one looks
for in a reference book on this extremely
active field of research are that it should
be clearly set out and up-to-date.
A very brief introduction is followed by
nine clearly set out review chapters. The
list of references in the appendix mainly
covers work published in the period 1985
to 1990. It gives only the first authors,
without titles or final page numbers. and
in this way the publishers have saved fifty
to a hundred pages. To have included the
titles of the papers would have been very
helpful for readers who want quick access
to the original literature without having to
make a computer search and read abst rac t s .
The families of hormones covered in the
individual chapters are as follows. Chapter 2: gonadoliberins, thyroliberins, gonadotropines: Chapter 3: parathyroid
hormones and calcitonins; Chapter 4: corticoliberin-proopiomelanocortins,opioide
peptides. etc.; Chapter 5 : blood pressure
regulating peptides; Chapter 6: cholecystokinins and gastrins; Chapter 7: the secretin family: Chapter 8: neurotensins;
Thir section contains book reviexs and a list of
neM hooks received by theeditor. Book reviexs are
written by imitation from the editor. Susgestions
for hooks LO be reviewed and for book revicxers
are nelconie. Publishers should send brochures or
(bettcr) books to the Book Reviex Editor, Dr. Ralf
Baumann. Redaktion Angexandte Chemie, Poitfach 101 161. D-69451 Weinhelm. Federal Republic of Germany. The editor reserves the right of
selecting uhich books will be reviewed. Uninvited
book> nol chosen for review will not be returned.
Chapter 9: motilins; Chapter 10: pancreatic spasmolytic peptides. Each of these
chapters describes the occurrence and distribution, receptors, and biological effects
or functions of the hormones, and also
the structure-activity relationships for
agonists and antagonists, and the applications. The clearly set out tables showing
peptide sequences based on single-letter
symbols are especially useful.
It is pleasing to note that the author has
had the boldness to be brief. From the
many synthetic peptide hormone analogues, which already run into thousands
for the well-known examples of oxytocin
and vasopressin and into hundreds for the
more recently discovered hormones, the
author has in nearly every case given only
the most important results. He has avoided discussing structure-activity relationships based on molecular geometry. apparently preferring not to give an opinion
on the well-worn theme ofthe relevance of
three-dimensional structures in solution
and at the receptor. Nevertheless, many
readers would have appreciated some references to the literature on hormone studies using N M R spectroscopy and molecular dynamics silmulations (MDS), especially since the book's subtitle refers to
"structures", not merely to sequences.
One hopes that this work of reference
will be updated every three to five years
and enlarged as appropriate. The book
will be a valuable resource for all scientists
working in relevant interdisciplinary
fields and needing to have access to the
most recent published work on peptide
hormones. However, it is not a substitute
for a textbook, nor does it claim to be.
Giinthrr Jung
Institut fur Organische Chemie
der Universitat Tiibingen (FRG)
From Small Organic Molecules to
Large: A Century of Progress. (Series:
Profiles, Pathways, and Dreams. Series editor: J. I. Seeman.) By H.F
Mark. American Chemical Society,
Washington, DC, 1993. XXVI,
148 pp.. hardcover $24.95.---ISBN
0-841 2-1776-9
Although he was not the world's first
polymer chemist, Herman Francis Mark
was known as the father of polymer science because of his many contributions to
polymer science education and research.
first in Europe and then in the United
States. His fundamental contributions to
science were multidisciplinary. His elder
son Hans, a physicist and public official
who served as Undersecretary of the U.S.
Air Force and Chancellor of the University
of Texas, said of him that "My father's
greatest accomplishment was as a pioneer
in applying modern physics to chemistry."
Furthermore, no less an authority than
Linus Pauling wrote of Mark, "He w a s . . .
one of the leading investigators in . . . the
use of X-ray diffraction for the determination of the structure of crystals in the years
1923 to 1928, and it was through this work
that he developed the feeling for atoms
and their interaction with one another
that permitted him, later on. to make an
effective attack on the problem of the
structure and properties of macromolecules. . . . I think of him . . . as it pioneer
in modern structural chemistry and an important early contributor to its development."
Unfortunately, the grand old man of
polymer science did not live to see the publication of this autobiography: Mark died
on April 6, 1992, less than a month before
his 97th birthday. Fortunately, however.
his friend and former student Herbert
Morawetz not only contributed wonderful
anecdotes to this posthumous volume but
also edited and proofread the manuscript
in its final stages. Furthermore. series editor Seeman has supplemented Mark's account of his life and work by judiciously
adding throughout the book material provided by Mark and others that was previously published in Polymer Scienw Overvieti: A Tribute to Herman F: M a r k , edited
by G. A. Stahl, American Chemical Soci-
ety. Washington, DC. 1981. Thus the pic100,000. On the recommendation of K ture of Mark that emerges from the book
W-I Director Fritz Haber. Mark then beunder review here is a complete and in- came an Assistant Director in the largest
sightful one.
German chemical corporation of the time.
Mark was born in Vienna on May 3, IG Farbenindustrie. at Ludwigshafen am
1895, the oldest of the three children of Dr. Rhein. There. during the period 1927Herman Carl Mark, a Jewish surgeon who
1932. he worked on electron diffraction
had become converted to Lutheranism, and the synthesis and practical applicaand his wife Lili (nee Mueller). a Lutheran. tion of his results, but he still continued
Most of the elder Mark’s friends were Jew- his fundamental studies of macromolecules
ish, and some were Zionists; later the and published two books. His process for
younger Mark and his wife Marie (Mimi, the catalytic production of styrene from
nee Schramek). a Catholic whom he had
ethylbenzene, developed with Carl Wulff,
married in 1922. became ardent Zionists lowered the cost of styrene and made posand traveled to Israel on several occasions. sible the manufacture of polystyrene and
An older friend who was a physics student
Buna S synthetic rubber.
at the University of Vienna took young
In view of the growing Nazi threat,
Mark to hear lectures by such scientific Mark left Germany to become Professor
luminaries as Emil Fischer, Albert Ein- of Chemistry at the University of Vienna
stein, Ernest Rutherford. and Marie (1 932- 1938). where, in addition to teachCurie.
ing physical chemistry, he developed the
After graduating from high school world’s first academic curriculum in poly(Gyn7nusiun~)in July, 1913. Mark decided mer science and technology at a time when
to discharge his military obligation by en- only a few laboratories. mostly in induslisting in the Austrian army as a one-year try, cultivated the subject and when no orvolunteer ( ~ i ~ ~ u l 7 ~ ~ g - ~ ~ e
~ ~ ,fall
i / / iganized
~ ~ ~ ~ runiversity
courses were available.
of 1913. intending to begin his university
Here he authored two more books. continstudies in the fall of 1914. The outbreak of ued his research, and traveled abroad exWorld War I frustrated his plans, and he tensively and routinely lectured at interserved five years in a mountain infantry national conferences to publicize both his
regiment on the Italian front. being laboratory and the new discipline of modwounded three times, earning fifteen
ern polymer science.
medals, and becoming Austria’s most decOnce again Fate intervened. After helporated company-grade officer. At the end ing Jewish colleagues to leave Austria, inof the war. in November 1918, his entire cluding Max Perutz, the future (1962) Nodivision was captured by the Italians and
bel chemistry laureate, Mark was arrested
he spent eleven months in a prison camp on March 12, 1938, the day after Hitler’s
at a former convent in Monopoli, where invasion, and imprisoned and interrogated
he studied Italian. French. and English
for several days in a Gestapo prison in
and with the help of the Italian textbooks Vienna. In April. with only their clothes
organized a course in general chemistry. hung on covered coathangers made of
Always one to turn adversity to his own platinum wire as a way of taking their
advantage, Mark later said of his impris- valuables with them, Mark, his wife. two
onment. “I have never since learned so young sons, and his Jewish niece, crossed
much in so many different areas as in the the border into neutral Switzerland disConvent0 San Francisco” (p. 13). On re- guised as alpine vacationers. After several
turning to Vienna in 1919 he immediately months of traveling, the family finally
returned to his study of chemistry at the arrived in Hawkesbury. Ontario, where
university, which he had begun for one Mark became Research Manager for the
semester in 1915 during his recovery from Canadian International Pulp and Paper
a war wound. In July, 1921. he received
Company (1 938 -- 1940). Here he modernhis doctorate suinmu cum laud(>under Wil- ized the methods and equipment, trained
helm Schlenk’s direction with a disserta- the laboratory personnel, and applied retion on the pentaphenylmethyl free radi- cent fundamental knowledge to practical
cal. the subject of the first of his more than production procedures. During this time
600 publications.
he initiated the publication of the Po/ynzer
In 1922 Mark joined the most outstmdBulletin and began the monograph series
ing scientific institute of the time, the High Po1jwrr.r rind Related Substancrs
Kaiser-Wilhelni-Institut in Berlin-Dahlem,
(Interscience), which now contains more
where he used newly developed experimen- than forty volumes.
tal methods such as X-ray diffraction to
Having successfully completed his misstudy the molecular structures of natural
sion at Hawkesbury, in 1940 Mark became
textile fibers (e.g.. cellulose, silk. and wool).
Adjunct Professor at the Polytechnic Inwhich he showed to consist of long-chain stitute of Brooklyn, which also provided a
molecules with molecular weights above teacher’s visa and a consultancy with the
DuPont Company. He became Professor
in 1942. and during World War TI he directed a number of research projects that
did not concern polymers for the U.S.
government. In 1944 he organized the Institute of Polymer Research. the first of its
kind in the United States, and continued
as its Director until 1964. He was Dean of
the Faculty (1961 -1974) and continued
to be active as a lecturer and writer long
after his formal retirement in 1964 at the
age of 69. The recipient of many honorary
degrees and numerous honors, including
the US. National Medal of Science in
recognition of a lifetime of achievements
in polymer science, Mark continued his
extensive travels, visiting throughout his
career more than a thousand scientists and
engineers in more than a hundred countries (he traveled abroad about 500 times
and visited every continent, including
Greenland and Antarctica). When one of
Mark’s many students asked him how he
managed to keep up the pace at an advanced age. Mark disclosed the secret of
his longevity: “I guess I have no time to
get old” (p. 122).
Mark’s dominant personality trait was
optimism. and although he could have
dwelt on the misfortunes and indignities
that he suffered during the 1930s. his narrative betrays no trace of bitterness. and
he relates his achievements with a great
degree of modesty. He prefers to concentrate on the chemistry itself; even his detailed account of his celebrated controversy with Hermann Staudinger over the
nature of macromolecules. which Staudinger considered a personal affront, is
free of any discussion of personalities, for
Mark “had the amazing capacity to see
the good side of everything and of everyone” (p. xxiii). Yet this book, which is replete with 41 formal and informal photographs, is an intensely personal one. It
abounds with frank confessions that are
also good advice for correct behavior. For
example, on his concluding page Mark
admits, “the treatment of people (scientists. executives, and government representatives) was sometimes so complicated
that I never knew whether I was doing the
right thing or not. There was only one
simple overriding rule: keep cool and never
lose your composure!” We warmly recommend this slim volume to scientists
(polymer and otherwise), historians of
science and technology, and anyone interested in polymers--the substances with
which half of all professional chemists
George B . Kuujfman,
Laurie M . Kuuffman
California State University
Fresno. CA (USA)
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