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Book Review Geschichte de Elektrochemie. By L. Dunch

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host of publications really is, it is occasionally quite useful
to take a look back at the history of one’s own particular
field. For electrochemists I can recommend for that purpose this little book by L. Dunsch. which presents a brief
history of the subject. It starts with the mysterious monocell of the Parthians, and continues up to the beginnings of
electrode kinetics in the 1940’s.
The accounts of the earliest attempts to understand electrical phenomena, of “animal electricity”, and of the
“glass” and “amber” types of electricity, make enjoyable
reading. But while one may smile at some of the misconceptions, o r nod one’s approval for a brilliant idea, suddenly one asks oneself: why in fact did the frog’s leg muscles twitch in the experiments of GaZuani?-what actually
happens at a molecular level within the nerves? To some
extent one is annoyed that one still does not know the precise answer, but is comforted on the other hand, by knowing that Galuani’s contemporaries would not even have understood the question.
It is exciting to see how concepts have gradually
emerged; how, for example, the earliest electrochemical
series were established, o r when the idea of an ion first
appeared. On many of the topics, especially on the great
disputes that have occurred, one would like a more detailed account. On what grounds did the respective adversaries base their views? What experimental evidence did
they rest on? When was the controversy finally settled, and
why? Answers to these questions would of course have expanded the text beyond the bounds of this little volume,
but one would nevertheless like to see a fuller account
published, perhaps from this same author!
Towards the end of the book we arrive at those questions and techniques which are familiar to us now. We
learn something about the beginnings of kinetic studies
and pulse techniques, but these developments are not followed u p further. It is understandable that the author has
refrained from writing the history of an area of research
which is still incomplete, but I wish that he had been bold
enough to bring us closer to the present situation in electrochemistry.
However, this is on the whole a very successful book. It
is nicely illustrated with pictures of apparatus and scientists, and is rounded off by a table of dates, some well
chosen literature references, and a list of relevant people
with biographical notes which is quite detailed for such a
small book.
Wolfgang Schmickler [NB 762 IE]
Institut fur Physikalische Chemie
der Universitat Bonn (FRG)
devoted to the treatment of specific conditions. The
lengths of the various chapters show which are the main
areas of emphasis in the research. It will come as no surprise to discover that these areas are the control of fertility,
the central nervous system, and the cardiovascular system.
On the other hand, the search for an antimalarial drug,
which would certainly be of importance to India, appears
to receive less attention. Also one looks in vain for papers
on antibiotics of the p-lactam type. In contrast to this,
there is considerable emphasis on the isolation and structure determination of natural products.
Five chapters deal with chemotherapeutic compounds :
anthelmintics, antiprotozoics, fungicides and antibacterial
substances, and antiviral and cytostatic agents. Pharmacologically active substances are divided into psychotropic
and other drugs which affect the central nervous system,
anti-inflammatory agents, local anesthetics, neuromuscular
and ganglionic blocking agents, antihistaminics, cardiovascular drugs, diuretics, and agents affecting hyperglycaemia
or fertility. Information is given on the effectiveness, state
of development, and origin of each pharmacological substance. Descriptions of syntheses and detailed pharmacological information are not included. Regrettably too,
structural formulas have often been omitted in favor of
systematic chemical names, so as to save space, and the
readability of the text has consequently suffered in
There is a further chapter dealing with structure-activity
relationships and drug design. The references given are
mainly to studies which aim to establish quantitative structure-activity relationships (QSAR). The book concludes
with two brief chapters describing research on prostaglandins and peptides.
The authors have evidently been concerned to make this
as complete a survey as possible, and to include references
to all the relevant papers. Accordingly the bibliography,
containing more than 1100 references and occupying twofifths of the text, is very comprehensive. The book is
rounded off by a subject and an author index.
Harald Burghard [NB 781 IE]
Hoechst Aktiengesellschaft, Frankfurt/Main (FRG)
Geschichte der Elektrochemie. By L. Dunsch. VEB
Deutscher Verlag fur Grundstoffindustrie, Leipzig 1985.
145 pp., paperback, DM 14.00.-Order no. 5478814
As one scans through the latest issues of scientific journals o n display in the library, wondering how valuable this
Regrsrered ti(1nie.i. rrademarks, elc. used in rhrs journal, e w n when nor marked as such. are nor
be considered rrnprorecred b? Ian.
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Angew. Chem. Ini. Ed. Engl. 26 (1987) No. 2
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