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Book Review Nitrosamines. Toxicology and Microbiology. (Ellis Horwood Series in Food Science and Technology). Edited by M. J. Hill

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ning with radium. In the summer of 1938 events took a
dramatic turn: Lise Meitner was forced to flee the country,
while IrPne Curie and Paul Savitch in Paris discovered a
transuranic element whose chemical properties certainly did
not fit into the scheme of the Berlin team. Hahn and Strassmann at first identified this activity as due to radium, but
after further work aimed at rigorously verifying this surprising result they revised their verdict and identified bariumthus uranium fission was discovered. A hesitant first communication was followed soon by the second paper which is
reprinted here, providing certain confirmation through a
whole series of brilliant radiochemical indicator experiments. In the fractional crystallization of barium salts the
activity obtained from uranium became uniformly distributed through all the fractions, whereas natural radium added
at the same time became selectively concentrated in the top
fractions. These fractionations were the same as those which
Hahn had performed in his student days in Ramsey’s laboratory, and the most important indicator for radium was
mesothorium-I , Hahn’s own discovery. In this remarkable
way the nearly sixty-year-old scientist had thus returned to
the starting-point of his researches.
Otto Hahn does not discuss the further developments leading to the atomic bomb, since the team at the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Institut was not involved in this aspect. Nor do we
learn anything about the German “uranium club”. The political tensions in the Institute receive equally little attention.
The fact that Hahn was under extraordinary pressure at that
time can be best only be inferred between the lines: the anecdotal detail no longer appears, the tone becomes more serious. He summarizes the work of chemically unravelling the
complex mixture of fission products, and the results thus
obtained. He relates with satisfaction how, using primitive
resources, they identified 100 products, and speculates about
which of the fission products might have been mistaken for
“transuranics”. From the pre-war research only uranium239 remains as having been unambiguously identified as
such by Hahn, Meitner and Strassmann. However, its decay
product, element 93, proved very difficult to find in Berlin.
The final chapter is brief: a few sentences about Hahn’s
internment in England, the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in
1944, the presidency of the Max-Planck-Gesellschaft.
The illustrations section has grown in size compared with
the first edition, as Dietrich Hahn has chosen to include some
photographs relevant to the period. Some of these are of
great interest, such as the “Sofabild” of 1920 (p. 88), showing Lise Meitner and Otto Hahn with their circle of friendsHerta Sponer. Einstein, Grotrian, Westphal,the Francks, Otto von Baeyer, Peter Pringsheim, Haber, Hertz. What a
remarkable elite was gathered there!-and what happened
to them? However, some changes in the selection of photographs will be a cause of regret. For example, Kaiser Wilhelm
the second arriving in uniform at the formal opening of the
Chemie-Institut, followed by Adolf von Harnack and Emil
Fischer wearing top-hats, is so typical of the period that one
would have liked to see this photograph (1 st Edition, p. 61)
still included.
Kurt Starke evokes the atmosphere in Hahn’s research
institute from the viewpoint of a young member of the team.
One gains an impression of the rather simple way in which
the laboratory was furnished, and of the strict safety precautions against radioactive contamination; one senses the cordial atmosphere, but also the clear division between the leader’s immediate team and the younger members. For the
latter, the first news of the successful experiments carried out
around the turn of the year in 1938/39 came when the work
was published.
Verlagsgesellschafi mbH, 0-6940 Weinhelm. 1990
Otto Hahn’s book ends with a backward look, in which he
represents his scientific career as a succession of lucky events.
This probably has something to do with his Rhineland-Hessen temperament, which always looks at the positive side of
a situation. The fact that there were also low points, such as
the propagation over several years of the transuranic elements, which eventually faded away, is not apparent from
the book, but only from the correspondence between Hahn
and Meitner. Nevertheless, Hahn and Strassmann were able
to correct their error by making a discovery of even greater
importance. Of course there are many questions that remain
unanswered: what prompted Hahn and Strassmann to carry
out the apparently superfluous radioactive indicator experiments?-how were tasks distributed, and what was the nature of the interactions, in the Hahn-Meitner-Strassmann
team?-and many more. However, one can learn a great deal
from this book without necessarily wishing to go into radioactive phenomena in greater depth: concerning, for example, how science advances not by logical steps in an orderly sequence, but by circuitous and often strange routes; how
the most experienced research groups can continue for years
with experiments and theories which miss the point; how, on
the other hand, they can be set on the right track by a lucky
stroke of intuition; and how a scientist may return, decades
later, to something which he worked on as a novice. One
therefore hopes that this book will be read especially by
young scientists. Some will look here for some comments on
nuclear energy by the man who has often been called the
“father of the atomic era”. Otto Hahn devotes only half a
sentence in the foreword to this topic-it seems that he did
not see himself in that role.
Giinter Herrmann [NB 989 IE]
Institut fur Kernchemie
der Universitat Mainz (FRG)
Nitrosamines. Toxicology and Microbiology. (Ellis Horwood
Series in Food Science and Technology). Edited by
M. .
IHill. VCH Verlagsgesellschaft, Weinheim/VCH
Publishers, New York/Ellis Horwood, Chichester 1988.
169 pp., hardcover, DM 180.0GISBN 3-527-26708-5/
0-89573-605-0; ISSN 0930-3332
Many nitrosamines are highly toxic, carcinogenic and genetically harmful. Owing to their organ-specific carcinogenic
properties and their occurrence in foodstuffs, cosmetics and
tobacco smoke, and in work-places, together with the fact
that they can be formed endogenously in the human body,
there has been widespread interest in this class of compounds
in experimental cancer research and in environmental health
The main emphasis in this book is on the importance of
nitrosamines in relation to human health. The eight chapters
by various authors cover methods for detecting N-nitroso
compounds in biological samples, the chemistry of N-nitrosylation reactions, mechanisms of endogenous N-nitrosylation, the occurrence of N-nitroso compounds in the human
environment, the toxicology of N-nitroso compounds, and
the role of these compounds in inducing human cancers. A
further chapter suggests ways in which the risks of nitrosamine-induced cancers can be minimized.
Impressive characteristics of the book are the systematic
and well-disciplined structure of the individual chapters, and
the detailed references to original publications (extending up
to 1988 in some parts). The book deals with all important
aspects of the topics treated, and the reader is enabled to
Angen. Chem. lni Ed. Engl. 29 (1990) No. 2
quickly locate the relevant original papers. Another feature
likely to be useful to the non-specialist is that gaps in current
knowledge are clearly pointed out.
To summarize, the book is a sound introduction to and
overview of this subject for all chemists with an interest in
nitrosamines, and for foodstuff and pharmaceutical chemists, biologists and medical scientists; it can be unreservedly
Manfred Metzler [NB 994 IE]
Institut fur Lebensmittelchemie und Umwelttoxikologie
der Universitat Kaiserslautern (FRG)
The Chemistry of Organic Silicon Compounds. Parts 1 and 2.
Edited by S. Patai and 2. Rappoport. Wiley, Chichester
1989. Part 1 : pp. 1-892; Part 2: pp. 893-1668, hardcover, E 350.00.-1SBN 0-471-91441-X (Pt. 1)/0-471-91992-6
(Pt. 2)/0-471-91993-4 (set)
In the preface to the two latest volumes in the series “The
Chemistry of Functional Groups” the editors write: “The
chemistry of organic silicon compounds is one of the fastest
growing fields in organic chemistry”. In 25 chapters the 32
authors of these volumes, most of whom are very eminent,
offer proof of this statement. Such a comprehensive treatment of organosilicon chemistry was long overdue; as well as
the classic works in this field, such as C. Eaborn’s
“Organosilicon Compounds” of 1960, the 1968 article by C.
Eaborn and R. W Bott in “Organometallic Compounds of
the Group IV Elements” (edited by A. G. McDiarmid), and
the seven-volume “Handbook of Organosilicon Compounds” (edited by !b Baiant, V: Chvalovskj and J.
Rathouskj, published in 1965 and 1973, and mainly arranged
under individual compounds), there are also numerous annual reviews and monographs on particular compound
classes, but no comprehensive and up-to-date treatment of
the whole field.
The recent blossoming of organosilicon chemistry owes
much to the unsaturated compounds, most of which were
isolated or proved to exist only in the last few years, and
which keep reappearing under different topics like a red
thread running through many of the articles. The editors
have nevertheless managed to avoid too much overlapping
of subject matter, resulting in a well-integrated and up-todate treatment of this aspect.
The introductory chapter, in which carbon and silicon are
compared (J. Y Corey, 56pp.), reads in some parts like a
summary of the articles which follow. Next there is a brilliant
account of the theoretical treatment of organosilicon compounds ( Y Apeloig, 170 pp.). Embedded in two useful reviews dealing with structural chemistry ( W S. Sheldrick,
38 pp.) and thermochemistry ( R . Wulsh, 21 pp.) is a description of the dynamic stereochemistry of silicon compounds
( R . J. P. Corriu, C. Guerin and J. J. E. Moreau, 66 pp.). Although a similar article by the same authors appeared not
long ago in another series (Top. Stereochem. 15 (1984) 43), a
definitive article of this sort is worth reading for a second
time, especially as it has been updated and expanded. Regrettably, the same does not apply to the article on the analysis
of organosilicon compounds (I:R. Crompton, 52 pp.), which
has been repeated virtually unaltered from Volume 2 of the
series “Chemical Analysis of Organometallic Compounds”,
published in 1974(!). Nowadays it seems strange that only
gas chromatography and IR spectroscopy are discussed in
detail as modern instrumental methods.
A n g e t . Chem. In[. Ed. Engl. 29 (1990) No. 2
In the exemplary way expected of these authors, H .
Schwarz deals with the gas phase ionic chemistry of
organosilicon compounds (64 pp.), while H . Bock and B.
Solouki describe their photoelectron spectra (98 pp.). The
latter article is a pleasure to read because of the many clear
illustrations and the critical comments that are interspersed.
Between these two articles there is a short contribution on
‘H, 13C and 29Si NMR spectroscopy (E. A . Williams,
44 PP.1.
The central item in previous monographs on organosilicon compounds, namely a discussion of methods for forming
Si-C bonds, here reappears in a less obvious form as Chapter 10 (106 pp.), in which L. Birkofer and 0. Stuhl collect
together methods for the preparation of organosilanes, including compounds which contain SIN, SiO, SiS, SiSe and
SiTe functional groups. After a digression into synthetic applications of various organosilanes (C. L. Larson, 46 pp.),
A. R. Bassindale and P. C . Taylor deal with the acid-base and
complex-forming properties of organosilanes (30 pp.). The
same authors have also written the chapter on the mechanisms of nucleophilic attack at silicon atoms (54 pp.), and
that on activating and directing effects of silicon (71 pp.),
which is perhaps of particular interest to the preparative
organic chemist.
The contributions by A. G. Brook on photochemistry
(42pp.), R. Tacke and H . Linoh on organosilicon compounds in biochemistry (64 pp.), and R. West on polysilanes
(34 pp.) are, as one expects from these authors, competently
written and highly topical. The chapter by G. Raabe and J.
Michl on multiple bonding to silicon (128 pp.) was awaited
with some anticipation, since at the end of 1985 the same
authors published an article on the same subject in Chemical
Reviews, which was not merely long but of high quality. By
leaving out aspects which have been treated in other chapters
of this book, thus shortening it (!), and by updating it, the
authors have again produced an excellent critical evaluation
of the literature on this topic.
Although the notion of “hypervalence” is not universally
accepted, R. J. P. Corriu and J. C. Young give, under this
title, a review of penta- and hexacoordinated silicon compounds (48pp.) which is well worth reading. In the short
chapter (8 pp.) by J. B. Lambert and W J. Schulz on trivalent
silyl ions, the opportunity to explain the reasons for the
considerable error and confusion which has arisen regarding
the evidence for R,Si@ ions in solution is unfortunately allowed to slip by; this would have provided an understanding
of the definite proof now emerging for the existence of such
Silicones, whose annual production in the western world
has now reached a value of around 8 3 billion, receive a due
amount of attention in the contribution by 7: C. Kendrick, P.
Parbhoo and J. W: White on siloxane polymers and copolymers (80 pp.); this includes the manufacture of silicones and
their present and potential applications, and also those of the
organofunctional polysiloxanes which are still relatively
After two short articles by D. A . Armitage on phosphorus,
arsenic, antimony and bismuth derivatives (32 pp.), and on
SiS, SiSe and SiTe compounds, there is a more extensive
review of transition metal-silyl derivatives by I: D. Tilley
(63 pp.). The text part of the book then ends with an informative chapter on hydrosilylation reactions ( I . Ojima,
48 PP.).
At the end of the second volume are a name index of cited
authors and an index of compounds. Difficulties can sometimes arise when using the compounds index, due to the fact
that the nomenclature is not always consistent, but the name
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