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Book Review Oscillations and Travelling Waves in Chemical Systems. Edited by J. R. Field and M. Burger

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tion the experts personally, or to send them advertising
The book fills a gap in a specialist area of growing importance. It is, moreover, highly recommended as bedtime
reading for students seeking jobs, being an educational
book on an otherwise neglected interdisciplinary field bordering on chemistry.
Joachim Bargon [NB 755 IE]
Institut fur Physikalische Chemie
der Universitat Bonn (FRG)
Oscillations and Traveling Waves in Chemical Systems.
Edited by J . R . Field and M . Burger. John Wiley, ChiChester 1985. xx, 682 pp., L 98.30.-ISBN 0-471-89384-6
Chemical oscillations in time and space have been investigated extensively, especially in the last twenty years. The
fascination with oscillating reactions following the discovery of the famous Belousov-Zhabotinsky reaction is reflected by the exponential growth in publications between
1965 and 1975. The study of chemical oscillators is also of
interest from the standpoint of natural philosophy, namely
in that the discussion of the significance of symmetry
breaking and bifurcation in systems far from chemical
equilibrium could affect the definition of time itself. There
are still supposed to be skeptics who question the existence
of chemical oscillations in a homogeneous system. They
are in error! This book, written by several authors with
strict organization by the editors, establishes unequivocally
that chemical oscillations occur in inorganic reactions in a
homogeneous system. This is also true for several biological systems, which are referred to only briefly, but which
often motivated the study of the above reactions.
In general, chemical oscillations are possible only in
thermodynamically open systems. The requirements for
the occurrence of chemical oscillations are now adequately
known and have been substantiated in a series of experimental systems. Chemical oscillators are non-linear oscillators. In addition to phenomena such as frequency-doubling, they show period-multiplication when “ideally”
mixed. This may occur when the in-flow of reactants into a
flow reactor is sinusoidally perturbed. Chaotic trajectories
can also be produced; they are mentioned in this book, but
are not dealt with further. In thin, liquid layers that are not
stirred, spatial oscillations can appear in the form of chemical traveling waves and of standing waves. Here the coupling and interplay of the chemical reaction with diffusion
or convection to form a spreading pattern prevail.
In the Introduction, Zhabotinsky reports on the interesting early history (1961-1969) and on the first mechanistic
proposals for the Belousov-Zhabotinsky oscillations of a
sulfuric acid solution of bromate, Ce“’/Ce”’, and malonic
acid, a reaction that also carries his name. The mathematically interested reader gets his money’s worth, not only in
the first chapter on the stability of steady states, on Hopf
bifurcations, and on bilaterally coupled systems, but also
throughout the entire book. The chapter on the inorganic
Belousov-Zhabotinsky oscillator follows, in which the variations and subsystems are described in every detail. Except for chaotic movements, the well-known Field-Noyes
“Oregonator” mechanism can account for almost all of the
phenomena of the Belousov-Zhabotinsky reaction, such as
bistability and traveling waves. It is given a comprehensive
mathematical analysis in a separate chapter. Periodic gasevolving and other chemical oscillators such as the BrayAngew. Chem. I n l .
Ed. Engl. 25 (1986) No. 11
Liebhafsky and the Briggs-Rauscher are discussed. The response of a n oscillator to periodic perturbation is extremely varied. Mathematical methods of analysis are presented and also applied to non-isothermal oscillators. In
this connection, the stability behavior of the system in the
region of kinetic phase change is of great theoretical interest. The pattern formation produced by the crystallization
of geological material, the propagation of reaction-diffusion fronts, or two- and three-dimensional periodic waves
show a surprising abundance of forms. The chemical oscillations of carbon monoxide are treated in great detail in a
further chapter. The last and somewhat curious chapter
presents a statistical analysis and a “sociology” of the publications on chemical oscillations in the years from 1910 to
The references are very extensive and are carefully reported with titles. This book will surely be the standard
work on inorganic chemical oscillations in the next years.
Its purchase can be highly recommended, even though biological oscillators and chaos are not dealt with.
Friedemann Schneider [NB 735 IE]
Institut fur Physikalische Chemie
der Universitat Wurzburg (FRG)
u b e r die Erhaltung der Kraft. Facsimile of the holograph
text together with a commentated transcription. By Hermann Helmholtz. Physik-Verlag, Weinheim 1983. 124/67
pp., bound, DM 80.00.--ISBN 3-87664-071-7
The chemist Ddbereiner who was appointed to the University of Jena at the instance of Goethe published a book
in 1819 with the title “Anfangsgrunde der Chemie und der
Stochiometrie”. In $ 5 of the introduction was the sentence
““Thorough study of chemistry begins, after mathematical
and scientific preparation, with the study of the basic principles of chemistry in their most up-to-date form and then
continues to the history of the same.” The last portion of
this sentence is applicable to all natural sciences. To know
how scientific progress is made is extraordinarily instructive and useful for every representative of a science. Most
important is to see on the basis of examples that science
usually sprouts from the human endeavors of individual
persons. This insight is excellently promoted by the publication of facsimile editions of manuscripts of great scientists. The publication reviewed here can be of great value
to numerous scientists and particularly to physicists.
The essay by Helmholtz is particularly suited for the start
of one’s own involvement with the genesis of scientific
ideas because the basic publication by Julius Robert Mayer
the discoverer of the first main proposition appeared in
Liebig’s “Annalen der Chemie” in 1842 and is relatively
easy to include in a comparison. The reader will be able to
establish that quite different avenues of thought can be of
considerable importance for the achievement of new scientific insight.
As far as the technical representation of the present
book is concerned it suffices to say that it consists of two
part volumes; the first contains the facsimile of the holographic text and the second contains, after an introduction,
the transcription and comments.
Hermann Hartmann (dec.) [NB 673 IE]
Institut fur Physikalische Chemie
der Universitat Frankfurt am Main (FRG)
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oscillations, chemical, book, wave, field, edited, burgert, system, review, travelling
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