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Book Review Physical Surfaces. Volume 20 in the УPhysical ChemistryФ series. By J. J. Bikerman

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(theoretical as well as industrial) of lead-tin alloys, 32 pages
are devoted to this subject and a further 67 pages to lead-tin
alloys that also contain other components and are used e. g.
as bearing metals, solders, type metals, cable sheaths, metal
baths, etc. Among the oxide systems containing lead, glasses
are particularly important ; the technical significance of
these glasses has been known for a long time, but like glasses
in general, they are gaining in scientific importance.
The last chapter deals with the coordination compounds
of lead with neutral and inner complex forming ligands,
with the exception of organo-lead compounds. Though the
arrangement of this material naturally presents great diffculties, an arrangement that is simple from the chemical
point of view has been found. The many structural formulas
in this part of the volume are particularly commendable,
as they provide the chemist with a general picture at a
glance. Together with the alphabetically listed ligands or
classes of ligands in the subject index and a formula index
for organic ligands they enable the desired information to
be found quickly.
Ekkehard Fluck [NB 31 IE]
[l] Cf.Angew. Chem. internat. Edit. 9, 913 (1970).
Physical Surfaces. Volume 20 in the “Physical Chemistry”
series. By J . J . Bikerman. Academic Press, New YorkLondon 1970. 1st Edit., ix, 476 pp., numerous illustrations, bound, $25.00.
J . J . Bikerman’s “Surface Chemistry”, published in 1958,
will already have brought his name to the attention of many
of those interested in surface physics and chemistry. As its
title implies, this new book is intended primarily as a discussion of the basic physical aspects of surfaces rather than
matters of chemistry and application. A restriction of this
kind is essential to a book which, in a single volume, aims
to cover such diverse topics as the mechanics and physical
chemistry of liquid surfaces, liquid-liquid interfaces, foams
and emulsions, solid surfaces, wetting, adsorption, electric surface phenomena. and adhesion.
The author familiarizes the reader with the many phenomena that can be observed on surfaces and interfaces, deals
with the experimental results obtained, and describes
approaches to their theoretical interpretation. The subject
is dealt with in a comprehensive manner, old established
facts appear side by side with information on the most
recent discoveries, the references (about 800) cover a period
ranging from the first half of the last century to the closing
years of the 1960’s. Thus, the work should be regarded more
as a textbook than a report on recent progress.
The book should be of particular value to any teacher or
student looking for a sound review of the physical chemistry of surfaces and interfaces.
Gerd Wedler [NB 37 IE]
Introduction to Molecular Biology. By S. E. Bresler. Academic Press,NewYork-London 1971.1st Edit.,xv, 556pp.,
numerous illustrations, bound, S 17.50.
The revolution in physics in the form of atomic physics was
followed in the forties by a revolution in biology in the
form of atomic biology. One need hardly be an expert to
see that within the space of one short human lifetime
biology has changed from a descriptive science to one based
on a theoretical foundation. The development of molecular
Angew. Chem. internat. Edit. 1 Vol. I 1 (1972)
1 NO. 6
biology is due not only to the invasion of the biologists’
Elysian fields by theoretical physicists but also to the application of new physico-chemical techniques to characterize
megamolecular structures. Under the stimulus of such
techniques and by means of the skill involved, molecular
biology has gained a key position in modern thought and
research, and thus a textbook-style introduction to this
field is highly desirable. One therefore approaches this
book with eager expectation, especially as the book is
distinguished by two other facts. In the first place, the
author is a physical chemist who has worked in the field of
high polymers, and he cannot help but give a practical cast
to his account of the application of mathematical and
physical methods to the structure and function of biopolymers. Secondly, the book comes from the USSR, and
although the Russians have a considerable need to catch
up in molecular biology, their education gives them a
thorough mathematical background. The work should
therefore be elementary but not superficial. Both these expectations are indeed partly fulfilled, though we are left
with the feeling that molecular biology is still a very heterogeneous field; wide areas of collected descriptive matter
are followed by brief stretches of laws capable of physicochemical interpretation. Only in rare cases can a biological
process be derived theoretically and mathematically, or
even predicted.
The book is fairly obviously derived from a lecture manuscript, which appeared in the USSR in 1963 and 1966 and
to which some supplementary material was added for the
purposes of the translation to bring it up to 1969. This may
explain the extreme care with which the reader is artificially
led from one topic to another, and the introduction, without derivation, of various complicated concepts. Thus, in
order to explain the mechanisms of enzyme action, the
theory of absolute reaction rates is abruptly introduced in
deus ex inachina fashion, and similarly statistical thermodynamics are used to clarify the concept of allostery. But
these are just words, which will leave the biology student
(for whom the book is primarily intended) unsatisfied and
disappointed. Interesting concepts are, however, opened
up for the chemist.
On closer inspection, the book has much to offer to advanced students of both biology and chemistry. The clear layout
embraces the structure of proteins and nucleic acids, with
particular emphasis on the methods of investigation and
the problems of transition between states of ordering. The
functions of proteins, deoxyribonucleic acids, and ribonucleic acids are made comprehensible, and fundamental
research results are described in detail. It is true that in
every chapter one may search in vain for many recent
results and hypotheses, and it would have been helpful to
have omitted the standard presentation of basic chemical
facts in favor of a carefully thought out discussion of the
innermost secrets of the molecular world. But if many sections of the book are disappointing, they are balanced by
chapters that come closest to the author’s experience and
interests. These are the physico-chemical relationships in
the behavior of biopolymers, which scarcely get a mention
in other textbooks. These sections (and they are the better
half ofihe book) may be strongly recommended to students
capable of further advance, provided they have sufficient
background in physics to understand them ;they may also
be recommended to biochemists and biophysicists who
wish to be better informed on the modes of thinking and
methods of operation of their colleagues.
L. Jaenicke
[NB 38 IE]
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