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Book Review Resorcinol. Its Uses and Derivatives. (Series Topics in Applied Chemistry.) By H. Dressler

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such a way that we are not deprived of the
magic of it all. The magic persists, even if
each step along the way can be reconstructed conceptually.
The tragic dichotomy in the deeds and
character of the chemist himself is illustrated by a moving sketch of the towering
personality of Fritz Haber: rationalist
and Don Quixote, world citizen and patriot in both the narrower and the wider
sense, career man and visionary, nourisher and destroyer. Haber’s fruitful and
beneficial ammonia synthesis serves as an
elegant starting point for exploring a
chemist’s activities and thoughts, as well
as the leap of genius from paradigmatic
routine into the unimagined. Many windows are opened onto the mental universe
of the scientist, onto the forces of the mind
that guide his or her visions and tools,
with a particular chemist serving as an example, but leading to insights that are
quite generally valid. We sense the polarities that keep the chemist’s world in motion : substances and reactions, discovering and protecting, things and personalities, understanding and feeling, curiosity and power, creative ability and
fear, self-control and arrogance, responsibility and exploitation. The crossingpoints of various emotions-perceived
and unperceived--define the state of the
chemist’s soul, as they do with all humans,
in the contest over the possible, which the
chemist seeks in that which holds nature
The Janus-faced character of chemistry-its
double-barreled quality, its
blind spots-is not a new theme, but also
not an overly familiar one. Here it becomes a theme for the confessional, at the
same time witty and amusing, partly out
of personal experience. but with no trace
of hubris or hysteria. The chemist as the
dull mean-or as the sharp focal pointbetween a physics obsessed with mathematization and a chaotic biology. Well
thought out are the insights so modestly
presented on the method of reductionism;
beautiful as well are the humility and
sense of indebtedness with respect to the
humanities which indicate how multidimensional the nexuses are. And the observation that we are tied to linearizing patterns of speech, but at the same time in a
desperate search for a “method” of simplification, of enumeration, measurement, and standardization. How easy it
all is for chemists, with their conditioned
symbolism and the strict conventions of
their notation!
Roald Hoffmann’s book contains an
unimagined treasure trove of thoughts,
Aeschylus to Zeus, from alchemy to the
zodiac, from acetylcholine to xenon
tetrafluoride, most of it related to Hoffmann’s own scientific efforts or engagements. In effect, it represents the journey
of a man out of oppression into freedom,
and at the same time his committed gratitude to fate. If the book were to be the
subject of an excellent translation it could
exert its effect well beyond the bounds of
chemistry, and it warrants that opportunity-though the effort might also prove a
disappointment, since so much is a function of the marvelous language in which
the work is cast, a language the author
himself was forced to learn, albeit at an
early age.
Lothur Juenicke
Institut fur Biochemie
der Universitat Koln (Germany)
Resorcinol. Its Uses and Derivatives.
(Series: Topics in Applied Chemistry.) By H. Dressier. Plenum,
New York, 1994. 500 pp., hardcover
$ 115.00.--ISBN 0-306-44850-5
The author of this book is obviously a
(former) industrial chemist. This becomes
apparent in each chapter, on each page,
almost even in each sentence, both in its
positive and negative aspects.
The introductory chapter is essentially
a list of the book’s contents, then in only
the first seven pages of the second chapter
(three of which are filled by full-page
reproductions of the IR, ‘H NMR-at
60 MHz!--and 13C NMR spectra of resorcinol) we already find four clear references to the author’s firm, including the
statement that “this plant has had a good
record as to the safety and health of its
employees for many years”. However, as
regards the subject of this chapter, entitled
“The Properties and Chemistry of Resorcinol”, the reader is given insufficient information. For example, Section 2.6 on
“Methods of Analysis” consists of just
five sentences.
The following ten chapters deal with industrial and commercial aspects of resorcinol in all conceivable variants. The best
way to do justice to the book is to list their
titles as follows: 3 . “Processes for Making
Resorcinol”, 4. “The Use of Resorcinol in
Rubber Compositions”, 5. “Resorcinol/
Formaldehyde Resins-Adhesives
Wood and Other Nonrubber Applications”, 6. “m-Aminophenol”, 7. “Agricultural Chemicals, Including Veterinary
Products”, 8. “Pharmaceuticals, Overthe-Counter Medications, and Diagnostic
Aids”, 9. “The Uses of Resorcinol/
Derivatives in Polymers”, 10. “Dyes, Flu-
mhH, 0-6945/ Weinheim. I996
orescent Chemicals, Optical Bleaches,
Laser Dyes, and Imaging/Recording
Technologies”, 1 1. “Additives of Many
Types”, and 12. “Other Uses for Resorcinol”.
In each chapter the author strings together innumerable bits of information,
mostly at a rather superficial level (examples of the style: “A large number of ...
were prepared, and shown to be...”; “A
preparation of ... was patented ...”; “A
similar patent covered the use of...”). The
few cross-references given, although welcome in principle, seem to have been chosen more or less at random. There is hardly any evidence of the mass of information
having been critically evaluated or processed in any way, except perhaps in the
flow diagrams describing the large-scale
manufacture of the basic chemicals resorcinol and m-aminophenol (Chapters 3
and 7 ) . In Chapters 3-12 about 90% of
the literature references given are patents.
Despite the fact that data on tonnages
produced and their value are scattered
throughout the text, the author evidently
felt it necessary to include a separate
chapter on these (13. “Selected Business
This is followed by a further two chapters (14. “Occurrence in Nature-A Domain of Academic Researchers”, 15.
“Other Examples of Mostly Academic
Work with Resorcinol”) which contain
about 400 literature references (not
patents), compared with the book’s total
of slightly over 1800. With regard to these
two rather unbalanced chapters, the author comments in the introduction: “The
placement ... near the end of the book is
not intended as an indication of the lesser
importance of these topics, but rather as
an intent to finish with a note of enthusiasm, to show the burst of ideas and the
connection to the whole fabric.” Here, as
in the book as a whole, one would like to
believe in the author’s good intentions.
At first glance the book appears nicely
produced..It contains many structural formulas which aid the reader’s understanding, although the choice of these sometimes seems strange. Whereas Chapter 5
contains no chemical formulas at all,
those of m-fluorophenol and equally
simple compounds included elsewhere
could surety have been omitted. Most of
the formulas are printed in a clear and
uniform style, although sometimes they
are badly reproduced (e.g., 15-4 and 15-5)
and others have been copied without
much thought (e.g., 11-44, a [l.l]metacyclophane!). Similar criticisms apply to
the black-and-white photographs (some
of which are of poor quality, e.g. those
showing a lichen-covered rock and a
$ 1 5 . 0 0 i .25/0
A n g m . Chem. In!. Ed. Engl. 1996. 35, No. 9
minesweeper). Also, surely it should have
been possible to find a better ' H N M R
spectrum of resorcinol than the badly reproduced version from the Sadtler Catalog!
The book presents, from the standpoint
of a chemist engaged in his own special
field, of the mainly technical and commercial uses of resorcinol. The question that
one must ask is whether it is useful to have
a book devoted arbitrarily to a single
chemical compound. The reader who feels
that it is and decides to buy the book will
find that it gives a very comprehensive
survey of the relevant patent literature.
This is undoubtedly of some value. However, anyone expecting more will be disappointed.
Volker Bohmer
Fachbereich Chemie
der Universitat Mainz (Germany)
Forschung mit Rontgenstrahlen. Bilanz eines Jahrhunderts (1895-1995).
Edited by F: H. W Heuck and E.
Macherauch. Springer, Berlin, 1995.
682 pp., hardcover DM 98.00.ISBN 540-57718-1
The idea of publishing a book to mark
the centenary of the discovery of X-radiation seems at first sight to be a fairly
straightforward undertaking. However,
questions arise when one comes to consider what should be included in such a book,
and what the reader will expect from the
title "Research Using X-Rays"-where
should one begin?--and how are the
boundaries to be defined? X-radiation is
used in such diverse fields as medicine (for
A n g i ~ wCiwm. I R I .0 1 Engl 1996, 35, No. 9
both diagnosis and therapy), the natural
sciences, engineering and technology, art,
and archeology. All these are in fact treated in this book. Obviously such a range
could not be covered by a single author,
and for that reason this substantial 682page volume contains 44 articles by different authors.
The book opens with a brief historical
outline of the discovery of X-radiation
and of the life of Rontgen (which, interestingly, is only taken up to the time when he
made the discovery). The first half of the
book describes radiological diagnostics as
applied to the parts of the body with supporting and movement functions and to
internal organs, followed by articles on
the applications of X-rays in medico-legal
practice, radiotherapy, dosimetry, radiobiology, and veterinary science. It can be
seen from this list that F. H. W. Heuck, the
editor responsible for the medical part of
the book, has been especially concerned to
present a balanced and comprehensive
picture of the research applications of Xrays in this area. From the standpoint of a
layman so far as this field is concerned, I
found these articles very interesting. The
text, written in a way understandable by
the nonspecialist, and the excellent illustrations make this part compelling reading. The articles stimulate one's interest in
the medical applications of X-radiation
and offer the nonspecialist reader an excellent overview of the subject.
The second half of the book is devoted
to the natural sciences and technology. It
begins with a historical account of the development of methods for generating Xrays, and of the fundamental knowledge
that was gained up to about the mid1920s. The various methods for detecting
X-rays are then described, leading up to
the modern C C D (charge-coupled device)
VCH Verlagsge,~ells~l~u~fr
mbH. 0-69451 Weinheim, 1996
camera. Separate chapters deal with applications of X-rays in crystallography,
chemistry, and biochemistry, with appropriate examples. These are followed by articles on X-ray diffraction in mixed crystals, noncrystalline metals, and alloys.
Additional chapters deal with the technologically important topics of texture determination, elastic stress measurements,
and studies of macroscopic structure.
These chapters, which are mainly concerned with investigating the structures of
materials, are followed by others on X-ray
spectroscopy, X-ray microscopy, and
measurements on X-radiation from outer
space. The book concludes with descriptions of the applications of X-radiation in
the fields of art, anthropology, and paleontology.
All the articles are readily understandable, and the text is illustrated by many
diagrams and instructive photographs.
With only a few exceptions, mathematical
formulas have been avoided. It is clear
that all the authors have aimed to present
their subjects in a way that can be understood by readers who are unfamiliar with
the field. Each article also contains a list
of material for more advanced reading.
The layout and standard of production
of the book are excellent. The editors are
to be congratulated on having put together a book which, despite the large number
of authors involved, achieves a consistent
style and quality. Almost every area of
research using X-radiation is covered, and
the book provides a very good survey of
the subject. It can be recommended for
everyone with an interest in the field, and
should be available in every university
H e h u t Bertagnolli
Institut fur Physikalische Chemie
der Universitat Stuttgart (Germany)
0570-0833iY613509-1027$ 15.00+ .25 (1
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topic, chemistry, book, series, applied, uses, review, resorcinol, dressler, derivatives
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