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Book Review The Chemical Synthesis of Peptides. (International Series of Monographs on Chemistry Vol. 23.) By J

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All of the above history, and much more, is explored in
meticulous detail in this book, In fact, the author presents us
with such a mine of information that one is tempted to dip
into it time and again. It is not surprising that it took the
author some ten years to compile all this material. The book
is very well written and the author is to be congratulated on
a job well done. I predict that this work will become a classic
of its kind, and will remain an important source of reference
on the early development of physical chemistry for many
years to come. If I have any criticism of this book, it would
concern the organization of the abundant material it contains. At times I found it difficult to locate specific facts and
information on the lives of the physical chemists it covers.
Their lives and their various contributions to physical chemistry tend to be discussed in several different chapters. I
would have preferred each of the major figures such as
Gilbert N. Lewis and Linus Pauling to have been treated in
easy-to-find chapters. However, I would not wish to harp on
this minor criticism, for the book as a whole more than
compensates us for the time spent reading it. I recommend
that this work be read by all who wish to learn something of
the origins of physical chemistry in the New World.
Dennis H. Rouvray
Department of Chemistry
University of Georgia
Athens, Georgia (USA)
Chaotic Evolution and Strange Attractors. By D. Ruelle.
Cambridge University Press, Cambridge (UK), 1989.
VIII, 96 pp., paperback E 8.95.-ISBN 0-521-36830-8.
The author of this little book is an internationally recognized expert in the theory of complex dynamic systems, especially of turbulence phenomena. In it he summarizes a series
of lectures that he delivered in 1987 at the Accademia dei
Lincei in Rome. The book is divided into two parts. The first
describes the phenomenon of turbulence and discusses some
of its characteristics, taking low-dimensional chaotic attractors as an example. Here the author is on familiar ground.
Deterministic chaos-a class of irregular states of complex
dynamic systems that are extremely sensitive to changes in
the initial conditions-has become such a popular area of
study during the last five years that every scientist has at least
heard of it. The author deals in depth with the fundamental
question of how it is possible to conclude, from an irregular
time-series of recorded data, that the phenomenon being
observed is the result of a chaotic attractor and not of accidental fluctuations. He also introduces the concept of fractal
dimensions, which is essential for an understanding of
chaotic dynamics.
The second part of the book is concerned with deterministic chaos as viewed from the standpoint of the ergodic theory. Here the author moves to the frontier of present knowledge, as this is one of his specialist topics of research. This
inevitably involves a detailed discussion of measurement theory, the mathematical basis of which is far from simple. In
developing a description of chaotic dynamics the characteristic exponents are of fundamental importance, and these are
directly related to the dimensionality and entropy of the
attractors. In the final section the author deals with another
topic that is currently much discussed in specialist circles, the
phenomenon of “resonances” in dynamic systems, which are
caused by singularities in the complex representation of the
frequency spectrum. They are directly related to the relaxation behavior of the system as a function of time. As the
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Veulugsgesellschaft mbH. W-6940 Weinheim,I992
author himself rightly points out in summarizing his conclusions, the relationship between theory and the treatment of
experimental data is covered too briefly in this review. Moreover, this is a field of research that has undergone great
developments in the last decade. Still, what more can one
expect from a little book of only about a hundred pages?
In it the author gives a very concise and well written summary of the present state of knowledge on the theory of
deterministic chaos. It can be recommended to all scientists
with an appropriate background and the necessary mathematical knowledge. However, it is not an introduction to this
field. Chemists and physicists without previous knowledge
who wish to learn about complex dynamic systems should
read other texts. There is no lack of suitable introductions to
the subject.
Peter Schuster
Institut fur Theoretische Chemie
der Universitat Wien (Austria)
The Chemical Synthesis of Peptides. (International Series of
Monographs on Chemistry, Vol. 23.) By J. Jones. Oxford
Science Publications, Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1991. IX,
228 pp., hardcover E 35.00.-ISBN 0-19-855643-8
The author of this book has estimated that about 5000
people are now engaged in peptide research. The growing
importance of peptide chemistry is further underlined by the
fact that the number of publications each year in this field
has now increased to well over a thousand, and the upward
trend is continuing. Starting from the fundamental studies of
the structure and synthesis of peptides by the German Nobel
prizewinner Emil Fischer, scientific activity in the area of
peptide synthesis spans nearly a century. Important milestones in this development include the first laboratory synthesis of a peptide hormone by Vincent du Vigneaud in 1953
(see pp. 115-119 of this book), and ten years later Bruce
Merrifield’s experimental realization of the ingenious idea of
carrying out a peptide synthesis on a polymeric support
(pp. 132-156). Many different types of apparatus for synthesizing peptides are now commercially available, and their
operation is almost fully automated. This situation, and the
more recent application of the DNA recombination technique to peptide synthesis, often convey to outsiders the
impression that the problem of synthesizing peptides is completely solved and now belongs to the category of routine
methods. That this is a serious misconception is convincingly
argued by the author of this book.
The nine-page general introduction explains clearly why
synthetic peptides are needed, how structure-activity studies
are used to develop peptides for medical purposes, and the advantages of developing peptide chemistry in conjunction with
the DNA recombination technique. Furthermore, it should
be noted that of the 59 peptide pharmaceutical agents listed in
the “red book” in 1990,29 are produced by chemosynthesis
and only nine by modern genetic engineering methods.
The first part of the book deals with the basic principles
and the chemistry of peptide synthesis, and the newcomer
will undoubtedly regard this as the most important part; it is
pleasing that the mechanistic aspects are adequately covered
here. In a skillful didactic presentation of material that is
expertly chosen from the large fund of information on synthetic methods, the reader is equipped with the essential basic knowledge. The chapter on “Residue-specific Considerations” not only deals with side-chain protection in trifunctional amino acids, but also gives valuable advice on appro-
0570-0833/92/0606-0798$3.50+,2510
Angew. Cheni. Znr. Ed, Engl. 31 1I992) No. 6
priate tactics for syntheses using particular building units,
and includes a page and a half on the use of enzymes in
peptide synthesis.
In the second and third parts the author discusses examples which illustrate the considerable difficulties involved in
the strategy of peptide synthesis, and which show that a single
generally applicable method does not exist. All the known
variants have their advantages and disadvantages, and in the
end the success or failure of a synthesis is determined by experience and skill. While not disputing the fact that the Merrifield method has made a very important contribution to progress in the field of peptides and proteins, the author emphatically warns the reader against having too high expectations
of this strategy. This is illustrated by a quotation from the
sales literature for a commercial synthesizer: “You don’t
have to be an expert to synthesize a peptide ... Simply enter
your sequence, ...push ‘Start Synthesis’, and walk away.”
To summarize, the book offers a critical and up-to-date
account of the chemical principles of peptide synthesis, and
by limiting the subject matter it has been kept very compact.
Inevitably a few topics are omitted; for example, the discussion of the Leuchs anhydrides contains no reference to socalled UNCAs. The bibliographies given at the end of each
chapter and section are expertly selected, and Appendix B
gives a useful further list of references. In Appendix A the
many abbreviations are clearly explained. The subject index
appears to contain an adequate selection of keywords, but,
as in nearly all books, it does not exploit the full potential.
The book is a valuable aid for the newcomer to chemical
methods of peptide synthesis, although by its nature it requires the reader to have a basic knowledge of organic chemistry. Its main attraction is that practically every chapter is
packed with a wealth of useful detail, a fact that even the
specialist will only come to appreciate after studying it closely.
Hans-Dieter Jakubke
Fachbereich Biowissenschaften
der Universitat Leipzig (FRG)
Microscale Techniques for the Organic Laboratory. By D. W
Mayo, R. M . Pike, S. S. Butcher and P. K. Trumper.
Wiley, Chichester, 1991. XVIII, 285 pp., paperback
.f 19.20.-ISBN 0-471-62192-7
A significant difficulty that arises in the training of chemistry students is making the transition from techniques suitable for working with relatively large quantities of substances, as already learned, to those needed for carrying out
reactions with semi-micro and micro quantities. The failures
that so often result would be less serious if, during their basic
or advanced practical work, students could learn the rules
for working successfully with small quantities of substances.
This is the problem that the authors have addressed in the
book reviewed here. Under the motto “smaller is better”,
they have based their discussion on experience gained during
a program that has run for about ten years in their own
teaching departments. The term “microscale” here refers to
quantities in the millimole range, i.e., up to about 200 mg.
Practice in using such small amounts of substances has other
advantages as well as teaching students to work with special
care: it reduces the cost of chemicals, and leads to increased
safety, improved air quality in the laboratory, and (of ever
growing importance) a reduction in waste disposal problems.
The book is divided into seven chapters. Following a short
general introduction and some comments about safety in the
Angex Chem Int Ed Engl 31 (1992) N o 6
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laboratory, the authors introduce the apparatus needed for
microscale reactions and the basic working techniques. Next
comes a short chapter on methods for determining physical
properties. An appropriate amount of space is then devoted
to methods for isolating and purifying organic compounds,
which often determine the difference between success and
failure when working with small quantities; all the most
important techniques are covered (extraction, distillation,
crystallization, and the various forms of chromatographythin layer, column, gas, and HPLC). The last two chapters
deal with the techniques and theoretical background needed
for spectroscopic characterization of the compounds that
have (hopefully) been isolated by the foregoing methods. Of
these two, the chapter on IR spectroscopy is very thorough
and detailed, whereas the treatment of NMR spectroscopy is
rather cursory. This traditional preference for IR spectroscopy in teaching students does not really imply that IR
spectra contain more information for the identification of
organic compounds (the authors’ remarks on this point are
surely not meant to be taken too seriously); it is based rather
on the fact that an IR spectrum can be recorded quickly and
cheaply, and the student can easily learn the technique.
The main strength of this book lies in the many useful
ideas and tips that are included, providing information that
is essential for working with microscale quantities. One is
reminded here that chemistry is not only a science, but also
a craft (and sometimes an art). Thus the book contains much
advice that is relatively simple, but not immediately obvious
to the student: for example, on how to transfer a small quantity of a substance from one vessel to another. It also describes forms of apparatus that are impressive and of interest
for use in the research laboratory, such as a rotating band
distillation column, driven by a magnetic stirrer, for separating liquids on the milliliter scale (also used as a cover illustration for the book). The presentation aspects of the book are
also pleasing; it is practically free of printing errors and
factual inaccuracies, the numerous figures are all of good
quality, and the price is not too high. It can therefore be
recommended without hesitation as a basis for student practical classes, and will also provide research chemists with
many useful ideas.
Norbert Krause
Institut fur Organische Chemie
der Technischen Hochschule Darmstadt (FRG)
Houben-Weyl. Methoden der Organischen Chemie. Band
E19c: Carbokationen, Carbokation-Radikale. Series Editors: K. H . Biichel, J Falbe, H. Hagemann, M.Hanack, D.
Klamann, R. Kreher, H . Kropf, M . Regitz and E. Schaumann. Volume Editor: M . Hanack. Thieme, Stuttgart,
1990. XVII, 550 pp., hardcover DM 720.00.--ISBN 3-1321 9804-8
As the third of the volumes on reactive intermediates in
the Houben-Weyl series, that on carbocations and carbocation radicals has now appeared. Following the volume by P.
Vogel that was published in 1985, and several review articles
covering the field in varying degrees of detail, it was now
appropriate to collect together the latest knowledge in a
single volume. The introduction (Lenoir, Siehl; 73 pp.) starts
with a short historical outline, then describes the preparation
of cations in the gas phase and in solution. All the commonly
used, and also the more rarely used, methods are described
and explained, supported by literature references. Several
diagrams showing apparatus for generating cations are in-
Verlagsgeselischaft mbH, W-6940 Wemherm. 1992
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