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Book Review The Historical Development of Chemical Concepts. By R. Mierzecki

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been mentioned that these are no longer to be used as parts
of names, but only as general descriptions of complexes of
this type; for more complex systems one should use the procedures described in Chapter 16.
0 x 0 acids, which are treated in Chapter 8, “Acids and
Bases”, belong to the classical territory of inorganic chemistry. so it is not surprising that this area has a liberal scattering of trivial and non-systematic names. If one adopts from
the start such rather unusual structure-based formulas as
CIO,(OH) or SO,(OH), (despite the fact that clear IUPAC
recoinmendations exist for these also). one should then use
these forms consistently, and avoid later writing, for example. H,PO, or H,MnO,. Here again a too rigorous
systematization does not make for easy comprehension; for
example. the prefixes ortho and meta were used to distinguish acids that differ in their water content, a terminology
that has persisted to the present day in names such as metaboric acid and (less commonly) orthophosphoric acid. But
when one finds ‘orthosulfurous acid’, S(OH),, alongside
’metasulfurous acid’, with an explanation in a footnote that
‘meta’ can usually be omitted, this is too much of a good
thing. Also it is noticeable that whereas the 1957 and 1970
IUPAC inorganic rules and the 1979 IUPAC organic rules
are cited frequently, there are only a few references to the
1990 rules. This is especially irksome in cases where discrepancies arise, as in the heteropolyanion [O,SOCr0,J2@,
where the latest IUPAC recommendations now specify that
the constituents should no longer be given in alphabetical
order. but with the ligand first followed by the transition
metal: this results in different names.
In Chapter 9, which is concerned with the application of
the substitution nomenclature system for inorganic compounds. especially molecular hydrides, it would have been
better to use the names consistently for the parent compounds that are listed in Table AVIII. This applies especially
to Section 9.4, dealing with the naming of ions, where the
names derived from the parent compounds have important
advantages. Of the four names given for the N H F ion, the
systematic name ‘azanide’ is the most unambiguous, while
the trivial name ‘amide’ and the radiofunctional name
‘azanyl anion’ are also acceptable. On the other hand a name
such as ‘dihydronitride’ should be avoided. ‘Hydro’ is only
permissible for complex borates, and it would have been
better to omit the rules that are given for constructing such
names. Even if one were to describe the ion by a name of this
kind, the correct form would be ‘dihydrogen nitride’ (in analogy to dihydrogen sulfide). The use of ‘hydro’ becomes very
confusing when H,NNHe is called ‘trihydrodinitride’.
Chapter 10 on “Chains and Rings” gives a brief account
of methods such as the ‘a’ nomenclature and the HantzschWidmann nomenclature that are already familiar from organic chemistry, and of names based on repeated identical
subunits. Here it would have been useful to also refer briefly
to alternative methods such as the recent (1989) IUPAC proposals for inorganic systems, in which w. H. Powell was
himself involved. The short Chapter 13 on “Addition Compounds” is followed by one o n “Nonstoichiometric Species”; this chapter could usefully have been extended to
include polyoxoanions and zeolites. The latter are mentioned in Chapter 13, but only briefly. Topics such as the
Niggli notation or the ‘ija’ notation (Schafer, von Schnering)
might also have been covered briefly.
Lastly. the final Chapter 16 is in a style that would have
been preferable for the entire book. A short historical introduction to the topic is followed by a selection of examples
with plenty of illustrations and an informative commentary.
Thus. the overall impression left by the book is rather
mixed. Specialists will probably pick up answers to specific
problems here and there, but the book only meets the needs
of beginners to a limited extent. It forms an acceptable complement to the Red Book, which is, however, due to be followed by a further volume dealing with specialist topics. One
is left wondering whether, in the interests of more effective
communication between chemists, it might not have been
better to combine the efforts to produce a single authoritative book of rules on nomenclature.
Grrhard Kcirger
Angewandte Chemie
Weinheim (FRG)
The Historical Development of Chemical Concepts. By R.
Mierzecki. Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht,
1991. XI, 281 pp., hardcover HFI 240.00.--ISBN 0-7923091 5-4.
This book is a translation from the Polish original published in 1985. It gives silent testimony to the difficulties of
scholarship in Eastern Europe. For instance, the index Fails
to give .I.Desmond Bernal’s year of death (1971), presumably through lack of documentation. The book does not
rise to its ambition, it is a textbook on the history of chemistry, not a scholarly monograph. The viewpoint is that of
Whig historiography, truth arising gradually from misconceptions. It has the merit of stressing the contributions of
Eastern scientists, sometimes neglected in standard treatments. An example is the Russian pioneer Mikhail
Lomonossov. Conversely, the coverage of Western chemists
is inadequate. One may ask how any serious historical study
of the history of chemistry can fail to mention the likes of
Max Born, Lazare Carnot. Georges Darzens, Victor Grignard, Fritz Haber, Rent.-Just Haiiy, Roald Hoffmann, Hans
Meerwein, R. S. Mulliken, Joseph Needham, Robert B.
Woodward. . .
Besides the absence of such great names, treatment of the
concepts is skeletal. It has not been fleshed out with the
excitement of the actual history. Take catalysis as an example. It is given a little over a page, focussing only on
Wilhelm Ostwald, the Arrhenius activation energy, autocatalytic reactions, and the notion of chain reactions (NernstHinshelwood-Semenov). What a pity, when the actual discovery makes such wonderful history. I cannot resist, as a
positive contribution in this review, recapitulating it for the
reader. Kirchhoff decomposed starch with sulfuric acid into
dextrin and saccharose in 1811. ThCnard decomposed hydrogen peroxide in the presence of manganese dioxide or platinum in 1818. Thenard had earlier (1 81 3) reported decomposition of ammonia over heated metals. Then Humphrey
Davy found (1 817) that preheated platinum wire would continue to glow in mixtures of flammable gases. His cousin
Edmund Davy, who had been his assistant at the Royal
Institution, carried on this line of work. Then came a crucial
set of observations. Johann Wolfgang Dobereiner, who had
been interested for years in platinum chemistry, repeated the
1820 experiments of Edmund Davy, ascertained that Davy’s
powder was platinum suboxide, and showed that it was unchanged by the process it took part in. On July 27. 1823,
Dobereiner prepared finely divided platinum metal on filter
paper and exposed it to hydrogen gas. He witnessed such a
strong reaction that it could extract in a few minutes all the
oxygen from its mixture with 99% nitrogen. Two days later,
Dobereiner wrote to his friend Goethe, then a Privy Councillor and Minister of State to Duke Carl-August in Weimar,
bursting with excitement about the new phenomenon.
Goethe was not a total stranger to catalysis--as the phenomenon would be termed by Berzelius in 1835; in his chemical novel Wahli,ei-ic.unn‘t.s~~~~~n
(Elective Affinities) in 1809,
the arrival on the scene of Mittler (the “go-between”) triggers all sorts of catastrophes!
Pierre Laszlo
Laboratoire de Chimie
Ecole Polytechnique
Palaiseau (France)
Basic Principles of Membrane Technology. By M . M u l d c ~ .
Kluwer Academic Publishers. Dordrecht, 1991. XII,
363 pp., hardcover HFI 200.00. --ISBN 0-7923-0978-2
Membrane separation methods are rapidly gaining in importance in many areas of chemical and biochemical process
technology. Regrettably, there has up to now been no textbook to make it easier for advanced students of chemistry.
process technology, o r related disciplines to become involved
in this field. This book claims to fill that gap, according to
the author’s preface.
Unfortunately, however, large parts of the book fail to
justify that claim. This failure is mainly due to the book’s
many didactic shortcomings, beginning with the visual presentation. The small line spacing does not make for easy
readability, and the absence of spaces beneath the headings
accentuates the impression of a tightly cramped text. Moreover, this is not always accompanied by a high density of
information. as the author’s style is long-winded and
inclined towards repetition. The introductory chapter is
frankly confusing; for example, terms such as “ultrafiltration”, “dialysis”, and “pervaporation“ are first encountered
in a table in which separation techniques are related to
molecular properties. The newcomer to membrane technology who starts to read the book from the beginning will learn
very little from this table. Often the explanations of symbols
used in equations, in t e r m of the common descriptions of
the quantities represented, come too late after their first appearance (e.g., p. 150: coupling coefficient). Basic chemical
and physical concepts are sometimes repeated, while on the
other hand one often comes across equations that appear
from nowhere, or whose derivation is not properly explained.
The list of inadequacies of presentation could be continued.
The many omissions are also a source of annoyance; the
following are a few examples. Permeation by vapors is only
mentioned in passing. In the discussion of the individual
methods. no indication is given as to which of these are
already established as the state of the art and which are still
at the development stage. The amount of space devoted to
discussions of individual membrane techniques in Mulders’
book gives no clue as to their relative importance; for example, seven pages are devoted to membrane distillation,
which has long been of little importance, whereas for the
widely used method of dialysis one finds only two-and-a-half
pages. In most cases the author does not discuss the capabilities and limitations of the various theories for describing
material transport through membranes; for example, it
would be useful to have comparisons between theory and
experiment in the form of graphs or tables.
Lastly, this reviewer noticed a few inaccuracies. The first
example occurs in the introduction, where density, vapor
pressure. and freezing point are incorrectly referred to as
“molecular properties”. On page 224 one finds the sentence:
“The dimensions for permeability coefficients indicate that
they depend on the membrane thickness. the membrane
area, and the driving force.” In fact, exactly the opposite is
true. On page 236, the unsuitability of polydimethylsiloxane
membranes for removing water from trichloroethylene is
due not to the organophilic character of these membranes,
but to the fact that they undergo severe swelling in solutions
containing trichloroethylene as the main component. On
pages 334ff.. diafiltration is compared to a process in a continuous stirred reactor. This comparison is incorrect. as the
depletion of one component through diafiltration is analogous
to the conversion of a component in a discontinuous stirred
reactor, as the equations (VIII-28) to (VIII-34) make clear.
Regrettably. this list of inaccuracies too could be further
Nevertheless, the positive aspects of the book must not be
overlooked. The manufacture of membranes is treated in
great detail. including the thermodynamics of the process.
The treatment of ultrafiltration ( U F ) includes a critical discussion of the “cut-off’ value. Some very useful X-ray microanalysis results on U F membranes are included. The discussions of facilitated-transport processes and concentration
polarization are highly instructive. In the chapter on “Applications”. the author meets the needs of the reader who wants
quick information by providing brief summaries in note
form at the ends of the sections. Other good features are the
section on calculating the required membrane areas for gas
permeation plants, and the numerical examples on plant layouts at the end of the book.
To summarize, i t must be concluded that, despite a few
bright points. the various errors, inaccuracies, omissions,
and most of all the shortcomings in presentation, prevent the
book from fulfilling the claim mentioned at the beginning. A
good. comprehensive textbook on membranes is still awaited.
Stc!jn,i Bitterlicli
ZAViVerfahrenschemie Trennverfahren
BASF, Ludwigshafen (FRG)
Atoms in Molecules. A Quantum Theory. (International Series Monographs on Chemistry. Vol. 22). By R. t;: W
Bntier.. Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1990. XVIII, 438 pp..
hardcover E 50.00. ISBN 0-19-855168-1
I n a series of papers Richard Bader has developed a view
on molecules, often referred to as “Bader analysis”, which is
based on a mathematical description of the electron density
as a function of the spatial coordinates, and which allows
one to get relevant information on bonding within a molecule. One can thus define a ”molecular structure” that is
quite distinct from the molecular geometry. One can further
construct boundary surfaces that divide a molecule into its
constituent atoms in such a way that the same atom looks
similar in different but related molecules. Changes in the
electron density due to changes in the geometry. e.g. in chemical reactions, can be described by means of catastrophe
theory. More recently Bader’s interest has shifted to the field
Eenerated by applying the Laplacean V2
= &2
+ p + a_2
to the electron density. This field, referred to. as the
“Laplacean of the density”, contains information about, for
example, the localization of electron pairs.
The fact that this very useful method of analysis has currently found only little acceptance in main-stream quantum
chemistry, and is usually regarded as some kind of curiosity.
is partly due, paradoxically, to Bader’s claim that his approach is unique and universal. In this very spirit one reads
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