From cooking to medicine, from engineering to art, chemistry—the science of molecules—is everywhere.
A celebration of the molecules of chemistry, Every Molecule Tells a Story celebrates the molecules responsible for the experiences of everyday life: the air we breathe; the water we drink; the chemicals that fuel our living; the steroids that give us sex; the colours of the seasons; the drugs that heal us; and the scented molecules that enrich our diet and our encounters with each other. You can’t see them, but you know that they are there.
Unveiling the structures of poisonous "natural" substances and beneficial man-made molecules, this book brushes away any preconceived notions about chemistry to demonstrate why and how molecules matter.
Table of Contents
Atmosphere and Water
Nitrogen (Dinitrogen, N2)
Oxygen (Dioxygen, O2)
Ozone (Trixoygen, O3)
Carbon Dioxide, CO2
Deuterium Oxide (Heavy Water)
Carbohydrates and Artificial Sweeteners
Acids and Alkalis
Steroids and Sex
Man-Made Anabolic Steroids
Carotene and Vision
Chiral Molecules and Smell
Pyrazines and Smell
Cosmetics and Perfumes
Hair Colouring and Waving
Mascara and Eye Shadow
Sunscreen and Tanning
Bad Breath and Mouthwash
Body Odours and Deodorants
Cone Snail Venoms (Conotoxins)
CS and Mustard Gas
Opium and Morphine
Quinine and Antimalarials
Beta-Blockers and Atenolol
Cisplatin and Other Platinum Anticancer Drugs
Sulphanilamide and the Sulphonamides
Polythene (or Polyethylene)
Polyvinyl Chloride, Poly(chloroethene)
Teflon, Poly(tetrafluoroethene), PTFE
Poly(methyl methacrylate) (PMMA)
Simon Cotton obtained his B.Sc. and PhD at Imperial College London, followed by research and teaching appointments at Queen Mary College, London, and the University of East Anglia. He subsequently taught chemistry in both state and independent schools for over 30 years, has lectured widely in the UK and carries out research on the chemistry of iron, cobalt, scandium, and the lanthanide elements.
"I find that I lack the time and self-discipline to read a factual book from cover to cover, but I love books that I can dip into and read short, self-contained articles. Every molecule tells a story by chemistry lecturer and science writer Simon Cotton is one such book. … Simon introduces his molecular collection by explaining the relevance of chemistry in our everyday lives. … find the pretty comprehensive bibliography at the end of the book really useful, especially as it is divided up using the same molecular headings as the main text. It forms a handy way into the literature covering the wide-ranging topics."
—Anne Hodgson, Chemistry Review
"… this is an excellent and attractively priced book which should be in the possession of all who teach chemistry so that they may dip into it and use the information to enliven what may appear to be rather dry material of doubtful practical usefulness."
—Edward R. Adlard, Chromatographia (2012) 75:809–810
"It will most likely be used as a go-to reference or a source of interesting tidbits by someone looking for basic information about a specific molecule, or by someone browsing for any interesting facts without a specific molecule in mind. … Specifics about synthesis and reactivity will be useful to chemistry-savvy readers, while historical background and pop-culture references will be accessible to all.
Ultimately, if you are someone who tries to entertain and catch the interest of students with quirky stories of molecules, then this book would be a wonderful addition to your bookshelf. If you assign your students the task of writing reports about molecules, this book will earn its keep in your institution’s library as a reference of first resort."
—Scott Smidt, Laramie County Community College, Albany County Campus, Journal of Chemical Education, 2013
"Every Molecule Tells a Story consists of 14 chapters, beginning with the atmosphere and its gases, and ending with synthetic polymers, where you learn of the nylon riots when women fought to obtain stockings made from the new fibre. There are chapters devoted to steroids and sex, the human senses, cosmetics and perfumes, poisons both natural and man-made, pleasure molecules, and healing drugs both natural and man-made…The book is targeted at students of chemistry, who are already familiar with the language of our Science, and for this reason it includes a lot of chemistry and molecular detail. Sadly, this will deter readers who are non-chemists but might well enjoy the tales Cotton has to tell. Were they to read his book, they would appreciate how all pervading our science is, and understand better its role in the modern world."
—Chemistry & Industry Magazine, Issue 5, 2012
"Not as formal as a textbook, comprehensive as a reference, or accessible as a popular science book, this work serves nevertheless as worthwhile enrichment for chemistry students and a challenging advanced introduction for general readers. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All levels/libraries."
—E. J. Chang, York College, in CHOICE, June 2012
"…in the science section of bookstores (those that have one) the shelves are stacked with books on origins of the universe and on dinosaurs (and biological evolution) physics, biology and geology, and never a chemistry-related book in sight. The bizarre aspect of this bias is that we can go about our daily lives without the need to contemplate the Big Bang hypothesis or the complexities of Darwinian evolution, but we do have to think about choices involving food & vitamins, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, together with news reports of atmospheric change, clean water, toxic chemicals, and so on."
—Geoff Rayner-Canham, Memorial University of Newfoundland
"Simon is eminently qualified to write this book. He knows exactly how to reach the target audience and I have been reading, and collecting, his articles for many years. He writes in a highly readable style with a lightness of touch which the subject demands if it is to attract and hold a wider audience. He writes successfully both as a qualified chemist and as a populariser."
—John Emsley, University of Cambridge
"The rampant and pervasive irrational fear of chemicals - "Chemophobia" in our society needs to cured, impossible as it may be, and Cotton's book will go a long way to eradicate this disease."
—Gordon W. Gribble, Dartmouth College
"Simon Cotton has that rare ability of making chemistry understandable and fascinating by combining intriguing scientific information and relevant human interest."
—John Emsley, University of Cambridge