The book I should have had as a child

Illustrated Guide to Home Chemistry Experiments: All Lab, No Lecture

Did you ever notice how, well, dull modern chemistry textbooks are? Chapter after chapter of theory. Hardly a single mention of an actual chemical in them. You could be forgiven for taking years of classes and not knowing what is in your gasoline tank. Compare this (1883), which fortunately I did have as a child:

The iodide is a black powder, which explodes with a loud report even when touched with a feather, emitting fumes of hydriodic acid and purple vapor of iodine...

...The osmium alloy is extremely hard and has been used to tip the points of gold pens. When a grain of it happens to be present in the gold which is being coined, it often seriously injures the die. When the platinum ore is treated with aqua regia, this alloy is left undissolved, together with grains of chrome-iron ore and titanic iron. ...

When the oil of bitter almonds is distilled over, it is accompanied by the hydrocyanic acid formed at the same time, and it is this which renders the ordinary commercial oil so powerful a poison, for if it be purified by distillation with a mixture of lime and ferrous chloride (see Prussian blue), which retains the hydrocyanic acid, it becomes comparatively harmless. ...

Phosphoric acid is obtained from bone-ash by decomposing it with sulphuric acid, so as to remove as much of the lime as possible in the form of sulphate, which is strained off, and the acid liquid neutralized with ammonium carbonate, which precipitates any unchanged calcium phosphate, and converts the phosphoric acid into ammonium phosphate. ...

A bit eclectic, perhaps, but something a less-than-adult might actually read voluntarily. And which might impress on the reader what the chemical is really like: not just physical properties, but its essential behaviors, its manufacture, its use to people.

Comments:

Post a Comment:
  • HTML Syntax: NOT allowed
About

jglick

Search

Categories
Archives
« April 2014
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
  
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
29
30
   
       
Today