Every Molecule Tells a Story

Cotton, Simon, Every Molecule Tells a Story, CRC Press, Boca Raton FL, 2012;  pp. 266 + x, ISBN 978-1-4398-00-0073-6 (hardcover). $62.95.

The author describes this book neither as a textbook nor as a collection of reviews. It is a collection of essays on more than 200 chemical compounds. It is probably aimed at the lay public, but would also find value in schools and colleges.

The chemistry is reasonably sophisticated with many structures. The chemical and topical essays are grouped in fourteen chapters. Titles include atmosphere and water, carbohydrates and artificial sweeteners, hydrocarbons, acids and alkalis, steroids and sex, the senses, cosmetics and perfumes, natural killers, unnatural killers, explosives, pleasure molecules (alcohol, nicotine, designer drugs), natural healers, unnatural healers, and synthetic polymers.

The terminology is British and in some cases misleading. “Killers” would better be described as toxins, especially since at least one, thalidomide, is not a “killer” but a notorious fetotoxin. “Healers” are better described as medicinals or pharmaceuticals. Several (in)famous compounds are conspicuous by their absence, including BPA and dioxin (TCDD). Dimethylmercury is described, but methylmercuric cation is not.

The bibliography lists additional resources on general topics discussed, as well as resources for each chapter and some specific chemicals. Recommended for high school and college libraries, and educators.

Bob Buntrock, Member, CINF Communications and Publications Committee


Patent Strategy for Researchers and Research Managers

Knight, Jackson. 3rd Edition (February 2013), Hoboken, NJ: Wiley. ISBN: 978-0-470-05774-2 (hardcover, also available paperback and ebook), 256 pages, US $90.00.

“The book is designed to be a ‘how to’ manual rather than a guide to patent law. Aimed at the researcher or technology manager, it explains how to use the patent system to best advantage

for commercial gain. There is a strong focus on business throughout the book – explanations of legal concepts are pragmatic rather than academic, and the insightful advice evidently draws on personal experience… While there is no substitute for experience, this book is possibly the next best thing.”  (Chemistry & Industry, April 2013)

Good book reviews were brought to our attention by Wendy Warr