|MOLECULES AT AN EXHIBITTION
Portraits of Intriguing Materials in Everyday Life
Oxford University Press, 1998. 264p.
* What is it in chocolate that makes us feel good when we eat it?
The answers to these and to very many other intriguing questions are to be found in John Emsley's Molecules at an Exhibittion, a portrait gallery featuring materials that affect every aspect of our daily lives. The collection ranges widely. There is a portrait of selenium, the essential element which prevents certain heart conditions, and wards off cancer-but which food contains it? There is one of folic acid, which protects babies in the womb, and one of arachidonic acid, a lack of which can be a serious problem for premature babies. There are galleries devoted to the home, to the environment, and to materials that make life a little easier for us. And in a rogues's gallery there are molecules that can harm or kill us. Here is your guide to the secret world of the molecules that are an important part of modern living, explained in a way that everyone can understand. There are eight galleries to explore, so wander at will. Each one contains about a dozen portraits, every one rich in history, anecdote and fascinating science- and there are lots of surprises.