Dance to the music of entropy

Why Chemical Reactions Happen. First edition
February 27, 2004

Why chemical reactions happen is one of nature's secrets. Searching for the answers has enabled scientists to produce the variety of pigments, fabrics, medicines and so on that make modern society interesting and safe. This insightful book reveals in clear and impressive style what motivates molecules to metamorphose into something new.

It supplies all the essentials for understanding entropy and how to choreograph molecular transformations to its music.

The basic facts about ionic and covalent bonding are skilfully introduced in chapters that broaden understanding by reference to key experiments and by elegant diagrams. The geometrical and energetic factors that induce reaction and approach to equilibrium and the rates of these processes are illustrated by many key chemical examples. Substitution and elimination reactions are given special treatment and are used to show how particular features of the molecular structure can modify the outcome.

The book ends with an explanation of solvent effects, a treatment of competing reactions and a neat summary of the key factors that cause reaction and how they can be harnessed. General principles have been drawn from all areas of science and simplified to show how they help to rationalise molecular behaviour. By doing this and integrating it in a neatly woven skein, the book helps defragment and unify chemical science.

John C. Walton is professor of reactive chemistry, St Andrews University.


Why Chemical Reactions Happen. First edition

Author - James Keeler and Peter Wothers
Publisher - Oxford University Press
Pages - 208
Price - £16.99
ISBN - 0 19 924973 3

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