The novelist Kurt Vonnegut (a former chemistry major at Cornell University) has a scene in his 1963 book Cat's Cradle in which Francine Pefko, secretary to the famous chemist Dr. Nilsak Horvath, is bemoaning her job:
"I take dictation from Dr. Horvath and it's just like a foreign language. I don't think I'd understand iteven if I was to go to college."
"If there's something you don't understand, ask Dr. Horvath to explain it. He's very good at explaining. Dr. Hoenikker used to say that any scientist who couldn't explain to an eight-year-old what he was doing was a charlatan."
The case may be overstated, but the underlying sentiment is valid: Scientists should be able to explain their subject in a clear and understandable way to anyone who is willing to learn. And that has been our goal in writing this bookto produce the most readable and effective teaching text possible. The outstanding success of the first three editions suggests that our goal has been met and encourages us to offer this new edition.
About this Book
Our primary goal in writing this book has been to fashion a clear, coherent narrative. We write to explain to students today the way we wish chemistry had been explained to us when we were students.
Beginning with atomic structure, proceeding next to bonding and molecules, ties of substances, and ending with a study of chemical properties, we have told a cohesive story about chemistry. Transitions between topics are smooth, explanations are lucid, and tie-ins to earlier material are frequent. Every attempt has been made to explain chemistry in a visual, intuitive way so that it can be understood by those who give it an honest effort.
Insofar as possible, distractions within the text are minimized. Each chapter is broken into numerous sections to provide frequent breathers, and each section has a consistent format. Sections generally begin with an explanation of their subject, move to a Worked Example problem that shows how to work with the material, and end with one or more Problems for the reader to work through. Each chapter ends with a brief Interlude that describes an interesting application or extension of the chapter subject.
About the Fourth Edition
In preparing this fourth edition, we have again reworked the entire book at the sentence level to make it as easy as possible for a reader to understand and learn chemistry. Among the many changes and improvements, much art has been redrawn to show molecular views of chemical processes, many new molecular models have been added, and numerous electrostatic potential maps have been included to show the polarity patterns in molecules.
Problems and problem solving have also received a great deal of attention in this 4th edition. The use of visual, non-numerical "Key Concept" problems has been expanded. The number of these problems, which test an understanding of the material rather than the ability to put numbers into a formula, has increased, and Worked Key Concept Examples have been included in each chapter to show how to approach these problems. Don't make the mistake of thinking that these Key Concept problems are simple just because they don't have numbers. Many are real challenges that will test the ability of any student.
Among other changes to the problems, the Worked Examples found at the end of text sections have been rewritten to begin with a Strategy discussion that shows how to approach the problem, and many now end with a Ballpark Check to make sure the calculated answer makes sense. Finally, we have added a substantial number of challenging new end-of-chapter problems that should prove thought-provoking to even the best students.
We hope that this new edition will meet the goals we have set for it and that students will find it to be friendly, accessible, and above all effective in teaching chemistry.