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The Joy of Chemistry: The Amazing Science of Familiar Things 0th Edition

4.1 out of 5 stars 29 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1591022312
ISBN-10: 1591022312
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Think of this as a chemistry education condensed into a single book: a lightning tour of the field for the uninitiated. What the work lacks in depth is made up for in breadth, covering all the material of a general chemistry course along with organic, inorganic and analytical chemistry and biochemistry; there's even a chapter on forensic chemistry. Cobb and Fetterolf, professors of chemistry at the University of South Carolina, avoid math and focus on real-world examples. They explain everything from flatulence (the chemical composition of intestinal gas) to pizza cheese (why mozzarella rather than, say, parmesan?). This may sound a lot like the dozens of introductory chemistry books on the market. But unlike most others, this book comes with a lab component (supplies not included). Every chapter is preceded by an experiment (some quite complicated) using household goods, though someone inexperienced in laboratory techniques may find the directions difficult to follow. The explanations of principles fly past, and Cobb and Fetterolf avoid oversimplifying the chemistry, which may leave some readers confused. Whether or not readers fully understand the principles of chemistry by the end of the book, they will at least have a better understanding of the world around them and enough everyday trivia to hold their own at a cocktail party. B&w illus.
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About the Author

Cathy Cobb (Aiken, SC) is the author of Magick, Mayhem, and Mavericks: The Spirited History of Physical Chemistry and, with H. Goldwhite, Creations of Fire: Chemistry’s Lively History from Alchemy to the Atomic Age. She is currently an instructor of calculus and physics at Aiken Preparatory School and an adjunct professor of chemistry at the University of South Carolina at Aiken.

Monty L. Fetterolf (Aiken, SC) is professor of chemistry at the University of South Carolina at Aiken.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 330 pages
  • Publisher: Prometheus Books (February 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1591022312
  • ISBN-13: 978-1591022312
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.3 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #399,752 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By K. L Sadler VINE VOICE on January 24, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I've been teaching hearing students at a local community college chemistry for the last two years, and enjoying it immensely. What I have not enjoyed was trying to find a decent textbook to use. The one we are currently using by Karen Timberlake is pretty good, especially given the horrendous book I started out with. However, I've been looking for some more chem books that can bring chemistry not down to the level of the students, but rather illustrate how chemistry is involved in our daily world.

The first book I got was a great book on the individual elements. that still wasn't what I was looking for. This book by Cobb and Fetterolf was exactly what I was looking for. Not only did it have experiments that I can use as demonstrations prior to my student's own labs, but it also provides significant background and understanding into all the important chemistry concepts. Loads of black and white illustrations, and just a good book overall. I noticed the first review on the back of the book was by the author of our current chemistry textbook, Timberlake...thought that was funny though not necessarily a selling point originally for me.

I didn't get the title "The Joy of Chemistry" until they mentioned the other two famous books with titles beginning with "The Joy of ...." Cute trick. Won't be selling this book off any time in the near future, as I am just now finishing reading it the first time and now I am going back with a 'fine-tooth' comb over the entire book and take out what I can use for different chemistry labs and classrooms.

Karen sAdler

Science Education
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Format: Hardcover
I picked up this book (though skeptical of the title)because my son is getting interested in chemistry. I found it to be very instructive and the demonstrations to be clear and fun too! I would recomend this book to anyone with a budding interest in chemistry - it is layed out very well and easy to follow - and most of all it doesn't read like a text book. My son and I had a good time going through it - though I think I had more to learn than he did. I enjoyed it so much that I picked up another of Cobb's books, Creations of Fire and found it equally compelling.
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Format: Hardcover
The big three sciences are biology, chemistry and physics, although an argument could be made that biology is merely a sophisticated type of chemistry and chemistry merely an extension of physics. All three are important, but when it comes to writing for the general reader, physics and biology seem to get the bigger slices of the publishing pie (especially when extending into subcategories like ecology or astronomy). The Joy of Chemistry, however, addresses this deficiency and offers a good introduction for the lay reader for this central science.

The focus on The Joy of Chemistry is not only on theory but how chemistry fits into the real world. For this reason, writers Cathy Cobb and Monty Fetterolf not only offer real-life illustrations but also provide experiments for the reader to try out. For example, an early chapter on the periodic table is preceded by the recipe for an experiment that exposes copper and aluminum wire to lye to show how two different metals react to a chemical. Then the chapter itself discusses the table and how it is derived, and how certain groups have similar chemical reactions; since copper and aluminum are not in the same group, they react differently.

The majority of the book deals with the ways chemistry works, from reactions to solutions to crystallization. The second portion of the book discusses various types of chemistry, including organic chemistry, inorganic chemistry, biochemistry and analytical chemistry.

Even if you're not inclined to do the experiments (I wasn't), there is still plenty of good, informative material in this book. There are little mistakes here and there such as one point where the text states that two like magnetic poles attract each other, but overall, there aren't many flaws. If your knowledge of chemistry is weak - or if you're just looking for a refresher - The Joy of Chemistry will be a good resource.
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Format: Hardcover
It's impossible in our fearful age to buy a good chemistry set-- until now. Who would have thought it would come as a book? Cobb's text is fun, easy to understand, and illustrates fundamental principles. Best of all, the experiments work! Highly recommended.
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Format: Hardcover
Many titles assume chemistry facts should best be left to the weighty college-level text: not so Cathy Cobb and Monty Fetterolf's Joy Of Chemistry: The Amazing Science Fo Familiar Things, which relates basic chemistry concepts to everyday life instead of complex math formulas alone. Chapters blend science, invention history, and a lively survey which translates chemistry concepts to real-life examples. Yes, there are formulas and scientific notes - but also a wonderful layman's language which makes Joy Of Chemistry accessible to a wider audience than most.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
While laced with humor, this is a very serious book, and truly a joy. What most surprised me is its willingness to tackle in some fashion all the deepest theoretical findings and issues. They may simplify, but are careful never to misstate. In comparing the dual nature of light, wave and particle, to a pet cat, both wild (when stalking birds) and domestic, the authors are less scientific than usual, but even this analogy contributes to understanding. Given my own confusion, I was glad to learn that "no one has completely explained" why a moving current causes magnetism. The authors do a really good job with chemical attraction, and explain that "all bonds have a bit of each quality - covalent, ionic and metallic - to a greater or lesser degree". I did find some of the references to entropy in explanations a bit unsatisfying, and I think it is because the authors were trying to avoid any discussion of probability.

There is a wealth of information. Despite having taken chemistry, years ago, I learned for the first time such things as what distinguishes a diesel engine, and how cheese is made. I did not actually do any of the many experiments described, but got a lot out of just reading about them. "The Joy of Chemistry" is a great book for anyone interested in science, whether or not you have ever taken a chemistry course.
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