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Strange Chemistry: The Stories Your Chemistry Teacher Wouldn't Tell You 1st Edition

4.2 out of 5 stars 14 ratings

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Editorial Reviews


A chemistry professor teaches "the stories your chemistry teachers wouldn't tell you" through short, accessible lessons on drugs, deadly household items, mysteries of ordinary objects, and more. Debut author Farmer (Chemistry/Sonoma State Univ.) devoted his life to chemistry after a high school friend on LSD jumped in front of a car and was killed instantly.  He was driven by a quest to better understand hallucinogens and their effect on the brain, but he also wanted answers to other questions that haunted his childhood. The short sections and accessible language will keep readers' attention, and the frequent addition of molecular structures could be a useful addition to chemistry courses.

An engaging chemistry lesson that also serves as an encyclopedia to understanding the world around us. -Kirkus Reviews

Aimed at 16-18 and 18+ students, this is an excellent book, thoroughly recommended to teacher and lectures.  Put it on your bookshelf and consult it often -Education in Chemistry

Behind every chemist is a teacher who, by their enthusiasm, has made the subject interesting to his or her pupils. Dr. Farmer is such a teacher who has gone to great pains to make his subject relevant to his audience.

In spite of the US bias, it would be churlish of me to criticize this book which is one that should be possessed by every chemistry teacher and I cannot recommend it too highly.

What is the most important chemical reaction? Steven Farmer says it'sthe Haber process N2 + 3H2 → 2NH3, which is used to makefertilizer.Without it, half the ice-free land mass on Earth would beneeded to grow food instead of 15%, and 40% of the people on Earth would starve. That's one of the bedtime stories you could tell your childrenafter reading this fascinating book. It's written in layman's terms, and almost anyone would get something out of it. In our chemical- anddrug-filled world knowing this stuff can save your life. Moreimportantly, it could get people interested in chemistry . . . and maybe even biochemistry . . . and inorganic .. . .Watch for this stuff toshow up on TV someday-Review from Randombio.com

From the Author

These stories have been collected over a decade of teaching chemistry and represent the very strangest I've ever heard. They were specially picked because they are on the dark side and seem to evoke emotional responses in the listener. I have often heard students gasp while I discuss these stories. Don't worry, I also added some chemistry cartoons to lighten it up a bit. It is written so that it can be understood by almost anyone, so you need not worry if don't have a chemistry degree. I will have to warn you though that your view of the world may change after you find out how much strange chemistry is around you. Making chemistry more accessible to everyone is a passion of mine, so feel free to ask me any questions. I hope you find time to read and enjoy my book.

If you are interested in learning some more strange chemistry check out my blog at:

Here is a few spoilers discussed in Strange Chemistry.

Did you know that:

80% of the nitrogen found in human bodies comes from a chemical reaction?
Acetaminophen is one of the leading causes of liver failure in the U.S.?
Most pharmaceuticals are made from compounds derived from petroleum?
Most nail polishes contain a known carcinogen?
The production of the street drug Ecstasy is literally destroying the rainforests?
Viruses are commonly added to sandwich meat?
Many gemstones have been irradiated in a nuclear reactor?

Product details

  • Paperback : 364 pages
  • ISBN-10 : 1119265266
  • ISBN-13 : 978-1119265269
  • Dimensions : 5.8 x 0.8 x 8.8 inches
  • Item Weight : 1.1 pounds
  • Publisher : Wiley; 1st edition (July 17, 2017)
  • Language: : English
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.2 out of 5 stars 14 ratings

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