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Dr. Joe and What You Didn't Know: 177 Fascinating Questions and Answers About the Chemistry of Everyday Life

Today I read Dr. Joe and What You Didn't Know: 177 Fascinating Questions and Answers About the Chemistry of Everyday Life by Joseph A. Schwarcz. It's a compilation of questions that aims to make chemistry interesting and relevant to a wider audience (for example, "What did Moses have to do with anthrax?" or "How was O.J. Simpson's defense team helped by their client's taste for tacos?"). I was surprised to learn that nickel can provoke allergic reactions, and that before the late 1800s, aluminum was more valued than gold. A question on prohibiting the display of hare and rabbit carcasses by Scandinavian and German butchers to prevent cleft palate, or harelip, complements the Mary Toft incident discussed in Dennis Todd's Imagining Monsters (a more in-depth book on the belief that seeing shocking things could cause birth defects). Overall, Schwarcz succeeds in showcasing the science around us, especially when describing serendipitous accidents that have led to new chemical and biological discoveries.

posted at 11:47:00 PM on 05/03/04 by nullibicity - Category: Books

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