Molecules: The Elements and the Architecture of Everything
THE PERIODIC TABLE IS COMPLETE: We know those hundred or so elements are all we ever need to worry about. But there is no catalog of all the molecules in the universe, and there can’t be. There may be only six different chess pieces, but it’s out of the question to list all the ways of arranging them on a chess board.
Even putting molecules into logical groups (in order to write a book that at least covers all the categories) is a losing battle. There are almost as many categories of molecules as there are molecules. I take that to mean that I have the freedom to write about only the interesting ones, and the ones that illustrate the deeper connections and broader concepts that unify them all.
If you’re looking for a standard presentation of compounds, such as you might find in a chemistry textbook, you’ll be disappointed. There is no chapter on acids and bases in this book. I do talk about acids, of course, but in connection with other things that I personally find more fascinating, like soap (which is made by using a strong base to turn a weak acid into a soluble salt that makes oil and water mix).
In that sense this book is more like the one collection of compounds every kid should have: a chemistry set. It’s a little of everything, put together not to be complete, but to be interesting. It will teach you something about how the world of chemistry works, and give you a sense of the scope of the subject.
I hope you enjoy reading this book as much as I enjoyed writing it.
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