new books - ACS Publications


new books - ACS Publicationspubs.acs.org/doi/pdf/10.1021/j150202a004The invention of smokeless powder in 1887 marked the...

0 downloads 70 Views 272KB Size

NEW BOOKS

+

Creative Chemistry. B y E . E. Slosson. 20 X 14 cm; p p . x 311. New York: The Century Co., IgIg.--In the introduction Stieglitz says that the chemists saved Germany from an early disastrous defeat, both in the field of military operations and in the matter of economic supplies. Without the tremendous expansion of her plants for the production of nitrates and ammonia from the air by the processes of Haber, Ostwald, and others, the war would have ended in 1915 or early in 1916 from exhaustion of Germany’s supplies of nitrate explosives, if not indeed from exhaustion of her food supplies as a consequence of the lack of nitrate and ammonia fertilizers for her fields. It is the object of the author to bring before the public the importance of chemistry, to tell some of the great results of modern chemical activity, and to call attention to some of the large problems which must continue to engage the attention of our chemists. It is not easy to do this without presupposing a technical knowledge which the general public does not have. Mr. Slosson calls his separate chapters : three periods of progress; nitrogen; feeding the soil; coal-tar colors; synthetic perfumes and flavors; cellulose; synthetic plastics; the race for rubber; the rival sugars; what comes from corn; solidified sunshine; fighting with fumes; products of the electric furnace; metals, old and new. He considers that there are three stages distinguishable in the conquest of nature; the appropriative period in which the savage discovers things; the adaptive period in which the barbarian improves on them; and the creative period in which civilized man invents things. The chapter on nitrogen begins with the words: “In the eyes of the chemist the Great War was essentially a series of explosive reactions resulting in the liberation of nitrogen. Nothing like it has been seen in any previous wars. The first battles were fought with cellulose, mostly in the form of clubs. The next were fought with silica, mostly in the form of flint arrow-heads and spear-points. Then came the metals, bronze to begin with and later iron. The nitrogenous era in warfare began when Friar Roger Bacon or Friar Schwartz -whichever it was-ground together in his mortar, saltpeter, charcoal and sulphur.” The invention of smokeless powder in 1887 marked the beginning of the nitrocellulose period. In all powders, smokeless or not, nitrogen is the essential element. Nitrogen is essential both in war and in agriculture. “The Great War not only starved people; it starved the land. Enough nitrogen was thrown away in some indecisive battle on the Aisne to save India from a famine. The population of Europe as a whole has not been lessened by the war; but the soil has been robbed of its power to support the population. A plant requires certain chemical elements for its growth and all of these must be within reach of its rootlets for it will accept no substitutes. A wheat stalk in France before the war had placed a t its feet nitrates from Chile, phosphates from Florida and potash from Germany. All these were shut off by the firing line and the shortage of shipping.” In the chapter on coal-tar colors we read that “the tar, which for a hundred years was thrown away and nearly half of which is ye. thrown away

33 0

New Books

in the United States, turns out to be one of the most useful things in the world. It is one of the strategic points in war and commerce. I t wounds and heals. It supplies munitions and medicines. It is like the magic purse of Fortunatus from which anything wished for could be drawn. The chemist puts his hand into the black mass and draws out all the colors of the rainbow. This evilsmelling substance beats the rose in the production of perfume and surpasses the honeycomb in sweetness.” Among the important synthetic perfumes made from coal tar are geraniol, citral, violet, musk, orange blossom?, heliotrope, and jasmine, while most of the vanillin and oil of wintergreen on the market are synthetic products and a great deal of camphor is made from turpentine. Under cellulose we have paper, cotton, collodion, artificial silk and artificial leather. When camphor is added to a nitrated cotton we get celluloid of which the author says, p. 132: “It is hard but light, tough but elastic; easily made and tolerably cheap. Heated to the boiling point of water it becomes soft and flexible. It can be turned, carved, ground, polished, bent, pressed, stamped, molded or blown. To make a block of any desired size simply pile up the sheets and put them in a hot press. To get sheets of any desired thickness, simply shave them off the block. To make a tube of any desired size, shape or thickness, squirt out the mixture through a ring-shaped hole or roll the sheets around a hot bar, cut the tube into sections and you have rings to be shaped and stamped into box bodies and napkin rings. Print words or pictures on a celluloid sheet, put a thin transparent sheet over it and weld them together, then you have something like the horn book of our ancestors, but better.” “The problem of synthetic rubber ha? been solved scientifically but not industrially. It can be made but can not be mide to pay. The difficulty is to find a cheap enough material to start with. We can make rubber out of potatoes -but potatoes have other uses. It would require more land and more valuable land to raise the potatoes than to raise the rubber. We can get isoprene by the distillation of turpentine-but why not bleed a rubber tree as well as a pine tree? Turpentine is neither cheap nor abundant enough. Any kind of wood, sawdust for instance, can be utilized by converting the cellulose over into sugar and fermenting this to alcohol; but the process is not likely to prove profitable.” In the first paragraph of the chapter on beet and cane sugar, p. 164, we read that “among the marvels that the Greeks heard from the Far East two of the strangest were that in India there were plants that bore wool without sheep and reeds that bore honey without bees. These incredible tales turned out to be true and in the course of time Europe began to get a little calico from Calicut and a kind of edible gravel that the Arabs who brought it called ‘sukkar.’ But of course only kings and queens could afford to dress in calico and have sugar prescribed for them when they were sick.” In the chapter on corn we learn some more facts. “The discovery of America dowered mankind wit! a world of new flora. The early explorers in their haste to gather up gold paid little attention‘ t o the more valuable products of field and forest, but in the course of centuries their usefulness has become universally recognized. The potato and tomato, which Europe a t first considered as unfit for food or even as poisonous, have now became indispensable among all classes. New World drugs like quinine and cocaine have been adopted into every pharmacopeia. Cocoa is proving arival of tea and coffee, and even the banana has made its appearance in European

New Books

331

markets. Tobacco and chicle occupy the nostrils and jaws of a large part of the human race. Maize and rubber are becoming the common property of mankind, but still may be called American. The United States alone raises four-fifths of the corn and uses three-fourths of the caoutchouc of the world.” These extracts will show that there is a great deal of value and interest in the book. One is continually coming across unsuspected information as, for instance, that the red rubber sponge- and eraser tips for pencils may be made from a gum extracted from the corn germ. There are relatively few mistakes, though one doubts the estimate of 14-20 cents per gallon for alcohol made from sawdust, p. 1 9 1 , and Baekeland was born in Luxemburg instead of in Belgium. Owing to the desire to be interesting the author has forced the humorous note too much. In spite of occasional defects the book is an extremely valuable one and the chemists of the country are indebted to Mr. Slosson for the time, energy Wilder D. Bancroft and brains which he has put into this volume. Chemistry from the Industrial Standpoint. B y P. C. L. Thorne. 19 X 13 cm; p p . xvi 244. London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1919. Price: 416.In the introduction Mr. Briscoe says: “I am continually astonished to find the real control of large industries in the hands of men who have not the haziest idea as t o the basic principles upon which their industry depends. All this, of course, is not the fault but the misfortune of the business man, who is practically always in the position of having to learn in the hard school of experience, a t a n undue cost, many things essential t o success which should have been inculcated in his youth. In other words, the radical defect is in our system of educationand despite the efforts of the last few decades, the present system of education is still defective in the same general manner, if not quite to the same extent, as that which produced this deplorable result. The fault lies partly a t the door of the teacher himself; he has too often taught his subject on the basis that it is of interest for its own sake. This may do well for the hundredth pupil, who has a natural or acquired liking for that particular subject, but it leaves the ninety-nine stone-cold. Their interest can only be awakened when they are brought to realize that the subject has an intimate relation t o their daily life and that its study will help them to live in one or other sense of the word. “A praiseworthy prejudiceagainst purely utilitarian education causes many teachers to handle their subjects in an atmosphere of entire detachment from their practical applications. Chemistry in particular has suffered in this way and the book Mr. Thorne has now written is the first of its kind. It is a departure from standard practice which is, I believe, of the first importance.” The subject is presented under five headings: solids, liquids, and gases; chemical change; elements and compounds; the rate of chemical change; use of electricity in chemical changes. Under the first head the author discusses, among other things, the extraction of sulphur by smelting, the extraction of salt by solution and crystallization; filters, hydro-extractors, etc. ; fractional distillation; removal of dust and fog from gases, and sublimation. Under chemical change the author takes up the slaking of lime; the preparation of ammonium sulphate and of zinc oxide, the burning of fuels, the Goldschmidt method of preparing metals; general methods of smelting ores; the replacement of metals in

+



332

New Rooks

solution; the production of water gas; the chlorination of benzene, and the manufacture of nitric acid and of sodium carbonate. Under the rate of chemical change we find the contact sulphuric acid process, the Deacon process, and the hydrogenation of oils. In the last section, on the use of electricity in chemical changes, there are such interesting subdivisions as: carbon bisulphide, calcium carbide, fixation of atmospheric nitrogen; refining of copper, electroplating, caustic soda and chlorine. The hook is really a very interesting one. It should be in the chemical libraries and should he read by the chemical students. Just where it fits in with the regular class-room work is hard t o say. I t covers too much ground for the man specializing in chemistry and it is scarcely popular enough for the lay reader. It can be recommended as collateral reading for the student beginning chemistry and it might well be recommended to people who wish to read a book which will Wilder D. Bancroft give them Some idea of chemistry and its applications. Solubilities of Inorganic and Organic Compounds. B y Atherton Seidell. Second revised edition, 24 X 16 c m ; p p . x x i i 843. N e w York: D. V a n Nostrand Company, 1919. Price: $7.5o.--The second edition is an imposing volume and the author has recognized fully the importance of the phase with reference to

+

which the solution is saturated. Even with the present size of the volume it is impossible t o include everything which might be considered as solubilities. The author has therefore made no attempt to gather either figures or references for the following: (a) Melting-point data for mixtures of metals (alloys). (a) Melting-point data for mixtures of minerals, except a few of relatively simple composition. ( c ) Freezing-points of very dilute solutions made for the determination of molecular weights of electrolytic dissociation. ( d ) Data for the solubility of gases in molten metals. ( e ) The so-cqed solubility of metals in various solvents, due to a chemical reaction which occnrs. > (f) Data for solid solutions. (g) Data for compounds of unknown or variable composition. On the other hand, many data have been included for ternary mistures which form two liquid layers. One interesting case is that of morphine in ether and water. Although morphine is less soluble in ether than in water, it is nearly sixty percent more soluble in water saturated with ether than in pure water. The new edition is very much more valuable than the first one and is a book of which the author may well be proud. Wilder D . Bancroft