Written at a level accessible to nonspecialists, including high-school students, college students in introductory courses, and the general public, this encyclopedia's purpose is to assist users in acquiring knowledge and understanding of chemistry. The 509 alphabetically arranged, signed articles were written by subject specialists and range from concise definitions to multiple-page overviews. Broad areas covered include analytical chemistry applications, biochemistry, biographies, elements, energy, environmental chemistry, medicine, organic chemistry, physical chemistry, reactions, states of matter, and structure. Examples of specific article titles are Alchemy Artificial sweeteners Boron Clones Franklin, Rosalind Isomerism Mole concept Nanochemistry Rubber Spectroscopy and zwitterions. In addition to explaining scientific principles, this set relates chemistry to everyday life. For example, Silly Putty (a silicone-based material) is a "liquid solid," the color of hydrangeas is determined by soil acidity, and endorphins may allow marathoners' bodies to endure long races.
An 18-page glossary and 67-page subject index are included in each volume. Glossary definitions also appear in the margins next to the text. Although there are some cross-references in the articles, the index is more thorough. About 300 black-and-white illustrations and diagrams clarify the concepts under discussion. There are no color illustrations color would have been useful to elucidate concepts such as bonding and molecular structure. Bibliographic references and related Internet resources are listed at the end of many articles. A "For Your Reference" section at the beginning of each volume provides selected metric conversions, an alphabetic table of the elements common abbreviations, symbols and acronyms, and a periodic table of the elements.
The similar four-volume Macmillan Encyclopedia of Chemistry (1997), also edited by Lagowski, is aimed at a more academic audience and provides additional coverage of some topics. Although Chemistry: Foundations and Applications could be improved with the inclusion of some color illustrations, the very impressive scholarly contributors make this set worthy of consideration, particularly for high-school, large public, and undergraduate libraries. Nancy Cannon
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