Asimov On Chemistry by Isaac Asimov
The Book Asimov on Chemistry by Isaac Asimov is a collection of
seventeen essays that he wrote for The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction.
This book is one of ten that were published by Doubleday & Company, Inc. Not
all of the books centered on chemistry and like science. Most just covered
anything Isaac Asimov wondered about. These Essays date back quite aways with a
range from January 1959 to April 1966.
The Weighting Game
This i found to be the most boring in the whole book. It covers
chemical atomic weight and physical atomic weight. It also gives chemical
methods that determine the atomic weight. Slow burn
This is a description of how Isaac newton contributed to the field of
chemistry along with what civilizations thought of chemistry. Then he talks
about a pathologically shy, absentminded, stuffy, women-hating chemist. This
man did make some discoveries about inflammable gas and proved water to be an
The Element of Perfection
Asimov talks about astronomers in the mid 1800’s, and how they made the
spectroscope. Only then does he start to mention a element a french chemist
belived to be new or maybe just a heavier from of nitrogen. Inert gases and
there liquefaction points are then listed along when they when fisrt liquefied
by a chemist. Welcome, Stranger!
This talks about the rarest of stable enert gases, xenon. It also tells
why that in 1962 so many expirements were done involving this gas. Fisrt it
defines the word gas, and talks about different types in about four pages. Thens
he talks about how it is combined with flourine to form a poison.
Death in the Labratory
Here Asimov talks about how scientists have died due to poor lab
conditions and other matters. He also tells you a few way to poison youself in
a lab such as mixing xenon and flourine. He then goes off and explains how
flourine was used and discovered along with who died in this process. A few
other poisonous chemical compounds are also mentioned.
To Tell a Chemist
This is Isaac Asimov’s way of telling if someone is chemist or not. The
two questions are: (1) How do you pronounce UNIONIZED? and (2) what is a mole?
He feels that if you can say un-EYE-on-ized and talk for hours about molecular
weight to define mole, then you must be a chemist.
The Evens Have It
Concluded here is how isotopes are impractical and how to identify them.
He then descibes how an isotope is constructed. also he says an element with an
even atomic number is without stable or semi-stable elements, execpt nine
elements. Thus the Earth is of the even/even form having isotopes wtih an even
number of neutrons.
You, Too, Can Speak Gaelic
Here you are given basic instrucions on how to pronouce seventeen
sylable words. His example is para-dimethylaminobenzaldehyde (PA-ruh-dy-METH-
il-a-MEE-noh-ben-ZAL-duh-hide). He then tells the origin and evolution of the
different words for methyl and ethyl alcohol along with there atomic structure.
Asimov talks about catalysts and the origins. He tells how a catalyst
works and what causes it to. Also, he proves that a catalyst is in no way
magical after having a lecture about this from his editor. In the end catalyst
are made of enzymes that cause life.
This deals with how man is dumping phosphorus into the ocean due to
plumbing. this is mixing up the ocean and the sea floor causing phosphorus to
stay at the bottom of ocean instead of circulating. Also, sewage dumping is a
major pollutant for the ocean.
The Egg and Wee
Asimov talks about and contemplates how all life can be placed in a egg
which is so small. He ends by talking about the volume and number of atoms
certain viruses contain along with who died studying them.
Explanations of life are given here. Asimov talks about people theories
and definitions of life over past years. People tried to say what was living
and what was dead by definitions that were there own counter example. A lenghty
definition was presented at the end with no loopholes that were detectable.
Not as We Know It
Covered here are different posibile backgrounds for sustaining life.
Water is the background we live off. The closest he compared is ammonia due to
similarities in water they share. Asimov, a detailed science fiction author,
also metions such alterantives as vaporous, metal, energy, and mental beings.
These would live in space, energy, stars, hyperspace.
Recipe for a Planet
This was written when the united states and the former Soviet Union were
attempting to drill into the center of the Earth. This project, Mohole ,has
long since been abandoned. Ideas are presented about possible center of the
Earth such as iron or olivine (a magnesium iron silicate). The percentages by
wieght are given for the different substance that make up the Earth in these
people’s theories. At the end is a recipe to construct a planet as somewhat of
No More Ice Ages?
This deals with the fact that by having coal and oil buring power plants,
we are giving off too much carbon dioxide. That may cause another ice age or a
world wide tropic. It also deals with how nuclear waste from power plants is
being dispoed of.
The Noblemen of Science
Isaac Asimov decided to write this essay after he was called by a
reporting wanting to know who three frenchmen were that had just won the nobel
prize. Since he didn’t know he decided to make a list of all pepople who had won
the nobel preize in the fields of physics, chemistry, and medicine. He also
supplied the country in which each scientist recieved his or her undergradute
The Isaac Winners
There are people that Isaac Asimov feel are the best in the field of
science; so he made The Isaac Winners. This award is named after Isaac Newton
(besides who else could it be). Asimov has made a list of seventy – two people
he feels are the contedors. Then, after listing and giving a brief description
of the canidates, he gives you a list of how many people think in what language.
Most thought in English, while the least thought in Russian. Then he list his
top ten in alphabetical order giving there religion and nationality..