Chemical Engineering

The Chemical Century
Molecular Manipulation and Its Impact on the 20th Century

Richard J. Sundberg, PhD

The Chemical Century

Published. Available now.
Pub Date: April 2017
Hardback Price: $149.95 US
Hard ISBN: 9781771883665
E-Book ISBN: 9781771883672
Pages: 770 pp w/ index
Binding Type: hardback
Notes: 9 color and 108 b/w illustrations

“Professor Richard Sundberg, who is well known as an author of both a widely used advanced organic chemistry text and two indole chemistry monographs, has now published The Chemical Century for the educated general public. With minimal chemical jargon and few organic chemical structures, Sundberg has woven a fascinating story of chemistry over the past 150 years. From early chemical dyes and explosives, to the structures of DNA and proteins, and to today’s medicines and pesticides, Sundberg covers an array of ubiquitous chemical topics that are regularly featured in news media and on the Internet. Importantly, his book goes far in dissipating ‘chemophobia’—the irrational fear of chemicals that has plagued the general public for decades.The Chemical Century should be on the reading list of anyone interested in learning about chemicals, both good and evil.”
—Dr. Gordon W. Gribble, The Dartmouth Professor of Chemistry, Hanover, New Hampshire

“Professor Sundberg is well known as an educator and as co-author of the two-volume, multi-edition Advanced Organic Chemistry, a mainstay in chemistry graduate education for 40 years. He now has turned his pedagogical talents to the history of mankind from the 1800s until today through the lens of the contributions of chemistry. Readers need little chemical knowledge in order to inhale a sense of chemical research, product development, and commercialization in the 20th century. Sundberg nimbly weaves the themes of power (such as in the form of explosives and fuels), the manufacture of everyday things, food, drug discovery, biotechnology, and molecular biology into a story that we, our parents, and our grandparents have experienced firsthand—mankind’s advances during the past 100 years.”
—Jeffrey I. Seeman, Department of Chemistry, University of Richmond, Virginia

“This masterful book relates the impact of chemical discovery and invention on the broad scope of twentieth-century history: upheaval in war, government and society; human and ecological health; industry and commerce; the rise and fall of nations and the quality of everyday human life. Chemical structures and equations provide depth for chemists and serve as illustrations for the more casual reader. The book’s organization and the table of contents make it easy to select particular topics of interest. The Chemical Century is a unique and valuable work: both a clearly written history of the science and a history of the century from a chemical point of view. Derived from classroom lectures at the University of Virginia, this book illustrates Dr. Sundberg’s love of teaching and his never-ending search for causation. Discovery leads to invention. Invention enables discovery as we progressed through the Chemical Century.”

— Peter Bukowick, Chief Operating Officer (retired), Alliant Techsystems

This fascinating new volume provides a comprehensive yet concise overview of the chemical aspects of some of the major innovations and changes that occurred during the 20th century, relating chemical structures and properties to real-life applications.

Developed for a course taught by the author for several years at UVA, the author covers the important and consequential developments in chemistry and explains their everyday, real-life applications. These include such topics as consumer products, fossil fuel use, polymers, agriculture, food production, nutrition, weapons, and drugs. The section Molecular Biology and Its Applications includes examples of the application of biotechnology and genetic engineering. The book answers such questions as

  • What does “octane number” mean?
  • What is “Spandex”?
  • What are all the ingredients in my frozen pizza and why are they there?
  • What is in my favorite headache remedy and how does it work?
  • How can medications affect mental outlook and function?
  • How are genetically modified organisms obtained and how are they used?
Broad in scope, The Chemical Century provides understandable examples of discoveries and their applications along with brief anecdotal information on some to the major contributors and the circumstances under which the discoveries were made. Interspersed in most of the chapters are brief summaries of particular circumstances or consequences illustrating the type of substances being discussed. These sections include a variety of biographical, historical, or political/economic background pertaining to the particular subject.

The major economic, environmental, and regulatory aspects are touched upon as well. For example, the book considers hydrocarbon fuels and their role in global warming; the issue of residues in foods; and multi-drug resistance and antibiotics.

There is little detailed chemistry in the book, but the material is clear in describing chemical structures and in relating those structures to the properties of the materials. The book includes numerous figures and tables to illustrate and convey sometimes complicated information. Many chemical structures, including about 50 schemes with multiple structures, are clearly and simply presented as well.

  • Relates chemical principles to everyday applications, such as in consumer products, fossil fuel use, polymers, agriculture, food production, nutrition, construction, weapons, and drugs
  • Provides specific examples of how discovery and innovation has occurred, along with sections describing biographical, historical, or political/economic background pertaining to the particular subject.
  • Puts the chemical material in a broader context, such as by relating fuel use to global warming, food production to obesity, drug availability to economic and regulatory factors, etc.
  • Covers many topics that have received little attention to date
The Chemical Century: Molecular Manipulation and Its Impact on the 20th Century is sure to capture the interest of those with even a passing interest in how chemistry has changed the world in the last 100 years. This volume is suitable for a history of chemistry course or a “capstone” course focused on the applications of chemistry, and chemistry faculty and professionals will also appreciate the historical material, both heroic and regrettable, of the chemical discoveries of the 20th century.

1. Explosives and Propellants: Power to Breach Mountains, Wage War, and Visit the Moon
1.1 Structures of Explosives and Propellants
1.2 Production of Explosives and Propellants
1.3 Military Applications of Explosives and Propellants
1.4 Rocket Engines for Space Exploration
1.5 Other Uses of Explosives and Propellants
1.6 Explosives and Terrorism
2. Hydrocarbons as Fuels and Petrochemicals: Shaping the Past; Dominating the Present; Complicating the Future
2.1 Petroleum Refining and Processing
2.2 Alternative Sources of Liquid Fuels
2.3 Petrochemicals
2.4 Environmental Consequences of Hydrocarbon Fuel Usage
2.5 Economical, Political, and Ethical Aspects of Fossil Fuel Usage

3. The Chemical Industry: An Overview
3.1 Prior to WWI
3.2 From WWI to WWII
3.3 WWII to 1975
3.4 1975–2000
3.5 The International Chemical Industry at the End of the Century
3.6 Origins of the Pharmaceutical Industry
4. Halogenated Hydrocarbons: Persistence, Toxicity, and Problems
4.1 Volatile Chlorinated Solvents and Intermediates
4.2 DDT and Other Persistent Halogenated Compounds
4.3 Chlorofluorocarbons and Related Compounds
5. Polymers: Making New Materials
5.1 The Nature of Polymers
5.2 Chemically Modified Natural Polymers
5.3 Synthetic Polymers
5.4 Fabrication of Polymers
5.5 Flammability of Fibers, Films and Plastics
5.6 Recycling of Polymers
6. Household and Personal Care Products: Cleaning Up and Looking Good
6.1 Surfactant Types
6.2 Household Cleaning Products
6.3 Personal Care Products
6.4 Skin Care
6.5 Cosmetics
6.6 Advertising of Household and Personal Care Products
6.7 Environmental Effects and Regulation
7. Silicones: From Contact Lenses to Pavement Sealants
7.1 Preparation and Properties of Silicones
7.2 Applications of Silicones
7.3 Biomedical Applications of Silicones
7.4 Environmental Issues

8. Chemistry and Agriculture: Helping Feed the World
8.1 Fertilizers
8.2 Herbicides
8.3 Insecticides
8.4 Environmental and Ecological Effects of Food Production
9. Chemistry, Food and the Modern Diet: What’s in Food Besides Food?
9.1 Some Common Food Ingredients
9.2 Sugars and Low-Caloric Sweeteners
9.3 Fats and Oils
9.4 Coffee Decaffeination
9.5 Chemical Basis of Fruit Ripening
9.6 Economics and Politics of Food Processing
9.7 Examples of Processed Foods
9.8 Metabolic Syndrome, Cardiovascular Disease and Type 2 Diabetes
10. Vitamins and Nutrition
10.1 Vitamin Deficiency Diseases and the Discovery of the Vitamins
10.2 the Use and Value of Vitamin Supplements
10.3 Dietary Supplements
10.4 Nutritional Consequences of Food Production and Processing

11. Drug Discovery, Development, and Distribution
11.1 the Origins of Chemotherapy
11.2 Beginnings of the Modern Pharmaceutical Industry
11.3 Drug Discovery and Development
11.4 Regulation, Research, Politics and Public Relations
11.5 the Pharmaceutical Industry
12. Antibiotics: The Battle with the Microbes
12.1 -Lactams
12.2 Aminoglycosides and Other Anti-Tuberculosis Drugs
12.3 Other Classes of Antibiotics
12.4 Issues for the Future of Antibiotics
13. Analgesic, Anti-Inflammatory, Anti-Pyretic, and Anesthetic Drugs: Dealing with Pain, Inflammation, and Fever
13.1 Aspirin
13.2 Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDS)
13.3 Selective Cyclooxygenase-2 Inhibitors (Coxibs)
13.4 Acetanilides, Including Phenacetin and Acetaminophen
13.5 Other Analgesic and Ant-Pyretic Drugs
13.6 Morphine and Related Opiates
13.7 Cocaine and Related Structures
13.8 General Anesthetics
14. Antihypertensive Drugs: Controlling Blood Pressure
14.2 the Renin-Angiotensin-Aldosterone System
14.2 Drugs for Treatment of Hypertension
15. Steroids: Arthritis, Fertility, Heart Attacks, and Home Run Records
15.1 Structure of Steroids
15.2 Corticosteroids and Arthritis
15.3 Steroids in Fertility Control
15.4 Cardiovascular Effects of Steroids
15.5 Steroid Analogs in Cancer Treatment
15.6 Steroid Abuse in Sports
15.7 Endocrine Disruptors; Inadvertent Fertility Modification?
Section 16. Diabetes and Anti-Diabetic Therapy: Control of Glucose
16.1the Discovery and Clinical Introduction of Insulin
16.2 Production and Administration of Insulin
16.3 Diagnosis and Characteristics of Diabetes
16.4 Drugs Used In Treatment of Type-2 Diabetes
17. Drugs For Treatment of Neurological and Psychological Conditions
17.1 Early History of Psychoactive Drugs
17.2 Hypnotics
17.3 Anti-Epilepsy Drugs
17.4 Anti-Psychotic Drugs (Neuroleptics)
17.5 Anti-Anxiety Drugs
17.6 Anti-Depressants
17.7 Use and Abuse of Amphetamine and Its Derivatives
17.8 Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia
17.9 Social Consequences and Controversies in Treatment of Neurological and Psychological Conditions
Section 18. Anti-Malarial and Other Anti-Parasitic Drugs
18.1 Malaria: Etiology, Pathology, Prevention and Treatment
18.2 Trypanosomiasis
18.3 Leishmaniasis
18.4 Schistosomiasis
18.5 Lymphatic Filariasis
18.6 Other Helminthic Infections
18.7 Onchocerciasis
19. Response to the AIDS Pandemic
19.1 Drugs for Treatment of AIDS
19.2 Economic Aspects of AIDS Treatment

20. DNA Structure, Sequencing, Synthesis, and Modification: Making Biology Molecular
20.1 Structure of DNA and the Genetic Code
20.2 DNA Sequencing
20.3 Synthesis of DNA
20.4 Manipulation, Modification and Analysis of DNA
20.5 Sequencing the Human Genome
21. Applications of Biotechnology: Biology Doing Chemistry
21.1 Examples of Small Molecules Produced by Biotechnology
21.2 Biotechnology in Agriculture
21.3 Genetically Engineered Products for Medicine

About the Authors / Editors:
Richard J. Sundberg, PhD
Professor of Chemistry, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia, USA

Richard C. Sundberg, PhD, is a Professor of Chemistry at the University of Virginia and has been teaching for 50 years. He was a Fulbright Scholar (France) in 1978–79, and he was honored as a Distinguished Alumni by the University of Minnesota in 2001. He has published about 100 research papers and five monographs in the area of heterocyclic organic compounds and has directed 25 PhD theses. His past books include Advanced Organic Chemistry (all editions) (co-authored with Francis A. Carey), Springer; Indoles, Best Synthetic Methods, Academic Press, 1996; and The Chemistry of Indoles, Academic Press, 1970.

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