The story of how man has discovered the composition of natural products, imitated them, and in some cases improved upon them, and an explanation of the nature of such substances as vitamins, hormones, penicillin, cocaine, nylon, and silicones.
From the blurb;
"LOTS of people wonder "what`s that new stuff?" when they handle fibres, detergents, or other synthetics. Their interest in chemistry is apt to be stifled if the reply is "sodium dichlorophenoxyacetate" and not sufficiently satisfied if they are airily told that it is made from coal, chalk and salt. The author hopes to make both these answers intelligible and satisfying, and provide enlightenment on a subject about which many people feel intelligent curiosity.
If anyone, previously ignorant of chemistry, feels inclined after reading this book, to read more about it in the Penguin periodical, Science News, and succeeds in understanding such articles, the author will have accomplished both his chief ends; first is to show the fascination and importance of chemistry, and the second is to make it intelligible.
After an account of the most important of the chemical elements, such as oxygen, hydrogen, and carbon, chemical formulae and equations are explained in enough detail for the rest of the book to be understood. The way in which atoms are arranged in the molecules of a compound is shown to determine its properties ; for example, fibres are all made of long molecules.
The various compounds are classified according to the ways in which they are useful to man; fuels and foods, clothes, fibres, and plastics, anaesthetics, drugs, explosives, and the heavy chemicals, such as ammonia and sulphuric acid, which are used on a large scale in industry.
Among the many substances whose nature is explained are vitamins, sex, hormones, pencillin, cocaine, "Terylene", nylon, silicones, PVS, TNT, BHC and DDT."
Good pages with some edge-wear.