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Oxford University Press is a department of the University of Oxford. It furthers the University's objective of excellence in research, scholarship, and education by publishing worldwide.

Print Price: $19.95

152 pp.
129 mm x 196 mm


Publication date:
September 2013

Imprint: OUP UK

What is Chemistry?

Peter Atkins

Most people remember chemistry from their schooldays as a subject that was largely incomprehensible, fact-rich but understanding-poor, smelly, and so far removed from the real world of events and pleasures that there seemed little point, except for the most introverted, in coming to terms with its grubby concepts, spells, recipes, and rules.

Peter Atkins wants to change all that. In What is Chemistry? he encourages us to look at chemistry anew, through a chemist's eyes, to understand its central concepts and to see how it contributes not only towards our material comfort, but also to human culture. Atkins shows how chemistry provides the infrastructure of our world, through the chemical industry, the fuels of heating, power generation, and transport, as well as the fabrics of our clothing and furnishings.

By considering the remarkable achievements that chemistry has made, and examining its place between both physics and biology, Atkins presents a fascinating, clear, and rigorous exploration of the world of chemistry - its structure, core concepts, and exciting contributions to new cutting-edge technologies.

Readership : An ideal introduction for all popular science readers interested in chemistry, as well as potential students of chemistry, and those who are familar with Peter Atkins work.

1. Its origins, scope, and organization
2. Its principles: atoms and molecules
3. Its principles: energy and entropy
4. Its reactions
5. Its techniques
6. Its achievements
7. Its future

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Peter Atkins is Fellow of Lincoln College, University of Oxford. He is the author of almost 60 books, which include the world-renowned textbook Physical Chemistry (published in its ninth edition in November 2009). His other textbooks include Inorganic Chemistry: Chemical Principles and Molecular Quantum Mechanics. He has also written a number of books for a general readership, including Galileo's Finger: The Ten Great Ideas of Science, The Periodic Kingdom, Molecules, and The Laws of Thermodynamics: A Very Short Introduction. He has been a visiting professor in France, Israel, New Zealand, and China, and continues to lecture widely throughout the world.

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Special Features

  • A lively account celebrating the importance of chemistry.
  • Explains its basic structures, principles, and applications.
  • Considers the wide range of contributions chemistry has made to the modern world.
  • Demonstrates the vital place chemistry plays in cutting-edge developments, such as nanotechnology and smart materials.
  • An ideal introduction for anyone who would like to understand chemistry.
  • Written in a clear, concise style in non-technical language.