The periodic table at a glance

The periodic table at a glance 

M A Beckett and A W G Platt    

Oxford, UK: Blackwell  2006 | 108pp | ?17.99 (SB) | ISBN 140513299X      

Reviewed by P G Nelson 

This is primarily ’a revision guide to assist undergraduate students in their study of degree level introductory inorganic chemistry (first and second year)’. The material is presented as 44 double-page spreads, 10 on basic principles, 19 on hydrogen and main-group elements, 12 on transition elements, and three on lanthanides and actinides. The text is in concise prose, with illustrations in monochrome. The coverage is similar to that of most modern texts, with more on theoretical and physical aspects than on descriptive chemistry, and more on molecules (eg boron hydrides) than non-molecular substances (such as metal carbides). There are however outlines of important industrial processes. There are also suggestions for further reading, but no problems. 

I do not know how useful the book will be to students. I have always advised undergraduates to make their own revision notes, on the grounds that this is a creative process, and aids the memory. The book could be used as a guide as to how to do this. 

A text of this kind needs to be accurate, comprehensive, and have a good index. There are some failings in these regards. For example, the index lacks references to many individual elements and some key ideas (eg electronegativity). The text mentions, but does not define, ’oxidation state’, ’standard [state]’, and ’hard and soft’; Cartesian plots of orbitals have touching contours; incorrect configurations are given for C, N, and O; compounds are said to be always stoichiometric; and the charges on the atoms of H2O given as  d+  and  d - (p48). These deficiencies could be remedied in a new edition. I was delighted to see the gases of the helium group referred to as ’inert’; ’noble’ is inept.