Readers might suspect that doing chemical thermodynamics at a glance is rather like tossing back a fine cognac in a gulp
Chemical thermodynamics at a glance
H Donald Brooke Jenkins
Oxford, UK: Blackwell Publishing 2008 | 195pp | ?19.99 (SB) ISBN 9781405139977
Reviewed by Peter Atkins
Readers might suspect that doing chemical thermodynamics at a glance is rather like tossing back a fine cognac in a gulp. But is this account truly ’at a glance’? The 195 large pages result in the reader needing to take in about 12m2 of material; a typical physical chemistry textbook covers the same material in about 240 pages covering about 13m2.
Although the book description claims that the topics are ’self-contained double page spreads’, some of these ’spreads’ actually spread for six pages. The average length of a ’double page spread’ is something over three pages.
Users of the book will need to take a number of features with a pinch of salt. Thus, the standard state used throughout is still the old fashioned 1 atm (there is a note at the end of the book that mentions 1 bar) and I was surprised to be told that the amount of substance n is a dimensionless quantity. In fact, there is a rather wayward use of units and symbols throughout. I noticed at least one equation (the van der Waals equation) that is wrong due to a typesetting error.
I find it just a little hard to envisage the target audience. Clearly, a lot of work has gone into the compilation of the material, but it will certainly confirm the typical student’s view that thermodynamics is nothing but equations, for the pages are dense with them, with little attempt made to impart physical understanding. Instructors who want a succinct summary of derivations might find it useful, but should be cautious.