Sciencemadness Discussion Board


len2 - 17-2-2011 at 14:34

A number of people have been asking me about a book I said I have been writing. This has now been released and here is a URL to the publishers web site - although if you search the title on the web, there are many booksellers substantially undercutting the publishers price. This book is aimed at professionals and there are many equations, however there are also plenty of new experiments.

Lest some should now accuse me of being money motivated, rest assured that I receive only a few dollars from each book which is hardly likely to cover my time - over 90% goes to the publisher. This is a professional, not a monetary endeavour.

Sedit - 17-2-2011 at 14:38

I don't care if your motivated by money or not Len since im sure it was a challenge and I see no reason you shouldn't be rewarded for hard work. Congrates on the book. How long did it take to write and you don't happen to have a Science madness exclusive sample of a chapter or anything do you?

Lambda-Eyde - 17-2-2011 at 14:44

Congratulations! Most impressive!

I must say though, ~140 USD for 240 pages is a little steep for a student like me. However, reading the table of contents it looks like it's well worth it!

What level of chemistry/mathematics is required to understand the math involved here?

madcedar - 18-2-2011 at 05:27

Can you please upload a sample of one of the chapters of the book, like how Amazon "Look Inside" allows a sample to be shown. After looking at the contents page and your previous posts on this site I'm really excited to buy the book. Aussie Aussie Aussie Oi Oi Oi (that's an Australian chant for those of you who don't know :D).

Saerynide - 18-2-2011 at 07:05

Congrats! Sounds very interesting (and very expensive). I'd love to have a copy though :D

mr.crow - 18-2-2011 at 12:46

Me Gusta!

From Amazon, the table of contents:

Safety in the Laboratory
Lithium Hydride and Sodium Hydride
Aluminum Bromide
Lithium Aluminum Hydride
Triethylaluminum and Diethylaluminum Bromide
Hydrazine Sulfate and Alcoholic Hydrazine Hydrate
Sodium and Potassium Azide
Potassium t-Butoxide and Potassium Hydride
Carbon Disulfide
Carbon Tetrachloride
Bis-Trichloromethyl Carbonate (Triphosgene)
Phosphorus Pentachloride
Phosphorus Oxychloride
Sulfur Trioxide and Oleum
Thionyl Chloride and Chlorosulfonic Acid
Appendix A: Assay of Reagents

quicksilver - 18-2-2011 at 13:50

Ideally, if you could find even one or two professors who would use the text with a given undergrad class you would certainly have gained some fantastic "resume' gold" from that. Most everyone who sees it would love to see what a chapter looks like and that in itself a damn fine compliment.

Rosco Bodine - 18-2-2011 at 16:32

Shouldn't that be 13.99 .....

I was thinking there might be a misplaced decimal ;)

entropy51 - 18-2-2011 at 16:46

Quote: Originally posted by len1  
As for the patent Im afraid the patent world is full of bullshit - but thats nothing new if one regularly visits the world of practical chemistry.
$140 does seem a bit steep for a critique of patents, that for whatever reason, work in the Northern hemisphere but not in Australia.

I was disappointed that the new synthesis of potassium metal in a flask was not included, since the patent was obviously bull.

Rosco Bodine - 18-2-2011 at 17:09

Instead of len1 or len2 you should seriously consider Dr. Meteor Shower :D

The two chapters on hydrazine and azides should receive some scrutiny
here. Any chance of a sample chapter preview .....if we ask nicely .....
okay pleeeze & TIA .

Ozone - 18-2-2011 at 17:18

Congratulations! Putting a book together (nevermind negotiating the publishing process) is one hell of an endeavor.

$140, while expensive, is in-line with most CRC books of this size. Limited press = high per-unit-cost. Think of it this way--small run = higher cost = job security ;).

Kick ass, sir,


[Edited on 19-2-2011 by Ozone]

len2 - 18-2-2011 at 17:32

Thanks for your nice words to sedit and others who contributed positively. Unfortunately, contracturally the text does not belong to me anymore, but to the publisher, until the book goes out of print. Maybe he will choose to post it on google books himself.

I realize the price might be a bit steep for people here, but again I did not set that. I think the publishers price is aimed at institutions, individuals should really purchase books through resellers, and their prices are more reasonable - as I said there are dozens of resellers you can find by searching for the title on the web. Another way for people who want to see the book might be to borrow it at the university library.

Solutions to differential equations used to calculate reaction rates, yields etc is as difficult as the maths in the book gets. You should not have problems with that if you studied university calculus. If not, you wont get full worth out of the reaction modelling, however you should still be able to follow the experimental sections and the discussion.

[Edited on 19-2-2011 by len2]

entropy51 - 18-2-2011 at 17:41

Quote: Originally posted by len2  
Another way for people who want to see the book might be to borrow it at the university library.
Or just consult Brauer or Inorganic Synthesis.

[Edited on 19-2-2011 by entropy51]

gsd - 19-2-2011 at 07:03

Quote: Originally posted by entropy51  
Quote: Originally posted by len2  
Another way for people who want to see the book might be to borrow it at the university library.
Or just consult Brauer or Inorganic Synthesis.

[Edited on 19-2-2011 by entropy51]


You seem to have forgotten that the book also deals with reaction modeling of the chemicals. In case you are (or anybody else is) interested, you can just consult Octave Levenspiel , or Joe Mauk Smith .

Also why link only the 1st volume of Inorganic Syntheses? If you UTfantasticSE, on this very forum you will find links to all the remaining 33 volumes of IS.

The truth is you have not cared to UTfantasticSE to search for Len's posts on synthesis of chemicals in this forum. eg:

Sodium metal - Illustrated Practical Guide

Diethyl Ether - Illustrated Practical Guide

Benzyl and Benzal chloride, Benzaldehyde and Benzoic Acid - Illustrated Practical Guide

Benzotrichloride, Benzoyl Chloride, and Phthalyl Chloride - Illustrated Practical Guide

Sulphur Trioxide and Oleum Using a Box Oven - Illustarted Practical Guide

Sulphur Monochloride, Dichloride, and Thionyl Chloride - Illustrated Practical Guide

And in collaboration with garage chemist:
Carbon Disulfide from sulfur and charcoal

Before making such a laughable suggestion of substituting his book by standard text books, I request you read through these posts, and see the kind of detailing he has performed on each of these experiments and then judge for yourself which existing text book has this kind of approach.


entropy51 - 19-2-2011 at 07:21

Quote: Originally posted by gsd  
...I request you read through these posts...
No No. I read all of len's posts! You left out my favorite, the one in which he proved that the patent for making potassium metal was bogus:
Quote: Originally posted by len1  
My conclusion is that the patent is bogus, and its author a lier. It is indeed a pity that in professional publications one can not use that term. Stark language might stop such people. Untruths can cost people time and money. I have little time for that sort of thing.
While lacking len's colorful slander, I prefer to consult the more authoritative texts by Brauer and others.

[Edited on 19-2-2011 by entropy51]

len2 - 19-2-2011 at 21:20

I think Brauer and Inroganic Synthesis are very good books, I consult them often and encourage others to do so. But I doubt my work would have been accepted for publication if my syntheses were already published in them.

The alkali metals patent is a salient point. Recall that it mentions magnesium turnings and vigorous stirring - which if you repeated literally, would give you nothing - like I got the first time. There is further no statement of reaction mechanism, which one would expect for what is a very unusual reaction. Then there were, from memory, some very strange measurements of H2 evolution correct to 3 significant figures and suggesting 100% yield. This all made me originally believe the patent is bogus - and in most cases that would have been right.

Due to the problems in the original synthesis I have included a paragraph on it in the book, correcting the deficiencies, and obviously referencing the patent. This might help them get some recognition.

[Edited on 20-2-2011 by len2]

Fleaker - 20-2-2011 at 09:30

Damn Len. Now I feel bad about what I did last year... I'm really impressed, as always, you're more walk than talk. Impressive credentials too! I think we have a few other Cambridge fellows here too!

Way to go! I must get a copy, both the content and the sheer novelty of saying I know the author.

I wish I were in the position to conduct some of these experiments. I'm keen on reading your caesium chapter; I'm presuming you did the calcium turnings/CsCl method as detailed in Brauer? I've had a crack at that as well.

len1 - 21-2-2011 at 03:55

Thanks for your kind words Fleaker.

Yes I use CsCl and Ca in the prep, but there was some difficulty getting good results the way Hackspill did it. I changed around the apparatus so that the reaction tube is reusable and does not shatter each run as he described. Also an analysis of the thermodynamics showed the reaction can proceed at lower temp and higher pressures (a refr pump will do). Adding a flux lowered the temperature.

I also found that the cesium purifies during the reaction and you get a nice multi-colored mirror of the other alkali metals (if their salts are present) on the tube walls. The Cs was 99% by IC.

Fleaker - 21-2-2011 at 13:03

I have a surfeit of CsCl and a tidy bit of RbCl courtesy of another member here. The only thing I never got around to ordering more of was Ca turnings. I think it's about 250 USD/kg for 98% or so, but that was about 3 years ago. I can't remember if I used turnings or granules, and I don't have my lab notebook handy.

I did the experiment on the 1 mmol scale. I heated the salt in a vacuum oven for several hours at 200*C and 20 mm Hg spread in a Pyrex sheet. I conducted mine in stainless steel 316 with a SS 316 24/40 joint that had been welded to the Swagelok 1" diam. tubing. I vacuum tested it all under heat before running and it held up. I think stainless is the material to do it in rather than Pyrex.

I did not notice the massive outflow of gas that is claimed in Brauer, but I was using a very efficient and very large rotary vane.

Bolt - 22-3-2011 at 23:29

I've got a copy in my hands (through the university), and lets just say that this is just my kind of book. :) Great work! Thanks very much.