Stephen Ashworth reviews this succinct textbook
Essentials of physical chemistry
Boca Raton, US: CRC Press 2012 | Pp510 | £27.99 (HB) | ISBN 9781439840979
A glance through the index shows that this book is not an attempt to cover the whole of physical chemistry. Rather, it is a succinct treatment of thermodynamics, basic kinetics, quantum mechanics and a little computational chemistry. Some would argue, of course, that these are the essentials.
There is a brief introduction to some maths and physics at the beginning. The development of the text relies heavily on this introduction as the explanations are extremely mathematical. This works fine, up to a point. Unfortunately some pages are so clogged with equations that they are almost unreadable whereas others are laid out clearly with plenty of space.
Greyscale photos, graphs and other illustrations are used liberally throughout. However, the extreme variability in quality was disappointing. There are hand-drawn potential wells, pixelated photographs and other badly executed diagrams. This is in marked contrast to some high quality, well-reproduced diagrams. In addition to end of chapter problems, questions from mid-term papers are reproduced, but there do not appear to be solutions.
The book comes with a CD which contains a quantum chemistry program used towards the end of the book. Installation goes smoothly, but on Windows 7 the program only runs with administrator rights. There are plenty of data files supplied and options to play with, but like all such programs the output is somewhat opaque to the uninitiated, and will need a little effort to get the most out of.
For the rigour of the approach and the consistent use of units in equations I am willing to forgive many, but not all faults. For example, who thought of teaming up point group theory and electrospray mass spectrometry in one chapter? The variability of the production quality, the congested page layouts and questionable graph formatting all mean that I will be looking forward to a revised second edition.
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