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Better Looking, Better Living, Better Loving

ISBN: 978-3-527-31863-6
249 pages
July 2007
Better Looking, Better Living, Better Loving (3527318631) cover image
Welcome to a tour of some of the recent advances in chemistry, taking in the cosmetic factory, the pharmacy, the grooming salon, the diet clinic, the power plant, the domestic cleaning company, and the art gallery along the way. Award-winning popular science writer John Emsley is our guide as he addresses questions of grooming, health, food, and sex. The trip is for all those of us wanting to know more about the impact of chemical products on our everyday lives.
Each chapter begins with a fictional news item from the future speculating on the possible benefits that might develop from further approaches to research, and each chapter ends by addressing an issue of concern related to the topics discussed. These include whether homeopathic medicines really work, date rape drugs, how the toxic chemical acrylamide got into our food, and whether great artists were affected by the pigments they used.
With his informal style, linking well-founded chemicals knowledge to fun situations, the author presents the information in a way such that the layperson can easily understand the arguments, weighing up the risks and benefits for each product concerned.
Includes a glossary containing all the technical terms used for non-specialists.
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CHAPTER 1 -
Better Looking (I): Hair, eyes, teeth, nails
News item from the future: Toujour Jeune sales top 10 billion!
Crowning glory (hair dyes)
Thinning on top (hair restorers)
I can see clearly now (contact lenses)
A gleaming smile (tooth whiteners)
Nailed (nail extensions)
Issues: Are natural ingredients for cosmetics better than those made by the chemical industry?
CHAPTER 2 -
Better living (II): Medical advances
News item from the future: Ms World in $5M product-placement row!
Skin diseases (acne, eczema, and psoriasis)
An agile or fragile old age? (arthritis drugs)
Carbohydrates as cures (new drugs)
Anaesthetics (new gases)
Issue: Do homeopathic medicines really work?
CHAPTER 3 -
Better loving: the not-so-dirty weekend
News item from the future: Armpits advance thoughts of romance!
Smelly chemistry (body odours)
Wash all my cares away (shower gels)
Itīs the pits, man (antiperspirants and deodorants)
Something for the weekend, sir? (condoms)
We just got married away mum (the morning-after pill)
Issue: The abuse of chemistry for sex crime purposes: the date rape drugs.
CHAPTER 4 -
Better living (II): Improving our diet
News item from the future: Yet more land goes back to Nature
Carbohydrates (simple saccharides)
Manna from heaven (trehalose)
Low I2 means low IQ (iodized salt)
Functional foods (sitostanol ester)
Crap food? Feeding the fifty billion (prebiotics and probiotics)
Hot, hot, hot (chilli and cumin)
Issue: Does the chemical acrylamide in fried foods constitute a cancer risk?
CHAPTER 5 -
Better living (III): Minor metals for major advances
News item from the future: New village with zero energy bills
Solar panels provide photovoltaic (PV) power (silicon and cadmium)
Glass is green (silicon dioxide)
The magic of titanium (titanium metal)
The futureīs blue (gallium nitride)
Issue: Is the world running out of the rare metals we need to make solar panels?
CHAPTER 6 -
Better living (IV): Chemistry in the home
News item from the future: Laundry tablets go green all over
Wash all my troubles away (surfactants etc.)
Fabric softeners (cationic surfactants)
All washed up! (polyphosphate and zinc acetate)
Malodours and air fresheners (triethylene glycol)
Issue: Might we be the last generation effortlessly to enjoy clean clothes and crockery?
CHAPTER 7 -
The Better Looking (II): The art of the chemist
News item from the future: Stolen paintings hoard discovered
Colour (lakes and pigments)
Analysis (methods for analysing paintings)
Conservation and restoration (lead sulfide)
Frauds and fakes (drying oils)
Finding the forgeries (pigment analysis)
Issue: Were great artists affected by the pigments they used?
GLOSSARY
BIBLIOGRAPHY
INDEX
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Before starting his second career as technology writer, Dr. John Emsley used to teach students at the King's College in London, UK. Since then he was writing more than 500 contributions for journals, magazines, radio and TV. For his great achievements as journalist he received several awards, such as the Rhone-Poulenc-Prize in 1995 for "The Consumer's Good Chemical Guide", the original english version of "Parfüm, Portwein, PVC", and the GDCh Literaturpreis in 2003.
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"...it was approachable and lively without being flippant, and, most importantly, it was easily understandable. The anecdotes and examples of chemistry in action were enjoyable and occasionally amusing."
Chemistry World, August 2007
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