Chambers, science and technology dictionary

Chambers, science and technology dictionary

Book reviews Chambers World Gazetteer. Edited by David Munro. Pp. 737. W. & R. Chambers Ltd and Cambridge University Press. 1988. f30.00. Chambers, Sc...

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Book reviews Chambers World Gazetteer. Edited by David Munro. Pp. 737. W. & R. Chambers Ltd and Cambridge University Press. 1988. f30.00. Chambers, Science and Technology Dictionary. Edited by Peter M. B. Walker. Pp. 1008. W. & R. Chambers Ltd and Cambridge University Press. 1988. f30.00.

The importance of authoritative reference works in virtually every sphere of human activity needs no emphasis and the reappearance of two old friends in new guise under the Chambers/Cambridge imprint is to be welcomed. As an international directory of places in the world, Chambers World Gazetteer has been a standard work since 1895. This fifth edition, the first since 1965, is however a notable advance on its predecessors in clarity, format, and comprehensiveness, and is a mine of information on such varied topics as population, climate, industry, history, economy, and religion. This improvement owes much to use of computerised databases drawn from all parts of the world. In all, there are over 20000 entries, including 1.50line maps, and these are followed by a 112.page world atlas in colour. The selection of entries for such a work poses many problems and the editor has necessarily had to set and observe certain criteria, though these have not been universally fixed. Thus using population size as a guide to the selection of towns a threshold of 200000 was applied to Japan but only 20000 for Hungary. Wisely, however, the Editor has not felt himself strictly bound by his own rules and many entries are included simply because a lot of readers will want to know about them. Such are, for example, Macha Picchu in Peru and Angkor in Cambodia; Chernobyl; and Phuket, the increasingly popular Thailand resort. An unexpected omission in this category is Peenemunde, the great German rocket research and development centre on the Baltic. This is an immensely useful book which is at once scholarly and entertaining, cram full of reliable factual information. The Science and Technology Dictionary (formerly Chambers’s Technical Dictionary) also appears in a new and crisper format, eliminating the patching up by way of supplements which was a tiresome feature of some earlier revisions. Like the Gazetteer, it is a mine of concisely presented factual information but perhaps rather more obviously an update of its predecessor. How far the choice of entries has been successful can really be judged only by long use. However, random sampling revealed few deficiencies. Some seeming absentees were found to be present after all. but subsumed within a different Endeavour, New Series, Volume 12, No. 3,1988. 016&9327/88 $3.00 + .oo. @ 1988. Pergamon Press pk. Printed in Great Britain.

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entry. Thus fluorochlorocarbons, aerosol constituents allegedly guilty of depleting the ozone layer, do not appear as such but turn up under Freons. There is some discernible unevenness of treatment. Thus chemical processeslisted include those of Leblanc, Haber, and Solvay but not the 0X0, Deacon, or Brin processes. In the nylon context adipic acid is listed but not caprolactam. However, these are points of detail. Overall, this is a work which will prove very useful to both the layman and the general scientist, but to few specialists. Trevor I. Williams Space: The next 25 years. By Thomas R. McDonough. Pp. 237. Wiley, Chichester. 1987. f 14.25.

The disastrous loss of the Shuttle spacecraft Challenger has been a shock to American pride and has severely checked the momentum of US space activity. This makes timely a survey of the international state of space endeavour from a CalTech engineer with experience of NASA’s JPL. McDonough has assembled many notable quotations, retrospective and prospective, illustrating the range of opinion and politics on space technology, its history, Russian and European beside US initiatives, Apollo and Shuttle, SDI, space stations, planetary and lunar exploration, asteroid rendezvous, space astronomy, and interstellar probes. These quotes are mostly worth reading, and their sources are given (in 65 references.) The folly of historical misjudgements is scattered among the flashes of vision and the merely trite. This material is loosely’ organised as displayed paragraphs inserted within, indeed interrupting, the author’s own more connected review of space progress, future projects, and resources. The style is popular, easily accessible to the layman, enthusiastic, not heavily critical. While some readers might prefer the prose of Carl Sagan, the book could be compelling reading for today’s students of space technology, useful for journalists under pressure (although there are no tabulated summaries), and informative to the doubting taxpayers.

poor mention. Do we find mention of Giotto’s results, our first and perhaps only one means of direct sampling of the universe at large from which our Solar System formed? Or credit to NASA’s Voyager missions which rewrote our encyclopaedia of the planets? Should such long-sightedness through telescopes cause myopia in viewing the Cosmos? The shallow depth inherent from the books breadth, could well be undetected during an impulse purchase, perhaps as a stocking filler. It will certainly appeal more to the layman than to an intending scientist. The index is limited, and yet perhaps no less than the book’s contents. Though published in 1987, its omissions suggest a tardy gestation. The postscript (relief!) is not dedicated to a little known and best forgotten wonder of Greek Mythology; more to the author, his personal view, and his career. We would certainly concur on his claims for the unique role played by space exploration. J. A. M. McDonnell Physics at Surfaces. By Andrew Zangwiil. Pp. 454. Cambridge University Press. 1988. Hardback f40.00 ($69.50); Paperback f 75.00 ($27.50).

Modern surface science was born of developments in ultra-high vacuum technology, electron spectroscopies, and high-speed digital computers of the late 1960sand early 1970s. With the rapid progress of the last 20 years, the subject is maturing through adolescence into a fully-fledged discipline. Applications of a variety of spectroscopies now allow controlled experiments on well-characterised surfaces of clean and adsorbate-coveted metals and semiconductors, and there have been comparable developments on the theoretical and computational front. Until now, there has been no easy bridge, linking the standard undergraduate solid-state texts such as Kittel or Ashcroft and Mermin to the specialist review articles associated with specific areas of surface science. Zangwill is to be congratulated on providing an introductory tour guide to the world of surface electronic structure. Graduate students embarking on research in the physics and chemical physics of solid surfaceswill find this book invaluable. It is not T. J. Patrick a text-book in the sense that one would not look here for the numerical value of some The Cosmos from Space. By David H. specific surface property (there are no tables Clark. Pp. 168. Adam Hilger, Bristol. of data). Instead, it provides an introduction 1987. f 14.95. to experimental and theoretical techniques Although somewhat irritatingly packaged in and the trends in the information which they chapters honouring the Greek Gods, this provide, at a level and breadth of knowledge book nevertheless traces a fairly credible line which any PhD examiner might hope to find through our view of the Universe. Techniques in an aspiring doctoral candidate. An easy described, though diverse in practice, might style and plentiful supply of figures make for a be said to be biased to the high energy very appealing volume, at a paperback price spectrum (X-rays ‘arguably the most spec- which even the most penurious research stutacular . discoveries from space’). His dent would not be ashamed to seek from a universe is the entire universe; the solar doting grandparent. D. W. Bullett system, its planets, and its exploration gets