Chains of Opportunity… or something like it

I finally got around to finishing the book I started reading this past weekend entitled Chains of Opportunity.

Everyone has a favorite something or other… myself included. In case you didn’t know, my favorite chemist is Wallace Carothers. I guess there was a point a couple of years back when I had this huge thing for Linus Pauling, but after reading about the polymer industry and it’s effects on WW2, Carothers is now the cool chemist on my mind. This particular book as you may guess from the title, gives an overview of the founding and progression of polymer chemistry.

The author in the book makes this interesting note:
“The ability to develop, shape, and use substances has been one of the measures of a civilization’s capabilities, so much that we now identify them as the Stone age, Bronze age, and Iron age… There was one common characteristic that defined these former ages. The materials in question all came from nature”

This makes me wonder what our current ‘age’ is. Surely the polymer age has come, and will be here to stay, but what next? The nano-age? Just something interesting to consider.

My interest in polymer chemistry began a couple of years ago after taking a macromolecular course at UT. Despite my abhorring organic chemistry, macromolecular chemistry has this odd appeal and I became most intrigued by ‘living’ polymers.

It is interesting to think that the allied forces could have lost WW2 had it not been for the emerging rubber industry and the brilliant scientists involved. The one thing I don’t like about the book is its excessive mention of the University of Akron in the middle of nowheres-ville. I guess it gets the point across that it was there that the beginnings of the science came about, but I am sure there were several other institutions across the nation or world that contributed equally, if not more, to the field. I would have appreciated a more worldly view in this regard. Other than that, the book is a fine and easy read, taking no more than a weekend. If you have the time and any interest at all in macromolecular chemistry, I recommend reading it.

I guess that’s all for now.

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