Mathematically rigorous

Physical chemistry
M Sangaranarayanan and M Mahadevan
CRC Press
2012 | 592pp | £49.99 (HB)
ISBN 9781466511835
Reviewed by Stephen Ashworth

I always find new physical chemistry textbooks interesting to peruse. Will it cover the wide span of the subject? What might the authors have chosen to omit? How will the mathematical nature of the subject be handled?

Here, a broad sweep of expected material is covered, with some unusual additions, in a mathematically rigorous and concise fashion. Some of the chapters seem a little unbalanced: one or two particularly short ones might usefully be combined with others.

Each chapter has a bullet point summary at the start to list what is covered and a key points section at the end that neatly recaps the chapter. Together with these are exercises and problems. No solutions are given, but there are worked examples throughout.

The authors have opted for a predominantly monochrome approach, which gives the book a clean feel. The text uses the whole width of the page and a good sized font that helps to make the whole uncluttered. There is merely a nod to the modern preoccupation for breaking up the text with boxes. Unfortunately, these grey patches spoil the layout and mar the clean lines of the rest of the book.

So far, so good. Unfortunately, I would not be able to recommend this book to a student. There are inconsistencies in terminology, some abominable diagrams and the occasional instance of something that is simply wrong. In a subject where we are trying to instil adherence to convention and a consistency of nomenclature, a student would rightly be confused when an equation refers to v and the text following to V. The diagrams are, on the whole, good and well reproduced; however, some of those that appear to have been drawn by the authors end up doing more harm than good. These defects would cause all but the most able students real problems.

Such problems can be found throughout the book, wherever one dips in it will not be long before one a confusing diagram, inconsistent nomenclature or terminology, or something simply wrong crops up. With a strong health warning, it might be a useful text for an expert. However, I would not recommend it to students until it had been subject to an exacting copy edit.

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