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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An introductory guide to biochemistry, 26 Jan 2010
This review is from: Molecules: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) (Paperback)
Molecules: A Very Short Introduction - previously sold as Stories of the Invisible: A Guided Tour of Molecules - is not so much an introduction to molecules as an introduction to biochemistry, the molecules of life. This is something Ball states from the outset, and with the boundary between chemistry and biology becoming ever more blurred, it's an understandable approach to take. We are, after all, now using natural molecules in technology as well as synthetic molecules to preserve what we deem 'natural'.

The book starts with the very basics - how atoms are joined together and why we can't 'see' them in the traditional sense, before quickly advancing to biochemistry and the complex molecules so vital to the body. As the author himself says, molecular biology is not difficult in the way that theoretical physics is difficult - the concepts are not unfamiliar, abstract or mathematically hard. The difficulty arises because there is so much going on all at once, and so many levels to the hierarchy.

So while Ball's writing is, for the most part, clear and full of personality, some of the processes he describes are unavoidably complicated and a lot to take in. As a non-specialist, I came away remembering the gist, if not all the detail. One of the reviews (Chemistry in Britain) described Ball's science as 'encyclopaedic'. That's definitely a word that springs to mind.

The choice of topics is good, and if, like me, you're new to the subject, you'll find it mind-boggling to learn just how finely-tuned our bodies are - all the checkpoints, safety mechanisms, back-up plans and careful record-keeping that occurs. Also the illustrations here are genuinely interesting and not just irrelevant ways to break up the text, as has been the case with certain other entries in this series. (Speaking of other entries, I can recommend the author's follow-up, The Elements: A Very Short Introduction.)

All in all, this is an impressive attempt by Ball to lead the non-specialist reader through a labyrinthine but vital area of science. You may not keep it all in your head, but you'll come away with a better sense of the kind of finely-tuned processes required to keep the big things functioning normally.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A brief introduction to modern chemistry, 7 April 2011
By 
Dr. Bojan Tunguz (Indiana, USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Molecules: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) (Paperback)
My training is in Physics, and I have not had a chance to read-up on Chemistry in a long while. I decided to read this book in order to get a better bird's eye view of what the modern Chemistry is up to these days. As such, this book was a great introduction, and brought me up to speed with some of the more recent developments. Thanks to this book and some other info I got, I was able to piece things together and figure out what some of the more advanced research in the conventional explosives is all about.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A great rundown of molecular uses, 8 Aug 2013
By 
J. Morris "Josh" (London) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Molecules: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) (Paperback)
The Very Short Introduction series are written by professors of the subject and are aimed at provoking cross-discipline intrigue in the reader that may incite further investigation and reading - and boy are they good at achieving exactly that; often they leave more questions than answers.

Starting with a brief rundown of what exactly molecules are, this introduction spans subjects as widely varied as the origins of life, the usage in the human body for messengers and regulation. Their role in materials and the way in which they behave. The role that molecules play in energy and it's storage and the ability to use them as motors and computers.

Simply put, this book is one of the most informative and interesting biochemistry/chemistry books I have read. It is well written, referenced and supported with diagrams. I can't recommend this 150-page A6 book enough, for initiates to chemistry, biochemistry, biology and even just the layman with an interest in the subject (me!).
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5.0 out of 5 stars Admirably clear, 24 Mar 2013
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Jeremy Bevan (West Midlands, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Molecules: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) (Paperback)
This is an excellent introduction to its subject, and one that covers far more ground than the modest title suggests. I'm not a scientist, but I found Philip Ball's writing admirably clear throughout, his text liberally supplemented by illuminating diagrams and photos. Pondering to begin with the nature of matter, the author leads you through basic atomic structure, via the fascinating history of synthetic molecule-making during the development of the chemical dyestuffs industry, to an absorbing account of the functioning of the molecules inside us - in DNA, proteins and so on. This leads naturally on to an explanation of how molecules are key to the structures of living organisms, even down to the `scaffolding' that helps DNA divide within cells along the intricate threads of the mitotic spindle. The energy cycles of the cell, how molecules work to produce motion in some very fine-grade structures like cilia in the human windpipe, and their role in communicating nerve messages - all are covered in just enough detail to explain without confusing. Ball's last chapter - on molecular computing - have been somewhat overtaken by events in a rapidly-moving field (it's now possible to store data on DNA, for example), but don't let that put you off. This is, and will I suspect remain, a first-class introduction to this fascinating subject for some time to come.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Molecules a very short introduction , book review., 18 Sep 2012
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This review is from: Molecules: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) (Paperback)
The book gives you a detailed information about what is going on regarding new developments a research about molecules and macromolecules. It describes and explains the latest advances in molecular chemistry and you get a good view and knowledge of new molecules research .
It would be interesting that the book also points not only to biological molecules and its function to a cellular level but to other types as well .
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