Michael J. Pilling and Paul W. Seakins: Reakciókinetika


    It is a great pleasure to see the new and improved Hungarian edition of this book, which is rapidly becoming the standard undergraduate text on Chemical Kinetics.  It is an updated version of Pilling's earlier short text in the Oxford Chemistry Series, but the new text is significantly expanded in both breadth and depth of coverage.  The approach chosen by the authors is more modern than their immediate competitors, and this is now the one area of Physical Chemistry where I am content to recommend a single text to my students.  As a measure of its success, we provided multiple copies in our library, and they are always on loan.  The Hungarian edition has been translated by two scientists who are themselves respected in the field of chemical kinetics.  They have corrected a number of small errors and have improved some of the diagrams.  I am sure that this edition will be as popular and as useful to students in Hungary as the English edition has been here.  I have also been very impressed with some of the other innovations of the Hungarian edition, notably the web site with downloadable figures.


    The book covers a very wide range of topics in kinetics, including chapters on experimental techniques, elementary and complex reactions, reaction dynamics, chain reactions and explosions, reactions in solution and reactions at surfaces.  The authors are particularly good at explaining difficult theoretical ideas in a lucid and simple way, which proves very helpful to students.  For example, there is an excellent section on the theory of unimolecular reactions, which manages to avoid the notational nightmare of other texts in the area, and explains the concepts clearly to an advanced level, including RRKM theory, the strong collision approximation and intramolecular vibrational relaxation.
    Inevitably, in a book of this size, there are topics that have been omitted or dealt with in less detail than I would have liked.  The authors are unashamedly gas phase kineticists, and the coverage shows this bias.  This is understandable, given that gas phase reactions can be understood at a more fundamental level than solution kinetics, without the complications of solvent interactions.  Personally, I would have like to see the authors' excellent approach applied to the Marcus theory of electron transfer reactions and to electrochemical reactions at the liquid-solid interface.  I am sure that my colleagues in Physical Organic Chemistry would also have liked to see something on acid and base catalysis, and a more detailed discussion of the mechanisms of enzyme reactions (particularly different types of inhibition).


    The book is aimed mainly at undergraduates who have already met an introductory course in Physical Chemistry, and it achieves this level admirably.  The problems are excellent and the text contains worked examples, which are very helpful for students.  One of the most important features of the text is that it contains pointers to key papers in the kinetics literature, together with explanatory notes.  It is increasingly difficult for undergraduate students, who perform research projects, or indeed graduate students starting on their careers to learn to read the research literature, and Pilling and Seakins have provided an extremely useful aid for students.

Nicholas J. B. Green
  King's College, London

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