Napoleon's Buttons: How 17 Molecules Changed History by Penny Le Couteur, Jay Burreson PDF

By Penny Le Couteur, Jay Burreson

ISBN-10: 1585423319

ISBN-13: 9781585423316

Napoleon's Buttons is the attention-grabbing account of seventeen teams of molecules that experience enormously motivated the process background. those molecules supplied the impetus for early exploration, and made attainable the voyages of discovery that ensued. The molecules ended in grand feats of engineering and spurred advances in drugs and legislation; they decided what we now consume, drink, and put on. a transformation as small because the place of an atom may end up in huge, immense adjustments within the houses of a substance-which, in flip, can lead to nice ancient shifts.

With full of life prose and a mind for colourful and strange info, Le Couteur and Burreson provide a unique method to comprehend the shaping of civilization and the workings of our modern world.

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Example text

The B vitamins and vitamin H are the only ones that actually do contain nitrogen. The orig- 45 Na p o l e o n ’ s B u t t o n s inal B vitamin was later discovered to consist of more than one compound, hence vitamin B1, vitamin B2, etc. Also, several supposedly different vitamins were found to be the same compound, and thus there is no vitamin F or vitamin G. Among mammals, only primates, guinea pigs, and the Indian fruit bat require vitamin C in their diet. In all other vertebrates—the family dog or cat, for example—ascorbic acid is made in the liver from the simple sugar glucose by a series of four reactions, each catalyzed by an enzyme.

Success no doubt helped convince Cook’s crew that their captain’s strange obsession with what they ate was worthwhile. Cook never lost a single man to scurvy. On his first voyage of almost three years, onethird of his crew died after contracting malaria or dysentery in Batavia 44 Ascorbic Acid (now Jakarta) in the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia). On his second voyage from 1772 to 1775, he lost one member of his crew to illness— but not to scurvy. Yet on that trip the crew of his companion vessel was badly affected by the problem.

The compound is found in many parts of the plant, in addition to the dried flower buds that we’re familiar with. , in the time of the Han dynasty, cloves were used as breath 29 Na p o l e o n ’ s B u t t o n s Drying cloves on the street in Northern Sulawesi, Indonesia. (Photo by Penny Le Couteur) sweeteners for courtiers in the Chinese imperial court. Oil of clove was valued as a powerful antiseptic and a remedy for toothache. It is still sometimes used as a topical anesthetic in dentistry. The nutmeg spice is one of two produced by the nutmeg tree, the other being mace.

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Napoleon's Buttons: How 17 Molecules Changed History by Penny Le Couteur, Jay Burreson


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