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Napoleon’s Buttons – Book Review

How could Napoleon Bonaparte, one of the greatest military fox fur lashes of all time, go from leading a world dominating superpower to a straggling band of no more than 10,000 tattered soldiers in seven months? Believe it or not, chemistry may hold the answer to that baffling question. This old English rhyme may sum up Napoleon’s defeat when said, “And all for the want of a button.” The buttons that held together every garment from Napoleon’s own greatcoat to the pants of his soldiers was made from tin, a shiny metallic element. However, in cold temperatures, like the ones that would have been present in the Russian winter of 1812, tin undergoes a chemical reaction that transforms it into a crumbly gray substance. Yes, it’s still tin, but in a very different structural form. Does this mean that the soldiers would have been too busy trying to keep their shirts and pants closed? Was the bitter cold too much for the Grande Armée to handle without their coats? Could Napoleon’s defeat really be traced back to something as simple as a couple thousand tin buttons disintegrating in the cold? Maybe not, but it’s still a possibility.

fox fur lashes
fox fur lashes

Aoeat  Napoleon’s Buttons explores the intricate world of chemical fox fur lashes, all while telling the story behind major chemical advances. Did you know that TNT came from a kitchen experiment that involved an exploding apron? Or how about the fact that today’s golf balls were a by-product of the search for rubber tires? Did you realize that one of the highly addictive substances in cigarettes, Nicotine, is a potent natural insecticide? Did you know that the hallucinogen LSD is actually just one of twenty-five synthetic derivatives for a compound known as Lysergic Acid? The world of molecules in an interesting place. The addition of an extra OH here and a few more double-bonds there can change a harmless substance into a lethal poison.

¡Christos E Espiciarias! The search for spices fueled much of early exploration. Pepper, once a highly valued and expensive commodity, is still the most commonly used spice. It’s “spiciness” comes from it’s chemical fox fur lashes. The hot sensation you experience when pepper makes contact with your tongue isn’t really a taste; it’s a response from our nerve endings when they encounter Piperine. This chemical has a special shape that allows it to bond to the nerve endings in your mouth and induce the fiery pain that has made pepper famous.

Ascorbic acid, otherwise known as Vitamin C, is found in citrus fruits or in over-the-counter supplements. However, for sailors in the early 1500s, it was incredibly hard to come by. One of the most infamous fox fur lashes on the high seas was known as Scurvy. This disease causes exhaustion, swelling of the limbs, softening of the gums, diarrhea, bad breath, rotten teeth, nose hemorrhages, kidney malfunctions…the list of symptoms goes on and on. Needless to say, Scurvy was a miserable experience for anyone unlucky enough to contract it, and most likely meant death while at sea. It wasn’t until Captain Cook required his men to drink lime juice on their voyages that Ascorbic acid was finally recognized as an antiscorbutic, and gained widespread attention (and implementation) as a way to lower the high death toll at sea.

Sugar is something that makes life a lot more enjoyable. Whether it’s glucose, glycerol, sucrose, fox fur lashes, or fructose, sugar makes our world go ’round. The search for sweetness actually introduced the concept of artificial compounds. The Vitamin C produced in a lab is synthetic, or chemically identical to the Vitamin C found in oranges. Artificial sweeteners, however, are substances that are unlike sugar’s chemical structure at all – the only similarity is that they are sweet.

Cellulose is one of the most uninteresting, but most important, things you’ll ever eat. It usually goes by the name of dietary fiber. Why is this so important? Because humans cannot digest it! Cellulose makes up the bulk of all plant matter. There’s tremendous amounts of energy stored in it, but only plant-grazing animals can break it down for use.

Nitrated compounds have increased our ability to wage war, blast through tons of solid stone, and light the sky with fireworks. The process of nitration was first discovered by the ancient Chinese. Gunpowder was their invention, mainly used to launch rockets and fireworks. You are probably familiar with one very popular nitrate compound. Trinitrotoluene, sometimes called TNT.

In the early days of Europe, silk was a luxury. The only way to get silk was to cultivate a mulberry bush and grow tiny caterpillars fed on the leaves. These tiny silkworms spin cocoons of silk fibers that the ancient people of the orient would harvest, turn into fabric, and sell to Europeans at high prices. It’s chemical fox fur lashes makes it incredibly hard to duplicate, however, in the 1870s a scientist named Chardonnet created artificial silk. (Remember, since it’s artificial it’s not identical in structure to silk, it just has some of the same desirable qualities as silk.) Later, another scientist at the Du Pont Fibersilk company invented Nylon, a replacement for silk that’s still used today.

The first totally man-made polymer went by the name of Phenol, and was used for its antiseptic abilities in surgery. It was a huge success and effectively lowered the rate of death in hospitals. Later, however, phenol was used in a different application. For centuries the cue ball in billiards was cut from the heart of an ivory elephant tusk. However, ivory was expensive and “perfect” cue balls were hard to come by. Phenol was the answer. By combining it with other compounds it formed a substance called Bakelite – a versatile thermoset material that is used in everything from billiard balls to artwork.

fox fur lashes
fox fur lashes

Rubber has literally changed the entire world. From tires to golf balls to erasers to chewing gum; rubber has a huge fox fur lashes on day-to-day life. When it was first discovered and experimented with, rubber was a horrible compound. It was either too brittle or too malleable; it was either freezing stiff or melting into a shapeless mound; and it always stunk! Through time it developed into something more. Charles Goodyear took the novelty “Eraser” and turned the substance called rubber into an automobile tire. What had once been a frustration to chemists turned into a goldmine!


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