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GEB2104 Serendipity: Accidental Discoveries in Science: Home

Course Description

The course is designed to illustrate some basic principles of science, chemistry in particular (e.g., atomic structure, bonding, kinetics and drug action etc) via case studies of some celebrated accidental discoveries (and wild claims) in science. It also highlights the different approaches adopted by individual scientists and industrial/pharmaceutical research teams when they are confronted with mysterious phenomena. Real-life applications of some of the discoveries are discussed.

Recommended Books

Serendipity: Accidental Discoveries in Science

This book introduces some of the most dramatic and amusing accidental discoveries in the annals of science history, from the chance observation that sent an ecstatic Archimedes running naked through the streets of Syracuse, to the accident that led to the discovery of penicillin and earned Alexander Fleming a Nobel Prize. Stories range through the fields of physics, chemistry, biology, astronomy, archaeology, and more, covering Teflon, Velcro, nylon, x-rays, penicillin, safety glass, sugar substitutes, and polyethylene and other plastics, Newton's theory of gravitation, the Big Bang theory of Creation, and the discovery of DNA, the Rosetta Stone, the Dead Sea Scrolls, and the ruins of Pompeii, etc.

Chemistry for Changing Times

This book is designed for students who are not science majors. Therefore, it emphasizes basic chemical concepts and practical applications of chemistry to problems solving rather than esoteric theories or rigorous mathematics. There are altogether 22 chapters in this book, covering a wide range of topics in chemistry, including the concept of chemistry, atoms, atomic structure, chemical bonds, chemical accounting, gases, liquids, solids, intermolecular forces, acids and bases, oxidation and reduction, organic chemistry, polymers, nuclear chemistry, chemistry of earth, air, water, energy, biochemistry, food, drugs, fitness and health, chemistry on the farm, in the garden and on the lawn, household chemicals, poisons.

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