07 September 2012

Monumental chemistry textbook issued by University of Copenhagen researchers

No matter where you live, chemistry is unavoidable. From the centre of the earth to the upper reaches of the atmosphere there is chemistry in the environment and from the Big Bang to the present day the environment has been shaped by chemical processes. So writing a textbook on environmental chemistry is an extensive undertaking. None the less two researchers at the University of Copenhagen have managed to complete the Herculean task. Now their efforts have been rewarded by the publication of their book by world leading publisher Cambridge University Press. Not just because “Chemistry and the Environment” is a comprehensive book. It is also the first of its kind.

Matthew Johnson with the new book on environmental chemistry


Long awaited book plugs hole

Department of Chemistry lecturers Sven E. Harnung and Matthew S. Johnson both teach an internationally acclaimed environmental chemistry course in Copenhagen where the material for the book has been road tested. And Johnson is jubilant.

“Prior to the publication of the new book, environmental chemistry teachers have had to use rather introductory texts - there was no good book for students who already have a background in physical, inorganic and organic chemistry. We’ve plugged that hole,” says Johnson who is an Associate Professor at the University of Copenhagen’s Department Of Chemistry.

Road tested by generations of students

The new book has been shaped by over a decade of lectures for chemistry students at the University of Copenhagen, the students commenting on drafts along the way.

“It’s been great to teach a class on the subject while writing the book. The material has been tested repeatedly. This would not have been half the book it’s turned out to be without the input from our students”, says Matthew Johnson.

Harnung and Johnson with their tome "Chemistry and the Environment"

Giant undertaking

Even though Harnung and Johnson had the assistance of generations of students, completing the tome has still been a massive undertaking:

“The book is 448 pages with 147,000 words, 107 figures and 39 molecular structure diagrams. We have collected 400 exercises with numerical solutions. Getting the finished book from Cambridge University Press felt like coming to the end of a long tunnel”, says Johnson who is also pleased that the book is published by this venerable publishing house.

“Cambridge University Press is the world’s oldest publishing house. They are a global brand and they already have a very strong selection of chemistry and environmental science-textbooks. Our book couldn’t have found a better home”, concludes Matthew Johnson.

The book is available from the Cambridge University Press website