The image on the front cover depicts a carbon nanotube emerging from a glowing plasma of hydrogen and carbon, as it forms around particles of a metal catalyst. Carbon nanotubes are a recently discovered allotrope of carbon. Three other allotropes of carbon–buckyballs, graphite, and diamond–are illustrated at the left, as is the molecule methane, CH4, from which nanotubes and buckyballs can be made. The element carbon forms an amazing number of compounds with structures that follow from simple methane, found in natural gas, to the complex macromolecules that serve as the basis of life on our planet. The study of chemistry also follows from the simple to the more complex, and the strength of this text is that it enables students with varied backgrounds to proceed together to significant levels of achievement.
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