Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The challenge of writing books on water

Biman Bagchi has just published a new book,
Water in Biological and Chemical Processes: From Structure and Dynamics to Function 

Cambridge University Press sent me a complimentary copy to review. I am slowly working through it and will write a detailed review when I am done.

I think this is a very challenging subject to write a book on for at least three reasons. First, the scope of the topic is immense. Furthermore, it is multi-disciplinary spanning physics, chemistry, and biology, with a strong interaction between experiment, theory, and simulation. Second, although there have been some significant advances in the last few decades there is real state of flux, with a fair share of controversies, advances, and fashions. Finally, which audience do you write for? Experimental biochemists or theoretical physicists or somewhere in between.

Although this is an incredibly important and challenging topic few authors have taken up the challenge. One who has is Arieh Ben-Naim

Molecular Theory of Water and Aqueous Solutions, Part I: Understanding Water (2009)

Molecular Theory of Water and Aqueous Solutions Part II: The Role of Water in Protein Folding, Self-Assembly and Molecular Recognition (2011)

This was a topic of great interest to my late father. He wrote two comprehensive reviews with John Edsall, published in Advances in Biophysics

Water and proteins. I. The significance and structure of water; its interaction with electrolytes and non-electrolytes (1977) [does not seem to be available online]

Water and proteins. II. The location and dynamics of water in protein systems and its relation to their stability and properties (1983)

Classic earlier books include:

The Structure and Properties of Water
 by David Eisenberg and Walter Kauzmann
(1969, reissued in 2002 by Oxford UP in their Classic Texts in the Physical Sciences)

A seven volume series, Water: A comprehensive treatise, edited by Felix Franks

At the popular level there is
Life's Matrix: A Biography of Water 
(2001) by Philip Ball

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