A History of the International Chemical Industry

A History of the International Chemical Industry

A History of the International Chemical Industry

A History of the International Chemical Industry


Fred Aftalion's international perspective of the history of chemistry integrates the story of chemical science with that of chemical industry. This new edition includes events from 1990 to 2000, when major companies began selling off their divisions, seeking to specialize in a particular business. Aftalion explores the pitfalls these companies encountered as well as the successes of "contrarians"--those companies that remained broad and diversified. He uses BASF, Dow, and Bayer as examples of true contrarians.


The Chemical Sciences inSociety: what may one expect in a series with such a title? The question is legitimate. The answer is important.

Science and technology have transformed our world andour ideas. Our physical environment, our material culture, our conceptual systems,and our manner of living have been changed, are being changed, and will bechanged by science. That much is familiar. Less noticed is the way inwhich, of all the scientific and technological domains, those associated with thechemical sciences have most often been ignored or misunderstood--subject toignorance or fear. The very word "chemical" has become synonymous with"undesirable"--as in "chemical dependency." Chemistry is seen as somehowthe cause of acid rain, air pollution, carcinogens, drugs,environmental problems, ozone depletion, and smog, to offer only an abbreviated list. Atthe same time, the chemical sciences are often viewed as intellectuallyunimportant-the mere detail that fills in the lofty work of physics, the fine printthat obscures the grand designs of biology.

The aim of The Chemical Sciences inSociety is to redress this balance, by bringing into prominence the growing body of scholarship whichtestifies to the importance of the chemical sciences in society. Chemistryhas always been the most earthy and the most central of the sciences. Itsearthiness--its connection to the colors, smells, and sounds of substance and ofchange-- stretches backward into the mists of alchemy. But its earthinessalso extends into the huge, complex business enterprises of our day, inpetrochemicals, in pharmaceuticals, in the cornucopia of polymers and plastics, incomposites and "advanced materials," in agriculture and biotechnology, and incryogenics and electronics. Likewise, the centrality of the chemicalsciences may be seen in their role in areas as varied as molecular biology,materials science, and the clinical sciences.

Also worthy of note is the way in whichscience and technology are increasingly to be understood as political. Science today is an arenain which actors compete for scarce resources--of prestige, of intellectualturf, of government support, of student interest, of corporate involvement, andof public acclaim. The chemical sciences offer a particularly rich area ofstudy when . . .

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