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Marking the Centenary of One of the Most Influential Chemistry Resources in the World

Marking the Centenary of One of the Most Influential Chemistry Resources in the World

Marking the Centenary of One of the Most Influential Chemistry Resources in the World

Marking the Centenary of One of the Most Influential Chemistry Resources in the World

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This influential work along with its electronic edition, available online through Science of Synthesis (www.science-of-synthesis.com), has been made possible by the worldwide collaboration of renowned chemists including several Nobel laureates. In order to mark the Houben–Weyl centenary, 100 selected articles from Houben-Weyl, Science of Synthesis, SYNLETT and SYNTHESIS covering a variety of themes, including stereoselective synthesis, fluorine, peptides, heterocyclic and organometallic chemistry, have been collocated and can be downloaded for free during the course of this year on the Thieme Chemistry Web site (www.thieme-chemistry.com).

The first topic to be covered in March 2009 is “fluorine.” Both Houben–Weyl and Science of Synthesis exhaustively cover fluorine compounds. Alone, fluorine gas is extremely poisonous but when combined with other atoms, it forms compounds that are versatile and have consequently found a variety of applications. These applications include solvents, anticancer agents, agricultural chemicals, dyes and polymers. The key contributions from this seminal work which are being made available for download have been chosen by experts and should help assist the organic chemist in understanding some of the many different aspects of fluorine chemistry.

“We are delighted to be able to make freely available a sample of the content from Houben–Weyl and Science of Synthesis so that a wider audience can begin to appreciate both the high quality of the author contributions, and, the relevance of the science covered in the series to research in organic chemistry today. We are also happy to be able to offer selected SYNTHESIS and SYNLETT journal articles, which relate to the chosen themes, for free download,” said Dr. M. Fiona Shortt de Hernandez, Managing Editor, Science of Synthesis/Houben–Weyl.

In 1909, Theodor Weyl wrote and edited the Houben–Weyl Methods of Organic Chemistry series. The first edition, consisted of two volumes and covered material published from as early as 1834. Also, as part of the centenary celebrations a rarely seen first edition, displayed courtesy of the Swain Library at Stanford University, will be on display from March 22 to March 26 at the Thieme Chemistry booth during the spring meeting of the American Chemical Society in Salt Lake City, Utah.

In 1913, Josef Houben, whose major achievements include ketone synthesis as well as terpenes and camphor studies, expanded the project. Comprehensive descriptions of preparative methods, presented in a consistent style, along with their critical evaluation by leading experts, are the foundation upon which Houben–Weyl flourished.

The two German chemists made a significant contribution to the field of chemical information at the commencement of the 20th century. Weyl and Houben were the first scientists to exhaustively evaluate the organic chemistry literature with regard to its practical application. They were pioneers in the presentation of organic synthetic information and developed a hierarchical structure system that enables a reader to easily locate information.

Houben–Weyl continues to be appreciated by chemists from around the globe as a well-structured, reliable, and comprehensive source of information. With 700,000 references dating back to the 1800s, this 160 volume 160,000 page work holds 580,000 structures, and 146,000 experimental procedures.  The electronic format is available as part of Science of Synthesis, a reference work for preparative methods in synthetic chemistry, developed by Thieme in cooperation with InfoChem.

Nobel laureate and Science of Synthesis Editorial Board Member, Professor Ryoji Noyori, at Nagoya University, in Nagoya, Japan, says, “Science of Synthesis is the most widely used resource on organic synthesis in both academia and industry. It was completed after a 15 year international collaboration in which chemists in many countries in Europe, America and Asia were involved.”
One hundred years after the first edition was published by Weyl, Houben–Weyl and Science of Synthesis together form an influential service that is prized by scientists and researchers worldwide.