Explosives have played a very important role in history for a long time, and it was all possible due to why explosives are, well, explosive in the first place, the nitro group. A nitro group is a combination of atoms, one nitrogen atom, and two oxygen atoms (NO2). This nitro group, when placed in different positions, completely changes how the molecule behaves. With a certain arrangement of the atoms, there is p-nitrotoluene, an explosive, while with only a slight variation on the location of the hydrogen and oxygen atoms, it creates p-aminobenzoic acid, commonly known as sunscreen.
Nitro compounds have existed for thousands of years, with origins in the modern countries of China, Arabia, and India. The ingredients however, were not found until 1000 A.D, and the actual proportions of the ingredients weren’t discovered until much later. Famous explosives, such as dynamite, gunpowder, and even TNT come from nitro compounds. Alfred Nobel, realizing the popular demand for explosives in the mining and excavating industry, and realizing how unsafe nitroglycerin really was after a string of explosive accidents, which resulted in the death of his brother, Nobel decided to look for a safe alternative to nitroglycerin and stumbled across what we now know as dynamite, a mix between nitroglycerin and kieselguhr. His invention even led to an award from the Bank of Sweden, which we now know today as the Nobel Peace Prize. These explosives have played a major role in almost every war since World War One.
Explosives still play a major part in today’s society. Analogous to most other molecules, nitro compounds do not receive the credit they deserve, for they are just small parts of the whole that society sees. However, there is no hiding the fact that explosives are still very common, and have very practical uses in the modern world. They are used in quite a variety of societal necessities ranging from agriculture, art, construction, excavation, firefighting, and mining to things that I personally would never think of such as fracturing kidney/gall stones, aerospace engineering, and forestry.
I believe that Penny Le Couteur and Jay Burreson did a very good job with this chapter. They gave solid chemical and historical information that was very relevant to what I expected to read. They clearly explained its importance; but once again, I have a problem with the hypothetical situations it provides, as they are purely just, indeed, hypothetical. Despite this, I believe they did in fact due a good job, and deserve praise for their dedication to both the historical and chemical aspects placed in the book.