We use cookies to enhance your experience on our website. By continuing to use our website, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Find out more

E-book purchase
Choose a subscription

Downloaded copy on your device does not expire. Includes 4 years of Bookshelf Online.


Where applicable, tax will be added to the above price prior to payment.

E-book purchasing help



The Molecules of Life

Trace Jordan
Neville Kallenbach

Publication Date - 01 February 2017

ISBN: 9780199946174

624 pages
8-1/2 x 11 inches

In Stock

The only textbook for non-majors that focuses on the fundamental chemistry of biological molecules and everyday life


Chemistry: The Molecules of Life emphasizes the fundamentals of chemistry to create a foundation of knowledge and connects the content to students' lives with relevant and contemporary examples. This text encourages students to develop problem-solving skills with practice exercises, worked examples, and support material. Chemistry: The Molecules of Life engages students from all majors with a wide range of pedagogical features and demonstrates chemistry's relevance to everyday life.

Rather than presenting chemistry as an isolated discipline, Chemistry: The Molecules of Life emphasizes the importance of chemical knowledge for understanding the molecular basis of life, which is relevant to students' health, environment, and everyday experiences. This contextual focus promotes scientific literacy and helps students develop the critical thinking skills needed to evaluate scientific information presented in the media and make informed decisions about their personal well-being.


  • Emphasizes the fundamentals of chemistry to create a foundation of knowledge
  • Connects to students' lives with relevant and contemporary examples
  • Engages students from all majors with a wide range of pedagogical features
  • Encourages students to develop problem-solving skills with practice exercises, worked examples, and support material
  • "Chemistry and Your Health" features demonstrate the relevance of the material by applying chemical concepts to health and students' experiences
  • "Chemistry in Your Life" features engage students by describing chemistry as they encounter it in their daily lives
  • "Science in Action" features develop students' scientific literacy by showing them how to think like scientists

About the Author(s)

Trace Jordan is Director of Foundations of Scientific Inquiry in the College Core Curriculum at New York University.

Neville Kallenbach is Professor of Chemistry at New York University.


"This book takes a unique approach to non-majors chemistry instruction. It is well written and easy to read, and it shows students that chemistry is relevant to their daily lives."--Robert Billmers, Rutgers University

"This well-organized chemistry textbook covers the fundamentals of chemistry with a primary focus on biological molecules and health in students' daily lives. The authors should be applauded for their clear presentation of the fundamentals of chemistry."--Xiche Hu, University of Toledo

"This textbook is relevant, well organized, and designed to meet students' needs. The writing is clear, and the critical thinking and conceptual questions the book presents are excellent."--Maria Pacheco, Buffalo State College

Table of Contents



    1.1 Why Are Some Infections Resistant to Antibiotics?
    Learning Objective: Show the importance of understanding scientific information and biological molecules in everyday life
    MRSA: An Antibiotic-Resistant Infection
    Why Study the Molecules of Life?
    1.2 What is Science?
    Learning Objective: Describe the stages of the scientific method.
    1.3 Antiseptics: Preventing Infections
    Learning Objective: Explain how the properties of ethanol enable it to function as an antiseptic.
    1.4 Antibiotics: Treating Infections
    Learning Objective: Characterize the discovery and function of penicillin.
    Discovery and Isolation of Penicillin
    What is the Molecular Structure of Penicillin?
    How Does Penicillin Work?
    1.5 How Do Bacteria Become Resistant to Antibiotics?
    Learning Objective: Outline the origin and spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
    The Origin and Spread of Antibiotic Resistance
    What Can Be Done about Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria?
    Antibiotic-Resistance Revisited


    2.1 Why Is There Iron in My Cereal?
    Learning Objective: Illustrate the importance of iron for human health.
    2.2 Mixtures, Compounds, and Elements
    Learning Objective: Explain the organization of elements in the periodic table.
    Properties of Matter
    Classifying Matter
    The Periodic Table
    2.3 Atomic Structure
    Learning Objective: Describe the structure of atoms in terms of their subatomic particles.
    Scientific Notation and Scientific Units
    The Composition of Atoms
    Characterizing Atoms
    Relative Atomic Mass
    2.4 Electrons in Atoms
    Learning Objective: Relate the electron configuration of an atom to its chemical properties.
    The Electron Shell Model
    Forming Ions
    The Quantum Mechanical Model
    2.5 Elements of Life and Death
    Learning Objective: Illustrate the beneficial and harmful roles of chemical elements in the human body.
    The Chemical Elements of Life
    Why Do We Need Calcium?
    Why Is Arsenic a Poison?
    SCIENCE IN ACTION: Measuring the Mass of Atoms
    CHEMISTRY AND YOUR HEALTH: Why Is There Mercury in
    the Fish that We Eat?


    3.1 Why Do We Need Air to Survive?
    Learning Objective: Explain why breathing air is necessary for human survival.
    3.2 Covalent Bonding
    Learning Objective: Explain the formation of a covalent chemical bond.
    Forming a Covalent Bond by Sharing Electrons
    Quantum Mechanical Description of Covalent Bonding
    3.3 Making Molecules
    Learning Objective: Apply the principles of chemical bonding and molecular structure.
    Electrons and Bonding
    Molecular Structure in Three Dimensions
    Molecular Models
    Representing Molecules
    3.4 Molecules with Double and Triple Bonds
    Learning Objective: Describe double and triple covalent bonds in molecules.
    Molecular Structures of Oxygen and Nitrogen Gases
    Molecular Structure of Carbon Dioxide
    3.5 Beyond the Octet Rule
    Learning Objective: Illustrate violations of the octet rule.
    Expanded Valence
    3.6 Ionic Bonding
    Learning Objective: Explain the formation of ionic compounds.
    The Ionic Composition of Table Salt
    A Variety of Ions
    Ionic Compounds
    CHEMISTRY AND YOUR LIFE: Three-Dimensional Perspective in Chemistry and Art
    SCIENCE IN ACTION: Measuring Carbon Dioxide in the Atmosphere
    CHEMISTRY AND YOUR HEALTH: Nitric Oxide Is a Chemical Messenger


    4.1 What is the Difference Between Saturated and Unsaturated Fats?
    Learning Objective: Distinguish between saturated and unsaturated fats.
    4.2 Why is Life Based on Carbon?
    Learning Objective: Describe the unique chemical properties of carbon.
    4.3 Alkanes: Hydrocarbons with Single Bonds
    Learning Objective: Characterize the bonding and structure of alkane hydrocarbons.
    What Are Hydrocarbons?
    Naming Hydrocarbons
    Butane and Structural Isomers
    Drawing Hydrocarbons
    4.4 Alkenes: Hydrocarbons with Double Bonds
    Learning Objective: Characterize the bonding and structure of alkene hydrocarbons.
    The Planar Structure of Ethene
    Isomerization in Alkenes
    4.5 The Chemistry of Fats
    Learning Objective: Compare and contrast saturated, unsaturated, and trans fats.
    What Are Fats?
    Saturated and Unsaturated Fats
    Trans Fats
    4.6 Cyclic Hydrocarbons
    Learning Objective: Characterize the bonding and structure of cyclic hydrocarbons.
    SCIENCE IN ACTION: How Do We Know the Structures of Molecules?


    5.1 What Do Drug Molecules Look Like?
    Learning Objective: Explain the role of functional groups in molecular structure.
    5.2 Functional Groups Containing Oxygen Atoms
    Learning Objective: Illustrate functional groups containing oxygen atoms.
    Carboxylic Acid
    A Summary of Functional Groups Containing Oxygen Atoms
    5.3 Functional Groups Containing Nitrogen Atoms
    Learning Objective: Illustrate functional groups containing nitrogen atoms.
    5.4 Functional Groups in Complex Molecules
    Learning Objective: Identify a variety of functional groups in complex molecules.
    5.5 Functional Groups Containing Sulfur or Phosphorus Atoms
    Learning Objective: Illustrate functional groups containing sulfur or phosphorus atoms.
    5.6 Heterocycles
    Learning Objective: Illustrate molecules containing heterocycles.
    CHEMISTRY AND YOUR HEALTH: How Does Your Body Metabolize Alcohol?
    CHEMISTRY IN YOUR LIFE: Chemical Signaling in the Brain
    SCIENCE IN ACTION: Chemical Synthesis of Antibiotics


    6.1 What Happens When You "Burn Carbs" at the Gym?
    Learning Objective: Relate a combustion reaction to "burning" carbs during exercise.
    6.2 Chemical Reactions Produce Changes in Matter
    Learning Objective: Describe chemical reactions using balanced chemical equations.
    Chemical Reactions Change Reactants into Products
    Chemical Equations Represent Chemical Reactions
    Stoichiometry: Measuring Reactants and Products
    6.3 Measuring Matter: Mass and Moles
    Learning Objective: Use the mole as a unit of measurement for chemical quantities.
    What Is a Mole, and Why Do We Use It?
    Molar Mass of Atoms
    Chemical Calculations for Atoms
    Molar Mass of Molecules
    Chemical Calculations for Molecules
    Burning Carbs (Part 1): Changes in Matter
    6.4 Chemical Reactions Produce Changes in Energy
    Learning Objective: Relate the energy produced by a reaction to the chemical bonds in the reactants and products.
    What Is Energy?
    Making and Breaking Covalent Bonds
    Energy Changes during Chemical Reactions
    Burning Carbs (Part 2): Changes in Energy
    6.5 Biochemical Reactions: The Basis for Life
    Learning Objective: Explain how cells use glucose to generate energy.
    Burning Carbs (Part 3): Cellular Respiration
    Exercise and Chemical Reactions
    SCIENCE IN ACTION: Antoine Lavoisier and the Origin of Modern Chemistry
    CHEMISTRY AND YOUR HEALTH: Carbon Monoxide Poisoning


    7.1 What is the Difference Between Simple and Complex Carbs?
    Learning Objective: Distinguish between simple and complex carbohydrates.
    7.2 Synthetic Polymers
    Learning Objective: Illustrate examples of monomers and polymers.
    Monomers and Polymers
    Polyesters and Polyamides
    7.3 Carbohydrates: Sugars as Monomers and Polymers
    Learning Objective: Relate the principles of monomers and polymers to various sugars.
    Glucose: A Monosaccharide
    Sucrose and Lactose: Two Important Disaccharides
    Starch: A Polysaccharide
    Blood Sugar and Glycemic Index
    Cellulose: A Polysaccharide We Cannot Digest
    SCIENCE IN ACTION: Measuring the Sizes of Polymers
    CHEMISTRY AND YOUR HEALTH: Insulin and Diabetes


    8.1 Why Is
    Water Essential for Life?
    Learning Objective: Characterize the ways in which water's properties sustain life on Earth
    8.2 Chemical Bonding in H2O
    Learning Objective: Compare and contrast polar and nonpolar covalent bonds.
    H2O: A Review of Bonding and Structure
    Polar and Nonpolar Covalent Bonds
    Electronegativity: Attracting a Shared Electron Pair
    H2O Is a Strongly Polar Molecule
    8.3 From H2O Molecules to Liquid Water
    Learning Objective: Explain why H2O is a liquid at room temperature.
    Hydrogen Bonding Between H2O Molecules
    Molecular Organization of Ice, Water, and Vapor
    8.4 The Unusual Properties of Water
    Learning Objective: Illustrate how water's unusual properties are related to hydrogen bonding.
    Liquid Water Is Denser than Solid Ice
    Water Has an Unusually High Boiling Point
    Water Has a Large Capacity for Absorbing Heat Energy
    Boiling Water Requires a Large Input of Energy
    SCIENCE IN ACTION: Does Liquid Water Exist on Other Planets?
    CHEMISTRY IN YOUR LIFE: Chemical and Biological Antifreeze
    CHEMISTRY AND YOUR HEALTH: Why Does Perspiring Make You Cooler?


    9.1 How Do Water-Soluble and Fat-Soluble Vitamins Differ?
    Learning Objective: Distinguish between water-soluble and fat-soluble vitamins.
    9.2 Molecules in Solution
    Learning Objective: Analyze polar and nonpolar molecules to predict their solubilities in different solvents.
    What Is a Solution?
    Nonpolar Molecules in Water
    The Hydrophobic Effect
    Polar Molecules in Water
    Nonpolar Solvents
    Comparing Solubilities in Polar and Nonpolar Solvents
    Water-Soluble and Fat-Soluble Vitamins
    9.3 Molecular Self-Assembly
    Learning Objective: Apply solubility principles to illustrate examples of molecular self-assembly.
    Self-Assembly of Detergents
    Self-Assembly of Cell Membranes
    9.4 Ions in Solution
    Learning Objective: Characterize the solubility of ions and ionic compounds.
    Ions in Aqueous Solution
    Solubility of Ionic Compounds
    Ion Transport Across Cell Membranes
    CHEMISTRY IN YOUR LIFE: Why Do Chili Peppers Taste Hot?
    SCIENCE IN ACTION: Using Solubility Principles for Drug Discovery
    YOUR HEALTH: Electrolyte Imbalance


    10.1 Why Can Drinking Too Much Water be Harmful?
    Learning Objective: Explain the importance of maintaining an appropriate concentration of sodium ions in the blood.
    10.2 Measuring Concentration
    Learning Objective: Use various measurements and units of concentration.
    What is Concentration?
    Measuring Concentration-Percent by Volume or Mass
    Measuring Concentration-Parts per Million or Billion
    Measuring Concentration-Molarity
    Diluting a Concentrated Solution
    10.3 Biological Applications of Concentration
    Learning Objective: Relate concentration to osmosis and hyponatremia.
    Osmosis: The Flow of Water Across a Membrane
    Why Is Hyponatremia Harmful?
    Changing Concentrations
    SCIENCE IN ACTION: Measuring Unknown Concentrations Using Light
    CHEMISTRY AND YOUR HEALTH: How Much Salt Should We Eat?


    11.1 What Causes Acid Reflux Disease?
    Learning Objective: Explain the origin of acid reflux disease.
    11.2 What Are Acids and Bases?
    Learning Objective: Apply the Brønsted-Lowry theory of acids and bases.
    Examples of Acids and Bases
    Brønsted-Lowry Theory of Acids and Bases
    Acid-Base Neutralization
    11.3 Relative Strengths of Acids and Bases
    Learning Objective: Compare and contrast strong and weak acids and bases.
    11.4 Measuring Acidity: The pH Scale
    Learning Objective: Use pH as a measurement of acidity.
    Ionization of Pure Water
    Neutral, Acidic, and Basic Solutions
    Defining the pH Scale
    11.5 Biological Applications of Acid-Base Chemistry
    Learning Objective: Illustrate two biological applications of acid-base chemistry.
    Origin and Treatment of Acid Reflux Disease
    Blood as a Buffer System
    CHEMISTRY AND YOUR HEALTH: What Is "Freebase" Cocaine?
    SCIENCE IN ACTION: Don't Try This at Home: Discovering the Cause of Stomach Ulcers


    12.1 How Was the DNA Double Helix Discovered?

    Learning Objective: Explain why the DNA double helix was an important scientific discovery.
    12.2 Nucleotides-The Building Blocks of DNA
    Learning Objective: Analyze the structures of nucleotides and polynucleotides.
    Molecular Structure of a Nucleotide
    The Four Varieties of DNA Bases
    Making a Polynucleotide Chain
    12.3 Discovering the Double Helix
    Learning Objective: Characterize the scientific methods and evidence that led to the discovery of the DNA double helix.
    Biology: DNA Is the Molecule of Heredity
    Chemistry: Building Molecular Models
    Physics: X-ray Diffraction Studies of Molecular Structures
    Constructing the DNA Double Helix
    12.4 DNA Replication
    Learning Objective: Analyze the mechanism of DNA replication.
    12.5 DNA Mutations and Cancer
    Learning Objective: Characterize the connections between DNA mutations and cancer.
    What Is Cancer?
    Ultraviolet Light and Skin Cancer
    Chemical Carcinogens
    SCIENCE IN ACTION: How Does DNA Replicate?
    CHEMISTRY AND YOUR HEALTH: Do Indoor Tanning Beds Increase the Risk of Skin Cancer?


    13.1 What Causes Sickle Cell Disease?

    Learning Objective: Identify the characteristics of sickle cell disease.
    13.2 Overview: The Expression of Genetic Information
    Learning Objective: Outline the molecules and processes that are involved in the expression of genetic information.
    13.3 Transcription
    Learning Objective: Characterize the stages of transcription.
    Comparing DNA and RNA
    Synthesizing mRNA
    13.4 Amino Acids: The Building Blocks of Proteins
    Learning Objective: Describe the molecular properties of amino acids.
    Chemical Diversity of Amino Acids
    Amino Acids Are Chiral Molecules
    13.5 Translation
    Learning Objective: Outline the stages by which mRNA is translated into a sequence of amino acids in a protein.
    Translation and the Genetic Code
    The Molecular Mechanism of Translation
    13.6 Protein Structure
    Learning Objective: Illustrate the formation of a polypeptide chain and its structural properties within proteins.
    Making a Polypeptide
    Four Levels of Protein Structure
    13.7 The Molecular Origin of Sickle Cell Disease
    Learning Objective: Outline the molecular origin of sickle cell disease.
    SCIENCE IN ACTION: How Did Scientists Crack the Genetic Code?
    YOUR HEALTH: Human Insulin for Diabetes Therapy


    14.1 What Causes Lactose Intolerance?
    Learning Objective: Define lactose intolerance.
    14.2 How Do Chemical Reactions Happen?
    Learning Objective: Characterize the changes that occur during a chemical reaction.
    An Energy Barrier for Chemical Reactions
    A Chemical Reaction Pathway
    14.3 How Does a Catalyst Work?
    Learning Objective: Explain how a catalyst increases the rate of a chemical reaction.
    What is a Catalyst?
    The Catalytic Converter
    14.4 Structure and Function of Enzymes
    Learning Objective: Characterize the stages of an enzyme-catalyzed reaction.
    The Molecular Structure of Enzymes
    The Steps of an Enzyme-Catalyzed Reaction
    How Does an Enzyme Recognize Its Substrate?
    14.5 Lactose Intolerance: Genes, Enzymes, and Culture
    Learning Objective: Illustrate how human culture has influenced the ability to digest lactose.
    The Catalytic Activity of Lactase
    The Chemistry of Lactose Intolerance
    The Evolutionary Origins of Lactase Persistence
    CHEMISTRY IN YOUR LIFE: Why Does Hydrogen Peroxide Bubble When You Put It on a Cut?
    SCIENCE IN ACTION: Using the Transition State to Design a Drug
    CHEMISTRY AND YOUR HEALTH: What Happens When Enzymes Don't Work?


    15.1 Why Are Antibiotic-Resistant Infections Increasing?
    Learning Objective: Use tuberculosis as an example of an antibiotic-resistant disease.
    15.2 Bacterial Cells
    Learning Objective: Describe the size and composition of bacterial cells.
    The Cell Is the "Unit of Life"
    How Small Are Cells?
    The Composition of a Bacterial Cell
    15.3 How Do Antibiotics Work?
    Learning Objective: Illustrate how antibiotics use different cellular targets to prevent the growth of bacterial cells.
    Antibiotics Prevent the Growth of Bacterial Cells
    Cellular Targets for Antibiotics
    Antibiotic Target: Constructing the Cell Wall
    Antibiotic Target: Replicating DNA
    Antibiotic Target: Making Proteins
    15.4 How Do Bacteria Become Resistant to Antibiotics?
    Learning Objective: Illustrate the strategies used by bacteria to neutralize the effects of antibiotics.
    Bacteria Fight Back: Strategies of Antibiotic Resistance
    Use and Abuse of Antibiotics
    15.5 Drug-Resistant Tuberculosis
    Learning Objective: Outline the relationship between the development of new antibiotics and the rise of antibiotic resistance.
    15.6 How Are New Drugs Tested and Approved?
    Learning Objective: Outline the stages that are required to develop and evaluate a new pharmaceutical.
    How Do We Know That the Drugs We Take Are Safe and Effective?
    The Stages of Drug Development and Approval
    SCIENCE IN ACTION: Studying Cells with Microscopes
    CHEMISTRY AND YOUR HEALTH: How Do Bacteria Keep Us Healthy?
    CHEMISTRY IN YOUR LIFE: Why Can a Popular Painkiller Make You Sick?

    Appendix A Scientific Notation and Units
    Appendix B Significant Figures
    Appendix C Logarithms and the pH Scale
    Appendix D Answers to Try It Yourself and Practice Exercises
    Appendix E Answers to Selected Learning Resources (End-of-Chapter Questions)