What ingredient in Coke can remove rust from chrome? What is the bitte rest substance on earth? What is the worst smelling one? In this enter taining tour of chemistry, John Emsley answers these and many other qu estions as he illuminates the materials that make up our world. Dozens of lively articles explore such well-known molecules as water, oxygen, and glass; versatile plastics like polypropylene, polystyrene, and p olyurethane; even "elements from hell" such as Sarin (a lethal nerve g as). With no formulas, equations, or molecular diagrams to baffle the non-expert, each piece blends history, science, and anecdote, with man y intriguing facts added to the mix.