Last December, the Merck Index celebrated its 100th birthday. The 2,350 pages of the latest edition, the 11th - with 10,000 entries, 8,000 structures, 62,000 synonyms, and 129 pages of charts and

tables - seem a far cry from the original 170 pages published in 1889. The first edition, named for the German company (originally a pharmacy) founded in 1668, was written for the physician, chemist, and pharmacist, listing "whatever chemical products are to-day adjudged as being useful in either medicine or technology."

The major selling point of the index - a wealth of information provided conveniently in one volume - hasn't changed. But the new Merck Index (S. Budavari et al., eds., Rahway, N.J., Merck & Co., 1989) serves a far broader audience than did the first edition, reflecting the overlap of biology, chemistry, and medicine, as well as interest from others, such as journalists, investors, and patent attorneys....

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