68th edition. Robert C. Weast, ed.
CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL. 1987.
2,464 pp. $69.95. (Price will increase
to $74.95 in December.)

The CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics has been part of my life since childhood.

My father’s copy was pressed into service for a junior high school crystal-growing project and I have been using it ever since. Calcium nitrate is still cubic, colorless and hygroscopic, in case you wondered. Over the years, the handbook has remained the second most useful general-purpose volume on a working scientist’s bookshelf, right after a good dictionary.

What will you find? The thermal conductivity of granite, to reconstruct the 19th century cooling argument for the age of the Earth. Elastic moduli and tensile strengths of various alloys, for creating realistic Physics 1 problems (though not so many of these as in earlier editions, I regret). Physical constants...

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