The Genie in the Bottle 67 All-New Commentaries on the Fascinating Chemistry of Everyday Life

Dr. Joe Schwarcz

Holt Paperbacks



Trade Paperback

320 Pages


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Blending quirky chemistry with engaging tales from both the history and process of scientific endeavor, popular science writer Joe Schwarcz examines many fun and fascinating secrets from the chemistry of everyday life.

Looking for a headache cure? Try willow bark. Wondering how that ice cream got its color? Could be from bug juice. Schwarcz offers a different twist on licorice and straight talk on travel to the dark side of the sun, along with the skinny on chocolate research, ginkgo biloba, and blueberries. Readers will also find out how spies used secret inks and how acetone changed the course of history. "Dr. Joe" even solves the mystery of exploding shrimp—and delves into the secret of the genie in the bottle.

Infused with Schwarcz's humor and his contagious enthusiasm for the wonders of magic and science, The Genie in the Bottle celebrates some of the most amazing corners of our universe—and of our own homes.


Praise for The Genie in the Bottle

"Schwarcz takes a little history, adds a dash of chemistry and produces a gem of an essay every time."—Time

"Joe Schwarcz is to everyday chemistry what Martin Gardner is to mathematics and Stephen Jay Gould is to evolution. Joe disrobes pseudoscientific mischief, while demystifying the wonders of chemistry. And it's all packaged with simple talk, humor, and élan."—Dr. James P. Snyder, director of Biostructural Research, Chemistry Department, Emory University

"Joe Schwarcz's magic is in convincing us that there is verve and value in real chemistry."—Roald Hoffmann, Nobel laureate

"Dr. Joe Schwarcz takes a lighthearted look at a serious subject; the results are guaranteed to teach and amuse . . . The only danger in starting this book is [that] you won't want to put it down."—David M. Klurfeld, professor and chairman, Department of Nutrition and Food Science, Wayne State University, and editor in chief, Journal of the American College of Nutrition

Reviews from Goodreads



  • Dr. Joe Schwarcz

  • Dr. Joe Schwarcz is a professor of chemistry and the director of the Office for Chemistry and Society at McGill University. He has received many honors, including the prestigious American Chemical Society's Grady-Stack Award for interpreting chemistry for the public. He lives in Montreal, where he hosts a weekly phone-in radio show, is a regular on Canadian television, and writes for The Washington Post and the Montreal Gazette.

  • Joe Schwarcz