Crown Ether Hazards
Rensselaei Polytechnic Institute Troy, New York 12181
accurate, as far as it goes. Unfortunately, Dr. Glacking has overlooked the fact that the word commonly transliterated as "khem" represents, in fad, a set of Semitic homonyms. One of these words does, indeed, mean black. The other, however, means wise. Given the posture of the Church during the period when alchemy flourished, it is not surprising that the former interoretation came to he associated with the art (a similar error is Aade in at least one passage of the Bible). his is analogous to the oeiorative meanines which have come to he attached to the woids cabal (from fiebrew qabala, i.e. "tradition") and witchcraft Old Enelish wicca craeft. . (from . . .i.e. "art of the wise [ones]"). The "Concise Oxford Dictionaw" sueeests that the term khemia was further confused witi the G e e k khumeia (i.e. "oourine"). If this is the case. the Greek term was orohahlv used to iefer to those alchemists who saw the art as a completely exterior procedure designed to enrich the operator materially, while the Semitic term probably referred to the adepts, inspired by Sufi scholars, who viewed the chemical operations chiefly as outer reflections of the individual's process of self realization. The former approach developed into modern chemistry, while the latter is regarded today as quite important in the theory and application of analytical psychology.
Alchemy To the Editor: The letter by Dr. James J. Glackin [J: CHEM. EDUC., 53, 267 (1976)] discussing the derivation of the term alchemy is
Management Consultant Revenue Canada Customs and Excise Ottawa, Ontario, Canada KIA 0L5
To the Editor: A. C. Knioe's excellent review. "Crown Ethers" IJ. CHEM. EDUC., 53,'618 (1976)] is sure 6 encourage deveiopment of this topical area among many educationalists, as is his hope. My hope is that they first read "Testicular Atrophy from Inhalation of Ethylene Oxide Cyclic Tetramer" [Leong, B. K. J., et al, Toxicol. Appl. Pharacol., 27,342 (1974)l before crown ethers are employed on a large scale in undergraduate lahoratory courses. True, 12-crown-4 (ethylene oxide cyclic tetramer) is not exactly the same as any other crown compound, but it is of the same family type, and little is known of the hioloaical activity of many of the crown compounds. 1; would he &fortunate indeed to see the complete exclusion of ex~erimentsemploying crown compounds. This may occur if incidents arise from improper handling procedures. The fact is these compounds may be biologically hazardous, and instructors should take a cautious route when developing or introducing undergraduate experiments using them.
330 1 Journal of Chemical Education