Issue Date: January 2, 2006
The article on golf balls written by Jason Gorss contains factual errors. (C&EN, July 18, 2005, page 34). Gutta-percha is trans-1,4-polyisoprene. Trans-1,2-polyisoprene as written in the article is meaningless and structurally impossible. From sources on the Web, it also appears that the botanical information is incorrect: The 6th Edition of the Columbia Encyclopedia lists the source of gutta-percha as Palaquium gutta from East Asia and not sapodilla (Manikara zapota), originally from the Yucatan and grown around the world for its fruit. The U.S. Dispensatory lists the source as balata, the juice of the Bully tree (Mimusops balata Gaertner). Gutta-percha also has a use in dentistry, and balata (gum chicle) is also used in chewing gum. Effective science communication requires careful attention to science as well as to communication.
James A. Moore
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