Blogs

Ambigrams

Ambigram: Mark WinterAmbigram: Mark Winter
This is off topic really but it is slightly chemical. I'd never heard of ambigrams until Punya Mishra at the Michigan State University in the USA was kind enough to send me one that he constructed using my name (as thanks for constructing WebElements). He has constructed many other beautiful ambigrams. You need to stand on your head to see exactly how clever it is. All chemists need to appreciate symmetry and this is a good example of a C2 operation.

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The Great Global Warming Swindle

Here in the UK, Channel 4 just screened an interesting documentary. Good viewing and challenges what seems to have become the accepted view that global warming is caused by man-made CO2 emissions. Instead, the programme points out that climate change has always been with us (including a medieval warm period, even balmier than today, and a mini ice-age in the seventeenth century when the River Thames froze so solid that fairs were regularly held on the ice). The programme presents some evidence to suggest that the rise in carbon dioxide lags behind temperature rises by 800 years and therefore can't be the cause of it. It also suggests that man-made sources of carbon dioxide are dwarfed by natural sources and that the source of variation in temperature is really linked to variations in sun activity.

The programme suggests that we can hardly be surprised when "environmental journalists" whose continued employment requires publication of stories produce newsworthy doom-laden stories. After all, why would the media publish stories from such journalists the gist of which is there is no need to panic because climate variation is nothing to do with us.

Anyway, if you are able, see the programme again in the UK on More4 (Monday 12 March 2007, 10.00pm): "Polemical film challenging the consensus that man-made CO2 is heating up the earth. Featuring leading academics, the film questions the science behind the accepted reasons for global warming and argues other explanations for climate change are not being properly aired".

WebElements Chemistry Nexus has moved

This website (the WebElements Chemistry Nexus) is now incorporated within the main WebElements site at http://www.webelements.com/nexus/ - please adjust your bookmarks accordingly. If you use a newsreader please change your link to http://www.webelements.com/nexus/rss.xml.

New Periodic table photo poster

Periodic table photo posterPeriodic table photo poster
I'm delighted to announce that WebElements has collaborated with Theodore Gray to produce a new glossy laminated periodic table poster showing his fantastic photographs of the elements. The style of the poster is such that it pairs nicely with our existing periodic table poster. You can order it now from our online shop

Do you want your own chemistry blog?

I'm slowly expanding some of the functionality on the WebElements periodic table site and we now have the bare bones of a news and forums site here (the current URL will switch to the main WebElements site in a while). This part of the site will also house chemistry information pages in a "book " format (this will also be open to contributors in a while) and some other features.

The system I am using does allow individual users to post their own blogs and it seems to me that some of you have something to say. Chemists don't seem to be natural bloggers, however, this is an offer for some of you chemists out there to have your own blog on one of the highest profile chemistry sites around.

This is an experiment and I want to offer the facility only to a few chemists just now. If you are interested please contact me via the contact form and tell me who you are, what you do (briefly!) and if it seems appropriate I'll set you up with your own blog. You shouldn't feel any pressure to write every day or even every week, just when you have something to say. All I ask is that you keep to chemistry, at least most of the time, and keep it polite.

Darwin online

Good to see that the complete works of Charles Darwin, one of the greatest scientists, are being published online by Cambridge University. Darwin Online features many newly transcribed or never-before-published manuscripts and is worth anyone's time to browse around for a while. The great English naturalist Charles Darwin (1809-1882) revolutionized our understanding of life on earth.

"The idea is to make these important works as accessible as possible; some people can only get at Darwin that way," said Dr John van Wyhe, the project's director. "It is astonishing to see the notebook that Darwin had in his pocket as he walked around the Galapagos - the scribbled notes that he took as he clambered over the lava," said Randal Keynes, the great-great-grandson of Charles Darwin.

Darwin Online is educational and non-profit. Darwin Online received a grant of £286,000 (or $530,000) to fund the research and activities that produced the website. This funding ends in October 2008. Why not head over to the site and donate a little cash to advance the project?

Update to this site

I'm managing to make some progress on this area of the site, but a little more rushed than I would have preferred owing to what amounted to a denial of service attack from Russia and the failure of the previous forum software to cope. Several years ago I used content management software to combine news/forums/wikis and so on but the software was too early and clunky. After that I moved to smaller packages, one for news, one for forums, and so on. That worked but it was all rather fragmented. Open source content management systems have evolved and here we see the first steps to recombine the news, forums and so on pack into a single entity using a single system. I have a different system that I am still pondering for the future but I think this one is OK for now. So, what we now have is:

  • News: (starting with the material from the previous news site. I need to recruit a few novice reporters for this so volunteers are invited to get in contact. We can pay a little for articles, but not top rate;
  • Forums: starting with the posts from the previous forums site. All members from the previous forums site who made any posts still have accounts but all these members need to reset their password (this is a security measure, sorry for inconvenience);
  • File downloads: moved from forums to their own menu block below to the left;
  • Polls: just a little fun really - suggestions for new ones welcome;
  • News feeds: I've added news feeds to a number of journals and will add more chemistry/science feeds later. Depending upon your access rights to these journals, you should be able to jump straight to the journal article from the feed article;

Chemistry news feed

The WebElements news system is up and running. Many people use a news reader such as NetNewsWire to keep track of news. If you would like to track the WebElements news here is the address: http://www.webelements.com/nexus/rss.xml

WebElements: the periodic table on the WWW [http://www.webelements.com/]

Copyright 1993-2011 Mark Winter [The University of Sheffield and WebElements Ltd, UK]. All rights reserved.