Chemical education

WebElements Chemistry Nexus

This is the WebElements Chemistry Nexus: features chemistry in the news, the WebElements blog, science news aggregators and journal article aggregators. You can ask and answer questions on the chemistry forums.

On the Arseniates.

On the Arseniates., Dalton, John , Abstracts of the Papers Printed in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London (1800-1843), 1/1837, Volume 4, Issue 1, p.162 - 162, (1837)

Royal Society Digital Journal Archive Free from 23 Nov to 28 Feb 2010

Royal Society Digital Journal Archive Free from 23 Nov to 28 Feb 2010

The year "2010 is going to be a very special year at the Royal Society. As the worlds oldest science academy, we are looking forward to celebrating our 350th anniversary and to mark this special occasion we are making our digital archive containing more than 65,000 articles free to access.

The Royal Society Digital Journal Archive is easily the most comprehensive archive in science and contains some of the most significant scientific papers ever published. Covering almost 350 years of scientific research across the disciplines it is a priceless academic resource, free and exclusive to our journal package subscribers."

The complete archive is available online at and is free as part of one of the Royal Society's journal subscription packages.

Orbitron atomic orbitals

Orbitron atomic orbitals

Orbitron 3d atomic orbitals from the .

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?

21st Century science - dumbed down?

Arguments continue over science education in the UK.

Twenty First Century Science is a suite of new GCSE science courses for 14- to 16-year-olds and all schools in the UK can start the courses from September 2006. Schools can continue to offer separate Chemistry, Physics, and Biology courses.

Critics such as Sir Richard Sykes (rector of Imperial College London) is among many attack the new qualification. He warned a "dumbed down syllabus" may stop those who did not study chemistry, physics and biology individually from getting into good universities. Sir Richard Sykes stated on BBC News: "If you wish to have a dumbed-down syllabus for the general population that's fine. But for those who really want to go on and study a subject in depth, and particularly go to a good university like Imperial, then they'll never get there unless they study the individual subjects and take A-levels in these individual subjects." He wrote in a report from the Institute of Ideas think tank that: "A science curriculum based on encouraging pupils to debate science in the news is taking a back-to-front approach... Science should inform the news agenda, not the other way round."

David Perks who is head of physics at Graveney School in London, describes the changes as a "dumbing down" of the subject in a critical essay published by the Institute of Ideas (it is this essay that triggered the argument).

Baroness Mary Warnock said: "What counts as an issue to be debated in class is largely, as David Perks points out, dictated by the press. Far too much teaching at school has already degenerated into this kind of debate, more suitable for the pub than the school room."

However, not unexpectedly, the UK Department for Education and Skills said the qualification would be academically rigorous while encouraging more young people to consider studying science post-16. The British Association for the Advancement of Science and the Royal Societyseem to support the new course.

This project began because the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA) was asked by the government to explore ways to modernise the science curriculum which was criticised in some quarters. Pilot course started in September 2003 at about 80 pilot schools.

The BBC article on this topic has some interesting reader responses!

Can you make your name from the element symbols?

Can you make your name, or any other word come to that, from element symbols? Find out using this script:

Periodic Tales on Radio 4

The BBC is airing some "periodic tales" on Radio 4. Familiar Radio 4 voices introduce elements from the Periodic Table and the unique roles they play in human existence - with a little help from the irreverent Tom Lehrer. Listen to these ten elements:

  • Krypton: Heidli Nicklaus on the Superman element, krypton
  • Helium: Brian Perkins dramatises the effects of Helium
  • Silver: Trevor Harrison (Eddie Grundy in the Archers) finds some unusual properties of Silver
  • Cobalt: Hedli Nicklaus (Cathy Perks) takes on the goblin element of cobalt
  • Selenium: Carole Boyd (The Archers' Linda Snell) unearths selenium
  • Oxygen: Brian Perkins bravely dramatises the effects of oxygen
  • Arsenic: Charlotte Green takes on the deadly history of arsenic
  • Mercury: Carole Boyd (Linda Snell) reflects on mercury, the poisonous liquid metal
  • Iodine: Charlotte Green on the discovery of iodine's essential place in brain development
  • Nickel: Trevor Harrison reveals that the space station Mir is largely made of nickel

[[Note added Dec 2009: sadly these recordings no longer exist on the BBC site. I did offer to host them here but no luck]]

WebElements: the periodic table on the WWW []

Copyright 1993-2015 Mark Winter [The University of Sheffield and WebElements Ltd, UK]. All rights reserved.