The complete archive of the Royal Society journals, including some of the most significant scientific papers ever published since 1665, is to be made freely available electronically for the first time until 2007.
The archive contains seminal research papers including accounts of Michael Faraday's groundbreaking series of electrical experiments, Isaac Newton's invention of the reflecting telescope, and the first research paper published by Stephen Hawking.
The Society's online collection, which until now only extended back to 1997, contains every paper published in the Royal Society journals from the first ever peer-reviewed scientific journal, Philosophical Transactions in 1665, to the most recent addition, Interface.
You can register for free. So now, for a time at least, you can read free of charge some extraordinary historical documents. Here are a few examples:
- On the Constitution of the Atmosphere by John Dalton
- On the Action of Radium Emanations on Diamond by William Crookes
- The Separation of the Most Volatile Gases from Air without Liquefaction by James Dewar
- On the Compressibilities of Oxygen, Hydrogen, Nitrogen, and Carbonic Oxide between One Atmosphere and Half an Atmosphere of Pressure, and on the Atomic Weights of the Elements Concerned.--Preliminary Notice by Lord Rayleigh
Note: this facility seems to have been withdrawn?
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!
The Daily Telegraph web site is carrying a story indicating a possible treatment for Alzheimer's.
Quote:"A drug that is used in the treatment of athlete's foot could be used to treat Alzheimer's disease, according to a new study by British doctors.
The study, by a team from University College, London, found that clioquinol, a drug that is also used to treat ear infections and indigestion, can almost halt the progression of Alzheimer's.
It discovered that clioquinol, which was developed 100 years ago, is able to absorb the zinc and copper atoms that concentrate in the brains of Alzheimer's sufferers before dementia sets in.
Prana Technology, an Australian drug firm, provided clioquinol for the first small trial. "
The BBC report that UK and US intelligence agents foiled a chemical bomb plot in the UK. Apparently the plot was involves detonating a combination of explosive and osmium tetraoxide, [OsO4].
The target is thought to be in crowded areas, possibly within a confined area, perhaps in London. The plotters apparently did not obtain any of the tetroxide, perhaps because it costs around UK pounds 100 per gram!
Not totally clear why osmium tetroxide was chosen. Certainly it is unpleasant, corrosive, toxic, irritant, volatile, and a stain. It reacts with alkenes - hence the staining properties, and must be handled properly in the lab.
Anyone, anywhere with access to a personal computer, could help find a cure for cancer by giving 'screensaver time' from their computers to the world's largest ever computational project, which will screen 250 million molecules for cancer-fighting potential.
The project is being carried out by Oxford University's Centre for Computational Drug Discovery - a unique 'virtual centre' funded by the National Foundation for Cancer Research (NFCR), which is based in the Department of Chemistry and linked with international research groups via the world-wide web - in collaboration with United Devices, a US-based distributed computing technology company, and Intel, who are sponsoring the project.
Update: On Friday 27 April the Screensaver Project finally came to a close. The project, developed with the National Foundation for Cancer Research has run for six years and has at various times been funded by Intel, Microsoft and by IBM, but was chiefly a collaboration with United Devices Inc of Austin Texas.
It has been an enormous success, involving over 3.5 million personal computers in more than 200 countries. Only the SETI [Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence] project has had more participants, but none has involved as much data transmission as this research.
The project built a database of billions of small drug-like molecules with known routes to synthesis. These compounds have been screened virtually to see if they might make potent inhibitors of proteins of known crystal structure and biological significance.
The Higher Education Funding Council for England is to provide £75 million in additional funding to support very high cost science subjects, which are strategically important to the UK economy and society but vulnerable because of relatively low student demand.
The funding over three years from 2007-08 will support chemistry; physics; chemical engineering; and mineral, metallurgy and materials engineering - to help maintain provision in these subjects in universities and colleges while demand from students grows.
The additional funding for chemistry, physics and the other subjects mentioned is said to increase the HEFCE teaching grant for these subjects by approximately 20 per cent or by one thousand pounds per student.
- Terms and conditions will be attached to the funding, which will include a requirement that institutions maintain teaching capacity in the subjects concerned. The money will be allocated by formula to reflect the scale of teaching activity at each institution in the subjects concerned. The details of the allocation method will be considered by the HEFCE Board in January.
- Full details about the range and scope of the £160 million programme of work to support strategically important and vulnerable subjects is available in the HEFCE October 2006 update to the Secretary of State
GoElemental! is an interactive open-air project in the city of Bath in the UK based around the periodic table of elements 6pm - 9pm, from the 17-19th December 2004. It is at St Michael's Square, opposite the Little Theatre Cinema, Bath, BA1 1SP, UK.
The work takes the format of a three-day interactive animation, to be projected onto a wall opposite the Little Cinema in St Michael's Square. Using their mobile phones, the audience will be able to text an element's name to a number provided at the show to find out where that element is used and what it does. On receiving the request, the projection will change and show a humorous or exciting animation of their chosen element.
GoElemental intends to whet people's curiosity about the scientific chemical elements, and introduce them to their everyday uses in an accessible and fun way. The idea behind the project is to spark a sense of wonder about the world around us.
GoElemental has been developed by Kerry Bradshaw, an MA student at Bath Spa University college, in collaboration with James Grierson from the Science department at Oxford Community school, and Peter Bradshaw, based in San Francisco, USA.
You might be interested in Reactive Reports - a web-based Chemistry Magazine. Reactive Reports provides the chemistry community with "cutting edge reports of exciting developments in the world of the chemical sciences and related fields" and is written by David Bradley who is based at Cambridge in the UK.
The BBC has a good article about John Dalton on its site. In 1803 John Dalton demonstrated that atoms must exist - and so set chemistry to become a modern science. He formulated a way to denote chemical elements and their compounds. This enabled science to gain an understanding of the properties and interactions of different substances.
His standing in society of the time is astonishing. While still alive, a statue was erected in 1838 in Manchester in the UK by public subscription. It cost 2,000 guineas. For the time this was a vast amount of money. When he died, Manchester gave him a huge funeral. It is said that 40,000 people filed by his coffin.
John Dalton 1766-1844 (born Eaglesfield, Cumberland, England)