Archive by date | July 2009

Putting the chemistry into sci-fi: Episode 2

In my previous blog, I wrote about the lack of strong chemistry themes in science fiction. Here I’ll suggest a few resources and book titles for those who want some chemical spice in their sci-fi – maybe this will be useful for summer holiday reading.  Read more

Materials Girl: Catching up

Posted on behalf of Materials Girl Previously, summer class and the flurry of conference posts have been an excuse for my lack of posting. But, like Neil, I need to get back to it. So much has happened in my academic world since my last post! Does a personal Twitter feed with periodic chemistry references count as updates? In May, we were drowning in midterms and the doom of upcoming finals. Merely weeks later, I discovered that my last chemistry exam was over and I was running off to multiple commencements, amidst moving out of a surprisingly stuffed little dorm  … Read more

Putting the chemistry into sci-fi: Episode 1

Wouldn’t it be refreshing to find some science-fiction in which the key plot developments revolve around a chemical concept? It doesn’t seem like much to ask, and yet it’s really difficult to find sci-fi that genuinely embraces chemical themes. There does seem to be an appetite for such material, at least among chemists — an ACS symposium in 1992 on chemistry in science fiction was apparently standing room only.  Read more

Educating Excimer: Room to fail

Posted on behalf of Aaron Finke Chemistry lab courses should focus more on method and problem-solving rather than specific techniques, with room for students to “fail” so they can learn from their mistakes. The best approach is to use open-ended experiments that require students to formulate conclusions other than “it worked” or “it didn’t work.” However, these experiments usually require a significant time commitment on the instructors’ part, and so these kinds of experiments are usually only found in labs for chemistry majors with small student enrollments. My undergrad’s senior capstone project for chemistry majors is a particularly good example  … Read more