Picks

Why Shake Your Fever Thermometer? - and More

If you have ever wondered (as I have) how a fever thermometer actually works (but have never felt good enough while you were wondering to do any investigation) then you should look at this article in "How Things Work", a feature of The Physics Teacher edited by H. Richard Crane of the Physics Department of University of Michigan.

The Periodic Table and the Electron

Nearly everyone who teaches introductory chemistry courses, whether in secondary schools or in universities, makes the connection between the periodic table and electronic configurations. Eric Scerri provides history and science that can make the discussion of that topic both more historically and scientifically accurate.

Why People Believe Weird Things: Pseudoscience, Superstition, and Other Confusions of Our Time

Generally speaking, if you skipped every book with the word "weird" in the title, you wouldn't be missing much. This is an exception. Michael Shermer teaches the history of science at Occidental College in Eagle Rock, California and, as Editor of Skeptic Magazine, is a prominent and eloquent proponent of the skeptical viewpoint.

The Dead Zone

Did you know that the so-called "Spanish" influenza epidemic of 1918 killed more Americans in three months than the number who died in the First World War, the Second World War, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War - combined? Most people don't.

The Limelight

Heat a ball of lime in a hydrogen-oxygen flame, and what do you get? Limelight! This very intense light source was used for lighting plays (hence the modern usage of the word), but it also was the source for the record distance, for a time, over which man-made light was observed.

Catalyst, a Novel

It's not too late to do some recreational reading this summer. "Catalyst" is an enjoyable, light read, especially for chemists. How often do you find a novel that includes catalysis, NMR, mass spectrometry, TLC, some scientific misconduct, and a little sex?

The Computer Delusion

Most of the chemistry professors and teachers with whom I am acquainted are fairly pleased with the national trend toward putting more computers in school, college, and university classrooms.