Saturday, February 16, 2008

Access to Chemistry at Oxford

Oxford University in England has joined the list of colleges offering FREE online courses to the public. Their Access to Chemistry website "provides an excellent resource for prospective applicants to learn more about Chemistry at Oxford from anywhere in the world."

When you click on Pre-University Course, you can page through teaching material based on the book "Chemistry, Matter and the Universe" by Richard E. Dickerson and Irving Geis -- complete with helpful animated illustrations. Here's the introduction:
Many reasons can be given for studying chemistry, ranging from, "It is an intellectual adventure," to "I can make a good living at it," or even "It is required for graduation."

But the most valid response is simple. Chemistry is the study of how matter behaves. We have only one world in which to live. If we want to know how we can change it and what we cannot alter, or even simply to appreciate what we already have, then we must know how it works.

Chemistry is the subject that tells us this. Physics may teach us fundamental facts about elementary particles, matter, and energy, but it stops short of drawing conclusions about how the different kinds of matter around us change and react. Biology describes the large-scale behavior of organisms, which at their core are elaborate chemical systems. Some of the most fruitful advances in biology in the past two decades have come from a thoroughly chemical approach. If we can expand the concept of chemistry beyond our present limited and inadequate knowledge, then biology fundamentally is the highest form of applied chemistry. If chemistry is the study of how matter behaves, we must not forget that we, ourselves, are an integral part of this material world.
This is all part of Oxford's Virtual Chemistry Virtual Laboratory, which includes a 3DChem (a molecule of the month website), LiveChem (a library of nearly 300 videos), and a Webcast Lecture Series of courses such as Dr. Hugh Cartwright's Entertaining Chemistry. Looks to be an excellent resource!

1 comment:

Lorna said...

Thank you for this wonderful set of links. I am really enjoying your blog before embarking on an introductory chemistry course for my two children.