A fairly common criticism of Science & Scientists is that we change our minds. We say something one day and contradict ourselves the next day. This implies that we don’t really know what we are talking about and that changing your mind is a weakness.
However, it is the ability to change our minds in the face of evidence that gives Science its strength. The scientific method (which we will explore in greater detail in Journal Club) is all about looking at the evidence and making a statement or coming to a conclusion based upon the strength of that evidence. If the evidence changes (due to better equipment, different evidence or from discoveries in other branches of science) then it is the duty of the Scientist to follow the evidence and not hold to their personal view (contrast that with politics).
Your task is to collectively produce a timeline showing how the model of the atom has changed over the years. Who were the scientists involved and what experiments, evidence or thought led them to consider that their model was correct? Submit your findings (by replying to this post) on your particular area and I will order them into a Timeline on this blog. Another powerful thing that scientists do, is share their work and review and evaluate the work of others, so remember to cite all your sources of information (that means using more than just the 1st website you come across) as this can lend credibility to your work.
A Journal Club is a high-level way of people getting together to review and discuss a scientific article, a piece of research or a way of thinking. It is a forum for everyone to express a view, put forward an opinion or simply just listen to the discussion. It should open your minds and allow you to gain deeper understanding into a specific topic that has been chosen in advance.
Initially I propose that this club runs every 2 weeks and discusses a topic I will post about 2 weeks in advance, giving everyone time to consider the topic in question. It will start with generic topics covering Science in general and advance into looking at the process behind actual scientific publications. It will hopefully make you all more rounded Scientists, give you an insight into the world of scientific publishing and equip you with a critical way of considering evidence and associated claims. Essentially it will prepare you for the really tricky interview scenarios that top level Universities and employers like to throw at you to see how you think about stuff that’s not on the science curriculum.
The purpose of this blog and of Journal Club is for you to share and improve your understanding from each other, not just me. Don’t forget to make comments, post work and read each other’s posts. What you get from this unique experience is related to what you put into it.
Whilst ‘Big Physics’ seems to have captured the publics imagination and has more than its fair share of celebrity scientists, chemistry and chemists continue in their unassuming way.
Take a moment to consider how chemistry has changed the world around you. Think about items such as plastics, fibres, paints, medicines, preservatives, fertilisers to help feed the world, fuels and so on. The modern world is the creation of chemists.
As you embark on your A-level in chemistry and hopefully continue your exploration beyond these 2 years I want you to think about how chemistry has changed, is changing or may change the world we live in. Pick an area of interest, do some research and tell us all about it on this blog.
Be creative, be interesting, link to other sites if you wish, but above all be original. Make sure to reference any material you use or quote. When you have finished it, post it in here. Since it’s a blog, feel free to comment and ask questions about the work you read on here.
With the 1st year of studying A-level chemistry completed, what advice would you give to new students? What has been helpful? What do you wish you had done earlier? What worked well? What went wrong? What have you enjoyed or found interesting? It’s your chance to give the advice you wish you had received or wish you had followed. Over to you.