Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics Websites

Reports on some sites I have visited, not a complete guide. There are more links elsewhere for specific topics.

A good source of URL's is the BBC Web Guide. To get it, take the link in Personal to the BBC, and then click on Web Guide at the bottom of the page. Go to Science sites, and select what you wish. There is no Mathematics link.

  1. Chemfinder: A commercial site, with some annoyances. While looking at data, a new advertising screen took over, and there are the usual cookies at every turn. However, the information was there and was useful. I looked up Toluene, and found its index of refraction to be 1.4969 (wavelength not stated), and read about its health properties, finding out that it is quite benign and not carcinogenic, though inhaling affects the brain. It disappears quickly in the environment, but has toxic products.
  2. Physics 2000: From the University of Colorado. A child's garden of modern physics in dialogue form. Mathematics is avoided like the pox. Radioactivity does not even bring forth the exponential. A superscript "Alg" on the index to a link apparently means that algebra is involved (there is no legend explaining the superscripts). The "algebra" on one page consisted of f = 1/T, c = d/T and c = d x f. I could not find out what Adv implied about a page. One "Adv" link explained that radiation was named α, β and γ. How advanced! The title for this page was "NoTitle/Header." Downloading the pictures of the actors in the dialogs always takes considerable time, and applets are automatically called forth and obscure the page before one knows what to do with them. Some of the graphics and the applets are very nice, but are mainly just animated fun. I did like the atomic spectra, however. Polarization mainly consists of a long explanation of liquid crystal displays--a brave effort, but probably useless. It seems to be assumed that reflected light is 100% polarized, and it is incorrectly stated that the eye cannot detect polarization (see Haidinger's Brush). I think the authors understand projection in connection with polarization, but they still say that absorbers "absorb all the radiation in a certain plane." Electromagnetic waves are mainly wiggly lines of force; when they are finally about to get to magnetic fields, explanation stops abruptly. No mention of Maxwell or Hertz (not 20th century). Mass and energy conservation (E = mc2) never does any mass balances. I can't imagine feeble material like this being useful beyond grade school. Most topics are far beyond a child's everyday experience, and this material will not prepare the mind for anything except believing what people say. It even implies that the people who know these things are different from them, and never asks the pupil to think. The more of this stuff you get, the stupider you become.
  3. Physlink: An ad is at the top, you can buy things, and of course there are cookies. It is more on the "physics industry" than on physics. There is a Reference section with nifty information like the SI prefixes (called Decimal) and the Greek alphabet. The Equations in Physics link gave various text pages in assorted formats for downloading (no viewing online) that contained, apparently, just equations! Dave's Math Tables did not work when clicked. Right-click the selections and choose Open to see them. They are elementary and poorly formatted. Indeed, all the equations I saw were poorly formatted (not like the ones in this web page!) when a little HTML would display them properly. Sometimes there were superscripts plus the ^. Under the Space/Math selection I did find references on Map Projections. My search for anything on Differential Equations was fruitless in any of the sites so far.
  4. NIST Constants: an excellent site for fundamental constants. For example, Avogadro's Number N = 6.022 141 99 x 1023. They know enough HTML to put in real exponents.
  5. Fermi Surfaces: a very attractive site with computed Fermi surfaces. Look at Cu, Fe, for example.
  6. Nuclear Data: Brookhaven National Laboratories site, with links to sources of data.
  7. World Nuclear Association: everything on nuclear power and uranium. Far superior to the US site, which is not worth wasting your time on.
  8. Year of the Ocean 1998: almost devoid of any useful information.
  9. Amethyst Galleries: an excellent gallery of mineral information and photos. Photos may be used if credited; on-line purchase of specimens.
  10. Morning Glory: the impressive roll clouds of the Gulf of Carpentaria.
  11. SOS Math: a good intermediate-level site with lists of URL's and excellent tutorials. I looked at the one on bifurcations in differential equations. There are many, many cookies (9 per link), and animated ads for things like mortgages, however. Complex Variables is really just elementary complex numbers, not analytic functions. A link to Joyce's Euclid's Elements returned an Error 404. Also, Eric Weisstein's pages are down due to copyright disputes.
  12. Kevin Brown's Math Pages: An excellent site with many interesting pages. The Music page contains .MID files, and there is a good page of Physics topics. A Search facility is supported, but like most there is no list of keywords. Well worth a visit.
  13. BBC Hands-On Science: An excellent, serious site. I saw how to build a Kevin Water Dropper electrostatic machine from easy-to-get parts there, for example.
  14. Britney's Guide to Semiconductor Physics: A tutorial in semiconductor electronics embedded in a website devoted to Ms Spears. The background is busy, and the graphics take a while to load, but it seems serious.

I am amazed at the use of cookies in most websites, when they are completely unneeded. Their purpose is to give a web session some continuity, useful when buying things and interacting with the site's server. There is no reason why these sites need this continuity. Cookies come with the advertisements that support the page, and each ad wants its own cookie, a very cumbersome arrangement but one easy for the lazy. Most of the sites are apparently prepared by people who do not speak any dialect of HTML and use authoring software. Also, much of the material is simply collected, like a pile of debris, without good organization or cross-referencing.

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Composed by J. B. Calvert
Created 8 March 2001
Last revised 29 January 2003