Chemistry

Observation of Interference Between Two Bose Condensates

The very first of "Hal's Picks", back in 1995, was the announcement of the first experimental observation of a Bose-Einstein condensate. This can be considered as a new phase of matter, in which atoms in a cold cluster lose their separate identities, because their deBroglie wavelengths exceed the dimension of the group in which they find themselves.

Enantiomeric Excesses in Meteoritic Amino Acids

The origin of the molecular "handedness" that pervades earth's biology has been an evolutionary puzzle. Given that right and left-handed amino acids have equal energies, why do only the left-handed ones participate in biosynthesis? One hypothesis is that life started from templates that arose from extraterrestrial sources, such as meteors.

Plastic: The Making of a Synthetic Century

The dustcover for this book promises it to be an anti-chemistry diatribe, but I found the book itself, with the exception of a chapter near the end ("The Seat of the Plague") to be relatively even-handed in its treatment of the subject. It is full of interesting anecdotes about the history of polymers and their overwhelming impact on mankind.

Search for Past Life on Mars: Possible Relic Biogenic Activity in Martian Meteorite ALH84001

How can little green men from Mars not be a "Pick of the Month"? This article has received a huge amount of notice in the popular press, and you've almost certainly heard about it by now. If you click on the highlighted word "Science" above, and you have a personal or institutional subscription to Science, you can read the complete text of the paper for yourself, online.

Digital Diffraction

I've always thought that optical transforms were a great model for the determination of crystal structures using X-ray diffraction, and I've used the ICE (Institute for Chemical Education) kit for this exercise many times.

The National Science Education Standards

Well, the final version of the National Science Education Standards has finally arrived. If you are involved in curriculum planning for your school or district, or if you want to study the document in detail, you can buy a copy for $19.95 + 4.00 shipping from the National Academy Press, 2101 Constitution Avenue, NW, Lockbox 285, Washington DC 20055 [1-800-624-6242].