Introducing C&EN Mobile
Aug17

Introducing C&EN Mobile

My office BlackBerry, which I had only become reasonably comfortable using over the past few months, recently decided to stop downloading e-mail. I could still send e-mail and use the device as a phone. I could even access the Internet with it. But it wouldn’t accept e-mail. So I needed a new phone, and I had to decide what kind of a phone to get. Now, I hate to admit this, but I have reached the age where I find new technology somewhat intimidating. A couple of weeks ago, I listened to C&EN Associate Editor Carmen Drahl, who has never met a technology she didn’t embrace with gusto, talk about her iPhone as not just a smartphone but a “complete reporter’s toolbox,” which can be used as a camera, video camera, and tape recorder. I was daunted. But I also knew that, as the editor-in-chief of this magazine, I needed to at least grasp how my staff are using technology to do their jobs. And, as important, how C&EN’s readers are accessing the magazine. So now I have an iPhone 4. In a text, one of my sons asked me, “So, how does it feel to have a tiny computer in your pocket?” Which brings me to the subject of this Editor’s Page. With this week’s issue, we proudly introduce C&EN Mobile, which is designed to bring C&EN’s rich content to your mobile device—iPhone, iPad, or Android phone—formatted to optimize its readability on that device. The C&EN Mobile app is available for free from Apple's App Store or the Android Market. Download it and you have automatic access to all C&EN Online Latest News stories, the 10 blogs on the CENtral Science blog network, and ACS Careers job postings. That’s a lot of content you can access on your phone for free. We post one or more—often as many as six—Latest News stories every day of the workweek to keep you up-to-date on breaking developments in the chemistry enterprise, from business news, to basic and applied research, to important policy developments, to news about ACS. And the CENtral Science network is a rich collection of blogs from C&EN editors and guest contributors as varied as The Safety Zone, in which Associate Editor Jyllian Kemsley explores important issues of lab safety, and The Haystack, in which Senior Editor Lisa Jarvis and Drahl focus on drug discovery. You can get a chuckle from the Newscripts blog maintained by Senior Editor Bethany Halford and Associate Editor Lauren Wolf. Or check out what some of our outside bloggers—Terra Sigillata’s David Kroll, Just Another Electron Pusher’s Christine Herman and Glen Ernst, and Transition States’...

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A Virtual Chemistry Flashcard App
Jun26

A Virtual Chemistry Flashcard App

We love chemistry iPhone apps here at C&EN-- and we've received word that a new one is arriving soon. So we're giving you a sneak peek at that app, Chemistry by Design, the brainchild of University of Arizona associate professor Jon T. Njardarson. Chemistry by Design is essentially a virtual flashcard system, designed to help students and full-fledged chemists alike learn the graphical language of organic synthesis by studying the step-by-step blueprint chemists used to arrive at complex natural products, and even some small-molecule drugs. Right now there are 202 total syntheses included in the app, adapted from publications dating as far back as 1956. Call it "Classics in Total Synthesis" for the iPod set. While the app lacks the prose that guided chemists through that well-known series of books, it intends to make up the difference with interactivity. A user can "hide" reagents, starting materials, or product structures in each step of each total synthesis in the app. "That generates different kinds of questions," Njardarson says. Chemists can quiz themselves on different parts of a total synthesis, or they can simply browse. Njardarson and his students developed the app in about four months, with programming support from the University of Arizona's Office of Instruction and Assessment (OIA). "I had the idea four years ago," but the support from the OIA was was really made the program possible, he adds. He hopes that chemists will be willing to contribute their own syntheses to the app, and has provided instructions for submissions. This blog post is not technically a sneak peek, since Njardarson launched Chemistry by Design on the web just this weekend. You can check it out right now if your heart so desires. But the web version won't work on the browser on your favorite iDevice, because it uses Flash. You'll have to wait for the app's premiere at the Apple App Store in a few weeks to do that. Njardarson says the app will be available free of charge. Find prior chem app coverage here, here, and...

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More Chemistry Apps
Apr03

More Chemistry Apps

A recent edition of Newscripts featured several chemistry-related iPhone apps. Two more I'd like to throw in the mix are the Experimenter and Chemical Touch apps. The Experimenter is a fun little how-to app for home-based chemistry experiments and includes demonstration videos. Iliya Yordanov and his wife, Maria, are the masterminds behind the app, though Iliya credits Maria with the initial idea. "She was in chemistry nationals back at high school," he says, "and one day she proposed that it'd be so much fun to make an app teaching people funny and easy-to-do chemistry experiments. And that's how it all started." Iliya and Maria hired a more experienced chemist to help them construct and safely demonstrate the experiments before spending four months shooting the videos. The Experimentor app is available on iTunes for $1.99. The Chemical Touch, created by biophysics postdoc Christopher Fennell, is bot a touch sensitive periodic table and  an amino acid companion. He wanted to use his knowledge to make something fun and useful, so he evolved the Periodic Table widget he developed as a grad student into a version for the iPhone and iPod Touch. Users can not only view atomic mass, density, melting point, boiling point, atomic radius, and electronegativity, but they can also recolor the periodic table to display trends in these properties. Elements and amino acids are linked to their respective Wikipedia page. The Chemical Touch is available on iTunes for a mere 99 cents. Fennell deliberately chose the minimum amount he could charge for the app. "I treat it as an incentive to keep me developing and improving the application in my spare time," he says. A free "lite" version of the app is also available for those who are averse to paying for apps but could still get some benefit out of Fennell's work. He says the free version is downloaded 10 times more than the paid version. "Kind of makes you reflect on the relative value of your effort," Fennell says. "When writing a scientific paper, I would be thrilled to get 100 citations over its lifetime. When I wrote this fun, little application, I accrued nearly half a million direct users over a year-and-a-half...

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Why The iPad Rocks For Chemistry
Apr02

Why The iPad Rocks For Chemistry

Apple and Theodore Gray are at it again. In the past, both have made us rethink how we view technology and the elements, respectively. But now, the two have joined forces. Tomorrow, Apple releases it's much-anticipated iPad. Tomorrow, Gray releases an iPad version of his book The Elements. This movie requires Flash Player 9 Early adopters of the iPad absolutely must download Gray's book. The page previews alone are stunning and almost enough incentive to go stand in line at an Apple store Saturday morning. It is that amazing. Xeni Jardin at boingboing has a great review of both the iPad and Gray's latest creation. But briefly, you can not only spin the crisp images of the samples with your fingertips, but you can also view them in stereo 3D. You can rotate multiple objects at the same time. Reading about gold? Tap on the WolframAlpha button to get the current market price. According to Gray, "The Elements is the closest thing youʼre going to find to a magic book: if Harry Potter checked out a book about the periodic table from the Hogwarts library, this would be it." He tells C&EN that "this is the best, most fun, most magical piece of software/book that I've ever been involved with.  I can't wait to see how people like it when they can finally get their hands on it Saturday morning.  Based on the comments I have gotten from the hardcover edition, I think it's going to get a lot of people excited about a topic they don't normally find exciting." "This is so much more than what it's possible to do on paper," he adds. And that's why the iPad will rock for chemistry. Imagine what the future of chemistry textbooks holds. Everything The Elements can do is impressive given it's incredibly short development time. Like any new release, there are a few cosmetic tweaks coming in the near future (for example, the ability to change font size or view pages in portrait rather than landscape orientation).  "But," Gray says, "people should not get the idea that the current version is in any way incomplete: We concentrated on creating a polished, complete experience, a pure vision if you will.  Now we can go back and dot a few i's and cross a few t's." The iPad version of The Elements is available at the Apple Apps Store for...

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