It's not too late to do some recreational reading this summer. "Catalyst" is an enjoyable, light read, especially for chemists. How often do you find a novel that includes catalysis, NMR, mass spectrometry, TLC, some scientific misconduct, and a little sex?
Most of the chemistry professors and teachers with whom I am acquainted are fairly pleased with the national trend toward putting more computers in school, college, and university classrooms.
I like almost everything about this book, except the title. I don't believe that teachers of science should be "explaining" science in their classrooms and, fortunately, the authors of "Explaining Science" don't, either.
The rematch between world chess champion Garry Kasparov and IBM's "Deep Blue" (and a team of programmers) provides the focus for a discussion of the meaning of intelligence, humanity, and consciousness.
Bernd Heinrich is one of my favorite writers about nature, and especially insects. I discovered his "Bumblebee Economics" (Harvard University Press paperback) a number of years ago, and used it in a course for non-science majors that I taught in our Honors College.
The "river" to which Dawkins refers in the title of this little (172 page) book is the river of digital genetic information that connects us to our human ancestors and to the rest of life on our planet. I find this metaphor to be an extremely provocative one, and I suspect that it would appeal to many of our computer-addicted students.
If you have students looking for an interesting science project, the May Scientific American has a nice one. A sun photometer can be used to determine the amount of haze in the atmosphere, and this article describes one that can be built in a couple of hours for less than $20 (although you also need to have a voltmeter).
The Bulletin for the History of Chemistry is the official publication of the American Chemical Society's Division for the History of Chemistry. The most recent issue is dedicated to the contributions of C. K. Ingold, one of the founders of physical organic chemistry. It records the proceedings of a symposium at the ACS meeting in Chicago in 1993.
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.
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.