RESOURCES: Boost Your Chemical IQ

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Science  03 Oct 2003:
Vol. 302, Issue 5642, pp. 27
DOI: 10.1126/science.302.5642.27b

Even students who sail through inorganic chemistry can founder when they reach organic, with its multitude of mechanisms to remember, puzzling stereochemical structures, and tricky synthesis problems. Students who can't tell a boat from a chair conformation, or who need a refresher on the Diels-Alder reaction, can consult this tutorial from Paul Young of the University of Illinois, Chicago. The five chapters cover structures and bonding, different types of spectroscopy (with data for 50 compounds), the nomenclature and reactions of the major functional groups, and stereochemistry. Each chapter drives home its lessons with a wealth of molecular illustrations (you'll need the Chime plug-in) and sample problems.

Another handy reference for chem students comes from the American Chemical Society. The periodic table that hangs on the wall of every chemistry classroom packs information into each square, but the site shows how the Web can enhance the old standby. Click on “Vanadium,” for instance, and you get a whole appendix worth of vital stats: the metal's mass, melting point, density, atomic radius, and so on. You can also make plots that compare the qualities of different elements, such as their electronegativity, or how strongly they attract electrons in a bond.

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