Monday, March 20, 2006

Organic, Man!

I took the first term of organic chemistry. The next two terms took me.

The first, in the course I took, was physical organic chemistry. When I understand something, I internalize it; thirty-five years later, I still know you can get from optical rotatory dispersion to circular dichroism with the help of the right mathematician.

When I don't, it's in one ear and out the other: for terms two and three -- lasso chemistry -- we got a new professor, who just didn't work for me. I doubt I could have told you the name of a major reaction the week after I took the quiz on it.

Fast forward to yesterday. Poking around the web, I found an open courseware organic course from Jean-Claude Bradley, at Drexel University.

On a lark, I looked. It's astonishing. He pulls out every possible technological stop. Every lecture is podcast, so I can download them to my iPod. The notes are all available as PDF. It's all brought together in a blogspot blog, CHEM241.

The text is on-line as PDF, of course. Quizzes and exercises appear to be a video game.

Not enough? All the lectures hang off the blog as streaming screencast Flash presentations. You can hear him talk as you watch him write on the board.

Already, I've learned more about Lewis diagrams than I knew then.

This is blogging with a vengeance. A real eye-opener.

Applause.

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