Cookie policy: This site uses cookies (small files stored on your computer) to simplify and improve your experience of this website. Cookies are small text files stored on the device you are using to access this website. For more information please take a look at our terms and conditions. Some parts of the site may not work properly if you choose not to accept cookies.

Join

Subscribe or Register

Existing user? Login

Amateur scientists need a society

  • Print
  • Share
  • Comment
  • Save
  • Print Friendly Version of this pagePrint Get a PDF version of this webpagePDF

Merlin well remembers carrying out various “scientific” experiments as a boy, inspired by the International Geophysical Year (IGY) of 1957–58. Chemistry experiments in the kitchen at home were eventually banned after hair and eyebrows were scorched and the kitchen sink stained an indelible brown with potassium permanganate.

In the 1950s a little book was published called ‘Chemistry experiments at home for boys and girls’ by H. L. Heys. I blame this book for my interest in chemistry and ultimately my entry into the pharmacy profession. (Does anyone still have a copy? There was one for sale on Amazon recently for £13.)

The monthly journal Scientific American at one time had a column called “The amateur scientist”, in which instructions for building apparatus were given, along with suggested experiments.

Some articles that Merlin found of particular interest included the optics of a drop of water (September 1989), why the first few puffs are the hardest when blowing up a balloon (December 1989), making a copper chloride laser (April 1990), sunspots and how to observe them safely (June 1990) and copying DNA in your kitchen using the polymerase chain reaction (July 2000).

Many of the experiments described used simple apparatus that could be made up on a garage workbench. Unfortunately few of the experiments seemed likely to lead to original discoveries. Merlin wondered if, in recent years, any amateur scientists have actually made any real discoveries and, if so, how they published their results. A Journal of Amateur Science was started in the UK in the 1960s but it only ran to a few issues.

In 1994, an American science enthusiast with the wonderful name of Forrest M. Mims III, set up the Society for Amateur Scientists (SAS). The SAS publishes a regular journal, the Citizen Scientist. A recent issue describes a group of citizen scientists who are using home-made magnetometers to study the Earth’s geomagnetic field.

It also invites SAS members to join a study of flowering dates of plants, shows how to make an anemometer from a bicycle digital speedometer, and lots more. Unfortunately, there appears to be no similar organisation in the UK, unless I have missed something.

Are any pharmacists involved in amateur science?

Have your say

For commenting, please login or register as a user and agree to our Community Guidelines. You will be re-directed back to this page where you will have the ability to comment.

  • Print
  • Share
  • Comment
  • Save
  • Print Friendly Version of this pagePrint Get a PDF version of this webpagePDF

From: Beyond pharmacy blog

Take a look here for thoughts and musings beyond the pharmacy realm

Newsletter Sign-up

Want to keep up with the latest news, comment and CPD articles in pharmacy and science? Subscribe to our free alerts.