Why are there so few calculations on Chemguide?

If you know your way around Chemguide, you will know that there are hardly any calculations of any sort on the site.

There are two reasons for this . . .

The first is that it is very difficult to learn how to do calculations from a web page. It is no good my pretending that learning to do chemistry calculations is one of the great excitements of life. In the early stages, it's pretty boring! It isn't until you get reasonably confident that you get the pleasure that comes with getting things right most of the time.

The best way of learning to do calculations is to sit yourself down somewhere quiet where you aren't going to get distracted. All you want around you is a bit of paper, a pencil, a calculator, and a good guidebook. Trying to do this in front of a computer is pretty well doomed to failure - there are just too many ways of distracting yourself!

Apart from anything else, the space in front of you is cluttered. Even if you are using a laptop, it is still taking up the space that you really need for your paper and calculator. If you are using a full-sized computer, you will have a keyboard and mouse exactly where you need to put your paper, etc.

But the main thing against the computer is that you have such easy instant access to a lot of more interesting things to do. The sum you are doing looks boring, and so you just have a (very quick!) look to see if you've got any e-mails, or whatever. By losing concentration so easily, you will never get past the early hurdles in defeating chemistry calculations - and, frankly, if you aren't going to make the effort to defeat them, you might as well give up doing chemistry right now!

The second reason is that all the necessary calculation work for this level is included in my chemistry calculations book. If I added calculations to Chemguide, nobody would buy the book and, just like everybody else, I need the income - both to live and also to subsidise the running costs of Chemguide.

The truth is that without the income from my books, Chemguide wouldn't exist in its present form - possibly it wouldn't exist at all. I can't afford to put that income at risk by offering you what would essentially be a free copy of the calculations book!

And, of course, there is the over-riding problem that including material similar to what is in the book on Chemguide could put me in breach of contract with my publishers.

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© Jim Clark 2007 (last modified October 2010)