Thursday, October 1, 1998

Joules, Jules and more jewels: a palmful of science

Science, not science fiction

While science fiction has no doubt played an important and influential role in the last two centuries, the natural sciences have contributed to improving our quality of life, have established new expectations for mankind, and have evoked fear in every 8th grader to ever have an Earth-Science midterm. For those of you interested in keeping scientific information and data in your PalmPilot, there are a myriad of documents and resources available to meet your needs.

First, no self-respecting chemistry student, or chemist for that matter, would think of leaving home without a periodic table. Several versions exist, including M. Carden's plain text format (for NotePad), M. Hoffman's DOC format, and J. Castagnetto's J-File database. In addition, for those serious about their chemistry, SanSoft offers a set of DOC files entitled "Chemistry Set for PalmPilot". This package includes information on the elements, critical chemical data, and a guide to hazardous materials, among other topics. More information on this package can be found at http://www.pdantic.com/chempp.htm.

Astronomers and backyard stargazers also have a wealth of documents at their disposal. Mike Nettles' Messier Objects database contains information on 110 notable astral entities like the Crab Nebula and the Andromeda Galaxy. "Just the Facts" Guide to the Solar System, by F. Martinez, offers detailed data on our own corner of the cosmos. SanSoft offers a set of DOC files on astronomy similar to their offering on chemistry; more information on "AstroPilot" can be found at http://www.pdantic.com/astropp.htm. Non-document resources, like star-map programs, are also available for all you PalmPilot-toting astronomers.

If you want to read up on man's actual explorations of space, and compare and contrast them to Mr. Verne's tall tales, several NASA documents are available in DOC format. NASA's Space Flight FAQ answers many questions related to manned space travel, and NASA Space Flight 1997: Year-in-Review provides many mission-specific details about shuttle flights, satellite launches, and other ventures into space. And just in case there are some words you don't understand, you can grab the NASA Jet Propulsion Labs Space Terminology Guide to help define words like "albedo" (no, that's not what got Bill Clinton into trouble) and "magnetopause" [obvious joke deleted].