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The Catalyst's Q & A Page

There may be times when you have a technical question concerning some aspect of chemistry, and can't seem to find an answer. Part of being educated is knowing where to find the answers you don't have. Below is a list of web sites that may be of some help in this matter. If you have an unanswered question, you might want to seek help at one of the following sites. Note: Many of these sites have been answering questions for several years or more and have accumulated an extensive collection of answers usually posted in an archive somewhere at the site. Check the archives, if available, for an answer to your question first! Most of these sites will not respond to questions that are already answered in their archives.

(All links to external sites will open in a separate browser window)

The Allexperts site relies on volunteer experts, "people with knowledge in their area of expertise who are willing to share their knowledge with others. We can't guarantee they can answer every question, but we can guarantee that most try to help." With this service you get to pick the person you want to answer your question (information about each volunteer is provided). "All answers are free and most come within a day!"

Chemistry Education Discussion List (CHEMED-L)
The Chemistry Education Discussion List is a listprocessor list. There are over 1000 participants from around the world and the membership continues to grow daily. Messages/questions can be sent to the list (CHEMED-L@MAILER.UWF.EDU) just as other electronic mail messages are sent. These messages /questions go out to all members at once when you use this address. Your question may then be answered by any of the recipients of the message (however, there is no guarantee you will get an answer). More specific information about this listprocessor list is available. Recent messages/questions can be viewed through the link provided above, and an option to search the entire archive is available at the top of the afformentioned page. The Chemistry Education Discussion List archives can also be accessed via a new page that provides many features including a search by keyword, author, or subject.

Eureka! is "a FREE one-on-one teacher-student chat." It connects students with teachers live and online. "Our tutors might not give you the answers, but they will guide you to them." The service is available 4 hours a night, from Sunday to Thursday.

Just Ask Antoine!
Just Ask Antoine! is an online general chemistry ("your question should have something to do with introductory chemistry or the chemistry of everyday life") answer column for students, teachers, and the general public. It uses a threaded question and answer board which allows you to post a question for other visitors to read. "Antoine answers as quickly as he can, but he's a busy guy. In fact it's impossible for him to answer all of the questions he gets and still maintain any semblance of a normal life." Antoine has an archive.

The MadSci Network
The MadSci Network is a collection of scientists answering questions in many branches of science. Their site has three primary divisions, one of which is the Ask-A-Scientist section. Here visitors can submit their own questions or search an archive of more than 25,000+ question and answer files for specific information. They rely upon graduate students to moderate questions, and scientists to answer their questions. "We ask that scientists respond within 7 days, or notify us that they will be unable to do so. We aim for a turnaround time of two weeks which allows questions to be sent to at least two individuals. We save questions for a maximum of 3 months, after which we send notification that an answer could not be found." Fewer than 40% or the questions they receive pass their review process, mainly because existing information answers the question. About 80% of the questions that pass review are answered within 2 weeks. The MadSci Network is volunteer organization which has won numerous awards and is definitely worth a visit. For more information about the process they use to answer queries, visit their Using the MadSci Network page.

Newton BBS Ask A Scientist
The Division of Educational Programs at Argonne National Laboratories has set up this Ask A Scientist site. "This service is intended for K-12 teachers and students," and has been answering questions since 1991. "Our purpose is to provide a means to have questions answered that are not going to be easily found on the web or within common references! All questions are evaluated, however, not all questions are answered." The question you submit is emailed directly to their volunteer scientists, and answers will be emailed to the return email address you provide. This site also has an Ask A Scientist Archive with many answered chemistry questions. Bibliographical sketches of many of their volunteer scientists are also available at the site.

Yahoo! Periodic Table Group
For questions about the periodic table, check out the Periodic Table Group at Yahoo! Formed by Mark Winter (the WebElements web site creator), you can "use this club to discuss any aspect of the periodic table."

Scientific American: Ask The Experts
Experts in a variety of fields answer questions submitted by visitors. "Because of the sizable number of queries received, we cannot reply to individuals. Rather, the most interesting exchanges will be posted on this site." To ask a question there is a special form to fill out.