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Author: Subject: Sci Madness Partnership & Free Online Virtual Lab!
Synack
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Sci Madness Partnership & Free Online Virtual Lab!

Hi all,

I wanted to let everyone know that I've contacted Polverone and proposed a partnership between my site (http://www.ClandestineChemist.com) and ScienceMadness.org. The online chemistry community for hobbyists, amateurs, and professionals is growing rapidly but lacks a common place for interaction, knowledge, resources, and most importantly - fun and education! With a name like Clandestine Chemist – you may think we are about illegal drug manufacturing, when in fact – we’re against it 100%. We’re tying to bring back the fun in learning and playing with Chemistry. What you see on the site, is just a concept of the forum software as I’ve been devoting my time to the virtual lab instead - I do need help in several areas.

My site focuses on research and development of both new chemicals, and synthesis methods of both new and old chemicals. The other goal and my personal project (the first of its kind, that I'm aware of) - is an FREE online web-based virtual lab for members. Each member can register under either educational mode or competition/game style modes.

Educational Mode:
- Complete Chemical Access
- Full Experiment & Synthesis documentation access

Competition/Game Mode:
- Members will compete to finish their ‘clandestine’ lab fully stocked with chemicals, synthesis documentation (provided, and developed)
- You can work alone, or with others via a team lab - contact can be handled through an internal private messenger system, and/or private chat rooms
- A ‘Chem-Point’ currency system will allow the members to upgrade their labs by purchasing new/improved equipment, new chemicals, etc., points can be acquired at NO REAL FINANCIAL COST through forum postings, and member ‘props’ for posts, etc.
- Site-wide challenges will be offered with prizes ranging from free ‘chem-points’, to t-shirts, bumper stickers, and even actual lab ware equipment and possibly chemicals paid for via hosting ads, donations and a I am considering some sort of ‘upgrade’ subscription based service – but it’s not required to play/learn.
- A base set of experiments will be available from the start, completing these yields ‘chem-points’ and will unlock access to higher level chemistry items.
- Top teams will win prizes and other recognition.
- Members will be able to add their own chemicals that they’ve synthesized to the shop, and be given points when they are sold.
- Members can type up professional custom synthesis documents, and can ‘sell’ them to the game after they’re approved for ‘chem points’. The synthesis is then added to the game, with the creator given credit IF the item is truly unique.

This is just a very small run-down of the application specifics and how it is currently being designed. I am looking for any and all feedback in what you would like to see in a system like this. I hope everyone likes the concept of this, and if you’re willing to help at all (I’m not a chemist by trade, so I could use some help in that area) – Please contact me – I wouldn’t be able to pay you but if you’re willing to stick around – I’d need experts and fanatics to moderate both the game and the public access forums.

You can contact me at Synack -.a.t.- ClandestineChemist -.d.o.t.- com-or by registering on the forum and sending me a private message or by posting a thread.

Admins/Mods - I'm very sorry if I've broken any rules, I'm just looking to bring the Chemistry community together and to spread the knowledge to everyone.

Synack
kclo4
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Hmm this seems a bit odd N' fishy.
Why did you choose the name ClandestineChemist?

Shouldn't this go into Forum Matters or Miscellaneous?

[Edited on 5-8-2008 by kclo4]
Sauron
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I applaud your enthusiasm and also your stated 100% opposition to drug cookery. But I think you will find that others may not share that approval.

And I agree with the last post, that "clandestine" carries all the wrong and very negative connotations for the present day. Secretivity, furtiveness, connote illegality or worse. The name plays into the unfounded fears of the public and the authorities and that is the very last thing legitimate chemical hobbyists ought to do. You really ought to reconsider handicapping yourself with such an unfortunate and inappropriate domain name. Domains are cheap. Drop that one and choose another that does not wave lots of red flags.

As it is, I'd have to urge Polverone to have nothing to do with any site called clandesinechemist and if he elects not to take my advice I'd personally be forced to withdraw from such an ill-fated lashup.

Sic gorgeamus a los subjectatus nunc.
YT2095
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Im inclined to agree with above, also, isnt it customary to wait for a favorable response BEFORE making such announcements?

\"In a world full of wonders mankind has managed to invent boredom\" - Death
Twinkies don\'t have a shelf life. They have a half-life! -Caine (a friend of mine)
Maya
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Biohazard symbol?

\"Prefiero ser yo extranjero en otras patrias, a serlo en la mia\"
woelen

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I also like the initiative, but if the site is operating under the proposed name, then I definitely will not be there. In no way do I want to be associated with clandestine chemistry, not in any form. I myself started an initiative under the name homechemistry.org and if you want your initiative to have any succes at all, then you should choose a more neutral/positive name.

I also agree with Sauron, that if sciencemadness would be connected to something called ClandestineChemist, then I'm out here as well (but with very sad feelings, I have to admit, because I really like this community).

The art of wondering makes life worth living...
Want to wonder? Look at https://woelen.homescience.net
Hazard to Others

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SYN/ACK is the second stage in the TCP 3-way handshake. Whether this has any significance or not it is open to interpretation and conspiracy theory.

I do concur with the above sentiments though--that the word clandestine when applied to chemistry carries many connotations that an 'honest' website shouldn't look to bathe in.

I'll add my own reservation as well: This game system seems... strange. It may be designed to provide motivation, but then those that already do what the game requires usually need no added incentive. In addition, providing extrinsic motivation may dampen participants’ intrinsic interest in chemistry.

And finally, a game+clandestine+amateur will draw lots of attention from small children of all ages.

If I wanted to go into conspiracy theories, I could say that he is a hacker looking for a pool of people he could easily frame for his own actions. Since the rewards of the game would require that you give real contact information, it may be very simple for him to commit a computer crime, frame one of you, then let the chemicals paint a lovely picture for the FBI.

A bit of my photography (usually chemisty/physics inspired): ShadowWarrior4444.deviantart.com/gallery
Magpie
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Virtual chemistry and virtual labs hold very little interest for me, T-shirts even less. What I like about ScienceMadness is the emphasis on experimental chemistry - real labware, real chemicals, real problems, real results.

I'm very wary of any kind of partnership that dilutes, detracts, or contaminates what we have here. Just "contacting" Polverone means nothing. I want to hear from him.
Polverone
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Synack, I checked my email and saw your proposal. I would say that your current domain name is going to keep a lot of people from registering. I think virtual (i.e. theoretical and computational) chemistry is fairly interesting, but the SM community as a whole is much more interested in hands-on activities with real materials and apparatus. I'm not really interested in a virtual partnership. If your site eventually hosts content of interest to members here I'll be happy to link to it then.

PGP Key and corresponding e-mail address
Synack
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@kclo4: It wasn't a name I choose - it was a domain that was given to me; I certainly don't intend for it to be the final site but for now it's easier than giving out an IP address - plus, I'd rather my other personal domains stay seperate from this. - I could just as easily ask, why the name 'ScienceMadness' - is it because everyone involved in it has to be mentally mad? - it's just a name...

@Sauron: The app will rest at a different domain once it's complete, I just haven't figured out what domain I should host it under yet.

@YT2095: Typically, it is customary to wait for a reply - if I was making an announcement of it instead of a public notice of proposal, when I'm really just looking for input from members

@Maya: I'm a software engineer not a graphic designer - it was an image I had from a stock collect that I just slapped up there.

@woelen: See above.

@ShadowWarrior4444: haha, Awesome. I'm a network engineer gone software developer (read: computer geek) - The point of the app would be teaching those with an interest in chemistry, everything else is just to increase participation. I tell ya, if I was a 'hacker' looking for people to blame - I think it'd be much easier to social engineer those who don't have more than a basic level of knowledge in the chemistry field - I'd probably go after a foreign site where their level of english is rather poor. Also, it's not the FBI you'd need to worry about :p

@Magpie: Unfortunely, not everyone has the location, finances, or a wife(or husband) willing to let them clear out the basement to turn into a chemistry lab. Having real labware, real chemicals, real problems and seeing the real results would be great - but not everyone has that option. I mean, if you could go see a play in person or instead - watch a recorded copy of it - you'd learn the same concepts, still enjoy it - you just wouldn't have the hands on 10-feet from the actor/props (labware) interaction.

@Polverone: The domain is a temporary spot as I don't know what to call it, to create the domain it's associated with. I'm all for 'hands-on' chemistry - but it's not always an option and for some people and a way other than reading books would be a great alternative for them. It's exactly because the SM community is primarily hands-on, that I've wanted to work with you (and them) in getting this virtual lab setup - setting it up with a group of individuals who had just read the books, etc. and had no hands on interaction would be pointless.

Now, to those of you saying you'd leave SM if interaction were to occur only because of the TEMPORARY DOMAIN NAME and the stigma associated with the word 'clandestine' - then you're incredibly immature and short sighted - it's exactly that, just a name - some people see past that because being that it's virtual/digital - it's easy to change.

[Edited on 5-8-2008 by Synack]
jokull
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Dear Synack,

Personally, the application you are developing does not fit to my interests since I studied chemistry in a formal manner (maybe this is the case for a lot of members at sciencemadness).

When someone has interests in something it is always better to get involved by practicing. This is the case for any science you may think of.

The concept of the game is interesting, (why do not you call it Age of Chempires? (just kidding)) however real chemists like to play at the lab not at the web (I agree with Magpie).

Concerning to the availability of "real" resources I again say "if you really want it then you do the effort to get it".
Synack
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Jokull: Thank you for your input, I understand that real chemists, and those who have the ability to practice it "hands-on" will. The game itself will be directed at a younger audience whereas the synthesis, chemical research and discussion areas will be directed at the higher level chemist. A novice can learn a fair amount of chemistry through the game, and then advance their knownledge through the forums and member tutorials, and external books.

The virtual lab itself isn't meant to replace the real lab - just as a learning resource. Say you have the hands on equipment, and limited chemicals. Instead of repeatedly trying a synthesis and somehow failing, you could try it virtually and find out where you would be going wrong - then try your hands-on work.

It's a learning/study aide - ex: students in school won't have access to a real lab to learn for homework and research purposes - a virtual lab would be a good alternative for some.
-jeffB
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 Quote: Originally posted by Synack Now, to those of you saying you'd leave SM if interaction were to occur only because of the TEMPORARY DOMAIN NAME and the stigma associated with the word 'clandestine' - then you're incredibly immature and short sighted - it's exactly that, just a name - some people see past that because being that it's virtual/digital - it's easy to change.

It's also the very first thing people will see, even before they visit your site. Suppose you were setting up a site for, oh, I don't know, local girl-scout leaders. Which name would you register: "localgscouts.com", or "little-teases-in-uniforms.com"? Which name would draw the audience you want, and which name would piss them off? Which name would draw the very crowd you claim you don't want?

"It's only a name" is an incredibly silly argument, and if you don't understand why people here are sensitive about the "clandestine chemistry" name, you're dangerously naive -- dangerously, because your well-intentioned activity could get the rest of us in serious trouble.
PainKilla
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A bit more critical response but:

Name aside (but FYI I thought this was some drug cook wanting help with his synthesis at first glance of your name), what exactly is the point of this?

The only thing I can really see this accomplishing is teaching someone the order of addition of reagents. Unless your website can provide true virtual reality (3D) chemistry, half of the fun and expertise that comes in doing reactions in lab comes from handling the reagents, their carcinogenic and and sometimes wonderful (or, more usually, hellish) odors and other properties.

More specifically, someone that becomes an expert at doing chemistry online won't know *why* you can't distill diazomethane with rough glassware, or why LiAlH4 + water is BAD. They also won't have the dexterity to manipulate a reaction where something went wrong, or understand how pen+paper fantasy doesn't equate to reality.

I am sure everyone has done a "standard" reaction only to find it hasn't worked, or that the products you isolated are something totally new and different.

A "graduate" of this program would be near useless in lab (without further practice). Which means, at this point, you have to ask: what did I accomplish by completing the previous tasks?

And for chemistry - this would be nothing.

However, this idea is NOT without merit. Chemistry is fairly straightforward - the more refined aspects must be gained from physically performing the chemistry. However, in biology and pharmacology not everyone gets the training that is necessary to use all sorts of techniques.

For example, how many people can do chemistry, and build gene libraries, and do site-directed mutagenesis, and test drugs and generate the dose-response curves AND measure the kinetics of some interaction?

I doubt very many, especially in this age where specialization oft leaves broad knowledge in the dust.

Thus, I think this would be a great idea (a virtual lab where you can get a basic understanding and some conceptual practice), but not specifically for chemistry but rather all areas of science.

Plus, then you can get rid of the (bad) name and use something more appropriate, like VirtuaLab or something that doesn't insinuate cooking copious amount of drugs.

[Edited on 5-8-2008 by PainKilla]
woelen

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I can give a very good example of what PainKilla means. According to the books, the element copper is not that special. It forms blue solutions in water and green solutions in the presence of a lot of chloride ions. It also forms blue precipitates with many anions, such as hydroxide, carbonate, phsophate.

But now the practical thing. I have done quite a lot of copper chemistry, and it is REALLY amazing to see all the peculiar properties of the compounds. Even with just CuCl2 (or CuSO4), HCl and copper wire you can do a lot of very strange chemistry, for which I still did not yet find a complete explanation. Deep brown or black solutions can be made, mixed oxidation state compounds can be prepared, and only the above three chems are needed for that. No text-book at all addresses what happens with true copper chemistry, they only present the highly simplified stuff.

The art of wondering makes life worth living...
Want to wonder? Look at https://woelen.homescience.net
Maya
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Painkilla wrote:
<< For example, how many people can do chemistry, and build gene libraries, and do site-directed mutagenesis, and test drugs and generate the dose-response curves AND measure the kinetics of some interaction? >>

Oddly enough I can, at least if you were formally trained in chemistry followed by molecular biology then cancer drug research you would too.

Anyways, your whole concept is moot because as you are a software expert and not a chemistry expert, you would not even know how to generate the correct chemical algorithms for the game(s) you propose as woelen and painkilla have pointed out without the knowledge of what the correct outcome will be of the particular rxn. in play.

Little kids need more hands on not less, thats whats killing the whole amatuer chemistry field. When I was in 8th grade my science teacher used to give me all sorts of cool things to experiment with like white phosphorous, conc. nitric acid, electronic kits etc. which really served to spark my curiosity much more

\"Prefiero ser yo extranjero en otras patrias, a serlo en la mia\"
Maya
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< chemistry, and build gene libraries, and do site-directed mutagenesis, and test drugs and generate the dose-response curves AND measure the kinetics of some interaction >

Actually, to be perfectly honest, with the way science research is nowadays, the big companies ( clonetech, applied biosystems, invitrogen, promega et. al. ) provide KITS that do all the rxns for you so you do need to know the theory but at least you don't have to do the expts starting from srcatch. They make it pretty easy usually so I can't take all the credit :-)

\"Prefiero ser yo extranjero en otras patrias, a serlo en la mia\"
The_Davster
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Virtual labs are becoming the replacement for real chemistry with real chemicals.

I was schooled with the aides of such, and had to see the 'virtual chemistry videos' for things like sodium and water, and white P combustion. Because we were not allowed to have at school certain chemicals and not allowed to do certain demonstrations. Even someone as interested as me at the time was bored. Of course, it was great to be able to bring homemade sodium to school to annoy the teachers.(even if it was small amounts)

The way to fight the good fight for chemistry and science is not to be giving in to those who love the increasing regulations by producing substitutes for real education, but by showing people of any age how to go and get their hands dirty. Telling people how to do things with household chemicals because elitist chemical suppliers will not sell to them is one way of doing this, which is one of the paths Sciencemadness has chosen.

If these planned videos are intended to be a 'show how to do something before you try it yourself' fine. If they are intended as a 'lets get you interested in chemistry by showing you cool things we will never let you do', then well...

[Edited on 6-8-2008 by The_Davster]

MagicJigPipe
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I think you guys are being way too critical. Why does it have to be a partnership at all? Why not just make the site and have people go to it, like any other site? I don't think it's a bad idea AT ALL (except for the name). What is so wrong with entertainment? And if you get even one piece of knowledge from that entertainment it would be 10x better than any movies or music. I just can't believe he got such horrible responses for attempting something novel. Like he said, he's not trying to replace physical experience, or even supplement it. It's just a game that just might teach you something. If it was impossible to learn ANYTHING using software then it wouldn't be used in education.

I'm actually sort of disenchanted by the responses here. Anything that encourages interest in chemistry is good for our cause. Once he changes the name, what the hell is the problem (actually, many if not most of us are "clandestine chemists" regardless of the connotation)?

I for one think it's a great idea.

I think we should encourage new ideas and thought, not trash them. Perhaps even constructive critism as opposed to destructive. Why can't we help them with this? I think it would be WAY more fun to play a chemistry game than any Playstation, Xbox, Nintendo (well, not SNES) or computer game.

I suppose my point is:

Why not? (once the name is changed)

"There must be no barriers to freedom of inquiry ... There is no place for dogma in science. The scientist is free, and must be free to ask any question, to doubt any assertion, to seek for any evidence, to correct any errors. ... We know that the only way to avoid error is to detect it and that the only way to detect it is to be free to inquire. And we know that as long as men are free to ask what they must, free to say what they think, free to think what they will, freedom can never be lost, and science can never regress." -J. Robert Oppenheimer
Nixie
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 Quote: Originally posted by MagicJigPipe II just can't believe he got such horrible responses for attempting something novel.

Because novel things are by definition unproven. There is simply too much new stuff being brought up all the time that's crap. People must be critical to filter through the crud. If something is really worth its salt, it should be able to demonstrate that.

\"Good is a product of the ethical and spiritual artistry of individuals; it cannot be mass-produced.\" --Aldous Huxley
MagicJigPipe
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Wait, are you suggesting that if something is critisized it should not be attempted or tested? I disagree. (in most circumstances)

"There must be no barriers to freedom of inquiry ... There is no place for dogma in science. The scientist is free, and must be free to ask any question, to doubt any assertion, to seek for any evidence, to correct any errors. ... We know that the only way to avoid error is to detect it and that the only way to detect it is to be free to inquire. And we know that as long as men are free to ask what they must, free to say what they think, free to think what they will, freedom can never be lost, and science can never regress." -J. Robert Oppenheimer

 Sciencemadness Discussion Board » Non-chemistry » Forum Matters » Sci Madness Partnership & Free Online Virtual Lab! Select A Forum Fundamentals   » Chemistry in General   » Organic Chemistry   » Reagents and Apparatus Acquisition   » Beginnings   » Responsible Practices   » Miscellaneous   » The Wiki Special topics   » Technochemistry   » Energetic Materials   » Biochemistry   » Radiochemistry   » Computational Models and Techniques   » Prepublication Non-chemistry   » Forum Matters   » Legal and Societal Issues