Writing everything about everything.

The Best of The Week

Electronegativity is the tendency of some atoms to attract electrons more strongly than others. This is a simple yet profound concept, of huge importance in chemistry, which is tragically cursed with an intimidating eight-syllable name. I'm almost sure the unwieldiness of the term is the whole reason it gets left out of chemistry courses up to GCSE level even though plenty of things make far more sense once you start to get your head round it.


A great deal of chemistry relates to the way that electrons interact with atoms. Oxygen, for example, gets all its powers from the fact it's so attractive to electrons. This is why things burn in oxygen, why we're able to use oxygen to get energy from food, why oxygen corrodes metals and so on. In every case, it's because oxygen is an electron-hog: it's electronegative, to use the technical term. Grabbing on to electrons so tightly releases energy. Speaking of technical terms, when modern chemists talk about oxidation, what…

I would like to take this opportunity to announce the publication of a collection of short stories, my first, by Tartarus Press, a small independent publishing house in Yorkshire. You folks on E2 have become my favorite online audience, and I am delighted to share this occasion with you all. http://www.tartaruspress.com/eisele-michael-the-girl-with-the-peacock-harp.html

E.M. Forster is not known as a speculative fiction author, but his story “The Machine Stops” (originally published in 1909) is an extremely good example of dark science fiction from that era. It presents a post-apocalyptic world that initially appears to be a kind of utopia: peoples’ needs are entirely taken care of by the Machine they live in, and nobody suffers from material poverty or the horror of war and all are free to pursue sedentary leisure activities as they please.