Mel's Picks

The Encyclopedia of Analytical Science, 2nd edition
Editors: Paul J. Worsfold, University of Plymouth, U.K.; Alan Townsend, University of Hull, U.K.; and Colin F. Poole, Wayne State University, Detroit, MI.
Published by Elsevier
ISBN: 0-12-764100-9

First off, this is not for the casual browser. This is, in fact, a 10-volume set of weighty and informative tomes. The aim of the books is to provide a detailed and comprehensive repository of analytical chemistry, both the science involved and its practical application.

 Melanie Martella
Melanie Martella

This second edition has been extensively revised and includes comprehensive coverage of techniques used for determination of specific elements, compounds, and groups of compounds in both physical and biological matrices. Applications cover medicine, environmental science, biochemistry, pharmacology, geology, and food science.

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I'd give you a quick rundown of the table of contents, but it's 15 pages long and extremely thorough. It covers the various types of microscopy, clinical analysis, separation techniques, forensic science, gas chromatography, spectroscopy, NMR, paints, food, QA, sample handling, and the list goes on.

If you don't want the books cluttering up your bookshelves, the encyclopedia is available through Science Direct, a service that allows you access to reference works via the Internet. See For more information.

It's April, it's tax time in the U.S., so as is my custom, here's your helpful tax-related Web site. (Why? Because I care.) The IRS has expanded its free online filing program this year. If your taxes aren't overly complicated, e-filing is a convenient alternative to filling out forms and mailing them in. I've e-filed for the past couple of years, and while I can't say I enjoyed the process—c'mon, it's tax preparation—I did find it pretty easy. The IRS page gives links to makers of tax preparation software. Note that while some of these companies will let everyone file for free, others restrict eligibility. To take advantage of free filing, you must go through the IRS's site.,,id=118986,00.html

Acronyms and abbreviations are an insidious, ever-present fact of life. Faced with a technical term you're unfamiliar with or an abbreviation you've never clapped eyes on before, you can either Google it or try the tech glossary on Z-World's Web site. The tech glossary lets you enter a technical term and then gives you its definition. It'll also show you entries appearing before and after your search term.

If you fly frequently, then check out SeatGuru. This site lets you find out which seats on an airplane have extra legroom, which are quiet or have good views, how seats compare among different airlines, what in-flight services are available, and other such things. Choose the airline and type of aircraft, and you'll see a plan of the plane with good seats, bad seats, power ports, and other such things marked. Mouse over the seats you're interested in to get the scoop.

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