I have become enamored with chemistry. I decided about a month ago to take an online class, specifically I decided on Introduction to Solid State Chemistry available on MIT open courseware. I'm always looking to expand my knowledge and this is not really so much an expansion as a reminder. I very much enjoyed my chemistry and semiconductor physics / chemistry classes in college and I've mostly forgotten it all.

Thanks to wonderful channels on YouTube like Applied Science, Nile Red and Cody's Lab, there are practical versions of the largely theoretically topics available at my finger tips. It never ceases to amaze me how much good content YouTube contains. Applied Science is binge-worthy nerd heaven and I have intense workshop jealousy when I watch it. The DIY vapor deposition setup really takes it to another place though. When I was learning semiconductors in college, we talked about things like thin film vapor deposition and sputtering, but they were always these mystery machines. I hate to say it but during those entire years spent learning about semiconductors I never even SAW one of these setups. At best I saw a chalk sketch of how they worked, drawn by a tired professor, who would rather be doing their research than talking with English as a third language, to a bunch of similarly tired people.

The open courseware chemistry class is going ok so far, its a bit odd to be doing homework by myself just for the sake of it, but it suffers the same academic problems as my old classes. The professor will talk about historical context, and then show an equation and draw a rough picture of an experiment with different historical context. This is then followed by another equation, as though the revelation of the time can be handed down.

To contrast this style of teaching, I've been in physics classes where the double slit experiment is shown first, and then explained piece by piece. This form of showing, to create curiosity, for me at least creates a nice slot in my brain where the follow up math and science fit to be understood and remembered. This is far superior to the rather "backwards" feeling of historical theory -> experimental evidence -> historical theory -> experimental evidence -> Modern math -> drawing of a modern experiment to show results. I see this same great example first teaching style from these modern YouTube science and engineering channels that aren't steeped in academic tradition. Put a vacuum chamber at the front of the class room and pipe high voltage and argon into it! Now my mind says "why is this working, why argon, why is the magnet there". From that anchor the math slots in as answers to my questions, rather than answers to someone else's questions from some point in history.

So I've bought some very simple chemistry equipment, and have some very modest projects planned. It's exciting to be reminded of this knowledge I once had a firm grasp of, and think of experiments and balance equations in my notebook.