For The Scientific Spirit: 7 Websites For Science Questions & Answers

science intro   For The Scientific Spirit: 7 Websites For Science Questions & AnswersThe web is the Grand Oracle. It sees all and answers all. I wish we had the educational and self-learning edge it gives to today’s generation. In a snap, you can tap it to ask anything about the world we live in, and generally it is pretty accurate answering back. Perhaps, apart from the ‘question of life’ it can answer anything. Who knows, someone might come up with that answer too in due time. But for now, from the purely scientific point of view, you can ask away about life sciences…and all the associated disciplines.

We have our own platform for questions and answers, and that’s where a reader asked us about some good websites on questions related to science, particularly physics and chemistry? He got the help he needed. Perhaps, with the help of this post and the seven websites mentioned here, you will too.

How Stuff Works

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My colleague Tim started off the discussion with How Stuff Works. Anyone who has used the service knows that if you want to really cure your curiosity about the world around you, the basics here are of great help. Sometimes to satiate my own thirst for knowledge, I click on the Random button, which serves up interesting articles which otherwise I wouldn’t dream of reading. Like – How do you mask your scent while you hunt? The categories cover nearly everything, but read deeply and you will see that most of them have a scientific basis. I would recommend that you check out their Tools section and give an ear to their podcasts.

New Scientist

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The URL reads, “last word”. And as the tagline says, it is the place where you can ask questions about everyday things. You can search for anything without logging in, but if you want to ask a question, do the free registration and fire away. New Scientist is a forum for anyone who has a scientific curiosity, kids included. From how to fossilize your hamster to your queries on the Hadron Collider, the whole sweep is covered. Then, if you want to fill your appetite, go to the main New Scientist site and read away.

Mad Sci Network

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The site resembles the ones we used to browse through during the early days of the web, and every second site had frames. But it is not the look that counts here but the answers. 36,000 answered questions sounds quite a lot. The Mad Sci Network could just about be your playground if you like all the little ‘n strange things about science. All questions are graded and range from K-3 to professorial levels. Answers are detailed and contributed by other members. The MadSci FAQs arranges answers to some commonly asked questions. Your best tool for going through the site is the search engine – the MadSci Circumnavigator. Other pages of interest – the MadSci Laboratory and Ask-A-Scientist where you can seek more answers.

Stack Exchange

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Stack Exchange needs little introduction. We have probably covered this Q&A site in every article on the subject. It is a network of specialized communities, each on separate subjects that probably cover the gamut of human experience. There are around 89 of them completely contributory. The above link takes you to the Science side of things. Then, you can start your own if you think that something is missing. All answers are rated, so the good ones are culled out on top.

Reddit

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That’s just one of the sub-Reddits I have linked to. Do I need to tell you about Reddit and the community it has spawned? Well, if I have to then I should direct you to our Reddit Guide. For those in the know, Reddit can probably answer all your science questions as there are sub-Reddits on every branch of science. Try out Homework Help and don’t forget to go to the main Science section for some fascinating memes.

The New York Times

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This is one of the last places you would come to in search of science answers, because well…it’s a newspaper. But we tend to forget that newspapers have had Q&A columns for ages, and NYT has probably had them before that. It is one of the world’s more popular news publications and the Science Q&A page gives you a slice of that. Here it is all collected. I don’t think you will find top-quality answers to questions like Can Melanoma Survivors Donate Their Organs or When an E-Reader Is Loaded With Books, Does It Gain Weight anywhere else. As the footer says – you can submit questions by mail or by e-mail to question@nytimes.com.

Wolfram Alpha

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Wolfram Alpha is a unique website and a very powerful one. It is a computational engine which accepts plainspeak instead of arcane mathematical queries. We have covered Wolfram Alpha in some detail. The good thing is that you can throw any question at it which has a mathematical or physical answer, and it usually gives you the data on it. Oh yes, go ahead ask what is life too!

Hopefully, your scientific spirit will not ebb away even after getting all your answers. The future of the world depends on it. If you have any other questions besides the physics of black holes or the double helix of DNA, check out the other Q & A posts we have covered:

Which scientific website do you walk to get your doubts and queries cleared? Are they on this list?

Image Credit: chemistry teacher writing via Shutterstock

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27 Comments -

0 votes

Macwitty

Great! Bookmarked them all, thanks!

0 votes

Alex Perkins

Nice selection

0 votes

Ashwin Ramesh

Thanks Saikat!

0 votes

Dimal Chandrasiri

HOw Stuff work is my personal Fav! :)

0 votes

HLJonnalagadda

Mine too!

0 votes

Anonymous

It seems a very important space, something that was missing for people looking to learn more about the reality that we are living, please provide it.
Maricruz

3 votes

Deekshith Allamaneni

Thanks for letting me know about “Mad Sci Network” and “New Scientist”. I knew all others.

0 votes

fainom enous

Nice article

0 votes

Keith D.

I love articles of this nature: HERE’S WHERE IT AT!

Keep ‘em, comin’ on;
Keep ‘em, comin’ on;
Don’t stop ‘em now,
Don’t stop ‘em now!

It sounds better if you sing it to KC & the Sunshine Band’s song, “Keep it, Comin’ On!”

0 votes

Vishal Mishra

Thank you very much !!!

0 votes

Harish Jonnalagadda

New scientist deserves a bookmark, thanks for the list!

0 votes

Anonymous

Interesting:) My suggestions:

nextbigfuture.com
http://peswiki.com
http://phys.org/
http://www.popularmechanics.com/ since 1902 till now with incredible archive (read more on wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Popular_Mechanics
http://www.wired.com/

0 votes

Saikat Basu

Popular Mechanics is always a top site to bookmark. But the focus was here on pure Q&A sites to a certain degree. But thanks for the extra links.

0 votes

Peter Everett

Nice! a few new bookmarks for me :) does this mean I have to start putting my bookmarks into sub folders? Damn you MUO!

0 votes

Andre Mendoza

I love new scientist magazine but didn’t know about the Last Word website. Definitely checking it out. Thanks. These are great resources for children doing science.

0 votes

Saikat Basu

Hi Andre, thanks. Children are the biggest beneficiaries of these sites. Just wish I had these when I was growing up (but at least now we do) :)

0 votes

Lyn Sweetapple

Seeking answers from a general search engine sound good, but starting from a specialized site such as these is much more efficient. Thank you for the list.

0 votes

Saikat Basu

One advantage of a specialized site is you will have specialized people on it :)

0 votes

Jim Spencer

I knew about a few of these sites, but the one that is most impressive for me is the Wolfram Alpha, which ain’t real fancy in appearance, but packs one heck of a punch!

0 votes

Saikat Basu

Wolfram Alpha is very powerful, provided you learn how to use it right. Being a mathematical computational engine with a plain English query interface, it makes the complex – simple.

0 votes

Edward Bellair

Have only heard of and used one of them. Thank you.

0 votes

Kenneth Clark

Who else went through and bookmarked all of these?

0 votes

Saikat Basu

Hope you liked the article?

0 votes

Kenneth Clark

Liked? No. Thoroughly enjoyed and feel like life has been enhanced slightly? Great big yes.

0 votes

Yogesh Unavane

God Bless, Stack Exchange.

0 votes

Scradley

Another site to look at is Quextit. They have a public service but also have a “Q&A Engine” that lets you host your own Question and Answer service. Easy to integrate. You can get more info at: http://qna.quextitmc.com/qa-service/question-and-answer-service-detailed-description/.
Quextit is a sponsor of Dean Kamen’s FIRST Robotics Competition and provides the Game and Technical Q&A.

0 votes

Keith Swartz

Great article. I feel more scientifically intelligent just from reading through this! (Lol) Thanks!