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Welcome to birmingham.gov.uk



Science Library - Pure Science

General Science | Mathematics | Physics | Chemistry | Astronomy

We tend to take for granted our increasingly technologically driven way of life. Most of this is the direct product of the tremendous developments in science over the last century. Yet few of us have much understanding of these developments, and the gap in knowledge is growing ever greater.

The decline in the numbers of students choosing science as a career has become a large concern in scientific circles. According to Professor Colin Pillinger, who led the Beagle 2 mission to Mars, Britain will run out of world-leading scientists unless the lack of interest shown in science education is reversed. Figures for the last year show the number of students taking A-level sciences fell by 6.5%. The Science Library aims to do what it can to reverse this trend and interest the whole community in science.

In this we support the aims of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, of connecting people with science: promoting dialogue and democratic involvement in science, the uses of science and understanding the implications of living in such a technologically driven age. But for this, there needs to be a scientifically literate citizenship (see the link to the BA below).

The Science Library hopes to help in the process of developing such a scientifically literate citizenship. We have a wide range of books and journals covering all of the Pure Sciences. These cater for all levels from Key Stage 4, GCSE and AS level, through to degree and post-graduate level. Below are listed the broad subject headings, relevant journals held in the Science Library, and also a selection of recommended websites for online resources.

There are different ways of classifying the Pure Sciences and dispute over whether they can be separated from applied science (see also Earth and Life Sciences). Here we are meaning those covered in the Dewey Classification system 500-550. This includes:

500 General Science
510 Mathematics
520 Astronomy
530 Physics
540 Chemistry

General Science
This section covers general science, encyclopedias and dictionaries of science, natural history, the history of science, science education and organisation and the philosophy of science.

Our collection extends from high level academic material to popular science and introductory books. We have an extensive collection of historical material, journals and bibliographies of famous scientists. We are gradually including more material that reflects the influence of women and non-western cultures on science and the history of science.

General Science Associations and Institutions
The Royal Society
Originally founded in 1660 as the UK national academy of science, the Royal Society plays a crucial role as the champion of top quality science and technology.

The British Council Science

The Royal Institution

The Science Museum (London)
The website of London's Science Museum. It provides information on current and forthcoming events and displays.

Natural History Museum (London)
The website of the Natural History Museum in London. Contains visitor information and forthcoming events.

Recommended Websites for General Science

The New Scientist
An online version of the popular science journal. It does not have full coverage, but has an excellent archive facility.

An online edition of the popular journal.

Science News Online: weekly science news

Philosophy of science directory of online resources
This site provides a list of links for general issues in the philosophy of science, and also for specific scientific disciplines

General learning for schools and home

BBC Science and Nature

The Guardian learning resources

School Zone - The Independent learning resources

Sciencepages.co.uk - revision and resources
This is a site created by UK science teachers for secondary school UK science students. It aims to publish science revision materials, provide resources for science teaching and learning (including appropriate internet links) and publish student work.

School science resources for teachers and students

Cool Science, As well as having its own very cool information on many fascinating topics, this website has links to hundreds of other sites with short descriptions of each.

This is a very easy to use and well laid out interactive website for younger students (8 to 14), covering mainly science subjects.

How Many? A Dictionary of Units of Measurement
An amazing website that provides information on everything to do with measurement, including systems in different countries and conversions from one to another. Especially good for astronomy.


Mathematics is usually defined as the science of quantitative and spatial relationships, and the properties of sets. But there is a great deal more to it than this, and no consensus as to what it actually is. One thing is for sure though: it is the foundation of the other sciences and much else of human activity.

Many of us remember the horrors of maths at school. At the 2004 annual conference of the British Psychological Society in Manchester, researchers from Staffordshire University claimed that "maths anxiety", starting from primary school, is one of the biggest barriers to understanding mathematics. The Basic Skills Agency estimates that around one in five adults have problems understanding even basic maths. Yet maths describes the underlying structure of reality, and is central to science.

Mathematics has several sub-branches, including Algebra & Number Theory, Topology, Geometry, Probabilities & Applied Maths.

Recommended Websites for Maths

2July mathematics website
This describes itself as an ongoing project to provide a comprehensive, easy to navigate site aimed directly at UK teachers and students of mathematics.

Maths online
An interactive site for learning maths for schools and distant learning up to university level.

This describes itself as the web's most complete mathematical resource, assembled over more than a decade by internet encyclopedist Eric Weisstein, with assistance from the mathematics and internet communities. It is a comprehensive and interactive mathematics encyclopedia intended for students, educators, maths enthusiasts and researchers.

Project happy child
An excellent child-centred site, with lots of fun activities and that translates into 23 languages, including Arabic.

Count On
Another excellent interactive website, aimed mainly at younger children, but goes up to A level. Managed by the University of York for the Department for Education and Skills.


These are exciting times in astronomy with the recent Cassini mission to Saturn and Titan, and the recent deep impact into the comet Tempel 1 at 23,000 mph. There are also more plans to send another mission to Mars, after the success of the two rovers which recently landed on Mars .
Astronomy covers celestial mechanics and navigation (maps of the solar system and the stars and galaxies), astrophysics, telescopes and cosmology.

Recommended Websites for Astronomy

Institute of Astronomy
The IoA is a department of the University of Cambridge and is engaged in teaching and research in the fields of theoretical and observational astronomy.

Astronomy Now Online
An online version of the popular astronomy journal.

The Electronic Sky
This is an excellent site consisting of articles, definitions and images covering a wide variety of cosmic phenomena, ranging from minor crators on the Moon to entire galaxies.

The Sky at Night
Website of the popular BBC programme hosted by Patrick Moore. As well as providing detailed information of what to look for in the night sky, it also has many other astronomy features.

National Aeronautics and Space Administration Centre - for all those who have a hankering to be an astronaut.

The Kennedy Space Centre
KSC is the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) center of excellence for launch and payload processing systems as well as the lead centre for acquisition and management of expendable launch vehicle services and payload carriers.

Dr Universe
The answers to many tricky scientific questions can be found at this ingenious site. Aimed at kids, it's a mine of information for anyone with an enquiring mind. You can also e-mail your own questions that you've always wondered about.

Encyclopedia of Astronomy and Astrophysics
This describes itself as being a nique resource covering the entire field of astronomy and astrophysics and this online version includes the full text of over 2,750 articles, plus sophisticated search and retrieval functionality, links to the primary literature, and is frequently updated with new material.

The Planetary Society
The Planetary Society describes itself as the largest non-profit, non-governmental, space advocacy group on Earth. It was founded in 1980 by, amongst others, Carl Sagan. It has many projects and activities, and brings together all the latest news in space exploration.

Amazing Space
An excellent site for young budding astronomers, with lots of well-produced information on all aspects of astronomy, and help for homework.

A comprehensive directory of resources for all aspects of astronomy and astrophysics on the internet. It is daily updated by a consortium of professional individuals and institutions.


Physics is the king of the sciences, for it is here that the fundamental laws of nature are explored, and the origins and evolution of the universe studied. It is also one of the earliest with the speculations of the early Greek philosophers, such as Leucippus and Democritus who first formulated the concept of atom around 400 BC, and Thales who predicted an eclipse in 585 BC.

Physics has a wide range of sub-fields: mechanics (solids, fluids, liquids and gas), quantum mechanics, sound, light, heat, electro-magnetism and relativity theory. There is also the fast accelerating field of astrophysics.

Recommended Websites for Physics

Institute of Physics
This has links to many useful physics websites. Tables of contents and abstracts in IOP journals are free online to non-members - back to 1874 members get full text.

Physics World
Website of the journal Physics World. It includes news, physics jobs, a comprehensive resources directory, enhanced highlights of Physics World magazine, Buyer's Guide, events, member services and more

Physics Central
This is the website of the American Physical Society. It covers all aspects of physics and physics research, and provides up-to-date information of what is new in the world of physics.

About Physics
This is the site of the the Institute of Physics. It provides answers to your submitted questions with a series of relevant and accurate web sites from its database of refereed resources. These answers can be made more appropriate if you enter your age and knowledge of physics.

Physics 2000, University of Colorado
An excellent site for learning physics. Its range is comprehensive, and it discusses each topic in a dialogue form between a teacher and a student.

Eric Weissteins World of Physics
A well-laid out and comprehensive resource for higher level study.

Physics and Astronomy online
The PhysLink.com is a comprehensive physics and astronomy online education, research and reference web site.

The Nanoworld Image Gallery by the Centre for Microscopy and Microanalysis at the University of Queensland.


Chemistry is a huge, and fast growing, subject. Chemistry emerged out of alchemy in the 16th and 17th centuries, overlapping physics at one pole and biology at the other. Basically, it studies the structure and behaviour atoms and molecules, the composition and properties of compounds, the reaction between substance and the energy exchanges between them and the laws that unite all of these phenomenon. As well as general chemistry, there are also a number of chemistry sub-fields, including organic chemistry, crystallography and mineralogy

Recommended Websites for Chemistry

The Royal Society of Chemistry
The website of the Royal Society of Chemistry includes news of the latest developments in chemistry as well as information on what is happening in the world of chemistry, and details of its own extensive publications.

General Chemistry Online
A highly recommended and award winning website from the Dept of Chemistry, Frostburg University. It has a great deal of resources and a questioning answering service.

General, Organic and Biochemistry
A comprehensive site that would suit all those studying from GCSE upwards.

For Journals please see our catalogue.