School's In

The science programs in the public school systems seem to think that it’s still 1950, and usually jog quite far behind the actual science of the age. I’ve always found that odd, after all, the sole purpose of a science teacher is to educate students on the current scientific climate. One of the strangest things is that the curriculum for the lower-level courses still teach Niel Bohr’s model of atomic theory, where electrons orbit around a nucleus. While this is usually corrected in higher-level classes, most of the world isn’t a nerd like me and simply accepts Bohr’s model as the true one, despite the fact that atomic orbitals have been around since 1920. Yes, it’s more complicated, but why teach kids false information?

Thus, to correct the public at large: SCIENCE!

As most of you know, an atom is made up of three subatomic units: the proton (p^+), the neutron (n^0), and the electron (e^-). The positively charged protons and neutral neutrons sit in a dense ball in the middle, called the nucleus, while the negatively-charged electrons float around above.

Now, the electrons don’t follow a certain path, they instead occupy “orbitals”. Orbitals are areas where a electron is likely to be at any given moment, for a bunch of reasons that I won’t go into. The clouds aren’t actual boundaries or paths, simply areas where the electron probably is. A single electron can actually teleport around inside the orbitals, and can occupy any orbital in the same energy level (letter and number) as long as it isn’t already filled.

You can see the different kinds of orbitals below.

Source: science-prep.wikispaces.com/ChemistryQuestion4

The order that the orbitals form is simple. The first two electrons go into the 1S orbital. Then the next two go into the 2S orbital, and six go into the 2P orbital, since P has the Px, Py, and Pz orbitals (see above), adding up to a total of six orbitals to fill. Next comes the 3S orbital, then six in the 3P orbital.

This may seem complicated, but look at a periodic table:

Notice anything about the order of the rows? Two elements in the first row… then two on the left and six on the right… then the same 2,6 pattern again… you see where I’m going with this.

This pattern continues in the following pattern: 2 electrons in 1S, 2 in 2S, 6 in 2P, 2 in 3S, 6 in 3P, 2 in 4S, 6 in 4P, 10 in 3D

The third kind of orbital, the D orbital, comes into play after the third row. Conveniently, this is where all the metals start on the periodic table, the added 10 elements to the row (<gasp!>, not a coincidence). When naming the orbitals, the D orbital is always one number lower than the S and P of the row.

In short, every element has a combination of S, P, and D, orbitals. F, G, H, and I come into play later, but let’s not worry about them. The number of electrons, which is the same as the atomic number (the number of the element on the chart) in a neutral element.

Thus, if we had carbon, it would be a full 1S and 2S, with a 2P with electrons in two of the six orbitals.

This has run farther than your attention span already, probably, so I’ll wrap it up. The theory is much more complex than what I’ve described, but this is at least the basics. See, was that really so hard to understand? Public school teachers, your students aren’t idiots, but if you keep treating them as if they were then they will quickly become lazy and moronic.

If you have any questions, feel free to comment.

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Contest Winners

Well, the Archive Crawl Comic Contest has drawn to a close. Digging though stick-figures galore, we cut through the chaff and found the high-quality chaff. So, you eager readers, here are your winners.

WINNER: Shotzey’s comic on cards

Poker Game

RUNNERS UP:

From Alice Clarke, a comic about… anthropomorphic bacteria. I think.

Mysophobic

And finally, Katie, with her comic about comics. How very meta of you.

Schitzophrenic

A thank you to all who participated. Perhaps I will run this contest again in the future.

On an aside: To those of you who ran a meme joke just to spite me, nice try, but it didn’t work. Cheers.

-Catalyst.

Why Can't Women Be Just "Gamers"?

Meta: The contest is over, the winner has been contacted and the comics will be up on Wednesday. Also, I’m now on Formspring, feel free to ask me questions.

To make something very clear before I start: If you walk (er, click) away from this piece thinking that I have a grudge against female gamers, then you fail the assignment and have to retake the course.

The manipulation of male gamers with women is a widely established trend. Whether it’s the booth babes or GameCrush (a horrible, insulting trend if I’ve seen one), the media and game developers use the lovely ladies to line their pockets.

Many people on the internet claim that women are almost entirely absent from the online population. It’s in the Rules of the Internet after all, “There are no girls on the internet”. It’s clearly shocking when a player is exposed as female, especially when playing an FPS like MW or Halo. After all, these are manly games! Plus, MMORPGs are pretty much the realm of lonely virgin males of the world.

Of course, this is all utter crap. According to “studies”, women make up 35-40% of gamers. Now, you might say “Oh sure, The Sims and Barbie Horse Adventures technically counts as a game, hurr”, but here’s something to kick you in your misogynistic ass. A staggering 64% of the online gaming population is composed of women. That’s more than men, for you less than mathematically inclined.

You may wonder why this comes as a surprise to you, so here’s the kicker: Many women hide their identity by playing as male characters, pretending to be male when speaking about themselves, or simply refrain from using voice-chat functions. This is, of course, to avoid the “TITS OR GTFO” or “There’s no girls on the interwebz!” bull that they are likely to get put through. I think it goes without saying that a community where someone has to pretend to be another gender in order to escape ridicule is a very diseased community, but that’s beyond the scope of this piece.

However, there’s a kind of woman that does exactly the opposite. Toting the name “gamer girl”, they proudly announce that they are women, and soak up all the admiration and abuse that gets showered upon them. Because they are special, because they are shifting the zeitgeist, those brilliant pioneers.They’re breaking into a man’s world in style.

Well, if you recall from before, sixty-four percent of online gamers are women! These ladies are definitely not leaders in a trend. And yet they soak up the admiration…

My problem isn’t that “gamer girls” are egotisitcal, some many male gamers are like that. After all, the entire basis of online gaming is to be better than the person below you on the scoreboard. My issue is that these women are defining themselves as gamers on the basis of their gender, not their gaming skill. A lady can be horrid at a game, but it’s all right in her mind because she’s a lady. Does that make sense?

My respect for gamers comes from their skill at the game, male or female. Women receive nothing additional simply for the merit of being female.

This is an unfortunate trend that is starting to annoy me. As a webcomic critic, I’ve read a LOT of gaming comics, I’ve  even reviewed some, and this comes up quite a bit. Look at NPC, Ctrl+alt+del‘s requisite “nerd girlfriend”, and perhaps No Pink Ponies for the comic counterpart for this. This is horrid! Your writing should be based around humor or creativity, not “imma pioneer” or “hurr boobs”.

The solution to this is two-fold. First, men, stop abusing women on the internet. They’re either (A) not wanting it or (B) complete attention-seeking idiots. Either situation will not be helped by your annoying comments. Secondly, women, you’re not special. Please, judge your quality as a gamer by your ability to down raid bosses or headshot noobs, not by your choice in genitalia.

The Escapist

REMINDER: The contest is still on until Monday. Get those submissions in!

Also, let me know your opinion of the new design scheme.

I’ve mentioned the Escapist quite frequently on my site, and I suppose that it’s time that they get their due credit.

The Escapist

This.

The Escapist is a website that revolves around an online gaming publication that they put out called, you guessed it, The Escapist. The “e-zine” follows gaming trends, yes, but it also frequently features fairly deep articles on the sociological trends and psychological backings of the gamingworld. I find these articles fascinating, in a “Wow… I can totally see that. Am I really that simple?” kind of way.

Of course, like most people, I was drawn to the Escapist by Zero Punctuation, a video game review short done by Ben “Yahtzee” Croshaw, a fast-talking, humor-making, swearing Brit-turned-Aussie. It’s brilliant, although it has shown me the dangers of being a fanboy. I love Yahtzee, I do, but I’ve found myself disappointed by his new videos. I don’t think that they’ve gotten worse, not at all. My perception is skewed by the fact that I’ve watched the old ones so many times that I expect every single video to be absolutely brilliant. This is counter to how I approach most things, expecting them to be utter crap. Still, you can find the videos here.

Apart from Yahtzee, who holds the status of a minor god on the site, there are quite a few other video series. I can recommend the Escapist News Network. Think of ENN like the Onion, just with video games, and you’ll feel right at home.

Other than that, I can’t say that I’ve particularly enjoyed many other series. Unskippable, a series where they watch intro cinematics in proper MST3000 fashion,  is occasionally good.

I Hit It With My Axe describes itself as “D&D with strippers”, refer to my piece on booth babes and you can probably guess my opinion of this bit.

Escape to the Movies isn’t bad, but all of the reviews are too nice. I don’t mean that I expect him to ride every movie into the ground, good or not, that’s unfair to the movies. I mean that I get a nagging feeling in the back of my mind that someone is forcing him to say nice things about the movies. This is basically the problem that I had with Playstation Magazine, back when I subscribed to it. After a long period of reading good reviews about games that many people said were crap, I started to wonder if the reviewers weren’t getting paid off. It made me lose faith in everything that the reviewers had to say. The same concept applies to Escape.

Other than that, I haven’t had time to explore the rest of it. However, this brings me to the forums. The Escapist website has a fairly advanced forum system, including ranks, achievements, logos, all of it. It’s rather entertaining. Of course, it’s a forum and therefore driven by the community, but it still can hold its own with people passing through.

And now, since it’s Friday, I bring you Critical Miss, a webcomic that won a spot on the Escapist.

Critical Miss

Critical Miss

Cory Rydell and Grey Carter

11 pages

Updates AP, as far as I can tell.

I always try to reserve my judgments for after a comic has had quite a few updates, since I feel bad for ripping apart what may simply be someone’s hobby. Most people don’t start out doing their comic “for profit”, or any site for that matter. Hell, that’s how I did my site, the ads are just there to cover hosting fees.

So please excuse me if I seem uncharacteristically kind to Critical Miss. It’ll pass quickly, I promise.

Critical follows Erin Stout, a professional video game critic, in her adventures… critiquing games. I know, what an innovative story. I must say that the writers were brilliant in pitching the comic to the Escapist instead of striking off on their own, after all the site is already filled to the brim with their target audience.

As video game critic comics go (and there’s a LOT of them out there), Critical isn’t bad. The comics are cynically funny, also known as “the best kind of humor”, and I have been genuinely entertained by them. This will sound ridiculously nitpick-y, but the only problem with them is that the first few comics lack a navigation bar, and it’s a pain in the ass to move around without one (There’s one now, but I’m leaving this in so that you don’t think that I was bought off).

Here’s the caveat, though. Like I’ve said in earlier reviews, comics have a nasty tendency to be spectacular at the start, then drift off into monotony or end completely. This is due to the fact that it’s really, REALLY hard to come up with something new and inventive once a week, much less thrice weekly.

The writers usually will start with a few excellent comics that they hammered out over a long period of time. After they hit comic 10 or so, they run out of these ideas and have to start making things up as they go along. This is wearying for people with other things that they need to be doing, so they might slow down the updates, or simply stop them altogether. I believe I set the bar at 50 comics for the magical “hump”, where a person will not easily give up, simply because s/he has invested so much time and effort into the comic.

So, we’ll see where Critical Miss ends up. I think that we’ll know definitively by the time that I learn to type “critical” without having to fix the spelling.

Etymology

Off topic: Steam is having a MASSIVE SALE.

REMINDER: The contest is still on until Monday. Get those submissions in!

We have a very exciting, informative post today. I’m going to tell you what a “meme” is. You may say “Oh Cat, we already know what a meme is. The internet told us so, you stupid man!”, to which I would respond with a quick slap across your face.

Let’s get that out of the way. “Meme” is a word that has slipped into the lexicon of the internet community, much like “fail” and “win” did (to a much greater degree). A “meme” is any kind of video, joke, phrase, picture, etc. that is repeatedly shown over and over for great enjoyment. Think of the Numa Numa guy or the “Can I haz cheezeburger” Cat (a joke that went waaaay too far).

If this isn't in the public domain by now, I will eat my hat.

Now let’s talk about what a “meme” really is. Richard Dawkins wrote a book called The Selfish Gene in 1976, back when he was doing actual science instead of burning down churches (Figuratively… I think). The idea of the “selfish gene” is that a particular gene will do whatever it can to replicate itself as much as possible, regardless of the consequences for the creature it is in or the ecosystem as a whole. A virus is a good parallel for this, it replicates endlessly without regard to what it harms.

Dawkins was trying to find a way to describe the transfer of information from parent to child as well. In his efforts, he coined the term “meme”.

You might notice that “meme” and “gene” are spelled similarly. If you do, give yourself a cookie because that’s the reason for the term. A meme acts as a gene, but replacing the genetic code with social ideas such as mores or techniques. Just like passing the gene for blonde hair down to his son, a father would also pass down a meme about religion, social heirarchy, techniques for farming, whatever. This idea uses evolutionary theory to explain the spread of certain kinds of ideas, including religion and the like.

The observant among you may notice that the actual definition of a meme and the internet’s version are quite different. Hint: It’s because they are. I’m not entirely sure where this misstep came in, but I can guess. I think that someone must have misread the book and thought that memes are passed to the people around you, not your offspring. That’s the only logical explanation.

And besides, we already have a term for internet fads. It’s called going “viral”!

World of Warcraft, Eh?

You know, there’s something wonderfully peaceful and familiar about writing these reviews. I’ve done so many… sometimes it’s nice to think inside the box. It’s comfy there.

And don’t forget that the comic contest is still on until Monday, details a few posts below.

World of Warcraft, Eh?

Kelly Aarons

2008-present

Updates AP (as produced), average about 1/week.

Ah, yes, the WoW comic. Such a staple of our time. It’s a gaming comic, a social-interaction comic, and a slice-of-(virtual)-life comic all rolled into one! Who wouldn’t enjoy it?

Well, I can’t really say. I liked it, yes, but I also play WoW, so I’m not an impartial judge. But I will try to play the outside role here.

<Hike pants, push glasses back on nose with determined look>

WowEh follows the adventures of Cadistra, the Tauren druid, and Kissless, a Blood-elf paladin, as they wander through the adventures of the Horde. For those of you who didn’t get that, “Druid cow and elf with shield and sword (not the tree-hugging variety) run through lots of deserts”. There’s a lot of WoW humor (duh) but it’s presented in a way that feels like it’s a normal joke comic, simply with WoW settings and characters instead of normal people. For example, the jokes in the first three comics are, respectively, <spoiler>running to the parking meter before it runs out, the environment is cold so global warming is crap, and American beer sucks.  </spoiler> Bear in mind, I’m not saying that this is a bad thing, the jokes may be a bit mundane but they are easily understood by anyone without severe brain damage, even if they don’t play WoW. Hell, depending on how severe the damage is…

One of the interesting things about WoWEh that struck me was the presence of a story. Normally, these WoW comics are simply done in a “hurr durr funny game mechanic”, which generally works. However, WoWEh took another path by making an actual, serious story. And no, not the abrupt miscarriage of a plot line that’s become a rather unfortunate viral bit, we’re talking an actual story here. Basically, they revolve around how the two main characters grew on each other, adventuring together, and so on. It’s actually rather well done, it tells the story well without dragging, and the characters are interesting enough to have actual personalities. In an age of sock puppets with faces, it’s nice to see characterization.

I’d make a comment about implied lesbianism, because I know that some of you are thinking it, but I’m not going to. Why? It’s Because I’d have to be a thirteen-year-old boy to give a shit about that. The internet is already saturated with twats that assume that two women can’t simply be comrades without having some kind of tryst going on as well.

Overall, it’s a clever comic that actually tries to have a story and <gasp> character development. I look forward to future updates.