In this, the second edition of the Journal, we feature the Atmosphere. Every infrared spectroscopist worth his or her salt is well aware of the problems posed by atmospheric absorption, its intensity, and variations therein. Less dedicated practitioners run backgrounds and see water vapour and CO2 absorptions but quite probably ignore them.It turns out this can be hazardous, so we introduce this complex and difficult subject below. In the next Edition, after Christmas, we will take the matter further.

Over the last few months an esoteric correspondence has appeared in Spectrochimica Acta about the role of CO2 in global warming. The letters have been almost incomprehensible to those who have no background in the subject, so I asked Jack Barrett to write us a piece describing his view of the importance that man-made CO2 has in influencing global warming. As you will see, Jack is rocking the boat pretty violently and his views will certainly not be acceptable to the Green Lobby. As a convinced thoroughbred Brownie, I must say I am delighted with the article. I can turn up the heating, buy a bigger car and leave the lights on without any qualms of conscience. My contribution to what is inevitable anyway is trivial. I suspect one or two readers might disagree – please write us a letter.

In the first edition I contributed an article on sampling in FT-Raman spectroscopy and promised a follow up for Edition II. This time I have contributed my thoughts on heated and cooled cells.

When a new journal starts up it is always hard to find good, really interesting, contributed articles. In Edition I we were lucky and here in Edition II we are fortunate also. The group at the University of Xiamen in China are famous for their work on Surface Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy (SERS), a valuable technique in biochemistry and some specialist areas of low level analysis. The problem with the method is that it works well if the surfaces used are copper, silver, or gold but has always proved to be very difficult over anything else. Electrochemists find SERS very interesting but find the restriction to copper, silver, or gold frustrating. Professor Tian and his colleagues are lifting this restriction, so their efforts have enormous potential. Even if you are not particularly involved in Raman spectroscopy, I recommend you have a look at this article. It could well turn out to be of major importance in the future.

A journal appearing on the Internet has advantages and disadvantages compared with its hard copy competitors. Once organised slickly (and we’re working on it) we can be faster and hence much more interactive. A correspondence column or a bulletin board can be really topical. On the other hand, there can be problems with access due to overloaded telephone lines and diagrams can be of poor quality. The problems will gradually be solved but the advantages are real and they are expanding.

Since Edition I appeared we have received several responses and these have already generated requests for information, so our Bulletin Board is under way! Now we need some letters, preferably contentious and challenging!

A few weeks ago I visited Brisbane – my first visit to Australia – wonderful place – enjoyed every minute – especially a swim in the Pacific at 8 in the morning from an almost isolated, absolutely clean, vast, beach. My visit included the 2nd Australian Spectroscopy Meeting at Q.U.T. The lectures and posters were all on Vibrational Spectroscopy and of a quality and quantity that would be hard, if not impossible, to match in Europe or America. I deliberately “got at” the youngsters – told them to ignore their superiors – many of whom, like me, are probably computer illiterate – and to submit papers, which I am sure many will.

To conclude – have a wonderful Christmas and a fabulous New Year.