Courtesy Matthieu :: giik.net/blogAll y’all up on graphene?
I knew you were. You’re Buzzketeers, the best of the best, the biggest of the brains, the coolest of the cids.
There’s no need to explain graphene to this team (the Lil’ Professors), so it would be totally unnecessary for me to point out that graphene is a fancy material made of a single layer of carbon atoms attached to each other in a honeycomb pattern. It’s about as flat as can be, and when you roll it up you get those little things Science Buzz is so crazy about: carbon nanotubes.
Nanotubes are awesome, and if you click on the link above you can learn about all the awesome things they can do. But graphene…graphene itself may be pretty awesome too. The problem with testing just how awesome graphene is is that it has been exceptionally difficult to a) make a piece of graphene so small that it hasn’t got any of the imperfections that naturally come in large chunks of things, and b) make a device to actually hold the itty bitty graphene well enough to really test the stuff out.
But science has now done those things! Using a tiny sheet of perfect graphene (about 1/100s the width of a human hair) and a really tiny diamond…poker-thing (about 10 billionths of a meter wide), scientists have finally been able to find out exactly how strong graphene is.
So, how strong is it? It’s the strongest! That is to say, the strongest material measured so far. It’s about 200 times the strength of structural steel, or, says Columbia Professor James Hone, “It would take an elephant, balanced on a pencil, to break through a sheet of graphene the thickness of Saran Wrap.”
This statement, of course, wins professor Hone July’s “Awesome explanation, Scientist” award. That’s a good mental image, and it shows a non-scientist like me how strong graphene is.
So…awesome explanation, Scientist! More of that, please!
There is a video channel on You Tube that will feature a video about each element on the periodic table. I am featuring the video on sodium below.
When sodium is placed in water it floats because it is lighter than water. It also reacts with water. Sodium, because it is more reactive, takes the place of of one of the hydrogen atoms in water, (HOH). The hydrogen replaced is freed and the heat energy of the reaction often ignites the hydrogen. The burning hydrogen combines with oxygen in the air releasing energy which appears to be an explosion (or is it an implosion). All I know is that when my high school companions threw a chunk of it in the river the result was water blasted 13 feet into the air.
One should note that the sodium attached to the remaining OH from the water molecule makes sodium hydroxide (NaOH). Sodium Hydroxide is the active ingredient in Drano which eats through fat, grease, and skin. I learned the hard way that it burned skin and ruined clothing.
Click here to see more videos about elements from the periodic chart.
Courtesy J.Vinther/YaleResearchers at Yale University are reporting the discovery of pigmentation within the fossilize feather from a bird or dinosaur. Using a powerful electron microscope, paleobiologist Jakob Vinther and his team claim that particles seen in the 100-million-year-old fossil appear to be similar to those seen in the feathers of living birds. This could mean that color - a characteristic long-thought lost in the fossil record - could someday be determined from the remains of pigment.
Vinther’s colleagues included Yale paleontologist Derek E. G. Briggs and Yale ornithologist Richard O. Prum. The results of their study will appear in an upcoming issue of Biology Letters. The research shows that dark stripes in the Cretaceous-aged feather display many similarities to the make-up of black melanin particles found in modern bird feathers. Melanin compounds determine color in plants and animals, a trait useful for such things as camouflage, species identification, and courtship display. In humans, melanin colors our skin and also protects us from overexposure to sunlight.
For a long time, the dark granules seen in fossilized feathers were thought to be the carbon remains of bacteria that had worked at decomposing the organism prior to fossilization. But advances in electron microscope technology have given scientists a closer - and clearer – picture of the feather’s structure, and instead show them to be fossilized melanosomes containing melanin pigment.
"Feather melanin is responsible for rusty-red to jet-black colors and a regular ordering of melanin even produces glossy iridescence,” Vinther said. “Understanding these organic remains in fossil feathers also demonstrates that melanin can resist decay for millions of years."
Under the scope, the lighter bands of the fossilized feather showed only the rock matrix, while the darker bands displayed traces of residue closely resembling the organic compounds found in the feathers of modern birds.
“You wouldn’t expect bacteria to be aligned according to the orientation of the feathers,” said Vinther.
Another bird fossil showed similar organic traces in the feathers surrounding its skull. The 55-million-year-old fossil from Denmark also preserved an organic imprint of the eye that showed structures similar to the melanosomes found in eyes of modern birds.
Nanostructure studies could one day provide paleontologists with evidence of colors other than just black and gray tones, and not just in fossil feathers. Vinther figures other organic remains such as fur from prehistoric mammals or fossil skin impressions from dinosaurs could prove to be the remains of the melanin.
Courtesy NASASo, what? You wanted to live forever?
Oh, you did? Er…even at the expense of scientific enterprise? Whatever. Deal with it, crybaby, because me and my little Strangelet are going to wring this planet dry.
Do you remember the Large Hadron Collider? No? We posted about it this spring on Science Buzz. It’s a recently completed supercollider in France and Switzerland—the largest supercollider in the world, with a 17-mile circumference. Protons will be blasted through the device so fast that they’ll make the entire circuit 11,000 times per second (which is about the speed of light, I believe). When two streams of protons meet, some of them will collide, and smash apart. At that point two huge detectors will attempt to gather data on just what comes out of the destroyed protons. The hope is that when the machine is switched on in August, we’ll make some fantastic discoveries about the most basic (and yet mysterious) elements of matter.
Oh, and the world might be instantly destroyed. I didn’t mention that last time? Huh. I suppose it just slipped my mind because, you know, who wants to live forever, right?
Some people (read: crybabies) are very concerned that the colliding particles could form a micro-black hole, which could either evaporate instantly, or gobble up the earth. Whoops! There’s some thought that the collider might also produce a spicy little devil we call the “strangelet.”
Stranglets are, it should be said, hypothetical—they’ve never actually been observed. A strangelet is basically a tiny piece of “strange matter,” stuff made up of the same components of regular vanilla matter, but in a unique configuration (equal amounts of up, down, and strange quarks, for those of you in to…quarks, I guess). The fear is that, where a strangelet to come into contact with regular matter on Earth, it could convert that matter into another strangelet, which would convert other matter into strangelets, until the whole of Earth would be turned into a big ball of hot strange matter. Which would just be the pits.
A particular group of people was so worried about the repercussions of turning on the LHC that they actually filed an injunction against its operators. The lawsuit was dismissed, on account of the defenders of humanity just “needing to chill out.”
The plaintiffs claimed that the odds of the LHC creating a global catastrophe are about one in fifty-million—about the same as winning the lottery, but that happens from time to time. Not to me, though.
The scientists behind the LHC, however, argue that the odds are much lower than that even, if not zero. Collisions like those planned for the LHC occur naturally every second, as cosmic rays smack into the earth, and so far everything is all right. Furthermore, should something like a micro-black hole be formed, mega-eggheads like Stephen Hawking predict that it would instantly turn to nothing.
And that’s kind of the thing—some of the world’s biggest smarty-pants are working on this project, and they aren’t concerned. That has to mean something, right? Then again, according to The Incredible Hulk, many scientists aren’t all that concerned about their own certain, imminent death, so long as they get to do some crazy experiments. And I trust comic books implicitly, so who knows.
Catalysts, because of its shape, can speed up chemical reactions. Platinum is a useful catalyst in fuel cells but because it costs over $2000 an ounce, it needs to be used efficiently. One way to maximize the effectiveness of platinum is to maximize its surface area.
Cornell researchers have developed a method to self-assemble metals into complex configurations with structural details about 100 times smaller than a bacterial cell by guiding metal particles into the desired form using soft polymers. NSF News
To keep nano spheres of platinum from clumping or "globbing" they are coated with an organic material known as a ligand. The innovative use of the ligands allows for the metal nanoparticles to be dissolved in a solution containing long co-polymer chains, or blocks, of molecules linked together to form a predictable pattern. After the spheres have filled in the spaces created by the co-polymer chains, heat is applied until the polymer turns to a carbon scaffold. The scaffold holds the platinum spheres in place until cooled. The carbon is then dissolved away leaving an intricate hexagonal mesh of platinum (see image above).
These metalic surfaces will also be of interest to scientists working in an area called plasmonics. Plasmonics is the study of interactions among metal surfaces, light, and density waves of electrons, known as plasmons. Improved optics applications, like lasers, displays, and lenses and better transmission of information within microchips will be some benefits.
Courtesy dieselbug2007How has your day been so far? Good? I suppose it’s a little early to be asking that.
Depending on how you feel about no-faced cats, your day may be about to take a dive, or really look up.
When I say “no-faced cat,” what I mean is “a real cat with no face.” This one, in particular.
Medicine is amazing, cats are amazing, and the Internet is amazing.
Who knew a cat could even type?
Courtesy NathanBeachAnd it’s about time, I think.
I keep expecting too much out of my paper, I guess. I can’t fry eggs on it. I can’t tie up bank robbers with it. I can’t construct a balcony out of it. I can’t even write on it (I have powerful and intense handwriting).
In short paper is weak. It’s weak as paper, and I’m sick of it.
No longer. Scientists in Sweden and Japan have developed a new type of paper that has the tensile strength of cast iron. That is to say, its ability to “resist pull before snapping” is like that of iron.
Like normal, milquetoast paper, the new material is primarily composed of cellulose, the tough cell walls of plants. This paper is altered on the nano level, however—its structure is changed on the scale of billionths of a meter by exposing it to certain chemicals.
The creators of the tough nanopaper hope that it might someday be used as strong, lightweight construction material, among other applications.
I’m thinking something along the lines of origami body armor.
Courtesy IBMIBM scientists in Europe announced this week that they’re working on a 3D stacked microchip that will use water running through tiny micropipes as thin as a human hair to transfer heat away from the circuits.
As integrated circuits get smaller and more sophisticated, cooling becomes a real issue, and so far water-cooling seems to be the most efficient solution.
3D chips have their circuits stacked vertically rather than side-by-side. This allows information to travel much more efficiently between them. But the gain in processing speed also generates a tremendous amount of heat. IBM’s solution is to interweave the chip layers with tiny micropipes that will move water throughout the internal workings and carry the heat elsewhere. Silicon and silicon oxide hermetically seal off the tiny 50 microns-wide pipes from other chip components to prevent against an electrical short.
The water-cooled technology is not a new concept – both IBM and Hewlett-Packard have used the liquid to cool some of their mainframe supercomputers. In fact, just this past April, IBM announced a new supercomputer that cools its processors with water. Here's a video about that.
But the idea is moving now to the desktop PC. (Water-cooled technology has been used in some versions of Apple's Power Mac G5 computer but the microchips were standard configuration, and not arrayed in a three-dimensional vertical formation.)
Scientists from both the IBM Zurich Research Lab and the Fraunhofer Institute in Berlin are involved in the project, and the company believes the new micropipe technology could appear in products as early as five years from now.
Researchers at MIT have combined a nanowire mesh with a water-repellant coating that can absorb up to 20 times its weight in oil. The oil absorbed can be recovered and the "paper towel" can be reused many times.
"Made of potassium manganese oxide, the nanowires are stable at high temperatures. As a result, oil within a loaded membrane can be removed by heating above the boiling point of oil. The oil evaporates, and can be condensed back into a liquid. The membrane--and oil--can be used again." MIT News
Courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of ArizonaThe Phoenix Mars Lander set down successfully last night (6:53 CDT) near the planet’s arctic area in a region called Vastitas Borealis. On Earth, it would be similar to landing in the upper Northwest Territories of Canada.
Unlike the two Mars rovers, Opportunity and Spirit, the Phoenix is not mobile, and will spend the next four or five months stuck in one spot analyzing soil and ice samples scooped deep from within the Martian permafrost using a robotic arm developed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. On board instruments will analyze the samples in search of answers to questions about the affects of polar dynamics on Martian climate, the history of water at the landing site, and whether the Martian arctic region is suitable to support life.
In the coming months, as the sun disappears beneath the horizon and the Martian winter sets in, the Phoenix will shut down operations and end its mission. The loss of solar heat in the atmosphere will also create a frost cover that will expand out from the polar region and eventually bury the Phoenix lander in ice.