In chemistry class, we have all had to draw (and have been tested on) the schema of molecules. Recently scientists at UC Berkeley have been able to image a single molecule and to see it rearrange its atomic bonds. The resulting AFM images, look a lot like those little stick drawings I referred to.
A ringed, carbon-containing molecule, shown both before and after it has rearranged itself, with the two most common reaction products included. The scale bars measure 3 angstroms, or three ten-billionths of a meter, across. Image and Caption: Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and University of California at Berkeley
I have an application on my phone that tells me not only the phase of the moon, but how far away the moon is from the earth on any given day. It tells me the distance in miles and kilometers. It even tells me how many Eiffel Towers it is from the earth to the moon.
I love things like that. I am a fan of the Charles Eames film, the Powers of Ten. If you are not familiar with this classic, I recommend it and you can see it here.
I came across an interesting and related infographic the other day on LiveScience. I think that it also is a fascinating look at the scale of things on earth, man made and natural.
Science fiction fans are familiar with Steve Austin and Geordi LaForge. CLiPS researchers have been working in areas that previously might have been viewed as science fiction with the development of an optical lens that mimics the way human eye lenses work. This research may lead to more natural acting implantable lenses, as well as providing applications for optical equipment and surveillance technology.
A recent article in Optics Express described research coming out of CLiPS technology that has led to advanced polymer, multi-layered lenses. This article published online by The Optical Society describes the research and its potential, quoted here in part:
“The research team’s new approach was to follow nature’s example and build a lens by stacking thousands and thousands of nanoscale layers, each with slightly different optical properties, to produce a lens that gradually varies its refractive index, which adjusts the refractive properties of the polymer.”
This story was picked up by UPI and, understandably, has generated a great deal of interest both in the technical and popular press.
Click HERE for more information about CLiPS research; and HERE to learn more about the GRIN lenses.
Feel like moving? Well there might be a destination. The adventure to get there might be something similar to the marine turned Avatar in the movie bearing that same name. Then again, perhaps we’ll figure out how to travel “Star Trek style.” Beam me up, Scotty!
Welcome to Kepler 62f. (That’s as good a name as “earth!”) How did this world get it’s name–from the NASA Kepler space craft that discovered it. I should actually say “them” as there are 5 planets circling this star that is somewhat dimmer than our sun. Kepler 62f is special because it is one of two planets that seem made of rock and may have oceans. Intrigued? Read Dennis Overbye’s story “Two Promising Planets to Live, 1,200 Light-Years from Earth“ in the New York Times.
There’s history here, too. Johannes Kepler born in 1571 to a poor family in Weil der Stadt, Württemberg. He was a sickly child but his intelligence earned him a scholarship to attend University of Tübingen where he was delighted with the work of Copernicus. The history and NASA connection you can read. Eventually and recently, Kepler met Einstein by showing gravity bending as an extremely dense dwarf star crosses in front of a red star.
By the way, my job is not to explain all of this to you–simply to wet your apetite for it. History meets science meets science fiction today. So, here’s the personal question: Where are you going? The universe is an expansive place with concepts smaller and larger than the mind can grasp or imagine. But isn’t it fun to learn more and keep trying!
Illustration above is:
An artist’s impression of a sunrise on Kepler 62f. The two outer planets of the Kepler 62 system may lie in the habitable zone, where liquid water could exist on the surface.
American Association for the Advancement of Science
ABC Science has a recent article about mathematics, algorithms and applications in our lives, quoted here:
“Algorithms are amazing
How does Facebook find friends for you? How do you discover the links you want on Twitter? These are all based on proprietary algorithms developed by mathematicians and computer scientists. And the effects have been staggering. They have altered the way society works with information about just about everything available at the touch of a smart phone.
When it comes to the mathematics of planet earth, one of the most striking examples of mathematics in action has been the development of Google Maps, which uses advanced imaging algorithms to enable us to find places, directions, zoom in and out, change the level of detail, and find a restaurant we’d like to dine at.”
Constructed for an air show in England last July, Rolls Royce commissioned the largest jet engine built entirely of LEGO blocks. The company reported:
“The one of a kind Lego structure shows the complex inner workings of a jet engine and took four people eight weeks to complete. Including 152,455 Lego bricks, the engine weighs 307 kg and is over 2 m long and 1.5 m wide. Over 160 separate engine components were built and joined together in order to replicate a real jet engine. Everything from the large fan blades which suck air into the engine down to the combustion chambers where fuel is burned, had to be analyzed and replicated using the world famous building blocks.”
This story was reported in the online newsletter of ASM. Read more here.
CNN covers women who are making a difference in non-traditional careers. In July 2012, Fabiola Gianotti was featured. Dr. Gianotti runs the Large Hadron Collider at CERN. Read more about her career here. Read more about her career here.