AsapSCIENCE wins the internet with their new periodic table song.
In the “Atoms In Motion” introduction to Richard Feynman’s famous Lectures on Physics (which you can actually watch, thanks to Microsoft), there’s a very interesting footnote. I saw it in the condensed and immensely enjoyable Six Easy Pieces, which everyone should read:
“One can burn a diamond in air”
That took me by surprise. But it’s true! The video above from Theodore Gray (who is really good at burning stuff) shows that diamond will ignite if brought to a certain temperature and given enough oxygen to latch on to. Like Feynman said, those carbon atoms and oxygen atoms love each other, and want to snap together (which gives off heat), but enough input energy must be applied first to break down the diamond crystal, (which also makes carbon atoms pretty happy).
Interesting note about cheap old zirconium in there, too …
(tip of the torch to Freelance Astrophysicist, where I found the video)
Watch and Hear: Crystal Clear
Crystals are ordered, complexly symmetrical, and even dynamic in their growth and dissolution. It’s no wonder we’re attracted to these chemical lattices as an art form. Linden Gledhill’s new montage of microscopic crystals and food dyes takes that to its aesthetic apex. In this great video, he uses them as a colorful backdrop to a track off Jon Hopkins’ (no relation to the medical school) new album Immunity.
See what amazingness can occur when a scientist (Gledhill is a trained biochemist) and an artist join forces? Let’s do more of that.
Check out links to Gledhill’s other microscopic explorations as well as a cool behind the scenes look at which chemical reactions made the colors you’re enjoying at The Creator’s Project (also on Tumblr).
(via The Creators Project)
Source: Vice Magazine
A Boy And His Atom: The World’s Smallest Movie
Scientists are known for loving their work. Biologists tend to their cultures and animals. Physicists polish their exquisite machines like sports car entusiasts treat vintage Ferraris. So do chemists love atoms? Apparently they do. At least enough to write a love story with, and about them.
IBM scientists have created the world’s smallest movie using individual atoms. It’s the story of a boy and his playful atom buddy, drawn in stop motion and with each quantum pixel positioned using a scanning tunneling microscope. Every frame is magnified a stunning 100 million times!
This amazing feat was accomplished by using a charged atomic needle to drag single carbon monoxide molecules (the individual atoms we see are one side of that two-atom molecule) around on a copper substrate. I’ve posted a little bit about these feats of atomic art before, with these “quantum corrals” and “ferrous wheels”.
See those ripples around each atom? They remind me of pebbles being tossed into a still pond. They are actually ripples in the electron field of the copper surface below! It’s a reminder that, contrary to many textbooks, electrons behave more like waves than particles following an orbit. And like any other wave, they can form intricate interference patterns. Check out this previous post for more on that.
The hope is that manipulating atomic structures like this may lead to even greater information storage capacity. Imaging all the world’s books and movies on your mobile phone at once!
Here’s a “making of” movie from IBM, featuring the sound of atoms being moved as well as the encouraging sight of several female team members.
This makes me as happy as atom boy there.
Maggie Koerth-Baker has written a chemistry and combustion rundown of ammonium nitrate, the chemical believed to be behind the devastating blast yesterday in West, TX: “Ammonium nitrate fertilizer isn’t really a dangerous explosive (most of the time)”.
Ammonium nitrate, a primary ingredient in synthetic fertilizers, isn’t itself very explosive. Accidents involving it are actually pretty rare, although incidents like the Oklahoma City Federal Building bombing in 1995 have given it quite a reputation. However, like anything, it’s the dose that makes the poison.
When it burns, it creates its own oxygen, which can lead to a runaway fire. In those runaway fires, the chemical can bind together from pellets into a massive plug, allowing it to trap huge amounts of hot gases beneath the weight of burning material. You can guess what happens when hot gases build up with no place to go.
More details at Boing Boing. Stay strong, West, TX.
Source: Boing Boing
Metals and their compounds with oxygen, from a set of vintage infographics by the founder of Popular Science, 1854
Glad to review this, I was getting a little rusty.
I'm Joe Hanson, Ph.D. biologist and host/writer of PBS Digital Studios' It's Okay To Be Smart. Check out my "Episode Extras" here. There's a lot of amazing science out there. Let's go discover it together.
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