Watch this liquid boil and freeze at the same time! It’s not magic, these folks just dropped the pressure and temperature to the perfect place to hit the substance’s triple point, that magical nexus on the phase diagram where solid, liquid, and vapor coexist.
The liquid above is almost certainly not pure water (those crystals look a little funny), but here’s water’s phase diagram, complete with triple point and its various ice phases. Yes, even that one.
(via Mental Floss)
Ok, so now that SXSW is winding down and I have my city and my sanity back … I owe you guys some science!
Last week’s It’s Okay To Be Smart video looked at where the elements of the periodic table got their names (check it out here if you haven’t watched it yet!!!) AKA “awesome elemental etymology”. Of course, I couldn’t fit all the weird, wacky, drama-infused histories in just three and a half minutes of YouTube, and there’s a lot of cool element-name stories that I didn’t get to share.
So I’ll be posting some of the strangest tidbits today and tomorrow.
See that woman? That is not Marie Curie.
I mean, it is Marie Curie, but only in a sense.
If you type “Marie Curie” into Google image search, you’ll likely see this colorized photo pop up several times in the results. You might even find the original black and white. Go ahead. Try it. You’ll see this picture on postage stamps, in meme photos, and even in the form of a Marie Curie bobblehead doll (one of which I own), all purported to be the one, true Marie Curie.
But it’s not her. I know this because I met this Marie Curie, just last week.
Her name is Susan Marie Frontczak. She performs as Maria Sklodowska in a living history stage show called Manya that tours around the world, bringing Madame Curie’s science and soul to life.
The photo shows Susan striking a thoughtful, Curiesque stance, dressed in her period-appropriate Curie garb (It was Marie who famously said “I have no dress except the one I wear every day. If you are going to be kind enough to give me one, please let it be practical and dark so that I can put it on afterwards to go to the laboratory.”) The photo was posted to the web a few years ago, and thanks to that game of internet telephone known as “attribution-free viral image sharing” she has, in a very real way, become Marie Curie. At least in the eyes of Togo.
And Mali, and Zambia, and Guinea-Bissau, and the Republic of Guinea. All have released stamps using Susan’s photo as “Marie Curie”, often alongside real photos of Marie Curie, who Susan looks remarkably like, but not so close that one would be confused when looking at their pictures literally side by side.
Susan has also been immortalized in science’s Last Supper (below), sandwiched between Galileo and J. Robert Oppenheimer, playing the part of the apostle James (son of Alphaeus, not the Zebedee one). It occurs to me that I have no idea which Redditor or other meme-oriented internet user originally made this Last Supper image. The irony does not escape me.
Susan’s trademark pose, with extended right arm holding aloft a mysterious blue liquid we can assume represents the mere tenth of a gram of radium chloride Curie painstakingly extracted from one ton of pitchblende, complete with the thousand-yard stare of Nobelian gravitas, is carved daily by Chinese factory workers into top-heavy, spring-necked plastic figurines. Ah, to be immortalized in bobblehead form, on someone else’s bobblehead!
Did I mention no one has paid Susan for any of this?
This is an entertaining, but all-too-typical tale of the Modern Internet™. Susan doesn’t make a bunch of money from her show. I wonder how much she’s missed out on with people using her likeness without permission? I wonder how many other artists we could put in Marie’s … I mean Susan’s place, who lose out daily as their work is posted online without links or permission, spreading out of control like a radium-induced cancer?
Susan would like to adapt Manya into a film some day, to help spread Marie Curie’s legacy worldwide to new audiences. Maybe Togo, Mali, Zambia, and the various Guineas could see it in their pilfering philatelist hearts to send her a small donation? And maybe we can all be a bit more careful in the future, and treat these wonderfully creative science artists a bit nicer, and show them off, instead of showing off ourselves?
I mean, what would Marie Curie do? I asked her, last week. She said she’d like to be recognized.
Stamp and portrait images courtesy of Susan Marie Frontczak
The composition of a water molecule explained in “Beyond the Microscope,” a GE science film from 1922.
This is great! New YouTube channel idea: Vintage science films. I call dibs.
I guess it’s worth noting that this is not at all what electrons actually “look” like or how bonding works, but I don’t really mind for some reason.
Joe Hanson of It’s Okay To Be Smart channels his inner Dr. Seuss to explain where the elements of the periodic table got their names – the most charming chemistry primer since the elements illustrated as anime-inspired heroes and Edward Livingston Youman’s vintage illustrations of how chemistry works.
Have you watched my new “elements of rhyme”?
Get it?! Elements? Rhyme?
How The Elements Got Their Names
Have you ever wondered where all those funny names on the periodic table came from? What the heck does “praseodymium” actually mean, anyway?
I’ve got you covered in this week’s video. Here’s the history and etymology of all the names on the periodic table! From Actinium (Greek for “ray”) to Zirconium (Persian “zargun” or “gold-colored”) I’ve got ya covered.
Oh, and I made it rhyme, because why not?
Hold up, grab the wall … because this video is gonna hit you like a ton of lead. In a good way.
Tom McFadden, the world’s best rapping science teacher, who previously brought us the Rosalind Franklin vs Watson/Crick rap battle and the metabolic jam “Oxidate it or Love It/On to the Next One”, brings us his students’ next creation:
Lots more on Tom’s YouTube channel. But as much as I love Tom, it’s really the students who deserve the credit. Here’s my message to all of you:
Bobby Jaber was a chemistry teacher who was always inspired by art. Now that he’s retired from the classroom, he’s an artist inspired by chemistry.
He molds porcelain clay into molecularly-inspired spheres reminiscent of Buckminsterfullerine (AKA ”C60”), perhaps the most beautiful molecule on Earth. His creations are often symbolic of famous people, places, and moments from the history of science, from Antikythera to Archimedes.
Here’s a short film of the artist at work, by Dave Altizer:
You can see more of Jaber’s chemical creations on his website, Porcelania.
What does chemistry inspire you to create?
Film on Drugs
Sarah Schoenfeld applied droplets of common drugs and mind-altering chemicals to previously exposed film negatives, and these are the crystalline creations she was left with. More intoxicating photos at her site, part of the series All You Can Feel.
(From top, L-R: ketamine, caffeine, estrogen, opium, adrenaline)