My chemistry students know Roald Hoffmann from his quirky delivery in the World of Chemistry series of videos. Our favorite Nobel Laureate has an incredible story to tell about surviving the Holocaust. Here he is on the Moth Radio Hour, telling his tale. - Link
"The process takes merely tenths of a second. But within that tiny amount of time, there's a lot going on. The American Chemical Society used a high-speed camera operating a 4,000 frames a second to illustrate the sequence of chemical reactions that take place when a match is struck against a striker. The simple match is a marvelously complex device."
Yesterday Google gave a well-deserved shout-out to Niels Bohr, the Danish physicist who developed the atomic model we still rely on to teach high school students the structure of the atom. Heck, I still rely on it myself to understand movement of electrons from orbit to orbit, emitting photons (or absorbing energy) in the process. A well-deserved honor, and a greatly timed coincidence: my students should be studying the evolution of atomic models as I sit here typing. - Link
How cool is this? Instead of using mass spectrometry to measure the mass of large numbers of ionized molecules, scientists at Caltech have invented a device (shown above under a scanning electron microscope) that can measure the mass of ONE MOLECULE. Directly. The "nanoelectromechanical system resonator" is only 2 microns in length, and uses vibrational frequencies to identify the mass of a molecule that lands on it. - LINK
Randall Munroe of xkcd fame has outdone himself with his new "What if?" segment. I love that he uses math to actually calculate what we all (well, at least all us science nerds) are thinking. In this particular one, he postulates what a mole of the little furry animals would look like. It gets gloriously "gruesome." - LINK
On another note, what if I actually am able to keep up with this blog thing throughout the year?
Since we're studying measurement in chemistry, I always show my students this old, award-winning film by Charles and Ray Eames called Powers of 10. Although it's dated, the video provides a great look at size and perspective. I particularly enjoy the alternation of matter and empty space, the notion that this alternation exists at both the macroscopic and microscopic levels.
Others have attempted to detail the power of perspective (like this one); it's amazing to me how well the Eames piece holds up.
I especially like the xkcd take on it:
While I drove my kids to their summer camps today, I listened to Frank Stasio's The State of Things on WUNC radio. His guest was NC State ecologist/evolutionary biologist Robert Dunn, whose book is entitled The Wild Life of Our Bodies: Predators, Parasites, and Partners That Shape Who We Are Today. Amid the discussion of bellybutton bacteria and forehead mites is an interesting look at the coevolutionary relationships we have with the ecosystems that thrive on and in the human body. I'm definitely putting it on my reading list for my AP students. - Link
Wastewater treatment plants are good at what they do. In fact, they're most often better and have stricter regulations than bottled water companies. Unfortunately, they don't filter out everything. National Geographic has a piece on prozac in the water as part of their continuing coverage of global water issues. - Link
Who is Riss?
"No one warned me that life would involve science, except my science teacher. But, of course, he's going to say that. He's got a job to protect."
- Stephen Colbert, I Am America (And So Can You)
E - The Environmental Magazine
Environmental News Network
Environment News Service
Information is Beautiful
NASA Goddard Institute
National Science Foundation
WUNC NPR News
WUNC The State of Things