February 10, 2008
One of the Brickmuppet's Crack Team of Science Babes (tm)points the way to better living through chemistry with this report from Brian Wang on recent carbon nanotube developments. It looks like commercial grade resins may be able to significantly bring down the cost of these light strong structures! w00t!
Chemistry doesn't always lead to breakthroughs...sometimes it just reminds us of the bleedingly obvious and tries to dissuade us from doing something stupid...like burning food. Yes, it seems that...(shock!!)....using food crops for fuel is bad...even if you are a green. More here.
Chemistry is founded upon the first law of thermodynamics which enables chemistry to point out even more fundamental stupidity. Like passing a law that violates...said law. Sacramento...meet science. California homes are NOT going to be able to generate as much power as they receive from the grid...even if you pass a law.
But enough chemical idiocy....
Chemistry happens on a nano-scale and now we are approaching the ability to do chemistry sort of like an erector set. Via the Blogfather comes this report on DNA scale pliers and construction equipment that will enable nano-engineersand future chemists to create nano-scale machines and exotic compounds...one molecule at a time (hopefully in very rapid succession or it'll take ferever').....and they will be able to look at their handy work with this atom scale microscope!
Good Lord look! Those little dotty things...they are ATOMS! Its an actual picture of ATOMS! Unbelievable! Of course Atoms can be split and that segues into one of the favorite topics here at Brickmuppet Blog,
You see, while atomic power is not strictly speaking chemistry, (it's physics) it involves doing physics stuff to chemicals...like uranium (or preferably thorium)...Said elements, in order to be used in most reactors must be refined...and refining is...a CHEMICAL PROCESS. Well, not all reactors are alike in this regard as the Mysterious Dr. Buzzo tells us with this post on the many merits of the Canadian CANDU reactor. This is a nuclear reactor which can actually run off unrefined uranium. This is a huge advantage! In fact the CANDUs are virtually flexfuel reactors in that they can run off a fairly wide range of nuclear fuels including some types of nuclear waste (!!) as well as abundant thorium. Here is CANDU...the motion picture!
Finally, unrelated to space or energy matters, comes this bit of chemical innovation.
A professor at UC Berkeley has invented a tape-like substance that has so much adhesive strength that a person clothed in such a sticky suit could conceivably scale a building like Spider-Man. ...well, there ARE issues to be sure but its more proof that the future is here!
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