Seeing Atomic Bonds

That last post left me a little depressed, so I think I will go ahead and write about something fascinating to cheer myself up. I found this story in Wired, courtesy of Instapundit, which I think is absolutely amazing.

For the first time, scientists have visually captured a molecule at single-atom resolution in the act of rearranging its bonds. The images look startlingly similar to the stick diagrams in chemistry textbooks.

Until now, scientists were only able to infer molecular structures. Using atomic force microscopy, the individual atomic bonds — each a few ten-millionths of a millimeter long – that connect the carbon molecule’s 26 carbon and 14 hydrogen atoms are clearly visible. The results are reported online May 30 in Science.

The team initially set out to precisely assemble nanostructures made from graphene, a single-layer material in which carbon atoms are arranged in repeating, hexagonal patterns. Building the carbon honeycombs required rearranging atoms from a linear chain into the six-sided shapes; the reaction can produce several different molecules. UC Berkeley chemist Felix Fischer and his colleagues wanted to visualize the molecules to make sure they’d done it right.

To document the graphene recipe, Fischer needed a powerful imaging device, and he turned to the atomic force microscope housed in physicist Michael Crommie’s UC Berkeley lab. Non-contact atomic force microscopy uses a very fine, sharp point to read the electrical forces produced by molecules; as the tip is moved near a molecule’s surface, it’s deflected by different charges, producing an image of how the atoms and bonds are aligned.

With it, the team managed to visualize not only the carbon atoms but the bonds between them, created by shared electrons. They placed a ringed carbon structure on a silver plate and heated it until the molecule rearranged. Subsequent cooling trapped the reaction products, which as it turned out, contained three unexpected products and one molecule the scientists had predicted.

Here are the pictures that came with the article. I hope they don’t mind if I copy them.

reactant1

product2

product3

The images on the left are the result of the new technique. There is more of a resemblance to the pictures you would find in a chemistry textbook, such as the images on the right, than I would have expected.

What a brave new world that has such marvels in it, and how lucky I am to have lived to see it.

 

Is Our Children Learning?

Not about important stuff like the concepts of freedom, our constitutional rights, and respect for the opinions of people you don’t happen to agree with. At least not if this story at Breitbart.com is typical of the way college students think.

On Thursday, the Centennial Institute released a video from Caleb Bonham, a conservative pundit, touring a local college campus and asking the students to sign a thank you card to the IRS for targeting tea party groups. Predictably, the geniuses that represent the future of our country were quick to sign off on IRS discrimination against conservatives.

“I think it’s a fake scandal and it makes sense to prosecute the 501(c)3s or whatever it is,” says one bike-riding, bearded, long-haired torch-bearer for American values. “I think this is pretty rad,” says another Phi Beta Kappa member. “I read about that, I thought it was pretty funny because the IRS is actually doing the right thing but the wrong thing at the same time, you know what I mean?” babbles one behatted female student.

“I love discrimination!” says one student. “Support Obama, target the tea party!” says another.

A huge number of student loans are subsidized by taxpayers.

And the taxpayers are not getting their money’s worth.

Here is the video

 

This doesn’t surprise me. Part of the reason I detest Leftists as the worse sort of intolerant bullies is because of the sort of things I witnessed while attending Indiana University twenty years ago. One episode I remember in particular involved a pro-life activist who the student pro-life organization invited to speak on the campus. I don’t remember name. I wish I did. Anyway, the local Left were not about to let anyone get away with expressing unorthodox opinions in public, so a crowd attended the meeting solely in order to shut him up. Every time the man tried to speak, they would wave coat hangers around and scream as loudly as they could so no one could hear him. Finally the situation became so volatile that the police escorted the speaker out of the room.

The student newspaper, the Indiana Daily Student, published an editorial condemning the hecklers, stating that even if you disagree with someone, you should still respect his right to speak. The newspaper received and published letters from these people saying that they were not the least bit ashamed of how they behaved as it was the right thing to do. The speaker was an anti-choice religious fanatic, and so had no right to to speak at a bastion of learning and tolerance such as Indiana University.

That is why I hate these people. I really hate these totalitarian wannabees because the only reason they aren’t shipping millions of people off to concentration camps is because they do not currently have any opportunity to do so. If some dictator came to power here in America, the idiots I saw shouting down the speaker and the idiots who signed this card would happily join whatever equivalent of the SS he might establish.