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.

 

I’ve Been Busy

I see that I have not written anything since Tuesday. I apologize for this but between work and helping my mother-in-law move, I have been busy. It is not that I have had to move a lot of furniture, she hired professional movers for that, and my wife has worked much harder than I have at moving things, and so she is even more exhausted than I am. The fact is that being the man, I have been pressed into service whenever something especially heavy has needed to be moved. The cumulative effect of that and work has been tiring.

It is odd that physical work leads to mental exhaustion. I have a long list of things that I would have like to have written and typing on a keyboard takes very little energy. But, this week, I have found myself on my computer unable to do anything except play video games. I hope I am getting over it. Anyway, I am on vacation next week.

 

Assignment

Well, I’ve gotten my first assignment from Organizing for Action. I am supposed to forward this e-mail.

David —

President Obama has asked Congress to pass legislation to help protect our kids and reduce gun violence — and we need to do everything we can to help. Forward this email — and spread the word today:

Tell Congress it's time to act to reduce gun violence.

The first thought that crossed my mind when I saw this was the old classic advice from everyone’s mother; if 92 of all Americans decided to jump off a bridge, would you jump too?

Without commenting on the advisability of universal background checks, I would say that it does not matter to me in the slightest whether 10% or 99% of the population supports any given policy. If it is unconstitutional, it is still unconstitutional, no matter how many people are for or against it. If it is a dumb idea, it is still a dumb idea no matter how many people support it. If Obama’s people want to convince me that something they want is desirable, then they are going to have to give me good and logical reasons to support it, not just tell me to support x because everyone else wants it.

Sick and Tired

I have been sick since the day after Christmas and I am really tired of it. I actually called in sick last Thursday, which is something I never do. Every time I start to feel a little better, I start to feel worse again by the end of the day. What is really frustrating is that I keep getting ideas on things to write about, but I am too tired to do anything.

Rule of Thumb

I notice that at Professor Loomis’s group blog there has been a movement of sorts to defend his right to free speech against those awful conservative wingnuts who have taken note of some of his more offensive statements. Evidently saying bad things about the good professor is tantamount to an insidious campaign of hate and intimidation.

The worst mistake to make with regards to Erik’s battle with accumulated wingnuttery is this: If I’m careful, it won’t happen to me. Erik employed an emotional-but-common metaphor to describe his feelings about a major public figure in the wake of a tragedy; the response has amounted to a Two Minutes Hate. The first purpose of this Hate is to intimidate Erik and people like Erik into never again speaking forthrightly about American politics. The second purpose is to distract from the fact that twenty children were massacred with weapons that no civilian should be allowed to possess.

Let’s be clear: If you are a progressive interested in writing about politics, this will happen to you. The only question is how you deal with it.

No. The intent is to discourage people from fantasizing on the Internet about assassinating public figures. Anyway Loomis reactivated and then deleted his Twitter account. Again, we may be thankful that Twitchy has preserved his words. A quick overview of the tweets he made before deleting his account again indicates that this is not just a matter of one or two badly worded posts but that this is a man with some anger management issues. I apologize for the language.

Dear The Avery in Providence. Fucking forgive me for working on my book while drinking a beer in your empty bar. Laptops banned!!!!!

Quick! Grab screencaps before the mad professor deletes them again:

I was just ordered by ownership to close my laptop in an almost totally empty bar. If you ever wanted to see me in full anger, see me now.—
Erik Loomis (@ErikLoomis) November 14, 2012

Nothing makes me more angry than being ordered what to do. Usuallly good at checking emotions, am now in towering rage at laptop-banning bar—
Erik Loomis (@ErikLoomis) November 14, 2012

@drfarls You have no idea how much I wanted to break my glass over that guy’s head.—
Erik Loomis (@ErikLoomis) November 14, 2012

Erik Loomis, as most Twitchy readers know, is the hypocritical University of Rhode Island professor who retweeted a tweet advocating murder of certain gun rights proponents.

His bio used to note his position as assistant professor at the University of Rhode Island. Not anymore.

Anyway, after deleting his Twitter account on Tuesday, Mr. Angry is back today. We can look forward to many more tweets like these:

I love teaching books on the history of sexuality. I talked about dildos in a completely appropriate way in class today.—
Erik Loomis (@ErikLoomis) November 20, 2012

This I Believe: Corporations are run by greedy, rapacious assholes who deserve long prison sentences. lawyersgunsmoneyblog.com/2012/11/this-i…
Erik Loomis (@ErikLoomis) November 16, 2012

Dear subtitle people, white subtitles on a white background means I CAN’T FUCKING READ THE SUBTITLES. Seriously, have you heard of yellow?—
Erik Loomis (@ErikLoomis) October 23, 2012

@speechboy71 I would personally like to punch Matt Stafford for single handedly destroying my fantasy team this year.—
Erik Loomis (@ErikLoomis) October 23, 2012

Dear right-wing morons, saying you “want someone’s head on a stick” is a metaphor. I know metaphor is hard for you to understand.—
Erik Loomis (@ErikLoomis) December 18, 2012

Dear rightwingers, to be clear, I don’t want to see Wayne LaPierre dead. I want to see him in prison for the rest of his life. #nraterrorism
Erik Loomis (@ErikLoomis) December 18, 2012

I am bringing all this up because I thought it might be a good way to introduce my rule of thumb regarding blogging, tweeting, writing, or saying anything that is likely to become public. If Professor Loomis and his colleagues happen to be reading this, I hope they will pay attention.

My rule of thumb is this; before hitting the return or send button, take a quick look at what you have written and consider how a complete stranger might take it. If what you have written comes across as angry, hateful, or deranged, you might want to rewrite or delete it. If there is anything in what you have written that could even remotely be construed as a threat of violence, then you should definitely rewrite or delete it. You may feel that this would cramp your style or restrict your free speech rights but I would say that the right of free speech comes with the responsibility to use that right conscientiously. In other words, if you don’t want people to jump all other you, you might try to express yourself with some degree of civility and respect. I think you might find it easier to persuade people to come around to your point of view if you didn’t start off by calling anyone who disagrees with you a moron.

Something similar could be said regarding foul language. If you have a problem expressing yourself without using the f-word, imagine your mother standing in front of your computer. You wouldn’t talk like that in front of her, would you? If you have a limited vocabulary, as so many seem to these days, invest in a thesaurus. You might also try reading the classics. Those writers like Shakespeare and Dickens, etc. really knew how to express themselves. Learn from them.

I think that if we all try to be calmer and more rational and not just write whatever happens to be on the top of our heads at any given moment, we would all be a lot better off and , who knows, we might just be able to find things we agree on.

Oh,and Professor Loomis, if by chance you do happen to be reading this, please get counseling. You’ll find it does a world of good in dealing with your issues.

Thanksgiving

So what are you going on the Internet instead of enjoying Thanksgiving with your family? Go eat some turkey and come back tomorrow.
My computer is down. So I won’t be able to do the thanksgiving post I had intended. It’s hard for me to type much on an iPhone. I should have it fixed by the end of this week.

Still Around

 

I haven’t posted anything since Monday so you might have thought that I have given up on this blog, or had been abducted by aliens. I try to write something every day and I don’t think that I have gone five days without posting before. I have been very busy this week.

 

 

To start with, Labor Day is coming up so we are approaching one of the weekends of horror. I have worked late everyday this week. In addition we have have Gospel Meetings at our church. A Gospel Meeting is when we have a guest preacher come in and give sermons all week. This time we had a preacher from Georgia named Joseph Casimier. He was really good and we actually went every night but Monday. On Monday, we attended my son’s Boy Scout Court of Honor, where they handed out merit badges and promotions.

The Republican National Convention was also this week. I didn’t pay to much attention to it. I like reading about politics and history, but I don’t much care for watching politician’s speeches. I gather it was quite a successful one for the Republicans. I might look for some clips on YouTube or Unedited Politics. I also have to go through my email. I hope the Democrats sent some good fund-raising messages.

 

Independence Day

 

It is the fourth of July again, the anniversary of our declaration of independence from Great Britain. I was going to film myself singing the national anthem, but I decided that it might be against WordPress‘s terms of service to subject readers to the sound of me singing. So, instead I’ll provide this video.

 

 

Happy Independence day, and may God bless America.

 

 

 

iPhone from Work

For most of the time that I have worked as a merchandiser for Pepsi, they have relied on the honesty of us merchandisers to report on the hours we have worked and that we have actually been in the stores we are supposed to have worked in. Obviously, this system lends itself to abuse, although I do not think we have had much of a problem in the Seymour area. Still, Pepsi has wanted to implement a more reliable system for some years now, the general idea being some sort of method in which we punch or scan ourselves in, at the various stores, etc. It wasn’t until last month that they finally got around to using such a system. They put up barcodes in each of the stores the merchandisers work in and we scan the codes when we enter or exit the store. The software they decided to use works on an Apple iPhone, and so they gave each of us an iPhone, with an unlimited data plan in order for the software to function correctly. Although these iPhones belong to Pepsi, we have been encouraged to treat them as our own, the only limit being that the plan they adopted only allows 300 minutes for phone calls, so we have been warned against making too many phone calls, and to text message whenever convenient. I suppose this generosity is to encourage us to actually use the phones to scan in and out, etc.

 

Image representing iPhone as depicted in Crunc...
Image via CrunchBase

I would have to say that the iPhone is a really cool cell phone. It’s actually more like an electronic Swiss army knife than anything else I can think of. By that, I mean, that with the various applications, or app, you can actually use the iPhone for just about anything that involves information. There must be many thousands, perhaps millions, of app, a good many of them free. Among the apps that I have downloaded are an Amazon Kindle app that allows me to read all of the materials I have bought from Amazon, Olive Tree’s Bible Reader, WebMD, the Drudge Report app, WordPress (I can blog from the iPhone), some educational apps, and some fun apps.There are several apps that come with the iPhone, including YouTube,

I think that Pepsi has made a major mistake here. I now have the equivalent of a library and a home entertainment center in my pocket. I am not sure that such distractions are likely to improve my efficiency at work.

Invitation

Yesterday evening I had to do the invitation at our church. An invitation is a sort of mini sermon done after the Wednesday evening Bible study. It only lasts about five or six minutes and is done by one of the men of the congregation rather than our regular preacher. In a way, I suppose it is a way to train preachers. I have actually done one once before when I substituted for somebody else.

Anyway, I was asked last month if I would be willing to deliver an invitation and I, absent-mindedly said yes. Sure enough, I was schedule for May 16. I spent most of this week preparing what I wanted to say. Between that and long hours at work, I haven’t had much time or energy to write here.

I was really, really nervous when I started out, but I got better as I started talking. I did stumble once or twice and if I am ever asked to speak again I will have to have my notes printed out in a larger font. I lost my place once, but it didn’t matter much since I had gone over the invitation in my head so I knew what I wanted to say. I am not sure if I did a good job. People told me I did, but this was church and they were obliged to be nice. Maybe if I made some sort of speech in a more secular environment I would get a more honest appraisal. I wouldn’t want this to be generally known, since they might ask me to do it on a semi regular basis, but despite the nervousness, I rather enjoyed myself up there. I would like to think I am making some sort of contribution.