Posts Tagged ‘Wired’

Seeing Atomic Bonds

June 2, 2013

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.

 

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Diversity Comics

April 15, 2013

 

The people at DC  Comics can certainly give themselves a well-deserved pat on the back for their recent attempts to promote diversity in the world of comic books. First, they decided that the latest incarnation of the Green Lantern would be the first homosexual hero in mainstream comics. Now they have decided to introduce the first mainstream comics transgender character in Batgirl. DC originally stood for “Detective Comics”. Perhaps DC should change it to mean Diversity Comics.

 

But, not all forms of diversity are welcome. Just ask Orson Scott Card who was hired to write new adventures for Superman. Card happens to be one of the many people in America who are not quite convinced that same-sex marriage is a wonderful idea and for this diversity from the standard Left-Liberal line the artist assigned to illustrate the stories stepped down, stores threatened to boycott the comic, and the new series has been quietly put on indefinite hold.

 

Evidently there is good diversity, based on sexual deviancy  and gender confusion and bad diversity which is based on an real differences of values and opinions. Or, perhaps to put it another way, true diversity will only be obtained when everyone thinks alike. It is a pity that Orwell didn’t live to see this day. He could have added diversity is conformity to the Party’s slogans; freedom is slavery, war is peace, ignorance is strength.

 

Check out the comments on the article from Wired I linked to, not to mention the rather snarky tone of the article itself. The great majority of the tolerant liberals seem to believe that since they have determined Card to be a bigot, he has no right to free speech or even employment. Luckily Orson Scott Card is already an established award-winning science fiction writer, but the message is clear to any aspiring writer, toe the politically correct line or else.

 

 

 


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