Monday, December 27, 2010

Learn Something New Everyday - Brain 'Power'!

Smallest Periodic Table Written on a Hair

Scientists at The University of Nottingham have written what they believe is the world's smallest periodic table -- on the side of a human hair. The table is so small that a million of them could be replicated on a typical post-it note.

Researchers at the University of Nottingham created a special birthday present for Martyn Poliakoff, a professor of chemistry. It’s a periodic table of the elments inscribed on the surface of a hair from Poliakoff:

Professor Poliakoff said: “Although the application was lighthearted I felt that it enabled us to show people how such nano writing is done. Our microscopist, Dr Mike Fay, made the whole operation seem so simple and really demystified it in a most appealing way.”

Read more and watch videos here.

Fly Geyser

This is a geothermal geyser found in Nevada, which originally started when the landowners were drilling for the water.

The water from the geyser is thrust skywards on a continual basis. The spouts of water squirt out two meters in the air, spraying the surrounding thirty or more pools with a fresh source of water. The different mix of minerals (which includes sulphur) reacting with the oxygen in the air help to give the geyser its glorious colors.

The multiple spouts mean that a single cone of enormous size has not been able to develop. Yet the alien looking mound is something quite extraordinary, especially with its myriad of colors. The other factor in the strange coloration of the mound is the fact that it is covered with thermophilic algae which as a heat tolerant microorganism thrives in this sort of hot environment.

See more pictures of the geyser and read more here.

Microscope Image of a Snowflake

What's your excuse?

Make Contest: Robotic Plant

This was a post after the Make Contest for building a robotic plant. It can grow or retract. Fun!

World's Biggest Cave

National Geographic presents The World’s Biggest Cave, a TV special that gives us a close-up look at Son Doong, a huge recently-discovered underground labyrinth in Vietnam.

A half-mile block of 40-story buildings could fit inside this lit stretch of Hang Son Doong, which may be the world’s biggest subterranean passage.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Rockets of the World

This is an illustration from physics professor Peter Alway's 1995 book Rockets of the World.

Click on the picture to zoom or download the full 3,322×5,079 image here. It's quite amazing what a monster the Saturn V still is, almost 40 years in retirement. The "Black Brants" are the Canadian rockets. They are all in the first two rows.

Personal Energy Footprint

National Geographic has a calculator for a personal energy footprint. It is also possible to compare your footprint with averages across the United States. Calculate your own here:

The picture above shows a "Greendex" image of the globe shows the results of the third annual National Geographic/GlobeScan "Consumer Greendex," a scientifically derived sustainable consumption index of actual consumer behavior and material lifestyles across 17 countries. Read more:

Monday, December 13, 2010

Photography of Stars

A colorful, craggy column of dust and gas dubbed the Mystic Mountain stars in a picture from the Hubble Space Telescope.

Hot, young stars in the nebula are constantly emitting radiation and charged particles that sculpt the cosmic cloud from the inside. Columns like this one are regions of matter dense enough to stand up to stellar erosion.

The hourglass shape of the supernova remnant SN 1987A isn't as well balanced as thought, according to an August picture of the exploded star.

Using data from an observatory in Chilea astronomers were able to confirm that, when massive stars explode, some of the ejected material gets shot into space faster than other debris, as predicted by computer models.

See more Photography from Space at National Geographic.

How It's Made: Crayons!

Cool video on how crayons are made. The factory in the video can produce 30,000 crayons an hour.

Make Contest: Robotic Plant

MAKE Magazine and blog have a contest closing just before Christmas. For this project, they'll build a robotic plant seedling that will use its microcontroller brain to monitor its environment, and bloom when the time is right. The whole project will be housed in an ordinary plant pot, and thanks to an energy-efficient design, should be able to lie dormant for months, even years, on a single set of AA batteries. That means you could set it by your window and be delighted when it finally wakes up, or give it as a gift to a patient robot enthusiast for safekeeping.

You can check out the website to find out more and to see the winners. You can also see if any projects come up that you would like to try out!

DNA Portrait

Your very own DNA blown-up and in living color. How much more personal could this portrait get?

You can actually buy your own here:

How-To: Simple Motor

This is a simple step-by-step guide on how to make a simple motor at home.

  • Toothpick
  • 18" of motor wrap wire, around 22 AWG
  • AA battery
  • Masking Tape
  • Flat piece of wood or cardboard
Full how-to at:

I bet this would spin well and you don't have the problems with the brushes touching the commutator that we had in the lab!