After 1,200 unsuccessful attempts to do something, most people would call it quits. Not Harvard University chemist Tobias Ritter. Chemistry research is 90 percent failure, he says. But success, when it comes, can be big. In Ritter's case, it could mean more-effective drugs. Ritter, a native of Germany, had been studying fluorination, the process by which fluorine atoms bind to carbon, since 2007.
Our friends at io9 have a great little overview of what we scientific types like to call the Eternal Sunshine Molecules (note: no scientific types call them that.). These are the recently-discovered molecules that may be able to erase, restore, retain, and protect our memories--at least, they might, in the coming decades.
We've seen single-molecule "motors" before, but they're pretty primitive, motors only in the most basic sense of the word. But this new one, made of a single butyl methyl sulfide molecule, is much closer to what images the word "motor" might conjure: when electricity is applied, the molecule is triggered to spin, without affecting any other molecules around it.
A test-tube circuit made of DNA-based logic gates can calculate the square root of numbers up to 15, using DNA replication and sequence binding to conduct computations. It’s excruciatingly slow — a calculation can take up to 10 hours — so organic laptops are not exactly in our near future. But the real breakthrough is in how this system can enable control of chemical systems.
The wee electron has gotten its most thorough physical examination yet, and scientists report that it is almost, almosta perfect sphere. Researchers at Imperial College London have determined the electron is just 0.000000000000000000000000001 centimeter off from being perfectly round. Put another way, if the electron was magnified to the size of the solar system, it would deviate from immaculate rotundity by a magnitude equivalent to a human hair.
The Large Hadron Collider is now officially the world's most powerful particle accelerator
By Jennie WaltersPosted 04.22.2011 at 1:59 pm 8 Comments
The LHC smashed a record-breaking number of particles at midnight Geneva time last night, setting a new standard for beam intensity. CERN replaced Fermilab’s former record of 4.024 × 1032cm-2s-1 with a smug 4.67 × 1032cm-2s-1. That’s a lot of zeros, ranging somewhere in the billions of billions. Of billions.
By Jennie WaltersPosted 03.30.2011 at 4:25 pm 7 Comments
A team of engineers at Ohio State University have packed a nanoparticle full of fluorescent blinking quantum dots. When the particle is attached to a single molecule, it functions as a gaudily glowing beacon.
With their bright, continuous fluorescent glow that transitions between red, green and yellow, the nanoparticle is a better way to tag molecules, both in its function and in its good looks.
A new type of sensor can identify substances as small as a molecule by examining the light they reflect, potentially leading to sensors for a wide range of substances, from explosives to cancer.
The DARPA-funded sensor uses a chip full of metal pillars to boost the light signals bouncing off an object. It’s a billion times more sensitive than was previously possible, according to researchers at Princeton University.
Chemists have messed with the constituent parts of a helium atom and fooled it into behaving like it was hydrogen. This form of alchemy allows a physical test of how atomic mass affects chemical reaction rates.
The trickery involves a particle accelerator, a heavy subatomic particle and some knowledge of quantum mechanics.