By Katharine GammonPosted 05.31.2011 at 6:00 pm 0 Comments
Three low-energy innovations to keep out the heat help scientists ship snowmen to Bahrain, chill beer with nanoparticles, and bring vaccines to developing areas.
Physicists led by Geoff Smith of the University of Technology– Sydney have created a coating that allows heat to escape all the way into space. When an object radiates heat, some of it bounces off nearby molecules in the air, ending up right back on the object itself.
Editor's note: A big congratulations today to Theo Gray, whose Gray Matter column was nominated for a 2010 ASME award in the Columns and Commentary category. Great to see Theo's excellent work being recognized. Here, his latest column from the March issue:
The first light-emitting diodes went on sale in 1962, and you could have any kind you wanted as long as it was dim and red. Green, yellow and orange came next, but blue LEDs didn't debut until 1989. So it may surprise you that the first LEDs, discovered in 1907, included blue—and were made of sandpaper.
By Mike HaneyPosted 07.18.2005 at 4:55 pm 0 Comments
Nobody likes a mess, even a microscopic one. For one thing, it´s tough to clean what you can´t see. That´s why researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute are crafting the world´s smallest brooms. The tiny tools are made by growing bristles of superstrong carbon nanotubes on a silicon-carbide fiber just 16 microns in diameter, or about half as thick as a human hair. Scientists create the “handle” by coating one end of the fiber with gold, which inhibits nanotube growth.
Our scientist zaps tin and silver, shatters glass, and arcs his oven to prove a point.
By Theodore GrayPosted 09.01.2003 at 8:00 pm 5 Comments
There is an entire subculture of people who derive pleasure from putting strange things in microwave ovens, things that microwave oven manufacturers would most strenuously suggest should not be put there. In the hands of these people, table grapes produce glowing plasmas, soap bars mutate into abominable soap monsters, and compact discs incandesce. As a scientist, I'm enthralled by such phenomena (particularly the grapes), but somehow I've always found the subject a bit unsatisfying: Cool, but what is it really good for?