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Posts Tagged ‘chemistry’

An Abbott and Costello routine meets…science, I guess.

August 26, 2011 2 comments

Finally, Science is Doing Something Useful!

April 5, 2011 1 comment

Photo Credit: Aaron Logan

I love coffee. It has lots of flavour nuance (yes, I actually said nuance) and my brain loves stimulants.

But here’s the problem. I come into work in the morning, and I get a coffee. It is too hot to drink at first, so I let it sit for a few minutes.

However, after reading a few emails I get distracted and forget about my poor coffee. By the time I remember it, which is usually about an hour later, it is far too cold.

So I take it to the microwave to heat it up. However, it gets too hot, so I have to let it sit for a few minutes.

And the cycle goes on. It is definitely one of our #firstworldproblems, but it annoys me nonetheless.

But behold! The Coffee Temperature Regulating Thing-a-ma-jig!

The Coffee Joulie

Actually they are called Coffee Joulies, and they even have a Kickstarter page to raise some money to get the business up and running.

So how do they actually work? Each stainless steel “joulie” contains a material which melts at 140 degrees Fahrenheit (60 degrees Celsius). If the coffee is hotter than this, the material absorbs thermal energy by undergoing a phase change (melting). This helps cool the coffee down faster. Once the temperature of the coffee dips below 140, the material remains slightly hotter than that until it solidifies, which keeps the coffee hotter, longer.

And no, I am in no way affiliated with these two guys who started this company, and I have no financial interest in the product. I just think it is an interesting solution to a common problem, and the solution is elegant in its simplicity.

Marie Curie Voted ‘Greatest Polish Woman’ Ever

March 7, 2011 Leave a comment
Portrait of Marie Skłodowska-Curie (November 7...

Marie Curie ca. 1898 - Image via Wikipedia

It seems that the Museum of Polish History conducted a poll to find out who was the greatest Polish woman in history.

The winner came out to be physicist Marie Sklodowska-Curie, known for her work in radioactivity.

Curie also was the first female professor at the University of Paris, as well as the first person ever to be awarded two Nobel Prizes; one in physics and the other in chemistry.

She past away in 1934 due to complications from radiation poisoning, but she did get a physical constant named after her: the Curie (Ci) which is 3.7 x 1010 decays per second, which is about the radioactivity of 1 gram of Radium-226.

Why I Already Like The New Spider-Man Movie

February 15, 2011 3 comments

Even though its not coming out until next summer, “The Amazing Spider-Man” already looks like it will be an improvement on the Tobey Maguire incarnation of the lovable web-slinger.

Here’s part of the reason why I’m getting impressed. This photo was just released by Sony:

Photo Credit: Peter Tangen

And as pointed out on Collider, if you zoom in on the hands you can see something weird…

See those devices on his wrists? In the original comic books, Peter Parker was quite adept at chemistry and applied science (skills I appreciate). Although his radioactive spider bite gave him super human strength, agility, the ability to climb walls, as well as a “spidey-sense” that alerts him to danger, he did not have the ability to shoot web from his wrists.

Those devices were actually an invention of Peter Parker’s to enhance his spider-like abilities.

This concept was not in the first few Spiderman movies, which had Tobey Maguire actually shooting web from weird growths on his wrists.

Is it a fine point? Yes. But I like that this movie seems to be paying a bit more attention to detail. It also looks as though this reboot won’t be as campy as the previous Sam Raimi directed movies.

Nothing against Sam Raimi, but he should stick to Evil Dead and Xena: Warrior Princess type stuff.

World’s Smallest Periodic Table

January 14, 2011 Leave a comment

Engraved on the hair of what has to be the most stereotypical looking scientist ever!

Women + Science = Awesome

August 11, 2010 1 comment

My undergraduate physics class had about 30 students who got their B.Sc. at the same time as me.

Only 4 of them were women.

But dammit, they were equals every single step of the way. We studied together, we wrote tests together, and we got drunk after we wrote tests together.

I have heard of a time when women studying STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) was frowned upon. They were ignored by their peers and were not taken seriously.

Boy, how times have changed.

But unfortunately, there is still a large gender gap in the physical sciences. Although women are considered equals, enrollment numbers, particularly in Engineering, are still dominated by males. Recruiting programs have been set up to try and get more women into Engineering (although being the only girl in a class full of engineers probably has its advantages in terms of attention received). And while the number of women studying physics is climbing, it is climbing slowly.

So what is the solution? How do we get more women interested in science and technology?

I think a big part of it will be letting young girls know that its OK to like science. There are probably a huge number of girls who would rather play with chemistry sets than barbie dolls, but feel strange doing so; especially when its only the boys playing with toys like that.

While I have never been a girl myself (though I was called one repeatedly in elementary school), I imagine its not easy for girls interested in science to grow up in a culture of many girls who don’t.  Even though we have come a long way in terms of equality, I think STEM still has a stigma as being for “Boys Only”.

So how do we get the word out that science is for everybody? The internet is a great resource that, up until a decade or so ago, was not available.

For example, a dear friend of mine from University has a blog called Technolochick. This is a site written by women for women who are interested in technology. Its a great idea for a blog and you should really check it out.

Celebrity involvement never hurts either. Amy Poehler, SNL alumnus and star of ‘Parks and Recreation‘, currently helps run a website called ‘Smart Girls at the Party‘  which takes an entertaining approach to encourage girls to follow their passions in STEM.

So ladies, don’t be shy. If you love science, say so! If you want to study it, do so!

And even though I considered all those in my class as equals, if one of the girls batted her eyes at me, I was probably more likely to give her my answers to the homework problems.

So you have that going for you as well.

Are You Nerd Enough? A Periodic Coffee Table

July 18, 2010 Leave a comment

If your bookshelf full of Isaac Asimov and Robert Heinlein doesn’t convey enough “nerd vibe” for your apartment, perhaps you should pick up this so-amazing-I-can’t-believe-it coffee table.

I came across this one through one of my frequent forays into Gizmodo.

This coffee table not only has a periodic table of the elements engraved into the glass, but also has pieces of the elements themselves embedded into the glass as well!

For a mere $8550 US, you could be the nerdiest guy on the block.

And just when you thought it couldn’t get any better, why you can even option to have your school or corporate logo engraved into the table as well.