David Schultz in ScienceShhot: Spider silk dethroned as nature’s toughest fiber:
Spider silk is famous for its amazing toughness, and until recently a tensile strength of 1.3 gigapascals (GPa) was enough to earn it the title of strongest natural material. However, researchers report online today in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface that the record books need to be updated to properly recognize the incredible strength of the limpet teeth. … [T]he limpets’ teeth boast a tensile strength of between 3 and 6.5 GPa, researchers report.
One more theoretical prediction about a supermolecule with 20 selenium atoms and 60 carbon atoms whose architecture resembles that of a volleyball (arXiv link to the paper):
The simulation gives a remarkably detailed picture of the properties of the new molecule. Jing and co have simulated the character of the bonds that hold it together, their binding energy, their vibrational frequencies, and the stability of the structure.
And they say volleballene is clearly the most stable of all the structures that Sc20C60 can form. The tam’s vibrational analysis suggests that volleyballene should be stable when heated and remarkably stable chemically too.
In other words, volleyballene is a molecule waiting to be synthesized.
We talked a little about nerdy cartoons in my class this morning. The topic came up in the context of a couple of quotes:
Which led immediately to a comment about every self-respecting academic has a healthy disdain for what others do. This disdain is expressed using some metric by which one’s profession can be “proven” to be better than the others; one such metric is purity (or, fundamental-ness) of one’s field, as in this absolutely great xkcd cartoon. Here’s a version of it in Abstruse Goose. This SMBC strip about a mathematician’s fantasy fight with a physicist is also a classic.
Elsewhere, I have a post on academic put-downs; and there’s a separate category on Interdisciplinary Wars right here on this blog.
Awesome video from Howard Hughes Medical Institute:
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This video presents a somewhat more elaborate introduction to the early history of microscopy.
If you know something about Moiré fringes (in materials, we encounter them primarily in transmission electron microscopy; see also the Wikipedia entry on Moiré patterns), you will appreciate Andrea Minini’s Animals in Moiré, a collection of black and white illustrations.
Here’s a video trailer for a 50-minute long movie entitled The Mystery of the Giant Crystals which “has been made freely available by Madrid Scientific Films and Triana Sci & Tech with the support of the International Union of Crystallography as an educational contribution to the International Year of Crystallography 2014.”