Friday, December 3, 2010

11 Amazing Finds

Here is a short list of eleven of the most fascinating and inspiring scientific finds of the last few months:

1 [see update below for serious flaw] - Bacteria use Arsenic as Part of Basic Chemical Makeup -

2 - US Air Force Constructs Supercomputer from 1760 PlayStation 3's -

3 - Recent Mathematical Research Exonerates Free Market of Social Inequity Claims -

4 - New Record for Miniaturization of Fuel Cells -

5 - Well Positioned Planet could well be Second Earth -

6 - Heat and Cold Resistant Rubber made from Carbon Nanotubes -

7 - Mathematician Discovers Statistical Model to Predict Anemia Risk -

8 - Temperature and Pressure Optimization Achievement for Generating Electricity from Flammable Ice -

9 - Mathematics Resolves Important Question of Scotlands Ancient Heritage -

10 - NYU Discovers Way to Shape Solid Materials with Corn -

11 - Konarka Mass Produces Conductive Plastic Solar Panel -

Update 12/4/2010 - This list will have to be expanded to 12. A Swiss company has developed rechargable batteries with three times the capacity of lithium ion and no toxic components -

Update 12/7/2010 - This list will have to be reduced back to 11:

"When the NASA scientists took the DNA out of the bacteria, for example, they ought to have taken extra steps to wash away any other kinds of molecules. Without these precautions, arsenic could have simply glommed to the DNA, like gum on a shoe. "It is pretty trivial to do a much better job," said Rohwer.

In fact, says Harvard microbiologist Alex Bradley, the NASA scientists unknowingly demonstrated the flaws in their own experiment. They immersed the DNA in water as they analyzed it, he points out. Arsenic compounds fall apart quickly in water, so if it really was in the microbe's genes, it should have broken into fragments, Bradley wrote Sunday in a guest post on the blog We, Beasties. But the DNA remained in large chunks—presumably because it was made of durable phosphate. Bradley got his Ph.D. under MIT professor Roger Summons, a professor at MIT who co-authored the 2007 weird-life report. Summons backs his former student's critique." (Slate)

I may do a blog post in the near future about poorly conducted science and the results it can "create."


Lana Gramlich said...

Good list. I sometimes consider technological discoveries and inventions over the past 50 years...the past hundred. It's amazing how far we've come in a relatively short period of time.

nothingprofound said...

Thanks, jj, for this interesting list. I guess science never sleeps, and many wonders are on the horizon.