Tuesday, November 22, 2011

"The Shape of It All" or "Dr. Licorice Explains Why Bisphenol-A is Scary"

I recently made a chemical that smelled extremely familiar, but after numerous wafts, I couldn't quite tell what it reminded me of.

Me wafting the chemical I made.  The chemical is the tiny bit of brown oil in that small clear jar in my left hand.

This puzzle went unsolved for days until my labmate Michelle used some of the chemical and was like, "Lee, have you noticed how that chemical you made smells just like licorice?"

I was like, "OMG, you solved it!!!!"

Victory Licorice!!!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Asteroid Particles

Recently the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency sent a spaceship to an asteroid named Itokawa.  A spaceship to an asteroid!!  As if that wasn't awesome enough, the spaceship landed on the asteroid, collected material, and returned home to earth!  These are images of tiny particles collected from the surface of that asteroid.

These particles are around half the diameter of a human hair.  Click to make them HUGE!

Here are three views of Itokawa, which is about 630 meters x 250 meters.  Assuming a spacesuit didn't slow you down, and the surface of the asteroid were boulder-free and easy to walk on, it would only take you ~20 minutes to walk around the whole thing the long-way.  Pretty small!!