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Posts Tagged → lasers

Hey, ACS, Where’s My Comic Book?

BAM! Don't mess with Tesla. Credit: APS

BAM! Don’t mess with Tesla. Credit: APS

If you read this blog with any regularity (I know there’s at least one of you out there, two tops), you’ll remember a post I wrote awhile back bemoaning the lack of chemistry coloring books. I had just come across a supercool version about biology—filled with stem cells and neurons and viruses, oh my!—and was wondering what a chemistry version (perhaps produced by the American Chemical Society) might look like.

Well, that coloring book still hasn’t materialized, and now I’m even more miffed: The physicists have comic books. And notice that I didn’t say “a” comic book. They have many of them.

I spotted a few of these at the American Physical Society (APS) national meeting, held in Baltimore, back in March. One called “Nikola Tesla and the Electric Fair” caught my eye, as well as a S-E-R-I-E-S of books about the original laser superhero Spectra (you know how it goes: She discovers her powers after a class on lasers and winds up being able to cut through metal and play CDs … just your typical teenage drama). These educational aids for middle school classrooms are distributed by APS.

Able to spot-weld a building in a single bound. Credit: APS

Able to spot-weld a building in a single bound. Credit: APS

But I wouldn’t even say they’re just for middleschoolers. I read all the way through the story of Telsa: It brings to life the epic battle between himself and Thomas Edison over alternating current (AC) and direct current. I guess I never realized that the “War of the Currents” ended when Tesla successfully used AC to light the infamous World’s Fair in Chicago (where the Ferris Wheel also made its debut). Via the comic, I also discovered that Tesla had a fondness (perhaps a little too much fondness) for pigeons.

So even I learned something!

But it wasn’t until I received a press release about Stephen Hawking’s new comic book that I was pushed over the edge to write this post and point out this educational trend.

Page from new Hawking comic detailing how he learned of his disability. Credit: Bluewater Productions

Page from new Hawking comic detailing how he learned of his disability. Credit: Bluewater Productions

“Stephen Hawking: Riddles of Time & Space” is produced by Washington-based Bluewater Productions. It chronicles the cosmologist’s life, including how he discovered that he had ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, and his dispute with scientist Fred Hoyle over the Big Bang Theory.

You can get your print copy of it here for $4.33.

Folks making comic books about physics is by no means a bad trend. But I’m once again left wondering, “Where’s the chemistry equivalent?” We may not have Stephen Hawking or Nikola Tesla to brag about, but surely we’ve got someone who’s got an interesting story to relate to the general public? Organic chemist R.B. Woodward, in all his Mad-Men-esque glory? One of the many bearded chemists of yore?

What about Kevlar, the original polymer superhero? Or how about turning the periodic table of elements into superheroes, an idea originated by a graphic designer here?

Readers, what kind of chemistry comic book would you like to see? (And ACS, when can we have one, pretty please?)

Chemists are notoriously bad at tooting their own horns to the public (go ask someone on the street to name a famous chemist, and you’ll see what I mean). But I’m certain they’ve got interesting stories to tell—the tales have just got to be drawn out.

Amusing News Aliquots

Silly samplings from this week’s science news, compiled by Bethany Halford and Lauren Wolf.

Ever wish you could tear a page out of C&EN and eat it because it’s so good? Well, it might happen in the future … Fanta creates an edible ad. [ShortList] But just to be clear, this is old news: Newscripts has written about edible ads (and greeting cards) before. [C&EN]

Scientists in California want to create laser beams to evaporate asteroids before they hit Earth. No word on using them to fill the dean’s house with popcorn or if they will be mounted on sharks. [LA Times]

Speaking of lasers, this one was meant for studying space, but it moonlights as a counterfeit honey detector. [Slate]

Who knew panda flirting was so complicated? The Edinburgh Zoo’s Yang Guang “has recently begun to execute handstands against trees, walls, and rocks, and to leave scent marks as high up as he can” in an attempt to get the attention of lady panda Tian Tian. [Guardian]

Jose Canseco, that lovable juiced-up ex-ball player, tweeted his theories on gravity and dinosaurs this week. Newscripts hasn’t been this confused since Keanu Reeves explained wave-particle duality. [iO9]

Checking up on HP’s Chubby Checker. Incidentally, if the Newscripts gang held stock in HP, we’d be wondering what the hell is going on at that place. [Slate]

This Side Up: The paint splatters on that canvas really do have a top and bottom. Study shows people can set an abstract painting in its “correct” orientation  more often than not. [Discoblog]

Fun With Science: Top 10 Videos Of The Year

Who says scientists are boring geeks who drone on about quantum efficiency and reaction yield? We here at the Newscripts blog LOVE science and think those geeks are rockstars. So we’ve selected an assortment of our favorite videos of the year depicting just how cool science can be. The clips were culled from 2012 blog posts as well as from the YouTube channel of Chemical & Engineering News.

So sit back, relax, warm yourself by the gentle glow of that Bunsen burner, and bask in the awesomeness of science.


In at number 10, Russell Hemley and researchers at the Carnegie Institution for Science have gotten so good at growing their own diamonds from methane, they can make gems as big as 10 carat! Too bad they’re using them in high-pressure experiments rather than sending the Newscripts gang free samples.


Number 9: Reality TV isn’t just for privileged housewives, the gym-tan-laundry crowd, or survivors who like to eat bugs anymore. This year, MIT released a reality Web series following undergrads trying to pass an introductory chemistry course. Oh, the intrigue! Crystallization contests, rotovap malfunctions … this is the trailer that got us pumped for the series. [Link to original post]


Number 8: Adorable pandas + poop = instant classic. It really doesn’t even matter what the rest of the video is about. Although we did slip in some biofuel science. So you’re learning something while overloading on cute.


Number 7: Although the Newscripts gang loves to yell out requests for “Free Bird” at concerts, we also think Skynyrd’s “Sweet Home Alabama” is pretty clutch, too. It’s even better when played by Tesla coils. [Link to original post]


Number 6: This year, researchers at Harvard and Caltech made a polymer sheet swim like a jellyfish. Why? We’re not so sure it matters. All we know is, right now, we’re heading out to procure some rat heart cells, a silicone sheet, and a vial of fibronectin because, well, we want one.


Number 5: You didn’t think you’d make it through a 2012 countdown without a Gangnam parody, did you? Good. Because here’s biochemistry, taught Gangnam-style. [Link to original post] Continue reading →

Amusing News Aliquots

Silly samplings from this week’s science news.

Credit: Steidl

Got a thing for librarians? Now you can smell like a book. [Steidl]

How do you weigh a dinosaur? Why, with a laser beam, of course. [Not Exactly Rocket Science]

The law tries to keep up with garage chemists making analogs of THC in “a giant game of chemical Whack-a-Mole.” [Gizmodo]

Mosquitoes + raindrops + high speed video = awesome. [Huffington Post]

Here’s a job you don’t want: Developing stink bombs for the Department of Defense. [New Scientist]

In honor of Ray Bradbury, here are the most beautiful covers of “Fahrenheit 451.” [Slate]



Fun With Lasers

Wicked Lasers doesn’t just have a fun name. The Hong Kong-based company also likes to have a little fun with its products. In this week’s print column, we wrote about how Wicked Lasers teamed up with marine biologist and TV host Luke Tipple to achieve a dream of “Austin Powers” supervillain Dr. Evil: “sharks with frickin’ lasers beams attached to their heads.”

But it seems that being integrated with sharks isn’t the only way for lasers to get some attention. Scott A. Stevenson of worldscott.com uses lasers to pop popcorn or explode fireworks–among other video stunts–all in the name of helping to popularize science and technology through informative and entertaining videos. After he posted a video using a laser to ignite a firecracker hanging inside a balloon, Wicked Lasers contacted Stevenson and sent him its Spyder III Krypton 750mW+ laser, which he used to attempt setting a Guinness Book of World Records, popping 100 single-file balloons with one laser beam. Happy Monday, folks!


Amusing News Aliquots

Silly samplings from this week’s science news, compiled by Bethany Halford and Lauren Wolf.

Credit: Flickr user K'la

Firing laser beams at the sky could make it rain. No word on what angry sea bass will do with this technology. [Guardian]

“Science Friday” takes on the origin of the word “chemistry.” [NPR]

From the ACS meeting: Twelve months of studying panda poop to improve biofuel production? Where do we sign up? [iO9]

Coral makes its own sunscreen, researchers say. Apparently, the organism just got tired of waiting for Banana Boat to make a lotion that lasts underwater indefinitely. [ScienceDaily]

The wags over at the Annals of Improbable Research seem to be having a ball at the ACS meeting. [AIR]

Salt of the earth vs. salt of the sea.  [NY Times]

Why you should never bring a UV lamp into a hotel room. [Slate]

Amusing News Aliquots

Silly samplings from this week’s science news. Compiled by Bethany Halford and Lauren Wolf.

E. Coli/Photograph by Luke Jerram

And you thought your rotovap condenser was cool. Check out Luke Jerram’s blown glass microbes. [Glass Microbiology]

Scientists one step closer to sharks that can shoot frickin’ laser beams out of their eyes. Researchers at Harvard produce the first “living” laser from a single cell. [BBC]

The 20th century way to herd cattle: Horses. The 21st century way: Hoverbikes. [Hover-bike]

Male cleaner fish punish their female partners for eating too much. Rather than wanting the ladies to maintain their girlish figures, the males want them to stay, well, female. [Live Science]

Graduation goes green. Caltech grads don caps and gowns made from recycled bottles. [LA Times]

Compound in waxy monkey leaf frog’s skin could stop tumor growth. Although this is interesting news, the Newscripts gang just likes saying “waxy monkey leaf frog.” [EITB]