The List

Last Updated on Tuesday, 26 May 2015 01:22 Written by Albert Greenhut Tuesday, 30 December 2014 09:41

The end of the year is always marked by all sorts of lists and countdowns. I enjoy the symbolism of ending one chapter and beginning of another, and there is no more natural time than now to do this.

My favorite list this year is PhysicsWorld.com’s Physics Breakthroughs of 2014. This list named the Philae module landing on a comet as its top choice. I think it is the right choice. This module was launched in 2004, traveled billions of miles to eventually land on the surface of a comet traveling at tens of thousands miles per hour. The calculations involved getting something into space are hard enough, but landing this probe was truly a work of genius and deserves recognition.

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The Power of Surface Area

Last Updated on Tuesday, 26 May 2015 01:10 Written by Albert Greenhut Friday, 19 December 2014 04:56

Coral is a vital part of the underwater ecosystem but the temperature of the sea has been affecting coral, killing (an estimated) 25% of it, bleaching large swaths of it, and making it difficult for new natural coral to grow. Humans have been working on ways to spur on new growth of coral to replace what has already died. This New York Times article tells the story of how some scientists believe they have found a way to dramatically increase the growth rate of new coral. The “eureka moment” happened when one scientist realized that the tiny spores, or polyps, that remained at the bottom of his tank when he broke off a larger piece, not only didn’t die, but grew rapidly. Scientists have realized that the small pieces grow quickly because, they theorize, the living coral does not want something else to infringe on its territory, so it grows quickly to recover open ground.

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Remington Statues in Danger

Last Updated on Tuesday, 26 May 2015 01:06 Written by Albert Greenhut Monday, 15 December 2014 10:18

Tom Daschle, a former US Senate Majority Leader, was also the target of an attack during the fall of 2001. His office was mailed an enveloped of Anthrax (as were other politicians and journalists) this parcel was delivered into his personal office where some of his staffers were exposed to it. His office was quickly quarantined.

After the initial panic of the attack passed and authorities concluded their investigations Daschle wanted to get back to work in the comfort of his own surroundings. The first step was fumigating his office with highly reactive chlorine to ensure that the active components of Anthrax were neutralized. The Chlorine gas was so unstable that they had to create it on site. The problem is that the decontamination would also ruin all computers and any other item unfortunate enough to be in the office. The problem is that Senator Daschle had several bronze Remington statues that would have been ruined if exposed to the chlorine gasses. When officials reached this impasse they contacted the Senate Conservator.

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