1 Comment »Posted on Sunday 9 November 2008 at 3:36 pm by Jacob Aron
In Chemistry, Mathematics, Space & Astronomy, Weekly Roundup

Cash for codebreakers

Bletchley Park, home to the Allied codebreakers of World War II, has secured a grant of £330,000 to restore the roof of the historic site. The Grade II-listed mansion is at risk due to previous neglect.

Codebreakers who were at Bletchley include Alan Turing, arguably the founder of computer science. The need to crack the German Enigma machine lead to great developments in cryptoanalysis and other sciences. It’s a fascinating place that I’d love to visit one day, so hopefully this new money will help preserve the site.

China plans their own Moon buggy

The Chinese media has reported the nation’s ambitions to put an unmanned buggy on the moon by 2012 as a step along the road to a full-on manned mission.

The news follows on from China’s previous space efforts at the end of September, in which they broadcast footage of a first space-walk back to those watching on Earth. It could also be seen as an answer to the American’s testing their latest moon buggy prototype.

China says that its lunar mission will include three steps of “orbiting, landing and returning”, but has not yet set any dates for manned moon mission yet.

Not lead into gold, but tequila into diamonds

Mexican scientists have discovered a way to turn tequila into diamonds. It turns out that the chemical makeup of the drink has a ratio of hydrogen, oxygen, and carbon atoms which places it within the “diamond growth region.”

The scientists turned to tequila not for its intoxicating quality, but because previous efforts to create diamonds from organic solutions such as acetone, ethanol, and methanol had proved unsuccessful. They then realised that their ideal compound of 40% ethanol and 60% water was remarkably close to tequila.

Luis Miguel Apátiga was one of the researches from the National Autonomous University of Mexico:

“To dissipate any doubts, one morning on the way to the lab I bought a pocket-size bottle of cheap white tequila and we did some tests,” Apátiga said. “We were in doubt over whether the great amount of chemicals present in tequila, other than water and ethanol, would contaminate or obstruct the process, it turned out to be not so. The results were amazing, same as with the ethanol and water compound, we obtained almost spherical shaped diamonds of nanometric size. There is no doubt; tequila has the exact proportion of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen atoms necessary to form diamonds.”

The diamonds were made by heating tequila to transform it into a gas, and then heating this gas further to break down the molecular structure. The result: solid diamond crystals, about 100-400 nanometres in size. They could be used to coat cutting tools, or as high-power semiconductors, radiation detectors and optical-electronic devices.


  1. One Comment

  2. Bletchley Park – What you can do….

    The English Heritage money is a great first step towards saving BP, but lots more funding needs to be found. You can help with this by talking to friends/colleagues etc. about it and forwarding the URL for my campaign blog which gives a lot more details of everything plus has a link to the petition and the online donation URL.

    We must save BP. The work that went on there shortened WWII by 2 years, thus saving a possible 22 million(!) lives. It is also the birthplace of the modern computer. The National Museum of Computing is there with loads of really interesting machines and peripherals.

    Most people don’t realise how fundamental its contribution was because everything has been kept so secret for so many years. There are many, many people who still have not told anyone of their involvement, several thousand people worked there everyday on long shifts around the clock for years. It was so secretive that they often did not know what the people in the next hut were doing. There are loads of fascinating stories to be heard.

    My blog is here:

    http://www.savingbletchleypark.org

    Please help to save BP.

    Thanks

    Sue

    By Sue Black on Tuesday 11 November, 2008 at 3:45 pm

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