Category Archives: Uncategorized

Why Fit in When You Were Born to Stand Out?

Fantastic Green Eggs and Ham inspired manicure.

Fantastic Green Eggs and Ham inspired manicure.

While I was looking for Doctor Seuss themed craft ideas the past few weeks I kept stumbling on Seuss inspired manicures. I love nail polish. I can admire these wholeheartedly, but they are way out of my scope. Continue reading

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Royal Purple

Amethyst from Erte’s Precious Gems Suite

Amethyst is the traditional birthstone for the month of February.

 

(I remember being jealous as a kid, since there were purple stones for February but October always got something pink instead of opal or even fake opal!)

 

Iron impurities in quartz give amethyst its wonderful purples-from pale lilac to royal.

Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Happy Sagan Day

Today would have been Carl Sagan’s birthday.

Besides his books, it’s fun to see where else his words and thoughts pop up. I love the Symphony of Science tributes on youtube. And there are a lot of talented artists and crafters inspired by him on etsy as well. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

A Demonic Warning

A small traditional demon for the Halloween season!

 

Tutivillus was a catchall demon for word related slips and sins. One of my professors first mentioned him as a demon that would either record or collect in a giant sack all the idle words and gossip of people who ought to have been praying in church. In other places he’s accused of encouraging this spiritual sloth even amongst the clergy, inspiring them to slur their words or shorten their sermons and prayers.

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Elemental Relationships

Niobium is a silver grey metal that holds number 41 on the periodic table. It sits just above tantalum, number 73.

Besides both being silver-grey transition metals vital to modern technologies they have a classical as well as elemental relationship. In Greek Mythology Tantalus was Niobe’s father.

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Amber Golden and Ambergris

Carved Amber Dinosaur HatchlingWith Jurassic World inspiring visions of mosquito embedded amber and #cephalopodweek on Science Friday it seemed like a good time to take a look at amber. (It connects, really, at least in my head…)

  Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Stronger and Duller and Stranger Carbon Cousins

Diamonds and coal and graphite are all formed by carbon atoms. These sparkly or useful variations have some promising carbon cousins.

Graphite is also composed entirely of carbon, but in graphite the atoms are arranged in sheets of hexagons, rather like flat honeycombs. Each sheet is extremely strong; it is the bond between the layers that is extremely weak.

In graphite all the electrons bond within the sheet so there aren’t any available to bond with the layer above or below. They’re simply bound together by weak forces generated by the electric fields of molecules, which holds them together, but weakly enough that we can break them every time we write with a pencil.

(above: Graphene, graphite, nanotubule, buckyball)

A single sheet of graphite is called graphene, and on that scale it has astounding properties. It conducts heat and carries more electricity faster than any other material as well as being the thinnest strongest and stiffest material in the world. So in a lump of graphite is the potential to change all the technology we know. (Then again, in its own way, so can a pencil.)

This six sided carbon arrangement can appear in everything from burnt toast to coal, but they are generally pretty jumbled up. The purer carbon the coal, the closer to graphite’s metallic shine it gets. (Like the shiny lumps of hard anthracite coal you can sometimes find.) The best example of this is jet.

Jet is a form of coal that comes from fossilized monkey puzzle trees. It’s hard enough that it can be polished beautifully and carved intricately and became extremely popular in Victorian jewelry. And is highly collectable today.

Lonsdaleite is a variation on the hexagon plane, but made three dimensional. There’s so little of it in existence it’s hard to test. It was first found in the canyon diablo meteorite, thought to be the result of huge amounts of heat and pressure on graphite.

Buckyballs are spheres formed from these hexagonal bonds are extremely tough. They’re found in candle flame soot (see, you knew there was a reason it was so hard to clean up!) and the closely related carbon nanotubes have the strongest weight to strength ratio of anything on earth. Whenever hugely ambitious science fiction sounding projects like space elevators are brought up these materials aren’t far behind!

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized