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Posts Tagged ‘Marie Curie

“Matter is energy waiting to happen”*…


matter abstractions-a-442


Chad Mirkin didn’t set out to discover a new property in matter. But when you’re inventing an alternative to atom-based chemistry, something strange is bound to happen…

While studying materials made from DNA-coated nanoparticles, researchers found a new form of matter– lattices in which smaller particles roam like electrons in metallic bonds: “Strange Metal-like Bonds Discovered in Customized Crystals.”

* Bill Bryson, A Short History of Nearly Everything


As we muse on matter, we might send irradiated birthday greetings to Irène Joliot-Curie; she was born on this date in 1897.  The daughter of Marie Curie and Pierre Curie and the wife of Frédéric Joliot-Curie, she shared a Nobel Prize with her husband for their joint discovery of artificial radioactivity (making the Curies the family with the most Nobel laureates to date).  Both children of the Joliot-Curies, Hélène and Pierre, are also esteemed scientists.

Like her mother, Irène died of leukemia, likely resulting from radiation exposure during her research.

220px-Irène_Joliot-Curie_Harcourt source


Written by LW

September 12, 2019 at 1:01 am

We are collaborators in creation*…

 full image here

Scientists have developed a way to carve shapes from DNA canvases, including all the letters of the Roman alphabet, emoticons and an eagle’s head.

Bryan Wei, a postdoctoral scholar at Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts, and his colleagues make these shapes out of single strands of DNA just 42 letters long. Each strand is unique, and folds to form a rectangular tile. When mixed, neighbouring tiles stick to each other in a brick-wall pattern, and shorter boundary tiles lock the edges in place…

Read the story on Nature‘s blog (or the full paper in Nature).

As CoDesign observes,

Creating a DNA alphabet was simply a vivid way for the scientists to demonstrate the flexibility and atomic-level accuracy of their system. But you don’t even need a PhD in order to use it, because they also created a graphical user interface that lets anyone with a mouse (and access to an atomic force microscope, the device that “draws” the DNA) sketch out the shape they want without mucking around with code or technical specs.

Still, the DNAlphabet could actually have intriguing applications of its own. Security-minded (or just plain egomaniacal) researchers could use these microscopic structures to watermark their synthetic-biological products, just like that scene in Blade Runner. Even cooler: “One can imagine we can use the shapes as invisible ink in a secret-agent way,” says Wei. “High density information can be delivered in a test tube or simply as powder.”

* “Our duty, as men and women, is to proceed as if limits to our ability did not exist. We are collaborators in creation.”  – Pierre Teilhard de Chardin


As we reach for the tweezers, we might recall that it was on this date that Marie Skłodowska-Curie (AKA Madame Curie) went before the examination committee at the University of Paris for her PhD. She was awarded the degree… and later that year, she was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for her work on “radioactivity” (a term she coined).  She became the first female professor at the University, and went on to win another Nobel (the second, in Chemistry)– the first woman to win a Nobel Prize, the only woman to date to win in two fields, and the only person to win in multiple sciences… on the basis of which, in 1995, she became the first woman to be entombed on her own merits in the Panthéon.

Her work was central to a wave of research that enabled the development of x-ray crystallography, the tool used by Rosalind Franklin in making critical contributions to the project that unravelled the fine molecular structures of DNA (for which Crick, Watson, and Wilkins won the Nobel Prize).

Marie Curie


Written by LW

June 25, 2012 at 1:01 am

In lieu of a graduation address…

… from xkcd:

As we avoid looking too closely at the faces of our watches, we might recall that it was on this date in 1921 at the White House that President Warren G. Harding presented Marie Curie with a gram of radium (worth $100,000 at the time).   Curie died in 1934 of aplastic anemia contracted from exposure to radiation.  Her laboratory is preserved at the Musée Curie.  But because of their levels of radioactivity, her papers are considered too dangerous to handle, and are kept in lead-lined boxes; those who wish to consult them must wear protective clothing.

Curie, with Harding at the White House (source)

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