smart and nano-materials

RoboEars

© ACS

© ACS

The story

I come across a lot of science news stories (as you can imagine) and  have noticed that journalists are attracted to certain topics – ones that they think have a certain ‘sexy’ appeal to their readers I imagine. Bionic body parts seems to be one of them – conjuring imagery of a future where we are all enhanced by ultra-efficient prosthetic body parts like RoboCop.

One of these stories that hit the press recently was the news that researchers in Princeton have created a ‘bionic’ ear. More

Space vacation

The story

Getting into space the traditional way, in a space shuttle, is an expensive process but at least we know it works. Is travelling up in an elevator attached to a 36 000 km cable any more cost effective or realistic? More

Plant plastics

The story

A team of scientists from a Dutch university has discovered a way of turning biogas made from plant matter into the building blocks of common plastics.
They used a new kind of iron catalyst made from nanoparticles to make ethene and propene. This new method means that plastics with the same chemical structure, and therefore properties as traditional petroplastics, can be produced using biomass, a renewable resource. More

Hamster Power

Credit: Mylius at wikimedia

The story

Did you know:  The hamster species P.roborovskii have been said to run the equivalent of four human marathons per night?

This interesting but apparently useless fact came to my attention via Guardian blogger Grrl Scientist.  The blog post went on to explain the ways that all this kinetic energy could be harnessed to power electrical devices and I thought that it might be a fun way of teaching about energy transfer.

More

Snow business

Down in the South of the UK where Snapshot Science hails from, the snow has long since melted and is it now practically tropical compared to the chilly North.

Assuming you are not sick to death of the very mention of the s-word, here are some snowy ideas for fun science lessons for the end of term which you could use (if school is open of course). More

Graphene dream

The story

The Nobel prize for physics was awarded this year to two scientists working in Manchester for their work on developing graphene and creating a method to make it in large quantities.

Graphene is an individual layer in graphite – the material pencil ‘leads’ are made from so the chances are that you have some of this amazing nanomaterial lying around you right now. More

Big news on (very) small things

Crystal structure of MOF-200 (Credit: UCLA Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry)

Many of the current science GCSE specifications require students to study nanotechnology so here are three exciting new applications to make this new area of science topical and interesting. More

What is the connection between custard and football?

Not the two things with the most obvious of connections I agree, but bear with me.

Spare a thought if you will for all of those body parts that are going to get bashed, smashed and generally knocked around for the next few weeks.  I am of course, referring to the hands, shins and other, more delicate parts of the world’s top footballers as they endure the many matches during the World Cup that starts this Friday. More

A shining use of smart materials

image courtesy of David Hilowitz

Smart materials are those that respond to external stimuli such as changes in temperature, pressure and movement.

Getting celebrities involved is sure to give momentum to the use of the technology, and the recent appearance of the singer Katy Perry in a light-up dress at a recent awards ceremony will do wonders for the sale of wearable technology. More