Archive for February, 2010

Science TV Shows for Klingons and Vulcans

February 26, 2010

Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal I’d actually prefer the second to the first, I think.



February 26, 2010

Via Swans on Tea, a link to a blog that I’ve seen before, In the Pipeline.  It’s basically a chemistry blog, and much of it is beyond my understanding.  However the author occasionally posts items in the category, “Things I Won’t Work With.”  The most recent of those posts is about FOOF, or dioxygen difluoride.  If you know any chemistry at all, you might guess that’s a pretty reactive substance.  You’d be right.

FOOF is only stable at low temperatures; you’ll never get close to RT with the stuff without it tearing itself to pieces. I’ve seen one reference to storing it as a solid at 90 Kelvin for later use, but that paper, a 1962 effort from A. G. Streng of Temple University, is deeply alarming in several ways. Not only did Streng prepare multiple batches of dioxygen difluoride and keep it around, he was apparently charged with finding out what it did to things. All sorts of things. One damn thing after another, actually:

“Being a high energy oxidizer, dioxygen difluoride reacted vigorously with organic compounds, even at temperatures close to its melting point. It reacted instantaneously with solid ethyl alcohol, producing a blue flame and an explosion. When a drop of liquid 02F2 was added to liquid methane, cooled at 90°K., a white flame was produced instantaneously, which turned green upon further burning. When 0.2 (mL) of liquid 02F2 was added to 0.5 (mL) of liquid CH4 at 90°K., a violent explosion occurred.”

And he’s just getting warmed up, if that’s the right phrase to use for something that detonates things at -180C (that’s -300 Fahrenheit, if you only have a kitchen thermometer). The great majority of Streng’s reactions have surely never been run again. The paper goes on to react FOOF with everything else you wouldn’t react it with: ammonia (“vigorous”, this at 100K), water ice (explosion, natch), chlorine (“violent explosion”, so he added it more slowly the second time), red phosphorus (not good), bromine fluoride, chlorine trifluoride (say what?), perchloryl fluoride (!), tetrafluorohydrazine (how on Earth. . .), and on, and on. If the paper weren’t laid out in complete grammatical sentences and published in JACS, you’d swear it was the work of a violent lunatic. I ran out of vulgar expletives after the second page. A. G. Streng, folks, absolutely takes the corrosive exploding cake, and I have to tip my asbestos-lined titanium hat to him.

As funny as that is (from a distance), I think the author’s response to the FOOF synthesis instructions are even funnier.

You Can’t Know Until You Look

February 26, 2010

Hello Schroddy Tee from ThinkGeek, via The Daily What.

How Genetics Works

February 24, 2010

How Genetics WorksFrom Kottke

Legolas Has Snow Prints

February 21, 2010



February 20, 2010

Far Left Side, via Pharyngula

Sound Reasoning

February 20, 2010

Tree Lobsters

Me Too

February 19, 2010

(Click the pic for readable) From Julia, The Ethical Paleontologist, who posted this with the title “Wordless Thursday.”  She did have some words though:

Actually there probably are quite a lot of words, and most of them can’t be repeated to my students. Suffice to say, I did click the option “I actively choose products which contain chemicals”, since it is actually impossible to do any of the other options.

Until the Woo-sters start selling bottled vacuum as a panacea, the only product I can think of that doesn’t contain chemicals is electricity. And of course there are many chemicals involved in producing and delivering that product… it’s hopelessly contaminated. Come to think of it, our cable companies deliver a non-chemical product as well. But if you know my attitude toward TV, you know I consider that hopelessly contaminated as well.


February 19, 2010

Tee of the day, “Infinerdty,” now up for voting on Threadless.  Via The Daily What.

Yeah, That’d Be Awful

February 18, 2010

This was all over the place during the holidays, and I tend not to post things on OTI if I perceive them to be ubiquitous.  Bob at Phydreaux and Friends just reminded me of it; it needs to be here.