You might think early movies got called “flickers” and then “flicks” because they flicked through a series of images. Not true. What gave movies their nickname was a bug, not a feature. Learn about the outdated technology that made the images flicker far more than they should have.
Last year, researchers at UCLA made a rather fantastic, if serendipitous, discovery. A team of scientists led by chemist Richard Kaner had just finished devising an efficient method for producing high-quality sheets of the Nobel-prize winning supermaterial known as graphene... with a consumer-grade DVD drive. That…
Coal generates nearly half the electricity we use in the United States. We all depend on the fossilized remains of plants — but the vast majority of the coal in the ground comes from a single era, from 360 to 300 million years ago.
Graphene, the eternally stretching two-dimensional form of carbon, is one of the most promising synthetic materials in existence, but is still costly to produce to specification. New research released in the PNAS shows a simple and cheap way to produce the stuff, and could herald a graphene revolution.
The latest estimates suggest there are at least 160 billion exoplanets in the Milky Way alone, which means there could easily be several billion potentially habitable worlds in our galaxy. But are all these Earth-like planets really like our home?
They might be microscopic, but as far as molecules go, buckyballs are absolutely gigantic. These soccer ball shaped molecules are made of 60 carbon molecules each, and new data from the Spitzer Telescope suggest they are everywhere in the universe.
The first, moss-like plants emerged on land about 470 million years ago. In just 25 million years, they stripped the planet of vital minerals, wrecked Earth's carbon cycle, started an ice age, and caused a mass extinction of marine life.
All living organisms use DNA as the carrier of genetic material and RNA as the messenger molecule directing the expression of genes and creation of proteins. This arrangement has lasted 3.5 billion years. But what came before these life-giving molecules?
A few months back, astronomers discovered a diamond planet formed from the remnants of an exploded star. It looked like a cosmic oddity, but giant diamond-encrusted planets might be way more common than we ever suspected.
Graphene is incredibly cool stuff: a sheet of interlocking carbon atoms, only one atom thick. It's an extremely interesting material, and a newly pioneered technique has created a way of painting stripes on the graphene sheets to change its functionality.
Located some 11 billion light-years from Earth are two clouds of gas. Just two billion years younger than the Big Bang itself, they appear to be the first known clouds that are completely unaltered since the birth of the universe.
To get life, you first need organic molecules, and the easiest way to get those is from the compound methanol. Now it seems there are very specific conditions needed to create methanol and, ultimately, life... and most stars don't have them.
This video shows how, just by rearranging some carbon atoms, a $5 box of Girl Scout cookies becomes a $15 billion hunk of industrial material. In fact, rearranging the atoms of just about any old carbon source — including a standard pencil lead — into thin sheets of carbon atoms called graphene can turn a pretty…
Generally speaking, poop isn't pleasant, but it also isn't exactly lethal. But every year jellyfish unleash bowel movements so deadly that they can destroy entire marine ecosystems. A little odor doesn't seem so bad all of a sudden, does it?
Carbon is one of the most versatile materials in the universe, forming everything from the graphite found in the pencils to hard, sparkling diamonds. But three new forms of carbon might make even the most breathtaking diamond look impossibly dull.
Most radioactive isotopes of the lighter elements decay in minutes or less. But one particular isotope of carbon takes 6000 years to decay, and that fact has revolutionized archaeology. But why it does that has long been a complete mystery.
About 4.4 billion years ago, a Mars-sized planet crashed into Earth. This cataclysmic event actually made Earth melt, and the fallout from the collision became the Moon. So how did Earth's earliest organic molecules hang on during these apocalyptic times?
Imagine an ordinary carbon atom that's replaced with a tightly packed pyramid of four carbon atoms. Inspired by Egypt's pyramids, this elegant arrangement has never even been proposed before, but this so-called T-carbon could have tons of uses...if it exists.
Arthur C. Clarke famously said that "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." I always keep this quote in my mind when reading science fiction and try to spot where things become indistinguishable from magic. They always do. One of the most popular ways in modern sci-fi to get away with…
Buckyballs are huge molecular conglomerations of carbon atoms in the shape of soccer balls, and it turns out space is absolutely teeming with them. It's quite possible that life on Earth couldn't have happened without these wonderfully-named buckyballs.