How does nanoscale chemistry make fireflies glow brightly?

The United States celebrated Independence Day last week, and most people in the US probably managed to see some fireworks. Besides the fireworks, one of my favorite things this time of year is another kind of light show—fireflies! There’s something almost ethereal about fireflies in a field on a calm summer night. When I was …

Electrocuting a Pickle: Demonstrating Major Concepts in Science

pickle

Have you ever made lightning in a pickle? I have. It involves putting two iron nails in a pickle and applying 110 volts of electricity. It’s pretty smelly, but it is worth it to see what looks like yellow-orange lightning in the pickle. What’s going on? The principle of “put in electricity – get out …

Royal Rife’s Universal Microscope (and Why It Can’t Exist)

Royal Rife

In the 1930s, microscope designer Royal Rife made a splash with reports that he had designed a new microscope that could view nanoscale objects such as viruses!1 The only problem was that it didn’t work. In fact, it couldn’t work, based on the basic physics of light. Rife was attempting to improve upon the optical …

From Plants to St. Patrick’s Day, It’s Hard to Avoid the Color Green

chloroplasts

As Kermit the Frog says, “It’s not easy being green.” But for plants and exuberant celebrators of March 17, it is very natural. The color green becomes very prominent in the month of March as St. Patrick’s Day produces extravagant festivities coated in the color. The beginning of spring brings the blooming of flowers and …

Ep 7. What Do Glaciers Have to Do With Nanoscience?

Sustainable Nano Podcast cover image

Why do glaciers sometimes look blue? Hint: it's not for the same reason we see blue as the color of the sky! On this episode of the podcast, we have an interview with Dr. Robert Hamers, following up on his recent blog post. Bob is the Director of the Center for Sustainable Nanotechnology, and he tells us about a recent family trip to Alaska that got him wondering about why some glaciers have an amazing blue color.

How the Fruits Got Their Colors

It’s Sunday night and I am watching one of my favorite shows, which of course revolves around food. In this particular episode, competitors were challenged to incorporate blue into their baked delights without using artificial coloring. That may not seem to be much of a challenge, but there are actually very few naturally occurring blue …