Joshua Foer is a guest blogger on Boing Boing. Joshua is a freelance science journalist and the co-founder of the Atlas Obscura: A Compendium of the World's Wonders, Curiosities, and Esoterica, with Dylan Thuras.
George Pendle has done a nice write-up of the Materials Library at King's College London for the Finanical Times. It's a place I badly want to visit on my next trip to London:
Deep in the bowels of a brutalist concrete building on the Strand, long shelves are packed - crammed, really - with some of the world's strangest substances, from the past, present and sometimes, it seems, the future. Take Aerogel: the world's lightest solid consists of 99.8 per cent air and looks like a vague, hazy mass. And yet despite its insubstantial nature, it is remarkably strong; and because of its ability to nullify convection, conduction and radiation, it also happens to be the best insulator in the world. Sitting next to the Aerogel is its thermal opposite, a piece of aluminium nitride, which is such an effective conductor of heat that if you grasp a blunt wafer of it in your hand, the warmth of your body alone allows it to cut through ice. Nearby are panes of glass that clean themselves, metal that remembers the last shape it was twisted into, and a thin tube of Tin Stick which, when bent, emits a sound like a human cry. There's a tub of totally inert fluorocarbon liquid into which any electronic device can be placed and continue to function. The same liquid has been used to replace the blood in lab rats, which also, oddly enough, continue to function... All these, and more than 900 others, including everyday materials suchas aluminium, steel and copper, are here for one purpose - to instil a sense of wonder in the visitor.
A Library of the World's Most Unusual Compounds
The large black bear in this video was observed ambling around a Monrovia, California neighborhood last Friday morning. The bear walked through residential lawns, driveways and rested in a nearby alley.
How does an owl’s tail help it fly? To better see the role of the tail in raptor aerodynamics, researchers at the UK’s Royal Veterinary College recorded birds of prey flying through clouds of tiny helium bubbles. According to the science journal Nature, analyzing the swirling motion of the bubbles enabled the scientists to discover […]
Thirty years ago today, the Voyager 1 spaceprobe had completed its ncounters with the outer planets and was careening out of our solar system. The time came to shut off the probes’ cameras to preserve power and memory for the other onboard scientific instruments. But before engineers flipped the switch, one last photo opportunity was […]
Learning to ride a bike is one of those quintessential childhood experiences that’s as rewarding as it is scary. Prep your precious babe for success by starting them early with the world’s lightest balance bike, the Brilrider FLIGHT. For the uninitiated, balance bikes are no-pedal bicycles that propel forward by pushing off the ground with […]
With so many advancements in modern society, you’d think we’d have moved beyond the butane lighter by now. A pressurized, flammable gas, butane fumes can irritate your eyes and skin, can elevate your heart rate, and even lead to cardiac arrest. And we did mention that whole highly pressurized and flammable part, right? While certainly […]
Is it just us, or does it feel like winter hasn’t been as horrendous as usual this year? Well, stats show it’s actually been one of the warmer winters on record so far this year for many eastern U.S. cities in January and February. But, almost on cue, weather experts warn signs of a serious […]