Archive for August, 2006

Among Lions

August 4th, 2006

This was supposed to be posted yesterday around 4pm but, alas, I ran out of time. So here it is. 

I watched Secondhand Lions for the first time last week. It was very good. There was an exceptional exchange from Hub (uncle) to Walter (nephew):

“Sometimes the things that may or may not be true are the things a man needs to believe in the most. That people are basically good. That honor, courage and virtue mean everything; that power and money … money and power mean nothing. That good always triumphs over evil. And I want you to remember this, that love, true love never dies! Remember that boy … remember that. Doesn’t matter if it is true or not, a man should believe in those things, because those are the things worth believing in.” 

Context is important (you should really see this movie); he’s not saying that truth doesn’t matter; rather you need to believe in things that are right and stand up for them. Be an optimist. Never give up. To quote Mr. Greene:

Despair is the price one pays for setting oneself an impossible aim. It is, one is told, the unforgivable sin, but it is a sin the corrupt or evil man never practices. He always has hope. He never reaches the freezing-point of knowing absolute failure. Only the man of goodwill carries always in his heart this capacity for damnation.
- Graham Greene

Or as I usually say, ‘dare to despair’.


Research and Technology

August 3rd, 2006

Superconductor Research
Brian Wang over at Advanced Nanotechnology has a good post on some recent superconductor research at Cornell using a scanning tunneling microscope (STM) to lean more about the electron-phonon interaction. Here is an excerpt from Brian’s blog:

Researchers found that the distribution of paired electrons in a common high-temperature superconductor was “disorderly,” but that the distribution of phonons — vibrating atoms in the crystal lattice — was disorderly in just the same way. The theory of low-temperature superconductivity says that electrons interacting with phonons join into pairs that are able to travel through the conductor without being scattered by atoms.

“Magnetic Semiconductors”
A team of scientists at Princeton are also using STM to assist in creating magnetic semiconductors, literally building it one atom at a time.

By incorporating manganese atoms into the gallium arsenide semiconductor, the team has created an atomic-scale laboratory that can reveal what researchers have sought for decades: the precise interactions among atoms and electrons in chip material. The team used their new technique to find the optimal arrangements for manganese atoms that can enhance the magnetic properties of gallium arsenide. Implementation of their findings within the chip manufacturing process could result in a major advance in the use of both the magnetic “spin” as well as electric charge for computation.  

“Chips might take on many new capabilities once such ‘spintronic’ technology is perfected,” Yazdani said. “One thing we might be able to do is make chips that can both manipulate data and store it as well, which right now generally requires two separate parts of a computer working together.”

Check out the article for more details.

Nanoscale Diamondoids
Stanford and Chevron MolecularDiamond Technologies have teamed up to develop a novel class of nanomaterials derived from petroleum. Diamondoids (diamond molecules) derived from petroleum are thought to have a wide range of potential, affecting many industries.

“Diamondoids are exciting materials as they have the novelty of both diamond and nanostructures,” says Shen, director of Stanford’s Geballe Laboratory for Advanced Materials. “They provide new opportunities for scientific discoveries and technological applications over a wide range of disciplines. Judging from the revolutionary progress during the last decade in other novel carbon nanomaterials, namely the fullerenes and the nanotubes, we are excited about the diamondoids. The breakthrough by Chevron researchers in isolating diamondoids in large quantity from petroleum makes it possible for in-depth scientific exploration and large-scale applications.”  

You can read the article here.


Quotes for the day

August 3rd, 2006

Some timely quotes:

“It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare, it is because we do not dare that they are difficult.” 
- Seneca

“A dead thing can go with the stream, but only a living thing can go against it.”
- GK Chesterton, Everlasting Man, 1925

“Impartiality is a pompous name for indifference, which is an elegant name for ignorance.”
- GK Chesterton, The Speaker, 12/15/00

“To avoid criticism do nothing, say nothing, be nothing.”
- Elbert Hubbard (1856 – 1915)

Fere libenter homines id quod volunt credunt