Search Results for: label/quantum mechanics
How fluorescent lights work: quantum mechanics in the home
We have a tendency to think that “quantum mechanics” is synonymous with “out of the ordinary.” I do that, too, since there’s so much strange to talk about: the blurring of particles and waves, the apparent randomness that drove Einstein crazy, and so forth. It’s easy to forget that quantum mechanics also is an everyday matter. The odds are pretty good you’re reading this post on a computer screen (as op…
Authored by Matthew R Francis on January 30, 2012
Making Light in Electronics
By DXS Physics Editor Matthew Francis A while back, I wrote about one of the most common ways of making electric light: fluorescent bulbs. Understanding fluorescent lights requires quantum mechanics! While a lot of quantum physics seems pretty removed from our daily lives, it’s essential to most of our modern technology. In fact, reading what I’m writing requires quantum mechanics, since you are using a computer (maybe a handheld…
Authored by Matthew R Francis on April 20, 2012
How large is a proton?
…of various types, mostly hydrogen, carbon, and oxygen, with plenty of others to bulk things out. Let’s think about some numbers for size, then: unless you’re a kid or a giant, your height is probably between 1 and 2 meters. One of my fingernails is about 1 centimeter across (1/100 of a meter). A red blood cell is a little less than 10 micrometers—10 millionths of a meter—across. A typical atom is a few hundred picometers (100 trillion…
Authored by Matthew R Francis on February 13, 2013
Biology Explainer: The big 4 building blocks of life–carbohydrates, fats, proteins, and nucleic acids
…molecules themselves break down into a surprisingly small number of building blocks. The proteins that make up all of the living things on this planet and ensure their appropriate structure and smooth function consist of only 20 different kinds of building blocks. Nucleic acids, specifically DNA, are even more basic: only four different kinds of molecules provide the materials to build the countless different genetic codes that translate into all…
Authored by Emily Willingham on June 8, 2012
Why is the sky pink?
On Mars, the sky is pink during the day, shading to blue at sunset. What planet did you think I was talking about? On Earth, the sky is blue during daytime, turning red at as the sun sinks toward night. Scattering light Well, it’s not quite as simple as that: if you ignore your dear sainted mother’s warning and look at the Sun, you’ll see that the sky immediately around the Sun is white, and the sky right at the horizon (i…
Authored by Matthew R Francis on March 12, 2012
After Newtown missteps, journalists get guidelines
…almost twice as likely to say that they don’t want to live or work near a person with mental illness if they read an article about a person with mental illness involved in a mass shooting, according to a study published March 20 in the American Journal of Psychiatry. Interestingly, this tendency is the same even if the article avoids any mention of mental illness. This may be because this link between violence and mental illness is deeply engrain…
Authored by DXS Contributor on March 27, 2013
From alchemist to chemist: What kind of chemistry is that?
nd, inorganic chemistry involves all the elements present in the periodic table. Inorganic chemistry delves into theories surrounding the bonding of metals to molecules and the shapes of molecules themselves. Figure 2: Components of Urine While the process of collecting phosphorus from urine requires organic and inorganic chemical reactions, the process of making the products in urine is biochemistry. Note in figure 2 that the primar…
Authored by Adrienne Roehrich on December 15, 2011
Our next installment of notable women in science brings us to chemists. Many of these women were born in the early part of the 20thcentury and forged their paths in tough times. All are still inspiring others today. Presented in no particular order: Catherine Clarke Fenselau is a pioneer in mass spectrometry. Born in 1939, her interested in science was apparent before her 10th grade. She was encouraged to attend a women’s college, whi…
Authored by Adrienne Roehrich on April 23, 2012
Can depression be a matter of genetic fate? by Siobhan Mitchell [This post is the latest installment in our I Am Mental Illness series.] What if you could know if you were fated to be depressed? With the rise of personal genotyping services such as 23andme, almost can find out what their psychiatric ‘fate’ will be, but what do you do with this information once you have it? When I first considered testing myself for depressio…
Authored by DXS Contributor on May 17, 2013
Is the bar high enough for screening breast ultrasounds for breast cancer?
…n controversial. What’s new is the “Are You Dense?” patient movement and legislation to inform women that they have dense breasts. Merits and pitfalls of device approval The approval of breast ultrasound hinges on a study of 200 women with dense breast evaluated retrospectively at 13 sites across the United States with mammography and ultrasound. The study showed a statistically significant increase in breast cancer detection when ultrasound was…
Authored by Emily Willingham on September 21, 2012