Nanokids and Nanoprofessionals

By Anupum Pant

In the year 2003, a group of researchers headed by James Tour at Rice university designed and synthesized a series of organic molecules that they thought would get kids interested in chemistry.

These organic molecules resembled human figures and were named Nanoputians - A portmanteau of nanometer (a unit of length used to measure extremely tiny distances) and Lilliputian (the tiny human-like fictional characters from Gulliver’s travels).

The synthesized nanokid molecule basically consisted of two benzene rings and a couple of carbon atoms for its body. For the limbs  acetylene units ending in an alkyl group were used. The upper body and the lower part were both created separately, and were joined using Palladium and Copper compounds. Here’s how…

nanokid body parts

The head of a basic Nanoputian was a 1,3-dioxolane ring. However, after using an advanced microwave irradiation technique, the team created a couple of other variants (called Nanoprofessionals) to replace the Nanokid’s head. Here is what the series of head variants that were created. As if that wasn’t enough, there is a nano ballet dancer too.

nanokids and nanoprofessionals

Now, in the scientific community, James and his team are better known for synthesizing a much more cooler thing - A nanocar. The nanocar they synthesized was a single molecule car which could be pushed around using a scanning tunnelling microscope. And another one which is fuelled by light!

There are a couple of other cool molecular machines they’ve made too.

via [FutilityCloset]

Wilson Primes

By Anupum Pant

Thanks to the guys at Numberphile for introducing me to Wilson primes. Although the piece of information that describes Wilson primes itself has more or less no practical use, I still think it’s a good thing to know.

The first thing you need to know is that all prime numbers follow this rule – If you take a prime number P and put it in the following equation you get a number that is perfectly divisible by the prime number P.

The equation: (P − 1)! + 1 = Q

Note: ! is a sign used for factorial. That means P! is equal to the product of all natural numbers smaller or equal to P. So, for example, 3! = 3 X 2 X 1

This rule is valid for all prime numbers and no composite numbers follow it. So, for instance, if you take a composite number for P, the number you get after you put it in the above equation is never divisible by the number itself. This is called the Wilson’s theorem.

Wilson primes (P) are a few special numbers which can divide Q in the equation above two times. So, for example, since 5 is a Wilson prime, you get 25 if you put it in the equation above. And 25 can be divided perfectly by 5 once, and the result (quotient 5) can be divided again by 5 to get a whole number.

Now, for Wilson primes here’s the deal – 5, 13 and 563 are Wilson Primes. And a very interesting thing to note here is that, in spite of all the computing technology we have in the world, these are the only three Wilson primes we know yet.

Mathematicians are pretty certain that there are several other Wilson primes waiting to get discovered, probably infinitely many. But one thing is for sure, below the number 20,000,000,000,000 5. 13 and 563 are the only three which exist.

Pseudoscorpions

By Anupum Pant

I had never heard of these creatures before. A couple of days back when I learnt about them, I was totally fascinated. Psuedoscorpions are teeny tiny bugs that look a lot like scorpions. They are also popularly known as false scorpions or book scorpions.

False because they aren’t really scorpions, and they don’t even have stingers like scorpions do. They do have those scorpion like claws. Book scorpions because they are often found in old dusty books.

Psuedoscorpions are very tiny. They are about one tenth of an inch long. Here’s is a comparison of it with a thumbnail.

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They are found all over the world, and yet they aren’t seen around a lot because they are pretty secretive creatures. Other times when people do see them, they usually mistake them for a small spiders or ticks. If you happen to see one, don’t be scared because of their scorpion sounding name. They are harmless. Nor do they destroy any of your stuff.

More about it in the video below.

Being a Better Human Through Science