Friday, 25 September 2015

5 great scientists who never won a Nobel Prize

The Nobel Prizes can be as controversial as they are prestigious. It's very uncommon for a scientist to make a discovery entirely on his or her own: Researchers collaborate, compete, and construct new theories based on the work of others. Inevitably, choosing just up to three living scientists to take credit for a pivotal find means some researchers are, arguably, unfairly left out of the spotlight.

Some Nobel snubs were the product of personal grudges or general biases, particularly against women scientists. Others were matters of bad timing; Rosalind Franklin, whose work was essential to the discovery of the double-helix structure of DNA, died four years before James Watson, Francis Crick and Maurice Wilkins shared a Nobel in 1962 — and the Nobels are almost never awarded posthumously. Here are the stories of a few scientists who contributed significantly to our understanding of the world, but who unfortunately never won top honors in Sweden.

Annie Jump Cannon
Accomplishment: Classifying the stars


Cannon was an American astronomer hired by Edward Pickering, along with other women (collectively referred to as "Pickering's Harem"), to work at the Harvard Observatory mapping and classifying every star in the sky. Without these women, whom he called "computers," Pickering could not have catalogued all those stars.

(More from World Science Festival: The women who shaped the computer age)

Cannon was arguably the most accomplished of Pickering's computers. During her career she observed and classified over 200,000 stars. But more importantly, she devised a star classification system to categorize stars based on spectral absorption lines. Though her contributions were not recognized during her forty-year astronomy career, her work lives on in the mnemonic device "Oh Be A Fine Girl, Kiss Me!" which helps astronomy students remember star types in order of decreasing temperature.

Gilbert Newton Lewis
Accomplishment: Understanding how chemical bonding works

If you've ever studied chemistry, you know the work of Gilbert Newton Lewis, an American chemist. Lewis' contributions to chemistry in the 1900s include discovering the covalent bond (where atoms share electron pairs), and explaining the nature of acids and bases as substances that accept or give away a pair of electrons, respectively. He also introduced the "Lewis dot structure," a way of representing chemical bonds and unbonded electrons in atoms and molecules.

Much of Lewis's research laid the groundwork for our understanding of chemical bonding, and he went on to make significant contributions in thermodynamics as well. But though he was nominated 35 times, Lewis's criticism of his colleagues and hostile relationships with his contemporaries kept him from winning the Nobel Prize in Chemistry. That's not just idle gossip: There's historical evidence that William Palmaer, a Swedish chemist who served as a voting member of the chemistry committee from 1926 to 1942, had an agenda against Lewis. (Palmaer was close friends with Walther Nernst, a chemist that Lewis nursed a grudge against and frequently criticized).

Dimitri Mendeleev
Accomplishment: The periodic table of elements


Mendeleev was a Russian chemist and inventor, well known for his periodic law stating that the chemical properties of the elements reoccur periodically as their atomic masses increase. The famous Periodic Table he created based on this law accurately described elements yet to be discovered along with their physical and chemical properties, and was the first such table that could make these predictions. Mendeleev was nominated for the 1906 Nobel Prize in chemistry, but died in 1907 without that honor.

(More from World Science Festival: The biochemistry of autumn colors)

Carl Richard Woese
Accomplishment: Reshaping the tree of life

Woese was a molecular biologist who studied microbiology and evolution. In 1977, he published a paper that described how to use RNA from the ribosome, a cellular organelle, to identify and classify microbes. This technique, called molecular phylogeny, eventually revolutionized the study of both microbiology and evolution.

Woese's first analysis using molecular phylogeny led to the discovery of the Archaea, a previously-unheard of third domain of life on Earth. Before Woese's discovery, life was classified into Five Kingdoms stemming from two major branches: prokaryotes, containing bacteria, and eukaryotes, comprising animals, plants, fungi and protists. The only difference between these branches was the presence (eukaryotes) or absence (prokaryotes) of a membrane-bound cell nucleus. Microorganisms in Archaea do not have a nucleus, but have their own characteristic membranes, enzymes, and ribosomes. Most Archaea are extremophiles, residing in environments that most organisms would find intolerable: hot springs, volcanic vents, or extremely salty places. Yet despite the fact that Woese literally reshaped the tree of life, he never received a Nobel for his pivotal work.

Chien-Shiung Wu
Accomplishment: Proving the "handedness" of nature


In 1956 Wu conducted a nuclear physics experiment that disproved a widely accepted law of physics: the "Parity Law," which says that physical systems or objects that are mirror images of each other should behave in an identical way — essentially, that fundamental laws of physics do not distinguish between left and right.

While the law of parity does apply to the forces of electromagnetism, gravity, and the strong nuclear force, two other physicists Tsung-Dao Lee and Chen Ning Yang thought that this would not be true for the weak nuclear force. To prove this, Wu — enlisted by Lee, a colleague at Columbia University, where she was an associate professor at the time — studied the decay of supercooled atoms of the radioactive isotope cobalt-60 exposed to a strong magnetic field. If the law of parity held true for the weak nuclear force that governs beta decay, the cobalt isotopes should have emitted equal numbers of electrons in both directions. But Wu saw that as the cobalt-60 decayed, electrons tended to fly off in a direction opposite from the spin of the cobalt nuclei; the law did not hold.

(More from World Science Festival: There'd be no Steve Jobs without Grace Hopper)

Wu's work was later replicated, and became proof positive of parity violation. The 1957 Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded to Lee and Yang for disproving parity violation, but Wu was overlooked. Still, she is often remembered as "The First Lady of Physics."

 » see original post

The iPad and your kid—digital daycare, empowering educator, or something bad?

(credit: Getty Images)

It was love at first sight—the infatuated gaze, the flirtatious giggles. He just couldn't keep his eyes or hands off her. I can still hear the cry of agony when I, his mom, mercilessly tore her away from his small chubby hands…

"He" is my two-year-old son. "She" is the iPad. It's a love story familiar to almost every parent who has both a toddler and an iPad (or presumably other tablets) in the house. And as this unnatural bit of natural attraction surfaced, it made me and many other parents wonder: "What on earth is the iPad doing to my child?"

Dr. Heather Kirkorian, an assistant professor in the Human Development and Family Studies Department at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, is one of the few scientists trying to answer this very question. And for the past few years, she has been studying how touchscreen devices affect early childhood learning.

Read 34 remaining paragraphs | Comments

 » see original post

Autumnlin's Zipper Chic

Want to follow up with fashion competition tv contestants? Autumn Lin Kietponglert was a finalist from Rihanna's "Styled to Rock" series. Before that show, she had already won awards in multiple countries for her collection.
Her signature detail is the sculpted fashion she creates using zippers. For her New York Fashion Week presentation, she stuck to a simple black and cream palette. The fabrics were soft and draped as a contrast to the structured shapes of the zippered pieces that wound around the body.  The clothing was paired with sexy shoes with artsy silhouettes from Machi Footwear.
Pop divas like Cher and Kylie Minogue already count themselves as fans of the Autumnlin label, having worn her creations.
Great fashion shows are a treat to watch. Catwalks that benefit a worthy cause? Even better. The Autumnlin Kietponglert runway was a part of The Set NYC series of fashion events that raise funds to benefit Freedom Ladder, an organization working to abolish human trafficking.  Learn more about Autumnlin or Freedom Ladder on their sites.
photos by Mariana Leung
 » see original post

The Mesmerizing Process of Making a Glass Chandelier from Scratch




Walking into a hotel ballroom, say, and considering a gigantic glass chandelier suspended from the ceiling, you probably fall into one of two camps: "Wow, that chandelier is totally incredible." OR "Wow, if that fell from the ceiling it would be totally incredible." Regardless of which camp you fall into, you've probably never considered the process behind creating a genuine glass chandelier from raw materials. Lucky for us, the Science Channel went behind the scenes to film the elaborate glass-working process required to build the fanciest 150-pound lighting mechanism imaginable. Unfortunately this clip fails to credit the studio and artists shown on screen. Anyone know? (via Sploid)

Update: This is a peek inside the Baccarat crystal studio… because it's written on their shirts. (thnx, Laurent for helping us read words)

 » see original post

Invisible Batteries Come Closer To Reality

Remember all the high-tech transparent technology Tom Cruise used in Minority Report? Well, it's been 13 years since

The post Invisible Batteries Come Closer To Reality has been published on Technology Org.

 » see original post

Scale-free urination and speed bump diagnostics take home Ig Nobels

Every fall, the Swedish Academy of Sciences determines which researchers have produced work worthy of a Nobel Prize. Usually, my first warning that this time of the year is approaching is the announcement of the Ig Nobel Prizes, handed out in Boston "for achievements that first make people laugh, then make them think."

The Nobels must be coming soon, as the Igs were handed out last night in a traditionally lavish and mildly deranged ceremony. As is typical, almost all of the winning research teams had a representative present. One of the two exceptions sent a video acceptance; the only group that did not acknowledge its win was the Bangkok Metropolitan Police Force. We'll go through the awards below, starting with the ones that are also awarded science Nobels, and then moving into some of the more flexible categories before wrapping up with Economics and Literature.

Physics: The fluid mechanics of urination. The team that won this award was interested in what they call "a universal phenomenon that has received little attention"—the physics of urination. To get a sense of how urination operates on different scales, the researchers hauled a video camera to Zoo Atlanta and filmed animals relieving themselves. "Our findings reveal that the urethra is a flow-enhancing device," they concluded, "enabling the urinary system to be scaled up by a factor of 3,600 in volume without compromising its function."

Read 10 remaining paragraphs | Comments

 » see original post

Malan Breton Spring 2016

Style Fashion Week was one of the alternative designer showcases with designers that defected from IMG. Malan Breton has had a good year. He had an elegant menswear collection, released an autobiographical film and presented his spring 2016 in New York's best ballroom.

Gotham Hall is one of the most dramatic venues in Midtown Manhattan. It has a soaring domed ceiling and elaborate chandeliers. Unlike IMG and KCD Worldwide's policy of exclusion this season, the producers of Style Fashion Week welcomed any press committed to reporting on fashion.

The collection had many of Malan Breton's signature colors of vivid fuschia and turquoise. The daywear included slim, tailored suits in the most luxurious fabrics. The evening wear was executed in beautiful prints and silks. The silhouettes were full-skirted gowns or short cocktails dresses in flattering seam details.

Every model on the runway was stunning. There was a wide range in age and gender fluidity. It was a testament to the clothing that they looked great on everyone. Malan Breton himself has always been the most humble designer at his fashion shows. Soft-spoken and sweet, I caught him the night before the show at a party, and he expressed how nervous he was. I assured him that every collection he has ever presented was gorgeous. While I am far from the person to say so, he always reacts as if it was the first time he has received such a compliment.

Check out NYFW Venues - The Verdict
by Ms. Fabulous at Mode
 » see original post

New Architectural Collages That Double as Visual Poems by Matthias Jung


Matthias Jung (previously) creates worlds of surreal architecture that inhabit vast photographed landscapes. The works merge together different elements of photography to create unusual compositions, structures you might vividly remember from a dream. By placing the composite structures in commonplace landscapes the German-based graphic designer preserves their believability, allowing us to momentarily trick our brains into thinking these places actually exist in environments we have not yet explored.

Jung refers to the works as "architectural short poems," a perfect description for how they are visually consumed by the eye. You can see more of his surreal architectural collages on his website gallery here.









 » see original post

Researchers test speed of light with greater precision than before

Researchers from The University of Western Australia and Humboldt University of Berlin have completed testing that has effectively

The post Researchers test speed of light with greater precision than before has been published on Technology Org.

 » see original post