Tag Archives: carbon

From Man’s Best Friend to a Girl’s Best Friend

Chances are that you have a pet. And, whether you’re a dog person or a cat person, or a bird fancier or a lover of lizards you’d probably mourn if you were to lose your furry, or feathery or scaly, friend. So, when your pet crosses over to the other side why not pulverize her or him, filter out any non-carbon remains and then compress the results into, well, a diamond!

[div class=attrib]From WSJ:[end-div]

Natalie Pilon’s diamond is her best friend.

Every time she looks into the ring on her finger, Ms. Pilon sees Meowy, her late beloved silver cat. Meowy really is there: The ring’s two diamonds were made from her cremated remains.

“It’s a little eccentric—not something everyone would do,” says Ms. Pilon, a biotech sales representative in Boston, whose cat passed away last year. “It’s a way for me to remember my cat, and have her with me all the time.”

Americans have a long tradition of pampering and memorializing their pets. Now, technology lets precious friends become precious gems.

The idea of turning the carbon in ashes into man-made diamonds emerged a decade ago as a way to memorialize humans. Today, departed pets are fueling the industry’s growth, with a handful of companies selling diamonds, gemstones and other jewelry out of pet remains, including hair and feathers.

Some gems start at about $250, while pet diamonds cost at least $1,400, with prices based on color and size. The diamonds have the same physical properties as mined diamonds, purveyors say.

LifeGem, an Elk Grove Village, Ill., company, says it has made more than 1,000 animal diamonds in the past decade, mostly from dogs and cats but also a few birds, rabbits, horses and one armadillo. Customers truly can see facets of their pets, says Dean VandenBiesen, LifeGem’s co-founder, because “remains have some unique characteristics in terms of the ratios of elements, so no two diamonds are exactly alike.”

Jennifer Durante, 42 years old, of St. Petersburg, Fla., commissioned another company, Pet Gems, to create a light-blue zircon gemstone out of remains from her teacup Chihuahua, Tetley. “It reminds me of his eyes when the sun would shine into them,” she says.

Sonya Zofrea, a 42-year-old police officer in San Fernando, Calif., has two yellow diamonds to memorialize Baby, a black cat with yellow eyes who wandered into her life as a stray. The first contained a blemish, so maker LifeGem created another one free of charge with the cat’s ashes. But Ms. Zofrea felt the first reminded her most of her occasionally naughty kitty. “When I saw the imperfection, I thought, that’s just her,” says Ms. Zofrea. “She’s an imperfect little soul, aren’t we all?”

A spokesman for the Gemological Institute of America declined to comment on specific companies or processes, but said that synthetic diamonds, like naturally occurring ones, are made of carbon. “That carbon could come from the remains of a deceased pet,” he said.

Producing a one-carat diamond requires less than a cup of ashes or unpacked hair. Sometimes, companies add outside carbon if there isn’t enough.

[div class=attrib]Read the entire article following the jump.[end-div]

[div class=attrib]Image courtesy of Google search.[end-div]

Andre Geim: in praise of graphene

[div class=attrib]From Nature:[end-div]

Nobel laureate explains why the carbon sheets deserved to win this year’s prize.

This year’s Nobel Prize in Physics went to the discoverers of the one-atom-thick sheets of carbon known as graphene. Andre Geim of the University of Manchester, UK, who shared the award with his colleague Konstantin Novoselov, tells Nature why graphene deserves the prize, and why he hasn’t patented it.

In one sentence, what is graphene?

Graphene is a single plane of graphite that has to be pulled out of bulk graphite to show its amazing properties.

What are these properties?

It’s the thinnest possible material you can imagine. It also has the largest surface-to-weight ratio: with one gram of graphene you can cover several football pitches (in Manchester, you know, we measure surface area in football pitches). It’s also the strongest material ever measured; it’s the stiffest material we know; it’s the most stretchable crystal. That’s not the full list of superlatives, but it’s pretty impressive.

A lot of people expected you to win, but not so soon after the discovery in 2004. Were you expecting it?

I didn’t think it would happen this year. I was thinking about next year or maybe 2014. I slept quite soundly without much expectation. Yeah, it’s good, it’s good.

Graphene has won, but not that much has actually been done with it yet. Do you think it was too soon?

No. The prize, if you read the citation, was given for the properties of graphene; it wasn’t given for expectations that have not yet been realized. Ernest Rutherford’s 1908 Nobel Prize in Chemistry wasn’t given for the nuclear power station — he wouldn’t have survived that long — it was given for showing how interesting atomic physics could be. I believe the Nobel prize committee did a good job.

Do you think that carbon nanotubes were unfairly overlooked?

It’s difficult to judge; I’m a little afraid of being biased. If the prize had been given for bringing graphene to the attention of the community, then it would have been unfair to take it away from carbon nanotubes. But it was given for graphene’s properties, and I think carbon nanotubes did not deliver that range of properties. Everyone knows that — in terms of physics, not applications — carbon nanotubes were not as successful as graphene.

Why do you think graphene has become so popular in the physics community?

I would say there are three important things about graphene. It’s two-dimensional, which is the best possible number for studying fundamental physics. The second thing is the quality of graphene, which stems from its extremely strong carbon–carbon bonds. And finally, the system is also metallic.

What do you think graphene will be used for first?

Two or three months ago, I was in South Korea, and I was shown a graphene roadmap, compiled by Samsung. On this roadmap were approximately 50 dots, corresponding to particular applications. One of the closest applications with a reasonable market value was a flexible touch screen. Samsung expects something within two to three years.

[div class=attrib]More from theSource here.[end-div]

A Plan to Keep Carbon in Check

[div class=attrib]By Robert H. Socolow and Stephen W. Pacala, From Scientific American:[end-div]

Getting a grip on greenhouse gases is daunting but doable. The technologies already exist. But there is no time to lose.

Retreating glaciers, stronger hurricanes, hotter summers, thinner polar bears: the ominous harbingers of global warming are driving companies and governments to work toward an unprecedented change in the historical pattern of fossil-fuel use. Faster and faster, year after year for two centuries, human beings have been transferring carbon to the atmosphere from below the surface of the earth. Today the world’s coal, oil and natural gas industries dig up and pump out about seven billion tons of carbon a year, and society burns nearly all of it, releasing carbon dioxide (CO2). Ever more people are convinced that prudence dictates a reversal of the present course of rising CO2 emissions.

The boundary separating the truly dangerous consequences of emissions from the merely unwise is probably located near (but below) a doubling of the concentration of CO2 that was in the atmosphere in the 18th century, before the Industrial Revolution began. Every increase in concentration carries new risks, but avoiding that danger zone would reduce the likelihood of triggering major, irreversible climate changes, such as the disappearance of the Greenland ice cap. Two years ago the two of us provided a simple framework to relate future CO2 emissions to this goal.

[div class=attrib]More from theSource here.[end-div]

Plan B for Energy

[div class=attrib]From Scientific American:[end-div]

If efficiency improvements and incremental advances in today’s technologies fail to halt global warming, could revolutionary new carbon-free energy sources save the day? Don’t count on it–but don’t count it out, either.

To keep this world tolerable for life as we like it, humanity must complete a marathon of technological change whose finish line lies far over the horizon. Robert H. Socolow and Stephen W. Pacala of Princeton University have compared the feat to a multigenerational relay race [see their article “A Plan to Keep Carbon in Check”]. They outline a strategy to win the first 50-year leg by reining back carbon dioxide emissions from a century of unbridled acceleration. Existing technologies, applied both wisely and promptly, should carry us to this first milestone without trampling the global economy. That is a sound plan A.

The plan is far from foolproof, however. It depends on societies ramping up an array of carbon-reducing practices to form seven “wedges,” each of which keeps 25 billion tons of carbon in the ground and out of the air. Any slow starts or early plateaus will pull us off track. And some scientists worry that stabilizing greenhouse gas emissions will require up to 18 wedges by 2056, not the seven that Socolow and Pacala forecast in their most widely cited model.
[div class=attrib]More from theSource here.[end-div]