*Building the Perfect World: One (Very)
Small Step at a Time (P,G)
Bigger may be better, but small is
sensational. Nanomaterials, materials thousands of times smaller than a
human hair, are rapidly expanding the realm of the possible. From smart
self-cleaning materials to energy efficient lights that don't make you
look pasty, nanomaterials are finding their way into consumer products
from tennis rackets to face creams. What makes nanomaterials special isn't
just their size - it is that their small size produces chemical and
physical properties impossible to achieve in the same material when it is
big. Gold isn't even gold-colored when you make it very small. Ideas that
might have seemed science fiction just a few years ago - like tiny magnets
that hold anti-cancer drugs near tumors - are right around the corner.
Along with the amazing possibilities for technological advances comes the
responsibility of thoroughly understanding these materials. The unexpected
properties of nanomaterials mean that we are sometimes surprised by how
our new creations interact with us, and the world around us. This
presentation introduces the world of nanomaterials, uses some of the most
fascinating materials as examples of what is possible now and what will be
possible in the very near future, and examines what we are doing to ensure
that we know not just what we can make, but what we should make.
^The Science of Speed: Faster, Stronger and
A group of racecars piloted by the best drivers in
NASCAR enter Turn 4 at Chrlotte Motor Speedway going almost 200 mph.
Without warning, one of the cars wiggles, and then slams into the wall.
None of the cars touched, there were no engine failures, no flat tires, so
what happened? This is the question that took Professor Diandra
Leslie-Pelecky from the lab to the racetrack, speeding around Texas Motor
Speedway (she calls it 'research') in an effort to understand why going
fast is so hard. In her quest for understanding the science of speed, she
met the mechanical engineers, aerodynamicists, chemical engineers, and
physicists who have become critical participants in the high-stakes world
of motorsports. Even drivers without engineering degrees develop an
intuitive understanding of physics, "you don't keep your job long without
a working knowledge of Newton's Laws of Motion." What she learned is that
you can't win races without getting the math and science right. Here's
where all the science you learned in high school (and wondered when you'd
ever use) hits the road. If you've ever thought about knocking Lewis
Hamilton or Jeff Gordon out of their ride, you might want to hear this
talk before you make your move: without knowing the science, you're more
likely to see the yellow flag than the checkered one.
Diandra Leslie-Pelecky earned undergraduate degrees in physics and
philosophy from the University of North Texas and a Ph.D. in condensed
matter physics from Michigan State University. After fourteen years at the
University of Nebraska, she recently became Director of the West Virginia
Nano Initiative and Professor of Physics at West Virginia University.
There, her research seeks new ways to apply magnetic nanoparticles to make
chemotherapy more efficient and decrease the side effects.
Her passion for making science understandable and relevant to the
average person brought her to a second laboratory: the racetrack. The fact
is that you can't win races without getting the math and science right.
Her book, The Physics of NASCAR, was excerpted by TIME magazine and her
work has been featured in everything from the New York Times to Sporting
News magazine. She blogs at
www.buildingspeed.org, explaining the math and science behind current
events in motorsports.