Skip to main content

NPR’s Science Friday is once more honoring Inventor Hedy Lamarr and has posted the segment of their show online for those who missed it. They are speaking with Pulitzer Prize winning author Richard Rhodes about his book, Hedy’s Folly: The Life And Breakthrough Inventions of Hedy Lamarr. And yes, she was also an actress, but one of her inventions helped hid Allied communications from the Nazi’s and is still used today in blue tooth and wifi networks: Spread Spectrum broadcasting with frequency hopping.

Posted by the World Science Festival, this presentation is part of The Big Idea Series, and I could not stop watching it once I started. From the Big Bang to the Multiverse, they explore a wide range of ideas, all theoretically supported to some greater or lesser extent, and some of them even have some experimental results that support the possibility that they exist. This is fascinating stuff, and the implications keep getting more numerous the longer you think about them. The original panel and gathering happened as part of the 2009 World Science Festival, and was posted in 2015; enjoy.

On June 28th the World Science Festival posted the results of an exciting experiment in which the person working the joystick was nowhere near the game. His hands were being controlled by a person half way across town, sitting in front of the game with no game controller. Some of the potential applications of this technology are downright terrifying, others could be world changing. If you are interested in finding out a bit more about the experiments, check out the University of Washington page for details. One of the things that leaps out at you is the changes in the bulk and mass of the headsets between the 2013/2014 experiments and the current ones; the new stuff is getting downright portable.

This 360 degree VR formatted video from BBC News takes you on a brief tour inside the Large Hadron Collider, which is pretty much the most complex machine in the world. The folks over at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, have done a lot of excellent science with this installation. Since I probably won’t get to visit the place in person, it is nice to have a virtual visit to play in the headset.

It is rare when a new element is discovered, so we are having a bit of a bonanza at the moment. There are 4 new elements in the Periodic Table, elements 113, 115, 117 and 118, and the discovering teams have put forth names for each of them. The rules for naming an element say you can use Mythology, a place, a scientist, a property of the element, or or a mineral which includes the element as the basis of the name. In this case the names proposed include Nihonium (Nh) for element 113, discovered in Japan (Nihon is the name of the country English speakers call Japan, named in our language after the excellent lacquer-ware that was Europe’s chief import from Nihon starting in the 1600s; China suffered a similar fate for its equally amazing ceramics at about the same time). Two teams working in tandem, the Joint Institute of Nuclear Research in Moscow and the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee working in conjunction with the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California came up with the other three. They chose Moscovium (Mc) for element 115, Tennessine (Ts) for element 117, and Oganesson (Og) for element 118; Yuri Oganessian is a giant of superheavy element research, and lead the Moscow team who synthesized element 117. Thanks to Scientific American and the Royal Society of Chemistry for the heads up on these exciting new discoveries!