On Christmas Eve of 1990, Thomas J. Grasso broke into the home of 87-year-old Hilda Johnson and strangled her to death with her own Christmas tree lights before stealing a measly $12 and her TV. Grasso then moved to New York with his wife, Lana, where he broke into the home of 81-year-old Leslie Holtz and strangled him to death and stole  his Social Security check. Grasso was sentenced to death. After making a number of bizarre statements on the day of his execution, he had a last meal of steamed mussles, steamed clams, a double cheeseburger from Burger King, a half-dozen barbecued spare ribs, two strawberry milkshakes, pumpkin pie with whipped cream, diced strawberries, and a 16-ounce can of spaghetti with meatballs which was served at room temperature. His last words before being executed by lethal injection were:

“I did not get my SpaghettiOs, I got spaghetti. I want the press to know this.“ 

New phase of hydrogen discovered could make room temperature superconductors possible

Hydrogen is everywhere — it accounts for around 75% of all the matter we’re sure we know about. Science has been zooming in on hydrogen atoms for a long time, because they’re bits of the simplest chemical element known to us. Hydrogen stands to tell us a lot about the earliest moments of the universe we live in, before everything started getting complicated and discrete.


Ref: Evidence for a new phase of dense hydrogen above 325 gigapascals. Nature (7 January 2016) | DOI: 10.1038/nature16164


Almost 80 years ago it was predicted that, under sufficient compression, the H–H bond in molecular hydrogen (H2) would break, forming a new, atomic, metallic, solid state of hydrogen1. Reaching this predicted state experimentally has been one of the principal goals in high-pressure research for the past 30 years. Here, using in situ high-pressure Raman spectroscopy, we present evidence that at pressures greater than 325 gigapascals at 300 kelvin, H2 and hydrogen deuteride (HD) transform to a new phase—phase V. This new phase of hydrogen is characterized by substantial weakening of the vibrational Raman activity, a change in pressure dependence of the fundamental vibrational frequency and partial loss of the low-frequency excitations. We map out the domain in pressure–temperature space of the suggested phase V in H2 and HD up to 388 gigapascals at 300 kelvin, and up to 465 kelvin at 350 gigapascals; we do not observe phase V in deuterium (D2). However, we show that the transformation to phase IV′ in D2 occurs above 310 gigapascals and 300 kelvin. These values represent the largest known isotropic shift in pressure, and hence the largest possible pressure difference between the H2 and D2 phases, which implies that the appearance of phase V of D2 must occur at a pressure of above 380 gigapascals. These experimental data provide a glimpse of the physical properties of dense hydrogen above 325 gigapascals and constrain the pressure and temperature conditions at which the new phase exists. We speculate that phase V may be the precursor to the non-molecular (atomic and metallic) state of hydrogen that was predicted 80 years ago.

Room Temperature

The straps should have loosened by now, they seem to be regular fabric. The ends are floating and tickling my legs, but I can’t move enough to scratch or change it.
I’ve tried not to urinate, but I gave up. I shouldn’t drink either, but I’m thirsty, I’m not sure if I can even cry anymore. Yelling wore me out, I gave up on that yesterday.
If it really was yesterday.
It’s dark and everything echoes. That steady drip that has been keeping time, maybe that’s my seconds-marker. I’ve counted, and given up, and lost which tens of thousands I’m in, or I guess fallen asleep. My ears are ringing and sore, I wrench my neck to keep them above the water but I’m hurting, and I don’t have the strength. The drips sound like a drum underwater, and I can hear my feet move.
I worry about the air. It’s getting harder to breathe.
I’m drowsy and aching and lost, I’m not sure I can feel my body except when it itches or hurts. This doesn’t seem to be a big place, the echoes are tight and constrained. It might be a hot tub. I just don’t know where.
I always hated the smell of chlorine. Like public pools at gyms or at schools, it always felt so medical, the smell that covers up humanity and pretends there’s no sickness around, it becomes its own banner for denial. A hospital smell. Something to mask the revulsion we fear in the world, each other. Artificial purity. It burns in my eyes and soaks into my hair…
Which is coming out. My scalp is burning the longer it’s submerged and I can feel little tickles of it by my elbows, my knees, I know it’s just falling out and I want to scream again and I can’t. My throat is raw. My sobs creak. I feel swollen and tired.

I’m not drowning, not yet, but that drip has been slamming into the water and maybe it isn’t filling so much as it’s keeping the levels even but I feel the surface tickle my chin and I don’t think it was that high before, and the gag is damp and my mouth tastes like chemicals and bile and I can’t scream anymore I just can’t I don’t know how.
I shouldn’t breathe so hard because I don’t know if the air…
If they thought I was dead, they wouldn’t gag me. Someone knows I’m in here.
My head is pounding in its own rhythm, I guess it’s my blood and my heart and it used to be fast but now it’s slower than the dripping sound, sometimes it hurts so bad I clench up and it feels like my skin is bursting and scraping off against the straps, how can I feel so shriveled and bloated at the same time? I’m so thirsty but I keep choking on my own vomit and my stomach feels like there’s glass shards in there but I know I couldn’t be stabbed or else I wouldn’t still be awake in here after all this time. This is what rotting feels like, tight and distant and sick-sweet and salty with tears. My wrists burn, I wonder if they’re bleeding and it’s so dark everywhere, what if the water is bloody and red and I’m soaking it all in and recycling it back through myself, filtering in and out until everything equalizes, what if there’s nutrients in the water so I can’t die and they keep me here for a week like a body in a glass jar, waiting for me to move…
I wonder how much of this water is my tears, how much of this water is me.
Maybe I’ll slowly dissolve into a gelatin slurry and they’ll garnish me with parsley and dip in cups to taste how scared I am, like I’m dessert, like I’m art or else why would someone keep a person tied up in a tub like this?
It’s dripping every second and the water on my chin is just a tickle, like I’m floating and I can’t tell what’s the surface or what’s the fabric or what’s my loose hair or if anything can be a way out, if I could simply float up and evaporate entirely, sneak out the cracks and corners and join the clouds somewhere. I just don’t know what this means.

My feet are burning, and my knees are burning and my stomach is on fire, it feels like I’m being broiled and popping, oily bubbles of my skin like buttery bread, the shifting doesn’t help and I must have been asleep but now there’s another smell. It’s not the same at all.
The denial of death.
Those chemicals like science class with scalpels on limp piles of what was once a frog or a pig but is now a mutilated mess of labeled bones and soft organs, I know this smell and I know that feeling. It’s a preservative. The sharp smell of something yellow that lasts. My torso is stinging and the first bits reach my chin and I’ve still forgotten how to cry, but I’m trying, I’m trying to feel anything that isn’t a classroom experiment and I’d welcome being spread out on a table with a knife in me just to know that I once identified as a human being instead of a pickled mass of limbs and why is this happening now? Why can I smell the onset of death when it could have been over so much easier, so much earlier, what if there’s other things in here with me, what if that wasn’t my hair I was feeling and my tears I was floating in all this time? What if I’m just the newest one…?

My eyes are stinging, they might be open or closed I can’t tell anymore, but the drip is faster or maybe I’m slower, and the water is reaching to my lips or I’m sinking and not fighting anymore, maybe I’m not special but I’m just the next one, the fresh one, the experiment of how long until someone stops fighting.
And I’ve stopped crying, I’ve stopped screaming, and maybe after this rest I’ll stop trying.
I can burn underwater, I know that now, and I think I might stop fighting.
The taste of humanity and denial in my mouth and maybe I’ll just stop fighting.

I used to dream of floating in the clouds.

Graphene has the potential to “clean up nuclear waste” at room temperature per new study

Graphene, the thinnest and strongest substance known to science, could be used to help detoxify nuclear waste thanks to the latest discovery involving the wonder material.

Experiments show that it can act as a “super sieve”, able to separate different atomic isotopes of hydrogen, and create the expensive “heavy water” needed by the nuclear industry, researchers said.

This is the first time that graphene – which consists of a crystal lattice of carbon arranged in layers just one atom thick – has been shown to act as a subatomic filter.


Ref: Sieving hydrogen isotopes through two-dimensional crystals. Science (1 January 2016) | DOI: 10.1126/science.aac9726


One-atom-thick crystals are impermeable to atoms and molecules, but hydrogen ions (thermal protons) penetrate through them. We show that monolayers of graphene and boron nitride can be used to separate hydrogen ion isotopes. Using electrical measurements and mass spectrometry, we found that deuterons permeate through these crystals much slower than protons, resulting in a separation factor of ≈10 at room temperature. The isotope effect is attributed to a difference of ≈60 milli–electron volts between zero-point energies of incident protons and deuterons, which translates into the equivalent difference in the activation barriers posed by two-dimensional crystals. In addition to providing insight into the proton transport mechanism, the demonstrated approach offers a competitive and scalable way for hydrogen isotope enrichment.

This is a temperature gauge in the boiler room between Hangars 3 and 4 at Floyd Bennett Field, New York City’s first municipal airport.  Opened in 1930, the airport was the starting point for a number of notable events, including record-breaking flights from aviators such as Amelia Earhart, John Glenn, and Howard Hughes.  Perhaps the best-known story from the airfield was that of Douglas “Wrong Way” Corrigan - a pilot who was denied permission to fly to Ireland, but “accidentally” flew over the Atlantic on a flight booked for California - he and his plane were sent back to America by boat.  Floyd Bennett field was decommissioned and abandoned in 1970.

Prints available here.

Researchers control frequency & bandwidth of photon in a diamond quantum memory at room temperature

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing at the University of Waterloo and the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) have, for the first time, converted the colour and bandwidth of ultrafast single photons using a room-temperature quantum memory in diamond.

Shifting the colour of a photon, or changing its frequency, is necessary to optimally link components in a quantum network.


Ref: Frequency and bandwidth conversion of single photons in a room-temperature diamond quantum memory. Nature Communications (5 April 2016) | DOI: 10.1038/ncomms11200


The spectral manipulation of photons is essential for linking components in a quantum network. Large frequency shifts are needed for conversion between optical and telecommunication frequencies, while smaller shifts are useful for frequency-multiplexing quantum systems, in the same way that wavelength division multiplexing is used in classical communications. Here we demonstrate frequency and bandwidth conversion of single photons in a room-temperature diamond quantum memory. Heralded 723.5 nm photons, with 4.1 nm bandwidth, are stored as optical phonons in the diamond via a Raman transition. Upon retrieval from the diamond memory, the spectral shape of the photons is determined by a tunable read pulse through the reverse Raman transition. We report central frequency tunability over 4.2 times the input bandwidth, and bandwidth modulation between 0.5 and 1.9 times the input bandwidth. Our results demonstrate the potential for diamond, and Raman memories in general, as an integrated platform for photon storage and spectral conversion.

Material self-heals at room temperature and can stretch to 10,000% original size - Uses for artificial muscles

If there’s such a thing as an experiment that goes too well, a recent effort in the lab of Stanford chemical engineering Professor Zhenan Bao might fit the bill.

One of her team members, Cheng-Hui Li, wanted to test the stretchiness of a rubberlike type of plastic known as an elastomer that he had just synthesized. Such materials can normally be stretched two or three times their original length and spring back to original size.


Ref: A highly stretchable autonomous self-healing elastomer. Nature Chemistry (18 April 2016) | DOI: 10.1038/nchem.2492


It is a challenge to synthesize materials that possess the properties of biological muscles—strong, elastic and capable of self-healing. Herein we report a network of poly(dimethylsiloxane) polymer chains crosslinked by coordination complexes that combines high stretchability, high dielectric strength, autonomous self-healing and mechanical actuation. The healing process can take place at a temperature as low as −20 °C and is not significantly affected by surface ageing and moisture. The crosslinking complexes used consist of 2,6-pyridinedicarboxamide ligands that coordinate to Fe(III) centres through three different interactions: a strong pyridyl–iron one, and two weaker carboxamido–iron ones through both the nitrogen and oxygen atoms of the carboxamide groups. As a result, the iron–ligand bonds can readily break and re-form while the iron centres still remain attached to the ligands through the stronger interaction with the pyridyl ring, which enables reversible unfolding and refolding of the chains. We hypothesize that this behaviour supports the high stretchability and self-healing capability of the material.