Carbon – The Most Beautiful Molecule?

13 12 2011

Carbon is the Celebrity Atom

Carbon is the celebrity atom and molecule of the 21st Century. Everybody seems to be talking carbon at the moment. We are going 2C the carbon molecule C60 in different outfits strolling down the molecular red carpet. Murdoch’s lackey’s and hangers on of the press will be there lapping up every saucy detail of carbon’s latest trysts. Carbon was seen arm in arm with Patsy Polymer at a night club in Rome. Carbon rumoured to be having an affair with a heavy metal group. Woo woo kinky carbon!.

Carbon may be clogging up the atmosphere right now but overexposure doesn’t seem to have tarnished Carbon’s super star celebrity status. She is a wild whirlwind of plastic power and her story’s just begun. To understand the importance of this concept you would be well advised to acquire a copy of Hugh Aldersley-Williams’ great book: The Most Beautiful Molecule – copies avail on Amazon used from 16c – yes it’s like getting it free, but you still gotta pay for postage.

Here’s the thing . . .the carbon C60 molecule was discovered in the 1980’s and named after Buckminster Fuller – the guy who reprised the geodesic dome etc. Major counter culture icon – fondly AKA Bucky.And because the C60 is basically the shape of a geodesic which is kinda like a soccer ball . . .well they named these things after Bucky. Bucky Balls and variations – Fullerenes.

Carbon nanoballs resemble soccerballs

Soccerball image courtesy Visual Paradox

In the 1990’s according to Aldersley-Williams ninety percent of all chemical papers written were about Carbon C60. It was one of THE big scientific breakthroughs of the late 20th century. Rudolf Steiner from earlier in the 20th Century, tells us that Carbon is the great plastic synthesiser which is why its used by nature as a basic building block for all organic life. Now in the relatively newly discovered form of carbon C60 – we can synthesise super strength materials that have the hardness of diamond and the lightness of plastic. The combinations are also endless so enterprising types have no need to get bored playing with carbon. Party!!! Turns out Carbon is the power social networker of the periodic table. Once again it’s not so much what you know as who you know, and carbon knows everyone – or is a very serious social climber. Perhaps both.

But if carbon is the celebrity atom apparently she is going to shock the world by hanging around a lot more with trashy types found in garbage dumps. Once this crowd of flotsam and jetsam have been to rehab carbon’s manager is going to get her together with them and form a new super group. It seems most of our construction and material supplies will inevitably come from synthesized combinations of carbon. Raw materials supplied via the molecules buried in garbage dumps and elsewhere. But where is all the carbon going to come from?

When more entrepreneurs wake up to Carbon’s celebrity atom status her carousing days may be short-lived. Instead of running wild with Oxygen and Nitrogen she will be told she has to grow up. Money making industrialists and entrepreneurs will capture her at point of coal burning from power stations. . .in fact they may choose to bypass this stage altogether when they realize that burning coal is an exercise in stupidity and  . . .here’s the kicker coal is more valuable as a building product raw material par excellence. Ditto for oil. Come on Carbon you superstar! Time to wake up and smell the coffee!  Forget about these grungy coal power gigs. There are bigger plans for you. Just don’t tell anyone. It’s a marvelous night for a Moondance.


Carbon, Durban and The Essence of Energy

12 12 2011

Crafty Carbon Nanotube

The Future is Tiny and It’s HUGE!

The day after news declaring that an agreement has been reached at the climate talks at Durban, a forwarded link to the video embedded below titled: The Future of Nano-Electric Power Generation arrived in Dr Quantum’s in-box . The Future is Tiny and It’s HUGE!

Overall this is encouraging from a number of points of view. Firstly it’s encouraging that we are reaching some kind of global agreement on carbon emissions, despite it not being perfect; despite the rantings of the lost loonie tribes (one-world government conspiracy theorists) and in spite of the fact that burning fossil fuels is now more or less a Victorian era hallucination. The very least you can say is that the road to clean energy is certainly not a boring one! Hoo boy.

If you watch the really excellent vid you will see that The Future is Tiny and It’s HUGE! – one of the innovative technologies that is apparently going to be part of the new transformative global dynamic is carbon-nanotubes. As the man says they are like tubes of rolled chicken wire only each one is 10,000th the width of a human hair. Now get this . . .you can create a transparent film out of this stuff that can be part of a solution set of technology where whole building surfaces become solar panel power generators. It’s clean green, futuristic, high tech wizardry and it’s here NOW. This guy – Justin Hall-Tipping – has a company set up Nanoholdings to take these classes of products to market.

Now just imagine . . .there are thousands, nay tens of thousands of innovative and clever peeps much like Justin Hall-Tipping and Co who are right now . . .busy creating the future. Let’s cheer them on. Boo to pollution and boo to more carbon emissions. YES to capturing carbon and YES to clean green smart technology. YES to business people like Justin Hall-Tipping who care about people and the future of the planet. The Future is Tiny and It’s HUGE!

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