Imaging Atoms

Graphene Micrograph

Graphene Micrograph (Photo credit: Argonne National Laboratory)

As well as looking out into space and simultaneously back in time with the Hubble space telescope to understand where we came from scientists are also looking further inwards to understand how we are here.

In the last few months the scientists at the Large Hadron Collider have confirmed the existence of a Higgs boson though this is simply a beginning rather than an end as there is still much to understand about this fascinating sub-atomic particle that is theorised to give matter mass and whether it is the Higgs Boson they expected based on computer models.

Now a team at IBM have used a modified form of Atomic Force Microscopy to image a single molecule showing the atomic bonds.  This technique would enable, for example, inspection of sheets of single-atom thick Graphene for imperfections.  As with so many discoveries and new technologies this will no doubt have many more future applications as well as furthering our understanding of our world.

[Higgs Boson & Molecule Imaging at Gizmodo UK]

Science, Tech

Worldwide Collaboration & Amazing Discoveries

English: The Hubble Space Telescope (HST) begi...

English: The Hubble Space Telescope (HST) begins its separation from Space Shuttle Discovery following its release on mission STS-82. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As more of the world’s population is permanently connected via broadband to the internet the potential for distributed computing and collaboration on projects increases.

Already projects such as Seti@Home have used computers belonging to members of the public who’d signed up to the programme to background process signals received from space and other similar projects are in operation; Wikipedia is edited by an army of volunteers the world over as well as individuals who may only use their own specialised knowledge to create or edit a particular page; and researchers have been digging information from the vast resources of Google Earth.

Now ESA have opened up the archives of Hubble space telescope imagery to the public so that previously unprocessed data could be unveiled in all it’s glory.  The volunteers were unpaid but prizes were given for the best images to emerge from the process, those involved were simply doing it for the challenge and the chance to make a new discovery.  One such volunteer, Judy Schmidt, did discover an object that would have otherwise remained unseen in the immense vault of data.

A sample of the images can be seen over at Gizmodo UK and ESA’s site.