Awesome self-healing rubber

•March 3, 2008 • Leave a Comment

From the BBC: “A material that is able to self-repair even when it is sliced in two has been invented by French researchers. The as-yet-unnamed material – a form of artificial rubber – is made from vegetable oil and a component of urine. The substance, described in the journal Nature, produces surfaces when cut that retain a strong chemical attraction to each other. Pieces of the material join together again as if never parted without the need for glue or a special treatment. This remarkable property comes from careful engineering of the molecules in the material. The French researchers are already making kilogramme quantities in their Paris laboratories and say the process is almost completely green, and could be completely so with a few adjustments.”

Now, isn’t that marvelous?

Spy Satellite Blast

•March 3, 2008 • Leave a Comment

I’ve found a video demonstrating an amazing shoot down of a spy satellite. It’s destroyed by a Navy SM-3 missile, which are quite powerful. I’m embedding this great video below for those of you who want to learn how it’s done, and perhaps try it at home:

Amazing chemistry videos on Wired

•March 3, 2008 • Leave a Comment

Wired.com done it again: they posted a thorough list of the ultimate amazing chemistry videos. Ever. They have a real fun network of blogs (Game|Life for games, Geekdad for Tech toys and science projects to have with your son, Listening Post for the new world of digital music, Threat Level for security, Gadget Lab for gadgets etc), although they may seem a bit custom-made – they’re still a great place to find content. I read the “Top 10 Amazing Chemistry Videos” post on the Wired Science blog. There are lots of fascinating reactions, and I chose one that I particularly like from the post, just to give you a little tease:

Chocolate cakes broken down to science

•February 17, 2008 • 1 Comment

Time: 1 hour

1 1/2 cups bleached all-purpose flour
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1/3 cup natural, not Dutch-processed, cocoa
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vinegar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup cold water or coffee.

1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. In an 8-inch x 8-inch x 2-inch nonstick pan, stir together flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda and salt. Poke three holes in the ingredients with the handle of a wooden spoon. Pour oil into one hole. Do not mind if it overflows. Spoon the vinegar into a second hole and the vanilla into the last. Pour the cold water over the top and stir ingredients until smooth.

3. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Place the pan on a rack to cool. Serve from the pan.

There are infinite ways to prepare chocolate cakes, with pretty much the same ingredients, but various variation.

Chocolate cakes are endless, like the universe, dark like space, and taste like mmmmmmmm NOM NOM NOM.

Each chocolate cake is made out of magic!

Ingredients (serves 12)

  • 200g good-quality dark chocolate, chopped
  • 200g butter, softened
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups self-raising flour
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • chocolate curls or shavings (optional), to serve (see note)
  • Chocolate icing

  • 200g good-quality dark chocolate, chopped
  • 1/2 cup thickened cream

Method

  1. Make chocolate icing: Combine chocolate and cream in a heatproof, microwave-safe bowl. Microwave, uncovered, on MEDIUM-HIGH (70%) for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring every minute with a metal spoon, until almost melted. Stir until smooth. Set aside for 30 minutes or until thick enough to spread.
  2. Preheat oven to 170°C. Grease and line base and side of a 6cm deep, 22cm (base) round cake pan.
  3. Place chocolate in a heatproof, microwave-safe bowl. Microwave, uncovered, on MEDIUM (50%) for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring every minute with a metal spoon, until almost melted. Stir until smooth. Set aside for 10 minutes to cool.
  4. Using an electric mixer, cream butter, sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating after each addition. Add melted chocolate. Beat until well combined. Sift flour and cocoa together. Fold half the flour mixture into butter mixture. Add half the milk. Stir gently to combine. Repeat with remaining flour mixture and milk. Spoon into prepared pan. Smooth surface. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
  5. Stand cake in pan for 15 minutes. Turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely. Spread icing over top and side. Top with chocolate curls, if using. Serve.

Notes & tips

  • To make chocolate curls, run a clean potato peeler down the side of a block of chocolate, allowing curls to fall onto a plate.