Sunday, 24 June 2012

The Most Exciting Scientific Discovery Of The Past Decade

    In the past decade there have been many notable scientific and technological accolades such us the increasing rise in hybrid vehicles, the common use of touch-screen technology, use of stem cells to rebuild muscles and for the use of heart regeneration and even the reprogramming of skin cells to function as stem cells. However, for me on a personal level, I find the discovery of Graphene by Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov to be the most exciting of the last decade. Graphene is an allotrope of carbon (meaning it is a structure made of the element Carbon but in a certain form), whose structure is a single atom thick planar sheet of Carbon atoms in a hexagonal, honeycomb shaped, lattice with each Carbon atom attached to three other Carbon atoms. What is so special about this allotrope is that it was the first one atom structure known to man, in other words it was two dimensional. Of course with a scientific mind and no explanations, even the simpleton can begin to understand the vast potentials of this discovery.
    The following video is a simple introductory into Graphene produced by the European graphene flagship initiative, posted by Cambridge University onto Youtube.com, please do watch this video for a better understanding of Graphene:

    Only after watching this video do I recommend you to watch the following made by the same people, which further explains the importance of Graphene to science in a brief way and also explains the importance of the organisation who are now backing this substance:
    For their achievements in the discovery and continued research into graphene, the pair who discovered won the Nobel Prize for Physics in 2010, an award which I think they definitely deserved.
    It is because of the potential in Graphene that I am so excited about it. Imagine, your mobile phone as thin as a piece of paper, with tenfolds the processing speeds, brightness, battery efficiency weight and strength as it is even stronger than diamond, however these are just the cornerstones of what Graphene could provide us with in the future. Electronic components such as microchips and transistors could be so small that the naked eye wouldn't be able to define them on a clear sheet of paper. It is widely believed that soon enough, Graphene will replace Silicon as the basics of electronics.
    My interests in Graphene first started last year whilst I was doing GCSE electronics, and towards the end of April I was doing some research for my electronics project when I came across an article on the BBC website that contained a video which talked of how Graphene was in the run up for a grand prize of 1bn euros in funding in a prestigious competition which promoted the research into technologies that can change the entire world for the better. The following is a link to that very webpage on the BBC website:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/click_online/9491789.stm

In other ways it hasn't really influenced my life or my studies, however the example set by the two Physicists who were common researchers doing their everyday work at Manchester University during the time of their discovery was an inspirational one, which showed me that in a similar way I could also achieve great things.

Once again thank you very much for reading my second post, and please check back for future posts...

10 comments:

  1. What a passionately written piece, and something I wholly agree with. For me the added factor of the Nobel prize going to my local University also makes graphene an area of personal interest. As an A-level teacher myself it is something I have seen really inspire my students into thinking, "that could be me one day..." and one day it could be you :)

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    1. Thanks and hopefully it will be me one day, however I am not too sure as to how my future line of profession would enable me to be presented with a Nobel prize.

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  2. Great blog post! Graphene definitely has some fantastic possibilities, I can see how it drew your interest.

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    1. Thanks and yeah as you see a fascinating topic

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  3. Yeah, great read but it is NOT two dimensional. It is an atom thick, it has three dimensions. Nothing in the physical realm is two dimensional.

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    1. Ah well you see I'm just going with what I've researched and discovered, however there are many ways to contest this statement with, none of which I understand fully however.

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  4. Knitting Guy makes a good point: it *is,* to a first approximation, 2-dimensional, but in reality, it really isn't. I've seen some pretty funny arguments between material science people around just this point, though I have to rely largely on tone: the terminology can leave me in the dust.

    My own choice for most exciting discovery of the past decade is our growing realization of just how common and variable planets are outside of our solar system, and beginning to connect the crazy diversity of objects within the solar system to the possibilities of what may exist across the Milky Way. It's not the kind of thing that will make any tangible difference within our lifetimes, beyond intellectual/esthetic satisfaction and pleasure, but I've asserted for many years that the discovery of non-terrestrial life is the most profound and earth-shaking one I can imagine. The more, and more diverse, objects that exist, it seems to me, the more likely that becomes.

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    1. I can see why you would choose this to be an exciting discovery, however I feel as though it's a bit far-fetched thinking about systems that don't have much of an effect on our current day lives as we won't be able to grasp much from anything outside our solar system, that would benefit us, anytime soon as you mention briefly. This is mainly why I would say it isn't much to get excited about in the past decade, also because the topic has been progressive over millennia and hasn't only come into realisation within the past decade.

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  5. Another excellent post, and thanks to Knitting Guy and Lockwood for helping with the clarification about dimensions. I'll be honest - I knew very little about graphene before reading your post, so you've managed to educate your teacher. :)

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    1. Wow, well that sounds motivating, thank you my young padawan.

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