Linus Pauling site

Linus Pauling and the Nature of the Chemical Bond

Utilizing over 2,500 manuscript pages, nearly 100 photographs, and more than four hours of audio and video, this website tells the story of a cornerstone achievement of twentieth century science…

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What is VX and safe use of VX

VX is a chemical nerve agent, discovered in the 1950s by ICI chemist Ranajit Ghosh.

Like Gerhard Schrader, an earlier investigator of organophosphates, Ghosh found that they were quite effective pesticides. In 1954, ICI put one of them on the market under the trade name Amiton. It was subsequently withdrawn, as it was too toxic for safe use. The toxicity did not go unnoticed, and samples of it had been sent to the British Armed Forces research facility at Porton Down for evaluation and several members of this class of compounds became a new group of nerve agents, the V agents. The best-known of these is probably VX, with the Russian V-Agent coming a close second (Amiton is largely forgotten as VG). This class of compounds is also sometimes known as Tammelin’s esters, after Lars-Erik Tammelin of the Swedish National Defence Research Institute. The name is a contraction of the words “venomous agent X”.

VX can also be delivered in binary chemical weapons which mix in-flight to form the agent prior to release. Binary VX is referred to as VX2, and is created by mixing O-(2-diisopropylaminoethyl) O′-ethyl methylphosphonite (Agent QL) with elemental sulfur (Agent NE) or by mixing with sulfur compounds.

 
VX and similar nerve agents (Sarin etc) are liquid at room temperature and pressure, to make them airborne requires atomising the liquid. VX is a potent poison which is stable for a long time, so there was a military interest in using it to deny access to an area, however many countries (not DPRK / North Norea) have signed treaties agreeing not to use of the substance as a weapon.
 

News reports this morning were saying that the assassins were akin to suicide bombers in dealing with such a dangerous substance, but if exposure could be limited, for example forming the VX on the target, then the risk from the VX agent could be limited, and the main risk would be capture. In Malaysia being convicted of murder automatically results in the death penalty, which must be a risk for anyone suspected of being an assassin.

Source Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/VX_%28nerve_agent%29
Source University of Birmingham http://www.birmingham.ac.uk/accessibility/transcripts/nerve-gas-in-warfare.aspx

Pentaquark and quintuplet discovered

The SuperWASP project announced at the UK National Astronomy meeting held in July 2015 Llandudno, that they found a star system involving five stars, 2 binary stars and a lone star.

In the same week it was announced that a pantaquark had been measured at CERN.

Possible Pentaquark

A diagram of the P+
c type pentaquark possibly discovered in July 2015, showing the flavours of each quark and one possible colour configuration. Image from Wikipedia

Problem for Ken Livingstone — Science

My Problem, and I think why I have often been in trouble in politics, is that I had no interest in politics when I left school, I spent eight years working as a junior technician in a cancer research unit. The scientists I worked with, put a culture in my brain that you find out the truth and you say it. Otherwise you don’t find a cure for anything. Then I moved into politics and it’s almost like you just say what you believe, you don’t bother to check the facts.

Graphene in the News Cycle

My Dad rang me last week to tell me about wonder material Graphene, after a story appeared in Cycling Weekly. Actually the reason my Dad rang me was mostly because my supervisor was appearing in his magazine.

Sir Harry Bhadeshia: Graphene won't deliver improved mechanical properties

Sir Harry Bhadeshia: Graphene won’t deliver improved mechanical properties

Prof Sir Harry Bhadeshia was contacted by cycling weekly after describing in a Materials World article how the mechanical strength comparison of Graphene against steel is absolute rubbish. That’s because of the strange claim that Graphene is 200 times stronger than steel. In fact a fairer comparison would show that the properties available at the nanoscale are 6.5 times stronger than steel, however those mechanical properties of Graphene just cannot be realised in principle at the scale of millimetres or above. The reason is that the properties rely on perfection, and only small structures can approach this perfection.

Exxon Climate Change Denial

The guardian is carrying a story about Exxon emails that reportedly reveal that people in the company knew about the effects of anthropomorphic global warming in 1981, and funded groups denying the existence of climate change to the total of 31 million dollars over 30 years.

The evidence is that the large fraction (70%) of CO2 in an Indonesian oilfield was a factor in not developing the field. Development of the oilfield would have made it the largest single contributor to release of CO2 into the atmosphere.

According to Wikipedia Svante Arrhenius proposed the existence of the greenhouse effect to explain the existence of ice ages, and in 1896 he was the first scientist to attempt to calculate how changes in the levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere could alter the surface temperature through the greenhouse effect. The magnitude of the effect of CO2 in absorbing radiation was disputed by by Knut Ångström who made experimental measurements of the absorption.

According to Wikipedia past ice ages can be explained by changes in the earths orbit (orbital forcing), with atmospheric CO2 having an amplifying effect. The next ice age is predicted to occur in 50,000 years with out intervention, but it has been reported that this may be delayed for 500,000 years by predicted CO2 emissions.

Some references (it’s a blog)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Svante_Arrhenius

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orbital_forcing

Svante Arrhenius, 1901a, Ueber die Wärmeabsorption durch Kohlensäure, Annalen der Physik, Vol 4, 1901, pages 690–705.
Svante Arrhenius, 1901b, Über Die Wärmeabsorption Durch Kohlensäure Und Ihren Einfluss Auf Die Temperatur Der Erdoberfläche. Abstract of the proceedings of the Royal Academy of Science, 58, 25–58.

Hays, J. D.; Imbrie, John; Shackleton, N. J. (1976). “Variations in the Earth’s Orbit: Pacemaker of the Ice Ages”. Science 194 (4270): 1121–1132. doi:10.1126/science.194.4270.1121. PMID 17790893.

Hays, James D. (1996). Schneider, Stephen H., ed. Encyclopedia of Weather and Climate. New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 507–508. ISBN 0-19-509485-9.

Developing alloys for aeroengines

Super–slick video made by Rolls-Royce University Technology Centre at the University Cambridge (Department of Materials Science and Metallurgy) and Royal Society. Giving an overview of their research;

They will have an exhibition in the Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition 2015, from 30th June – 5th July.

http://sse.royalsociety.org/2015/engineering-atoms/