Expected Molecules

When the University of California at Berkeley’s Felix Fischer and Michael Crommie collaborated to photograph a before and after of a molecular reaction while studying graphene. They snapped a photo that looks like what we expected to see.

In junior high I remember well the smell of the science class. The odors of the strange chemicals, the table of elements poster on the wall, and the science books and their illustrations of atoms and molecules.  The weird geek that was teaching the class that turned out to be really smart and the girl that sat across from me. The science books always listed (Illustration 1) as a chemistry representation of a chain of molecules that always looked like this.

Illustration 1

Was This What We Expected?

How amazing is it that they look like this. As seen in (illustration 2)

atomic force microscope
illustration 2

The atomic force microscope will be helping us understand nano structures and the way molecule combine in a way like we can’t yet imagine. The research UC Berkeley is currently doing (May 2013) will take us leaps forward. Finally being able to see atoms and molecules is an astounding achievement in science. Yet the year we see the very smallest, Voyager I leaves the heliosphere.  In the future someone will be able to look at our history and see the natural order of discovery.  How these are related would seem a mystery to us that live in the unfolding story unable to see the ending. At least we get to see how it begins. Welcome to the future.

“By doing this on a surface, you limit the reactivity but you have the advantage that you can actually look at a single molecule, give that molecule a name or number, and later look at what it turns into in the products,” he said.

“Ultimately, we are trying to develop new surface chemistry that allows us to build higher ordered architectures on surfaces, and these might lead into applications such as building electronic devices, data storage devices or logic gates out of carbon materials.” -Felix Fischer


Scientists capture first images of molecules before and after reaction.

Did science get this that right? Does human influence cause us to see what we expect? Not to try to undermine the science, this stuff is real and historical. It will allow us to manipulate materials around us on the nano scale. Yet how did we get the shape of a structure, we were told we wouldn’t see in our life time, so well predicted that we have taught in our public school systems as fact for several decades? Maybe it’s because as we add on to the data base of the common knowledge of man, we all as a species, become gradually wiser and more aware of how things really are.

We only get to see the beginning, is this what we expected?

Related Voyager I leaves the heliosphere.


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