The Mystery Brains of the Texas State Lunatic Asylum

They were odd shapes and strange colors. Voorhes could tell there was something wrong with these brains.

For 20 or so years, a doctor at the Austin State Hospital (for the mentally ill) kept brains of some of the deceased residents and have been stored in the back of a storage closet for some time. Incredible.

Source: The Mystery Brains of the Texas State Lunatic Asylum | KUT

young people annoy you?

From a newsbrief in the December 12, 2005 issue of Chemical & Engineering News, the journal of the American Chemical Society, there is now a device that is designed to “shoo away” teenagers.
The device, invented by Howard Stapleton, emits a high-frequency pulsing sound that almost everyone under 20 and virtually no one over 30 can hear.
Designed to keep young people from hanging out outside of stores, it broadcasts at 75 decibles, which is within government safety limits.
There’s a story about it online at The Age.

cell phones aren’t so bad for you

This story is a couple of weeks old but with the amount of time I spend on the phone, it’s good news to my ears.
A study out of the UK regarding cell phone usage for 10 years finds that it does not increase the risk of tumors.
While I’m a big fan of studies and what information they show, I’m still going to use my phone’s speakerphone feature for those long conversations.

protonated methane probed

I’m a dork, but as many of you know, I used to be a chemistry major. I’m still a member of the American Chemical Society and try to keep up some in the field. I don’t understand nearly as much of it as I would like.
In either case, I’m reading the issue of Chemical & Engineering News that arrived in the mail today. CH5+, also known as protonated methane or the methonium ion. It was orginally discovered in the 1950s and it is a gas formed during chemical reactions by adding a proton to a methane molecule (CH4). According to the article, it has been reported to be present in very acidic solution.
For those who think CH 301 would be worse than spending eternity in hell, spectroscopy is the study, and method of study, of molecular structure by looking at how a molecule absorbs, emits or refract light. You can run a spectroscopy on molecules and determine various things from it by the resulting spectrum.
The proceedure, usually, isn’t that hard and is used in many cases to help determine makes up a substance. Virtually all small molecules have been probed and researched using this methods who knows how many times over. Although discovered in the 1950’s, the CH5+ carbocation has been a bit tricky. An international group of researchers were able to obtaion the first broad-frequency infrared spectrum of the ion.
According to the article, much work is left since they haven’t been able to refine enough detail to figure out the ion’s rotationsl stucture.
Why should you care? Well, there really isn’t a reason. The ion has some concern to astrochemistry and organic chemistry but nothing a chemistry undergradute would care about, much less the normal person.
I just thought it was cool.