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Jim Edwards-Hewitt
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New material harder than diamond

We've all heard that diamonds are the hardest substance, but that's not strictly true. Wurtzide boron nitride was discovered in 1995 and can handle 18% more stress than diamonds, and pure lonsdaleite 58% harder on the Mohs scale (the ability of a harder material to scratch a softer material).

Lonsdaleite can be formed when meteorites containing graphite hit Earth (but won't be pure). While wurtzite boron nitride is formed in the very high temperatures and pressures inside volcanic eruptions.

And though diamond is very strong in terms of tensile (stretching) strength osmium has a higher compressive (squeezing) strength.

Graphene and the other wonder carbon based wonder material, buckminsterfullerenes, are also very very strong indeed. Which brings us to the new discovery.

A mix of carbon-60 (Buckyballs) and a solvent called m-xylene when compressed to 600,000 atmospheres creates a new material that sits between crystalline and amorphous, not before seen. The new material was able to dent diamond and compares to diamond in compressability. 


http://www.gizmag.com/diamond-dent/23805/

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Look to the skies, friends in the Mid-Atlantic area! We've seen one previous launch from Wallops from our house, and the weather is supposed to be chances are good.
Residents of the mid-Atlantic region, and along the east coast of the United States from parts of New Jersey to South Carolina, may see the launch of five NASA suborbital sounding rockets in just over five minutes from the Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia as early as tonight. The launch window for March 15 is between midnight and 1:30 a.m. EDT. The backup launch days are March 16 through April 3. The Anomalous Transport Rocket Experiment (ATREX) will gather information needed to better understand the process responsible for the high-altitude jet stream located 60 to 65 miles above the surface of the Earth. For the latest information, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/sunearth/missions/atrex.html

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I saw a mockup display of this at the Goddard open house, along with their work on designing future satellites so that all large parts burn up on re-entry. Very cool stuff.

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Cool!
NASA commemoration of 50 years of Americans in orbit begins today with an interactive feature on NASA.gov http://1.usa.gov/wkFMVw
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Happy Valentine's Day, everyone!
The Rosette Nebula
Image Credit & Copyright: Brian Davis
http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap120214.html

The Rosette Nebula is not the only cosmic cloud of gas and dust to evoke the imagery of flowers -- but it is the most famous. At the edge of a large molecular cloud in Monoceros, some 5,000 light years away, the petals of this rose are actually a stellar nursery whose lovely, symmetric shape is sculpted by the winds and radiation from its central cluster of hot young stars. The stars in the energetic cluster, cataloged as NGC 2244, are only a few million years old, while the central cavity in the Rosette Nebula, cataloged as NGC 2237, is about 50 light-years in diameter. The nebula can be seen firsthand with a small telescope toward the constellation of the Unicorn (Monoceros).
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Okay, +Secretly Mike Young, since you've gotten to sit back and be fascinated by what people think makes something "not larp," let me turn this around -- what do you (and everyone else, too), think are the minimum requirements for something to be considered a larp? If you choose, you can distinguish between "a larp" and "larping," since there are plenty of activities I've done that are "larping" because they're part of a larp, but are not a larp by themselves, nor would they be larping if they weren't part of a larp.

The idea is also not just to define a good larp. For any set of minimum requirements, it will probably be easy to come up with examples of bad larps and harder to come up with examples of good ones, but that's not the point.

What is necessary? What are the essentials?

A reminder to all my Virginia friends that tomorrow is Election Day, so go vote! We're voting for the entire legislature, plus local offices, and these people often have more effect on your daily life than your better-known federal representatives. And it's generally the lowest turnout of our four-year cycle, so your vote will count four or five times as much as it will next year! (And there will be no lines.)

Do Eeet!
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