History has shown us that often the difference between a useful tool and a deadly weapon lies not in the object itself, but the manner in which it is used. This was the case of Alfred Nobel, a Swedish chemist and engineer who figured out a way to turn nitroglycerin, an unstable and unpredictable explosive, into a safe and controllable compound: dynamite. While revolutionizing the mining, oil and railway industries, it also boosted the armament business into a new, more powerful era. In his last days, regretting the consequences of his invention and his own profit from it, Nobel decided to devote his fortune to a set of prizes for those people who “have conferred the greatest benefit to mankind”. That is how the Nobel Foundation was created, which, together with renown scientific institutions, nominate and award every year outstanding people from all over the world. In this article, we will take a look at the Nobel Laureates of 2016 and the work for which they are recognized.
The vision of William H. McRaven, chancellor of the University of Texas System
Recently, William H. McRaven, Chancellor of the University of Texas (UT) System, spoke to the UT System Board of Regents to outline his vision for the future of the UT system 5, 10, and 20 years from now. During his speech Chancellor McRaven discussed his initiatives to implement what he described as “Quantum Leaps” in the ability of the UT System “to provide the citizens of Texas the very best in higher education, research, and health care.” Continue reading
The sun and faces were shining this past Saturday, January 24 at the Perot Museum of Nature and Science in Dallas, TX. SPEaC hosted our inaugural science booth in the Being Human Hall at the museum as part of our community educational outreach. UT Southwestern graduate students and postdoctoral fellows presented a fun demonstration and related it to basic science research based on phospholipids (lipids). Our volunteers used milk, food coloring and dish soap to demonstrate that the chemical properties of soap can alter the fats (lipids) in milk. Food coloring was dropped into whole milk, and a cotton swab coated in dish soap was dipped into the food coloring. This soap and milk reaction creates a beautifully striking movement of the food coloring that continues as the milk is exposed to the soap. The detergents present in the soap interact with lipids in the milk to form micelles (fat globules), causing the observed movement visualized with the food coloring. Children and adult museum-goers alike were amazed by this experiment, especially because they performed it with real scientists! Continue reading
Ada Augusta Byron, the Countess of Lovelace, was born in London on December 10th 1815. She was the daughter of the celebrated English poet Lord Byron and Lady Anne Isabella Milbanke Byron. Her father moved away shortly after Ada’s birth when her parents separated. Her mother Lady Byron, who was a mathematician, brought her up. Ada had an unconventional upbringing for a noble woman of her time, encouraged to study science and mathematics, fields which were exclusively reserved for men. Continue reading
Recently, former U.S. Representative John Edward Porter wrote an editorial for Science magazine decrying the lack of communication between scientists and the general public. He makes it clear that he believes science to be an important driver of the U.S. economy and overall human progress, but he feels that researchers need to reach out to the public more actively to explain the benefits of science. Continue reading