100 years in … ChemistryRead More
This year marks 100 years of IHS Chemical Week. To commemorate the anniversary, we would like to dedicate this series of blog posts to Chemical Week and their contribution to the field, by taking a look back at the last century in Science. Last week we looked at the greatest discoveries in Biology, which you can find here.
This week we are looking at the last 100 years in Chemistry.
Chemistry has had huge advances in the last century, ranging from the development of Computational Chemistry to the discovery of conductive polymers and solar panels. The achievements and discoveries that I have picked out from a range of areas and decades are Marie Curie’s Radium and Polonium, X-ray crystallography, Linus Pauling’s The Nature of Chemical Bonds and this year’s Noble Prize in Chemistry for super-resolved fluorescence microscopy.
Marie Curie is the first person to be awarded two Noble Prizes. She received the Noble Prize for Physics in 1903 and the Noble Prize for Chemistry, just over a century ago, in 1911. Her achievements include the discovery of radium and polonium, by the isolation of radium and the study of the nature of this remarkable element. She hypothesised that the radiation was not the outcome of the interaction of molecules but must come from the atom itself. Marie with the help of her husband Pierre found that the mineral Pitchblende was more active than Uranium and concluded that it must contain other radioactive substances. From this they managed to extract two unknown elements, Polonium and Radium. Following this discovery, a lot more is known about these radioactive materials including their adverse health effects.
X-ray crystallography was discovered by William Henry Bragg and his son William Lawrence Bragg. They won the Noble Prize in Physics in 1915, however it has now become arguably, one of the most powerful analytical techniques available to chemists. 27 Noble Prizes have been awarded as a direct result of this discovery, including for the structure of graphene, fullerenes and the helical structure of DNA, which was discussed in the ‘100 years in biology’ blog post.
In fact Max Perultz, a recipient of one of these noble prizes stated in regard to x-ray crystallography:
“Why water boils at 100ºC and methane at -161ºC, why blood is red and grass is green, why diamond is hard and wax is soft, why glaciers flow and iron gets hard when you hammer it, how muscles contract, how sunlight makes plants grow and how living organisms have been able to evolve into ever more complex forms … the answers to all these problems have come from structural analysis.”
The Braggs shone x-rays on a clean crystal of salt, which formed a diffraction pattern on the photographic paper placed behind it. They realised that this pattern was related to the molecular structure of the salt. They presented a formula, which enabled them to work out the arrangement of atoms in the crystal structure. This formula is now known as Bragg’s law. Their work not only confirmed the existence of atoms but also showed how compounds are formed.
Linus Pauling was the first person to receive two unshared noble prizes. He was awarded the Noble Prize for Chemistry in 1954 “for his research into the nature of the chemical bond and its application to the elucidation of the structure of complex substances.” Pauling’s book on The Nature Of The Chemical Bond became one of the most influential chemistry books ever published. He designed an electronegativity scale to assign atoms involved in covalent and ionic bonding. He also used X-ray diffraction to determine the structures of many molecules including the alpha helices and beta sheets that make up the secondary structure of protein. Furthermore he demonstrated that the haemoglobin molecule changes structure when it gains and loses an oxygen atom. He was also awarded the Noble Peace Prize in 1963 due to his activism against nuclear bombs.
The Noble Prize in Chemistry in 2014 was awarded to Eric Betzig, Stefan Hell and William Moerner for the development of super-resolved fluorescence microscopy. This has enabled optical microscopy to be done on a nanoscale. Using this technique, known as nanoscopy, scientists can visualise how molecules create synapses between nerve cells in the brain, they can track proteins involved in Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and Huntington’s diseases. This is important as nanoscopy is used worldwide and new discoveries like this will greatly benefit mankind.
For more achievements in science make sure to catch up on the rest of this series with 100 years in… Astronomy and Physics, Biology and Technology.
To see when the next post is live follow us on Twitter @NotchCom
Make sure to Tweet me @LucyAtNotch to let me know which subject you think has had the most amazing achievements in the last 100 years!
100 years in … BiologyRead More
This year marks 100 years of IHS Chemical Week. To commemorate the anniversary, we would like to dedicate this series of blog posts to Chemical Week and their contribution to the field, by taking a look back at the last century in Science.
Last week we looked at the remarkable breakthroughs we have seen in physics and astronomy. This week we are turning our attention to the advancements in biology – space may be the final frontier, but human biology is the original unknown. It is the study challenging us to discover who we are and where we come from.
New discoveries in biology over the last century have completely transformed our previous understanding of the subject. From genetics to neuroscience, there have been breakthroughs in all areas, challenging the theories and beliefs of previous scientists.
After returning from holiday on September 3rd 1928, Fleming began sorting through used culture dishes containing Staphylococcus and noticed a blue-green mould. Out of curiosity, Fleming cultured the mould and found that it was able to kill a variety of different disease-causing bacteria. He identified the mould to be Penicillium, and so decided to name the active anti-bacterial substance ‘penicillin’.
Fleming thought penicillin would primarily be of interest to bacteriologists for the isolation of penicillin-insensitive bacteria in a mixed culture. He published his findings in the British Journal of Experimental Pathology but due to the difficulties in cultivation and isolation, Fleming abandoned his research soon after.
Several years later, in 1940, Howard Florey and Ernst Chain at the University of Oxford began their work with penicillin. They successfully isolated and made a concentrate of penicillin and eventually transferred the active ingredient back into water, allowing much larger quantities to be produced.
Florey and Chain soon began approaching American pharmaceutical companies to get penicillin manufactured on a large scale. By D-Day (6th June 1944) there was enough penicillin available for treatment of all bacterial infections that broke out among the troops.
It is widely accepted that the famously accidental discovery of penicillin is one of the most important moments in modern medicine. The widespread use and commercial success also led pharmaceutical companies to look for other natural products with antibacterial activity and so penicillin has indirectly led to the discovery of other antibiotics such as streptomycin and tetracycline.
Fleming, Chain and Florey shared the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 1945 for their discovery and development of penicillin.
DNA was first discovered in 1869 by Swiss chemist Friedrich Miesche. In 1943 scientists Oswald Avery, Colin Macleod, and Maclyn McCarty deduced that deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) was the substance responsible for carrying genetic information, but many scientists remained sceptical. The composition of DNA seemed too simple to carry such complex data with only four bases (A, T, C and G).
On 28th February 1953 Watson and Crick theorised the structure we know today, an anti-parallel two chain double helix stabilised by paired bases. The proposed structure was published in Nature on 25th April 1953 and has since been referred to as one of the most important discoveries of the 20th century.
A lesser-known contributor to the discovery of the double helix is Rosalind Franklin. Franklin was an X-ray crystallographer who successfully took an x-ray diffraction pattern (photo-51) of a DNA sample revealing its helical structure.
Knowing the structure of DNA has revolutionised biology and medicine and allowed the cracking of the genetic code. It has subsequently opened the way for the development of new techniques such as DNA sequencing, prenatal screening for disease genes, cloning, synthetic biology, genetic engineering of viruses or food, and accurate testing of physical evidence to convict or exonerate criminals.
Franklin died in 1958 of ovarian cancer so she was not eligible for the Nobel Prize but Wilkins (Franklin’s colleague), Watson and Crick went on to receive the Nobel Prizefor Medicine or Physiology in 1962.
Both Watson and Crick continued to work in genetics. Watson went on to play an instrumental role in directing the Human Genome Project between 1988 and 1992.
The Human Genome Project was undertaken in 1990, as an international effort to sequence the entire human genome. The aim was to support the research into human genetic diseases to find new approaches for diagnosis, treatment and prevention.
Throughout the project there were glimpses of how this project could lead to advances in medicine. In 1995 the Sanger centre located the BRCA2 gene, one of the genes linked with the risk of breast cancer and in 1993 a US team identified the MSH2 gene associated with colon disease.
In April 2003 researchers announced that they had a high-quality version of essentially the entire human genome. They made the sequence and the tools to analyse the data freely available on the Internet.
The Human Genome Project has inspired many others to begin ambitious, collaborative projects to analyse the Human Genome, for example the international HapMap project which aims to chart the differences in SNPs between different groups to gain a better understanding of genetic predispositions. ENCODE(Encyclopaedia of DNA elements) was also started in 2003 and aims to determine the role of every piece of DNA in the human genome.
Now that there is so much data available, the challenge is in understanding and using it to learn more about the human genome. The human genome project and other data will be instrumental in learning more about the link between genetics and human disease, and will undoubtedly play a role in discovering possible cures.
Overall the achievements we have discussed have each completely revolutionised the study of biology. The new information and understanding that has been gained in the last 100 years is remarkable and the potential for the next century appears even more exciting.
For more achievements in science make sure to catch up on the rest of this series with 100 years in… Astronomy and Physics, Tech and Chemistry
To see when the next post is live follow us on Twitter @NotchCom
Make sure to Tweet me @PranikaAtNotch to let me know which subject you think has had the most amazing achievements in the last 100 years!
100 years in … Astronomy and PhysicsRead More
This year marks 100 years of IHS Chemical Week. To commemorate the anniversary, we would like to dedicate this series of blog posts to Chemical Week and their contribution to the field, by taking a look back at the last century in science.
This week we are taking a look back at the last 100 years in Astronomy and Physics.
Astronomy and physics have both been studied for millennia, however in just the last century there have been some achievements that have changed our understanding of the subject completely.
The achievements and discoveries that we thought deserved special mention in this post are the work of Albert Einstein, the Hubble Space Telescope, the first moon landing and the construction of CERN’s Large Hadron Collider.
Albert Einstein is probably one of the most well known physicists both in and outside the field. In 1916 he published his theory of general relativity that changed our understanding of gravitation to being a geometric property of space-time. Even though the theory of general relativity is almost 100 years old, ever since its publication, it has remained the basis for all models of an expanding universe.
Einstein’s theory also describes several phenomena in space that are otherwise difficult to explain. One of these phenomena is black holes; a possible end state of massive stars where space and time are so distorted that nothing can escape the gravitational pull. Also predicted by Einstein’s theory, and detected for the first time earlier this year, are gravitational waves that exist as remnants of the Big Bang throughout the universe.
Einstein’s works fundamentally changed the way that physicists understand fundamental forces of the universe. As well as his theory of general relativity Einstein changed our conception of space and time with his theory of special relativity in 1905 and discovered “the law of the photoelectric effect”, for which he won his Nobel Prize in 1921.
Arguably, even outside of science, one of the most important moments for mankind in the last 100 years is the first moon landing.
On 20th July 1969 Neil Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin landed in Apollo 11 and took mankind’s first steps on the moon. Over 500 million people, a fifth of the world’s population, tuned in and listened to the now famous words: “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind”.
Since 1969 only another 10 people have set foot on the moon, however several manned and shuttle missions have been sent into space. Most of the manned missions to space have been to the International Space Station that was first manned in 2000 and is currently habiting the crew of Expedition 42.
Future unmanned exploration missions from NASA include the Solar Probe Plus in 2018, that will be the first mission into the Sun’s corona and BARREL, that will study the Van Allen radiation belts around the sun.
Whilst it was indeed a small step for a man, the Apollo 11 mission undoubtedly set the way for the future of space exploration.
A more recent achievement in the field of astronomy was the completion and launch of the Hubble Space Telescope on 24th April 1990. The Hubble Telescope is a vital research tool that takes high-resolution images from 559km above the Earth avoiding the interference of the atmosphere.
The Hubble Space Telescope, as a research tool, has spent most of its time gathering the data for two NASA projects: CANDELS, that studies galactic evolution and Frontier Fields that looks at early galaxy formation. Several important discoveries have been attributed to Hubble including identifying the prevalence of black holes at the centre of galaxies, observing the expansion of the universe and discovering proto-planetary disks in the Orion Nebula.
Overall the impact of the Hubble Space Telescope has been huge and has enabled the collection of images that have never been seen before. The image above is one of the most famous ever taken by the telescope; it is a view of the Eagle Nebula commonly titled the “Pillars of Creation”.
The most recent achievement in our list, in just the last few years, is the construction of CERN’s Large Hadron Collider (LHC). The LHC is the largest particle collider in the world at over 27 kilometres in diameter and is linked to the LHC Computing Grid with over 170 facilities in 36 countries.
The most famous breakthrough at the LHC happened on 4 July 2012 when, after 800 trillion collision experiments amassing over 200 petabytes of information, the Higgs boson or ‘God particle’ was detected for the first time. The Higgs boson was theoretical for over 40 years and was first predicted in three different papers published in 1964 authored by Rober Brout and Francois Englert; Peter Higgs; and Gerald Guralnik, C. Richard Hagen and Tom Kibble.
The prediction and discovery of the Higgs boson confirmed the existence of the Higgs field and could therefore validate the Standard Model of particle physics. The significance of the discovery led to the Nobel Prize for physics being awarded to Peter Higgs and Francois Englert in 2013.
From discovery of the smallest elementary particles to gathering images of some of the largest structures in our universe, so many breakthroughs have been made in the last 100 years that it is difficult to name just a few. In short, the last 100 years in astronomy and physics have seen some amazing breakthroughs and achievements that have contributed immeasurably to science as a whole.
To see when the next post is live follow us on Twitter @NotchCom
Make sure to Tweet me @GabyAtNotch to let me know which subject you think has had the most amazing achievements in the last 100 years!
Growth of Sustainable Tourism in AustraliaRead More
Sustainable tourism can simply be defined as: “Tourism that takes full account of its current and future economic, social, cultural and environmental impacts, while addressing the needs of visitors, the industry, the environment and host communities”.
Tourism in Australia contributes nearly 34 billion Australian dollars to Australia’s GDP, employs over 500,000 people and earns nearly 10 per cent of Australia’s total export earnings. Tourism has always been –and still is- one of the main pillars of the Australian economy. The challenge for Australia is to encourage the development and management of tourism products and services in such a way that they will provide economic and social benefits to local communities and business, at the same time enhancing and protecting the local communities’ natural and cultural assets.
Traditionally, Australia’s natural resources and cultural assets have been a major attraction for local and international tourists, which is the primary reason why Australia is a highly favored tourist destination. So the onus lies in the hands of Australians to protect, conserve and manage these assets for the survival of the tourism industry.
Sustainable Tourism in Australia is surely catching up among locals as we are seeing a large amount of youth actively participating in sustaining the tourism industry. A lot of manpower is required to ensure that the tourism industry works properly and effectively, thus increasing the need for employment. Statistically we can see that when the employment in a country increases, their economy also increase by leaps which in turn improves the GDP thus reducing inflation, recession etc.
This gives us a glimpse of how sustainable tourism not only improves the economy of the Australia as a whole but also improves the social and economic prospects of each individual. Sustainable tourism has helped increase the number of tourists. Tourists are fast becoming green-savvy and they tend to go for packages that minimize their carbon footprint.
In this regard, the National Long Term Tourism Strategy was launched in 2009. It outlined the policy framework that was to guide the tourism sector and was designed to facilitate a better national approach to ensuring a sustainable industry for the future.
As more and more tourists become ‘green-savvy’, most tourism businesses are now engaging in sustainable tourism or at least incorporating aspects of sustainable tourism in their daily operations. Examples of such businesses include; the Esplanade hotel Fremantle, the Novotel Langley Perth, the All Seasons Kargoorlie, the Karijini Eco Retreat, APT Purnululu camp and Hidden Valley Cabins.
The Hidden Valley Cabins are an award-winning Eco resort in Queensland. As part of their daily operations, they are completely solar powered, use energy conservation techniques, apply waste management techniques and promote sustainability as part of their product.
Now there are many other benefits of sustainable tourism like having a clean and green environment. This may sound odd, but it has been proved time and again that when you start appreciating and protecting nature and the environment, the environment takes care of you. This can be seen by trends such as a decrease in operating costs for businesses that undertake initiatives that reduce waste of natural resources. Adopting energy conservation and greener operating models for more sustainable tourism can also help reduce operating costs.Australia has developed a competitive advantage by establishing and promoting sustainable business practices as a point of difference.
Businesses are able to attract and retain valuable staff by adopting policies that meet with employee values and concerns, it encourages investment by investors interested in companies with long-term sustainability plans that minimize future operating risks.
In the long-term, there’s likely to be an increase in profitability. This is achievable by implementing plans now that will create savings in the future.
Sustainable tourism is a fairly new and intriguing concept for most tourists. What Australia has done by engaging in sustainable tourism is to ensure that future generations will be able to get a similar if not identical experience many years from now. The radical changes in operating procedures of the tourism sector are aligned towards achieving this goal.
Still intrigued? Well, grab your Australian visa and book your flight to Australia for a magical experience of sustainable tourism.
This week’s post was a special guest blog from Annabel Taylor.