Monday, November 21, 2011

Matter and Antimatter

Photo by Rogeramjet
Everything is a polyhedron, even you and me. Just like in geometry there are duals (where each shape has a shape equal and opposing to it) in physics there is matter and antimatter. The theory holds that there is a universe equal to and opposing our own.  If you are old enough to remember when photagraphs were made in a darkroom from negatives you may understand this concept. Our universe is a mirror image in negative to our antiuniverse! Another comparison is a cookie shape cut out of dough. The cookie is the matter, the space left in the dough is the antimatter. The "Conseil EuropĂ©en pour la Recherche NuclĂ©aire" (CERN) which translated to English means European Organization for Nuclear Research has a fun and informative website all about it. See the kids corner to learn about The Mystery of Antimatter or try Antimatter Academy for older "kids". You will be taken on an investigative journey through space and time to understand the very basics of matter and antimatter and how our universe and all within it is created. A word of advice: If on your voyage you happen to come across your own antimatter stay far away! Scientists have proven that matter and it's own dual antimatter annihilate one another.
 This and more interesting and exciting information about matter and antimatter can be found on the CERN website.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Hairy Potato and other Hunger Busters

Buckminster Fuller believed that hunger and poverty could be stamped out worldwide and that it could be done within only one generation.  So did my grandmother.  She always said to me, "The world doesn't have to change - people have to change."
There is in fact enough to go around.  According to Ismail Serageldin, director of Egypt’s Library of Alexandria and the former chairman of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), the key is for this goal to be motivated by collective outrage rather than by economics.  That's pretty much what my grandmother meant I think.

The independent agricultural research centers who are coordinated under CGIAR come up with neat ways to fight hunger through science.  The International Potato Center in Peru for example developed the "hairy potato" in 1993 through genetic engineering. This potato plant grows stiff hair-like protrusions on its stem and leaves which secrete a sticky liquid. Hungry bugs just can't get to it. This saves millions of dollars each year on insecticides. Another of CGIARs member centers is the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA). Scientists here focus on developing and improving sturdy, resistant food sources like the cassava. There is also the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and a number of other agricultural science centers set on ending world hunger and continuing the support of sustainable agriculture.

"It is inconceivable that there should be close to a billion people going hungry in a world as productive and interconnected as ours. In the 19th century, some people looked at slavery and said that it was monstrous and unconscionable; that it must be abolished. They were known as the abolitionists, and they were motivated not by economic self-interest but by moral outrage. We must become the new abolitionists." from Issues in Science and Technology, Abolishing Hunger by Ismail Serageldin, 2009.