Credit: Jen Christiansen; Source: “Synthesis and Stability of Lanthanum Superhydrides,” by Zachary M. Geballe et al., in Angewandte Chemie International Edition, Vol. 57, No. 3; January 15, 2018 (Lanthanum Hydride Structure)

A Superconducter at 44° Fahrenheit*


The search for a room temperature superconducter continues. And physicists have found one that works at 44° F. Yes, really. Lanthanum Hydride, LaH10 superconducts at beer temperatures. There’s a catch, of course, as the asterisk in the title suggests. LaH10  is a superconducter at 44° F – actually, it only exists – if it’s at about…

Lithium, Periodic Table

When Lithium Became the Anode


Lithium is dangerous stuff. The nucleus of lithium, consisting of three protons and three or four neutrons, verges on instability; it has the lowest binding energies holding the nucleus together of all the stable elements. That’s why lithium deuteride is the fusion fuel in some thermonuclear bombs. Lithium salts are used to treat bipolat disorder.…

Movie S13. Pilot-scale burn experiment of standing grass treated with formulation 1 at coverage level 2 shown at 2x speed. The plot was treated, dried, weathered with a simulated rain event (0.5”), and dried again prior to burning.

Dealing with Climate Change: Wildfires


It seems increasingly likely that humanity’s inaction in the face of the existential threat of anthropogenic climate change means we are going to have more than than the 2° Celsius of global temperature increase that climatologists regarded as manageable. So, without in any way conceding that humanity’s CO2 emissions must be reduced, it’s time to…

A slice through Earth’s mantle under the Andes. © Jonny Wu, University of Houston

The Answer Is Blowing in the (Mantle) Wind


Geology went through a Kuhnian revolution in the 1960s and 1970s, with the emergence of plate tectonics as an explanation, as a mechanism, driving what geologists were observing in the field. Plate tectonics has settled in as a credible, definitive and confirmable explanation of everything from vulcanism to oceanic trenches. But it’s also an incomplete…

Outbursts from the sun, such as this one captured by a NASA satellite in June 2015, can wreak havoc with power grids and telecommunications on Earth. Credit: Solar Dynamics Observatory and NASA

Something Different to Worry About


You say you’ve got enough stuff to worry about already? Trump? Climate change? Volcanoes? Health care? But don’t you get tired of the same old crises and threats? Wouldn’t you like something new to worry about? Of course you would! And WC is happy to share. You need to worry about solar superstorms. True, we…

Black and white, blurred image

Senses, Perception and Learning


WC’s sixth grade teacher, the late Jerry Norum, had the class perform an experiment after a classmate, Jeannette, said the classroom was too cold. He placed three plastic trays of water in the front of the class. One had hot water, almost too hot to put your hand in, but not hot enough to scald.…