Monday, November 7, 2011


An atom is an elemental four letter word.

I don't mean to cause a fire storm, but there must be something in the water today.  Let me bring it down to earth, and air what has crossed my desk today.

Science news at the end of last week was talking about how three elements, identified since the late 1990's, have finally been given official names by the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics.  We can now add darmstadtium, roentgenium, and copernicium to the Periodic Table (instead of their temporary names of ununnilium, unununium, and ununbium).

Word reaches us today of the passing of Norman Ramsey last Friday.  He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1989 for his work on the separated oscillatory field method.  This led to his development of the "atomic clock" in 1960, the re-definition of a second in 1967, and ultimately to principals that are used in our GPS satellites today.  In a radically different application his work also led to development of the MRI machine.

Finally, we note that today is the 144th anniversary of the birth of Marie Curie.  She was the first person awarded the Nobel Prize twice, for physics in 1903 and for Chemistry in 1911, for her work the theory of radioactivity and discovery of polonium and radium.