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tofu
2006-Nov-14, 11:10 PM
I had the opportunity to attend a lecture by Dr. Harold Kroto, the chemist who was awarded the 1996 Nobel Prize for discovery of Carbon-60, otherwise known as the Buckminster Fullerene, and a relative of the carbon nanotubes that we all hope will be used to one day build space elevators.

He covered a lot of interesting things (most of them over my head as I'm not really into chemistry) but he also spoke a bit about nanotubes and some of the uses he sees for them. In the Q&A I asked specifically if he had any opinions their use to build a space elevator. He again went way over my head, but the gist of it, I'm very disappointed to say, was that he thinks (and this is a quote) "when pigs fly" we'll have a space elevator. He said it is theoretically possible, and nanotubes would work, but that he doesn't see any way to make large enough bundles of them. He explained why we can't make large bundles by telling me about the temperature at which carbon becomes a liquid. I just nodded my head, I'm sorry, but I didn't follow any of it.

The bottom line though, is that I can no longer be very optimistic about our chances to build a space elevator. :.(

One of the other really neat things in the lecture was about how hemoglobin works. He had some neat animations. He said that all the greatest triumphs of chemistry and nanotechnology pale in comparison to hemoglobin. It was very cool.