View Full Version : technology 1, argon 0 - but why?
08-30-2000, 12:55 PM
A recent Science News article, "HArF! Argon's not so noble after all (http://www.sciencenews.org/20000826/fob2ref.asp)" (note Science News only posts the description of the article, not the full text), it is revealed that scientists have finally managed to form a "stable" (at very low temperatures) molecule containing the noble gas Argon. The article mentions that of all the nobel gasses (helium, neon, argon, krypton, xenon, radon) the only two that have not been successfully included into a stable molecule are helium and neon (the difficult being that their electron shell is smaller and thus more tightly bound to the nucleus.)
I expected to see some sentence at the end of the article saying "these compounds could possibly be used for ..." But there was no statement of that kind. Is this a case of researchers doing it "to see if we can?"
08-30-2000, 12:59 PM
Sure, they are, but remember that the first guy who ate a crab had the same motivation.
Actually, that's not true. I'm sure the first guy who ate a crab had as his primary motivation extreme hunger, while scientists have their need for grant money.
08-30-2000, 01:04 PM
That's partially correct. Us crazy scientists, we do like to do things "because we can." But there's more to it than that. While I'll grant that the likelihood of argon fluorohydride having an actual application is slim approaching zero, it's very probable that the techniques used to produce the molecules, and the ramifications of the production of them, will come in handy later on. Not this year; possibly not even in the 21st century. But eventually.
Everyone thought Pasteur was a nut for looking into germ theory; at the time no one thought it would amount to anything. Without it... well, how many times in your life have you had to take antibiotics?
The space race served no immediate purpose besides a political one... but without the research that went into it, this computer I'm typing on simply wouldn't exist.
And without computers like this one, there's no way those scientists could have created HArF.
I promise you that something coming from those experiments will be useful someday. Unfortunately, I can't promise you when :)
08-30-2000, 01:12 PM
reminds me of the SUPER MONKEY COLLIDER
Super Monkey Collider Loses Funding
Congress voted Monday to cut federal funding for the superconducting monkey collider, a controversial experiment which has cost taxpayers an estimated $7.6 billion a year since its creation in 1983.
The collider, which was to be built within a 45-mile-long circular tunnel, would accelerate monkeys to near-light speeds before smashing them together. Scientists insist the collider is an important step toward understanding the universe, because no one can yet say for certain what kind of noises monkeys would make if collided at those high speeds.
"It could be a thump, a splat, or maybe even a sound that hasn't yet been heard by human ears," said project head Dr. Eric Reed Friday, in an impassioned plea to Congress. "How are we supposed to understand things like the atom or the nature of gravity if we don't even know what colliding monkeys sound like?"
But Congress, under heavy pressure from the powerful monkey rights lobby, decided that money being spent on the monkey collider would be put to better use in other areas of government. Now, with funding cut off, the future of our nation's monkey collision program looks bleak.
Congress began funding the monkey collider in 1983, after Reed convinced lawmakers that the U.S. was lagging behind the Soviet Union in monkey-colliding technology. Funds were quickly allocated so that Reed could spend a week procuring monkeys on Florida's beautiful Captiva Island. Though Reed returned with a great tan and a beautiful young fiancee, he reported that there were no monkeys to be found on the sunny Gulf Coast island. Congress funded subsequent trips to the Cayman Islands, Bora Bora and Cancun, but these searches also yielded negative results.
Two years passed without a single monkey being procured, and Congress was close to cutting the project's funding. It was then that Reed got the idea to utilize monkeys already being bred in captivity. The Congressional Subcommittee for Scientific Investigation was enthralled by the idea of watching caged monkeys copulate, and increased funding by 40 percent.
With a steady supply of monkeys ensured, construction of the monkey collider began on a scenic Colorado site. Despite environmental pressure, a mountain was levelled to facilitate construction of the seven-mile-wide complex. Huge underground tunnels were dug, at a cost of billions of dollars and 17 lives. Money left over was used to build resort homes, spas and video arcades for Reed, his colleagues and several Congressmen.
Construction of the collider's acceleration mechanism was delayed for years, as scientists couldn't decide how to get the monkeys up to smashing speed. Last month, it was finally decided that the collider would employ a system in which the monkeys run through the tunnels chasing holographic projections of bananas. "Monkeys love bananas," Reed said, "and they're willing to run extremely fast to get them."
But now it seems the acceleration mechanism may never be built. With the monkey collider placed on indefinite hold, the huge research facility in Colorado lies dormant. To keep the space from going to waste, Congress Monday voted to convert the empty underground tunnel into a federally funded drag-racing track. The track is expected to create hundreds of jobs in the form of pit crews and concessions workers, and will allow President Clinton to impress important foreign dignitaries with America's wheelie technology.
Despite this promising alternate plan, most involved with the monkey collider project feel the sudden cuts in funding are inexcusable. "It is a travesty of science," Reed said. "I remember the joy I felt in college when I would launch monkeys at one another with big rubber bands, and this project would have been even more enlightening."
08-30-2000, 01:16 PM
Here is a gizmo (http://www.xactix.com/MEMS_Process_Equipment/Xetch_Overview/xetch_overview.html) that uses xenon difluoride, another noble gas compound. You can bet that the first chemist to mix up xenon difluoride wasn't thinking "Yow! Now someone can build a cool silicon etcher gizmo!"
The applications will come later.
08-30-2000, 05:48 PM
Thank you for the answers, friends. I wasn't really proposing that the research was "useless", but I was hoping someone was going to tell me that HArF would be used as a means to produce a lightweight refrigerator or something like that. Perderabo, kudos on finding a use for a noble gas compound!
oldscratch, I always tell people "no piece of knowledge (or scientific research) is totally useless", but you have just proven me wrong with the monkey super-collider.
08-30-2000, 06:20 PM
But Arnold, How are we supposed to understand things like the atom or the nature of gravity if we don't even know what colliding monkeys sound like? hmmmm?
08-31-2000, 10:24 AM
What we really need is the Super Politician Collider. Replace the holographic bananas with perky holographic interns, then put Gore on one end and Bush on the other. Whoever survives the collision wins the election. Makes more sense than the Electoral College.
08-31-2000, 11:27 AM
This is all well and good, but when do I get my replicator?
08-31-2000, 11:41 AM
Bart: God, schmod! I want my monkey-man!
08-31-2000, 07:06 PM
Also, Arnold, FWIW, the process of enriching uranium with heavier isotopes has steps using xenon compunds, like XeU6. No use, bah! If not for noble gas compounds, we'd never have the really kick-ass nuclear weapons!! Go science!
vBulletin® v3.7.3, Copyright ©2000-2013, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.