Thursday, June 11, 2009

Ununbium (112)

****BERLIN (Reuters) – A new, superheavy chemical element numbered 112 will soon be officially included in the periodic table, German researchers said.

A team in the southwest German city of Darmstadt first produced 112 in 1996 by firing charged zinc atoms through a 120-meter-long particle accelerator to hit a lead target. (Is it just me, or is that kind of hot?)

"The new element is approximately 277 times heavier than hydrogen, making it the heaviest element in the periodic table," the scientists at the GSI Helmholtz Center for Heavy Ion Research said in a statement late on Wednesday.

The zinc and lead nuclei were fused to form the nucleus of the new element, also known as Ununbium, Latin for 112.

(blah blah blah, here's the whole Reuters article)

The atomic number 112 refers to the sum of the atomic numbers of zinc, which has 30, and lead, which has 82. Atomic numbers denote how many protons are found in the atom's nucleus. (I love this.)

In 1925, scientists discovered the last naturally occurring element on the periodic table (FYI: Uranium). Since then researchers have sought to create new, heavier elements.

Proving the existence of atoms with such a high mass, the so-called superheavy elements, is a complex procedure because they exist for only tiny fractions of a second and then decay radioactively into other elements.*****

Creating new elements, that's so God Particle. And something about atomic nuclei forcibly fusing to produce something brand new that only exists for fractions of seconds is so Las Vegas, baby.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Freight Stories, No. 5!

The new issue of Freight Stories is up, with a story by yours truly, "Wreckers", and lots of great reading by some awesome writers. And it's gorgeous! Andrew Scott and Victoria Barrett, the editors, have done a beautiful presentation and I'm all verklempt and shit to be amongst such illustrious company!

Adam is Gay! Duh!

He comes out in this week's issue of Rolling Stone. Adam Lambert makes me wish I were a young boy.
Or a green snake . . .

Monday, June 8, 2009

Gatekeeping and Vetting for Self-Published Books

So, expecting a rise in self-published books as a fallout from the publishing recession, is a new business that promises to vet self-published books for the discerning reader (for a fee of course, that the author puts up).
From the site:
"Books will be chosen for inclusion on the IndieReader site by a panel of editors, literary agents, and marketing professionals, and all categories of books (except for porn) will be represented. There will be a charge for membership; in exchange, authors will get a sales venue and a web page with its own URL. Authors will set their book's retail price and receive 75% of the sales (the buyer will pay for shipping). Authors will have complete control over the editorial content of their sites with no general restrictions on reviews, interviews, video, and audio."

It's a brave new world for entrepreneurship, yo. Via GalleyCat.

Two Journalists Sentenced to 12 Years Hard Labor in No Ko

Euna Lee and Laura Ling, journalists investigating North Korean refugees, were arrested by North Korean guards on March 17 near the Chinese/North Korean border. They've been tried, convicted, and now sentenced to 12 years of hard labor No Ko style, in a secret high court. No one thinks they're going to serve the time, rather, they'll be used as pawns for political leverage. It's a steaming hot situation, what with sanctions being considered by the U.S. the U.N. and Japan for No Ko's recent forays into nuclear foreplay, and North Korea threatening severe repercussions if that happens.
But here's what gets me: Euna Lee has a 4 year old daughter. What possessed her to go to North Korea? For what, exactly, fame? Glory? Self-actualization? I don't get it. And I hardly have pity when the baby card is pulled for sympathy, because no one twisted her arm to go. I remember having a 4 year old. Nothing could've convinced me to leave him. The way I see it, the duties of motherhood trump everything. EVERYTHING. I guess they thought they'd be safe (in North Korea???)
Color me self-righteously indignant on this one. I hope they're freed and returned home safely. And I hope Euna thinks twice before she takes on another risky job. Wait until the kid is grown some, it happens fast. 4 year olds need their mommies more than we need the scoop on North Korean refugees. Seriously.