MacGyver Science

by on October 29, 2008 at 11:24 am in Science | Permalink

Scientists have used a roll of Scotch tape to take X-rays – moreover, the effect may be the key to nuclear fusion.  Seriously.

Addendum: This short slide show is better than the article at giving you the scoop on this finding.

1 Andrew October 29, 2008 at 12:00 pm

Yeah, but here you see the chilling effect of the improper application of Intellectual Property and how it can stifle innovation:

“The details of what is occurring on the molecular scale are not known, the scientists said, in part because the Scotch adhesive remains a trade secret.”

2 djg October 29, 2008 at 12:30 pm

Andrew is misunderstanding intellectual property protection. In the absence of protection, all intellectual property becomes held as trade secrets, while patent protection makes public processes and ingredients.

3 David October 29, 2008 at 12:59 pm

That’s pretty tenuous link from peeling tape to nuclear fusion. It’s nice to see the Times changing it up a little. Usually the default pie-in-the-sky outcome is “faster supercomputers.”

4 Jorge Landivar October 29, 2008 at 1:51 pm

Ditto, Alex, on patents. Patents serve a net good because they cause much more transparency on the marketplace of ideas. Copyrights are more than just a bit too long imo.

5 H Man October 29, 2008 at 1:59 pm

And here I always thought it would be duct tape.

6 David October 29, 2008 at 3:23 pm

josh, Whatever?

7 Paul F. Dietz October 29, 2008 at 5:07 pm

The nuclear fusion bit is quite silly. Accelerating deuterium or tritium ions to energies sufficient for nuclear reactions has not been a serious problem for many years — has been done on the tabletop since the 1930s (Cockcroft and Walton). The difficulty in nuclear fusion for energy production is getting enough of the ions to react before they lose energy to collisions and ionization. Simply directing the ions at a passive target fails, since only a tiny fraction will react before slowing to a stop.

8 Eric H October 29, 2008 at 9:01 pm

Er, yeah. It has been known for a long time that unspooling large sheets of insulators, like paper or photographic film, will lead to electrostatic discharge. In the case of film, this results in lighting-like marks that are called (big surprise) static marks. In paper factories, it is an industrial hazard.

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11 nivent May 14, 2009 at 5:08 am

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