Science geek + yarn geek = win!

I had the coolest yarn + science experience yesterday.

Dr. Ray Baughman of the NanoTech Institute saw my silk presentation at the Dallas Asian Festival in June, and invited me to come and deliver a seminar for their students. They asked a lot of very interesting and insightful questions – some of which I knew the answers to. I’ve never been quizzed on the finer points of silk-related physics and chemistry by a room full of PhD’s.

Then, the coolness began. We went down to the wet lab, and they started showing me how they grow carbon nanotube “forests” on silicone plates (in a special oven at 700’C – about 1300’F) and use them to spin yarn. Tough, tiny yarn, made out of what amounts to fantastically organized soot. (see their article in the journal Science) The yarn is amazing stuff. I’m only beginning to get a grip on the things they’re thinking.

And, then, coolest of all – a long meeting with the research leaders, and we’re talking about the possiblities of silk/nanotube yarns and woven fabrics, and I’m going to go to the lab and work with them on some of my days off. I’m going to be a collaborator in their research. Pinch me.

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  1. geodyne
    geodyne says:

    That’s unbelievably cool!

    I’m sure you know I’m a research scientist myself. They do choose the best suited people to work with, you know. This is a huge, well-earned compliment. I’m excited for you!

  2. geodyne
    geodyne says:

    That’s unbelievably cool!

    I’m sure you know I’m a research scientist myself. They do choose the best suited people to work with, you know. This is a huge, well-earned compliment. I’m excited for you!

  3. balanceinchaos
    balanceinchaos says:

    I hope you’re right about that one… I recently accepted a chance to return to gradschool, all expenses paid, to be included in some printed electro-luminescent techology research for the next couple years.

    There is a part of me that worries I just don’t know enough to do that.

    , on the other hand, is a silk-god and he’s getting opportunities he so rightly deserves!

  4. balanceinchaos
    balanceinchaos says:

    I hope you’re right about that one… I recently accepted a chance to return to gradschool, all expenses paid, to be included in some printed electro-luminescent techology research for the next couple years.

    There is a part of me that worries I just don’t know enough to do that.

    , on the other hand, is a silk-god and he’s getting opportunities he so rightly deserves!

  5. admin
    admin says:

    :chuckle: I keep chewing my way through their publications, with much reference to the dictionary – they toss around words that have highly specialized meanings that I know nothing about. Fortunately, most of them also teach, so they’re able to break it down fairly quickly, and once is usually enough for me.

    I look forward to hearing about your upcoming cool stuff too! Printed EL? Sweet!

  6. admin
    admin says:

    :chuckle: I keep chewing my way through their publications, with much reference to the dictionary – they toss around words that have highly specialized meanings that I know nothing about. Fortunately, most of them also teach, so they’re able to break it down fairly quickly, and once is usually enough for me.

    I look forward to hearing about your upcoming cool stuff too! Printed EL? Sweet!

  7. geodyne
    geodyne says:

    I can sympathise with that, I had worries like that entering my Ph.D. Most people (at least the ones worth knowing) go into postgrad work worried about their ability to achieve the goals. That’s kind of the point. Research is hard, if it were easy everyone would do it.

    If they’ve offered you that opportunity, it’s because they think you have the potential to do well. It’s up to them as well as you to make sure that potential is achieved, so don’t sweat it too much. The research itself sounds really interesting.

    I firmly feel that people get the opportunities they deserve. 🙂

  8. geodyne
    geodyne says:

    I can sympathise with that, I had worries like that entering my Ph.D. Most people (at least the ones worth knowing) go into postgrad work worried about their ability to achieve the goals. That’s kind of the point. Research is hard, if it were easy everyone would do it.

    If they’ve offered you that opportunity, it’s because they think you have the potential to do well. It’s up to them as well as you to make sure that potential is achieved, so don’t sweat it too much. The research itself sounds really interesting.

    I firmly feel that people get the opportunities they deserve. 🙂

  9. admin
    admin says:

    I agree. Part of me thinks that I just happened to be in the right place at the right time – but then I look back and realize how much time and effort I spent to GET to the right place… I don’t know nano-structural physics and organic chemistry, but I know silk and yarn pretty well!

  10. admin
    admin says:

    I agree. Part of me thinks that I just happened to be in the right place at the right time – but then I look back and realize how much time and effort I spent to GET to the right place… I don’t know nano-structural physics and organic chemistry, but I know silk and yarn pretty well!

  11. pinkveneer
    pinkveneer says:

    that’s great to hear!!

    i’ll try to read the article…sounds very interesting, but they want you to sign in/register to read. grrr. maybe i’ll just buiy 🙂

  12. pinkveneer
    pinkveneer says:

    that’s great to hear!!

    i’ll try to read the article…sounds very interesting, but they want you to sign in/register to read. grrr. maybe i’ll just buiy 🙂

  13. sunflower_andi
    sunflower_andi says:

    I saw somethng like this on NOVA the other day. They showed the nanotubes and how it can be pulled into long yarns.
    That should be one of the strongest yarns ever made too.

    “FASCINATING” as Mr, Spock would say.

  14. sunflower_andi
    sunflower_andi says:

    I saw somethng like this on NOVA the other day. They showed the nanotubes and how it can be pulled into long yarns.
    That should be one of the strongest yarns ever made too.

    “FASCINATING” as Mr, Spock would say.

  15. balanceinchaos
    balanceinchaos says:

    I plan to chronicle my tenure in “The Place of all Knowledge”, aka “Pawsville”, in a webcomic I’m cobbling together called “Return to Pawsville”. LOL Yeah, the soon to be 40 year old returning to college to work with 20 year olds… culture shock, etc. I’m trying to figure out my artstyle for this little bit of humor I’ll be doing to keep myself sane while in GradSchool.

  16. balanceinchaos
    balanceinchaos says:

    I plan to chronicle my tenure in “The Place of all Knowledge”, aka “Pawsville”, in a webcomic I’m cobbling together called “Return to Pawsville”. LOL Yeah, the soon to be 40 year old returning to college to work with 20 year olds… culture shock, etc. I’m trying to figure out my artstyle for this little bit of humor I’ll be doing to keep myself sane while in GradSchool.

  17. admin
    admin says:

    If you go to the Nanotech Institute site, and click on Publications on the right hand side, then click on FULL TEXT for the second article, it takes you there without asking for the registration. They must have some sort of referring deal that they don’t have to sign up.

  18. admin
    admin says:

    If you go to the Nanotech Institute site, and click on Publications on the right hand side, then click on FULL TEXT for the second article, it takes you there without asking for the registration. They must have some sort of referring deal that they don’t have to sign up.

  19. balanceinchaos
    balanceinchaos says:

    Yeah, we all create our own realities… including both our blessings and our curses. I’ve been following your growth and exploration in silk and yarn for years, (5?) and I have to say you’ve worked your ass off to get where you are with it. Who knows, maybe some day the results of your efforts will be packaged and marketted by the results of my efforts 😉

  20. balanceinchaos
    balanceinchaos says:

    Yeah, we all create our own realities… including both our blessings and our curses. I’ve been following your growth and exploration in silk and yarn for years, (5?) and I have to say you’ve worked your ass off to get where you are with it. Who knows, maybe some day the results of your efforts will be packaged and marketted by the results of my efforts 😉

  21. balanceinchaos
    balanceinchaos says:

    ROTFLMAO!!!!

    Honestly, there was no innuendo intended…. buuut, since you dove for the gutter, I suppose I could put on my waders. One of these days, when we are actually in the same -city-, we really need to arrange to do some yoga together. I’m sure we can help loosen eachother up and get stretched.

  22. balanceinchaos
    balanceinchaos says:

    ROTFLMAO!!!!

    Honestly, there was no innuendo intended…. buuut, since you dove for the gutter, I suppose I could put on my waders. One of these days, when we are actually in the same -city-, we really need to arrange to do some yoga together. I’m sure we can help loosen eachother up and get stretched.

  23. niamh_sage
    niamh_sage says:

    That is utterly cool indeed! 😀 will you actually get to work with some of these yarns and Make Stuff? Would be very interesting to hear how that pans out, and how the synthesized yarn compares with the natural fibres in terms of ease of working and the quality of the resulting textile. Imagine a carbon nanotube ball gown – heee!

  24. niamh_sage
    niamh_sage says:

    That is utterly cool indeed! 😀 will you actually get to work with some of these yarns and Make Stuff? Would be very interesting to hear how that pans out, and how the synthesized yarn compares with the natural fibres in terms of ease of working and the quality of the resulting textile. Imagine a carbon nanotube ball gown – heee!

  25. admin
    admin says:

    Hee. I will probably get to actually make stuff – or at least try – but so far, the largest textile piece they’ve made, is about the size of my little fingernail. They’re still at the point where all the spinning is being done by people with PhD’s in esoteric science fields. I think ballgown is still a looooong way away. Ribbon, perhaps.

  26. admin
    admin says:

    Hee. I will probably get to actually make stuff – or at least try – but so far, the largest textile piece they’ve made, is about the size of my little fingernail. They’re still at the point where all the spinning is being done by people with PhD’s in esoteric science fields. I think ballgown is still a looooong way away. Ribbon, perhaps.

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