Science World Roundup


A laboratory accident has allowed scientists at Cornell University to melt the face of diamond with a laser beam. While heating a mixture of graphite and potassium between two diamond "anvils," geology student Jon S. Gold inadvertently misfired the laser beam at a higher power than planned. Not only did the laser convert the graphite to diamond, but it melted an approximately one tenth of an inch furrow across the diamond's face.

Under high pressure, heated graphite turns to diamond within miliseconds, but this is the first time a diamond has been even partially melted.

Space Explorer

Moving to expand a whole new field of astronomical research, NASA has announced plans for a satellite that will survey the sky's entire band of extreme ultraviolet (EUV) radiation, just as the Infrared Astronomy Satellite (IRAS) did for the other end of the spectrum.

The actual design of the satellite has not yet been chosen, but its scientific payload--four highly advanced telescopes and a spectrometer--is known and NASA says that the EUV Explorer (EUVE) will be launched by the space shuttle in 1968.

Holding the Fries

If you think your thesis topic is really obscure, there's some pretty stiff competetion out there.

James T. Carlin, now a researcher for Pepsico Inc., fried 312 pounds of potatoes as part of his doctoral thesis in search of the secret that make McDonald's french fries so "special." He isolated and identified more than 400 different flavor compounds in the fries-- 296 of which were for the first time discovered as constituents of potatoes or potato products.

As the oil cooks the potatoes, several compounds given off may recombine to give the french fries their own very distinctive flavors, he said.

Firmenich, a Swiss based company that funded the Rutger's University study, apparently hopes to use the information to produce flavorful fries that contain less oil.

World War II may be over, but the Japanese have announced that they will overtake the Russians on Hawaii. Japanese astronomers have submitted a plan to their government to build the world's largest telescope. The approximately $85 million structure would boast a seven-meter diameter reflector, which is one meter larger than the world's largest single mirror telescope, located in the Soviet Union.

The site chosen is Mauna Kea, a mountain on the island of Hawaii. There is strong support for the project both by the U.S. government and the state of Hawaii which has a large Japanese population. Completion is expected in the early 1990s.

No More Snoozing

Within the next few months, hay fever sufferers may no longer have to choose between sneezing and snoozing, as a new form of potent antihistamines that are free of sedative side effects will soon be available.

Some of the compounds, such as terfenadine and mequitazine are already being sold in Europe, but most of the new antihistemines are still in the development stage.

When the first few of the new generation of antihistamines were developed, scientists assumed that updation was prevented because the compounds could not cross the blood brain beadle but, studies in animals have shown that the compound is clearly getting into the brain without causing cadet on.