I love NPR!
During this morning’s commute, I learned how the spirit of play led two Russian-born scientists, Andre Geim and Konstantine Novoselov, to the discovery that won this year’s Nobel Prize in physics.
The pair teach at the University of Manchester in Britain, and the custom in their lab is to dedicate Friday afternoons to “crazy experiments.” One day, while picking up graphite with scotch tape, the idea that led to graphene was born. Graphene is a sheet of carbon one atom thick. It is the thinnest material on earth, 100 times stronger than steel, transparent, and an excellent conductor. Experiments with photovoltaic cells are already underway, and potential uses include better touch-screens, replacements for silicon transistors, and power generating clothing.
Geim, in particular, has a wacky streak. He once used magnetic fields to levitate a frog, and another time, listed his favorite hamster, Tish, as a collaborator on a scientific paper.
I can very much identify with that; my first serious literary project, in the fifth grade, was a sequel to Wind in the Willows, starring my hamster, Herman.
Doesn’t it seem like the funniest people are very, very serious about their humor?