Serendipity involved in discovery of brilliant new blue pigment

Me, I’m a blue person. I just prefer blue to other colours. I do, though, have a hankering for purple of Roman Emperors. Just a hankering mark you, nothing in my wardrobe of this colour. I do have weeks when it’s no blue – as happened on our recently holiday.

New blue pigmentEnough about me. What about this new blue pigment. Discovered accidentally by researchers at Oregon State University [OSU] in the USA. Here’s what the University say about the discovery,

OSU chemist Mas Subramanian and his team were experimenting with new materials that could be used in electronics applications and they mixed manganese oxide – which is black in color – with other chemicals and heated them in a furnace to nearly 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit. One of their samples turned out to be a vivid blue. Oregon State graduate student Andrew Smith initially made these samples to study their electrical properties.

It turns out this new blue pigment is,

… formed by a unique crystal structure that allows the manganese ions to absorb red and green wavelengths of light, while only reflecting blue. The vibrant blue is so durable, and its compounds are so stable – even in oil and water – that the color does not fade.

These characteristics make the new pigment versatile for a variety of commercial products. Used in paints, for example, they can help keep buildings cool by reflecting infrared light. Better yet, Subramanian said, none of the pigment’s ingredients are toxic.

The new blue pigment is called ‘YInMn blue’. Methinks they need a better name than that. Can’t see me going into a shop and saying I’m looking for a shirt in YInMn blue. The Daily Mail article on the discovery goes into some of the science involved.

How America’s source of immigrants has changed in the states, 1850 to 2013

Pew Research Center looking at Hispanic trends has this fascinating graphic, with an interactive timeline of changes in the source of immigrants into America from 1850 through to 2013. See link below.

Must say I’m slightly surprised that America’s population in 1850 was just 23.2million. By 1900 it was 76 million, 1950 reaching 152 million, and 281 million by 2000, to be 316 million in 2013. Certainly true that America has been built by immigration.

Call it snowmageddon or snowpocalypse, there’s a heck of a lot of snow

I’ve always wanted an excuse to write about snowmaggedon or snowpocalypse.

There’s not much opportunity to write about such happenings in this part of the UK. In Lightwater we had reasonably heavy snowfalls in the winters of 2008/09 and 2009/10. Though nothing anywhere near as heavy as in this picture of snow fall in the 2010 snowmaggedon in Washington in North East America

Block_of_19th_Street,_N_W__-_2010_blizzard in Washington

Interesting research: ‘The American Middle Class Is Losing Ground’

One of the Pew Research Center for social and demographic research reports is on how The American Middle Class Is Losing Ground. Their report’s opening paragraph states,

After more than four decades of serving as the nation’s economic majority, the American middle class is now matched in number by those in the economic tiers above and below it. In early 2015, 120.8 million adults were in middle-income households, compared with 121.3 million in lower- and upper-income households combined, a demographic shift that could signal a tipping point, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of government data.

The Financial Times’ article on America’s Middle-class Meltdown has this helpful GIF which shows the change in middle incomes over time.


Phenomenal resolution of satellite image of United States of America

In Microsoft’s Bing search engine is a phenomenal resolution of satellite image of United States of America. It featured in the press last week – Daily Mail for example – where it was used to show in stunning detail the graveyard of planes in Davis-Monthan Air Force Base near Tucson in Arizona.

There a number of options in the Bing’s Map viewer.  You can choose an Aerial View or Bird’s Eve view. The clear views, proves that the sun always shines on the US of A – well almost.

USA in Bing satellite map

If you’re keen to view the aircraft graveyard at Davis-Monthan AFB, and it certainly rewards inspection. Find East Coolidge Street, and you’re looking at ‘celebrity row’ with representatives of the aircraft in storage.

To find out more about the base are and explanations of what you’re seeing, here are a couple of useful sites,

Here’s a depressing statistic

With much furore around the latest investigation in gun violence in the USA, I came across the fact in 2012 that 24* murders a day in the USA are by guns. This figure doesn’t include suicides, and accidental death by shooting pushing the number to over 30 a day.

Source: *Guardian,

How many Americans have a passport?

As a follow up to the previous article about how odd American TV shows can be, here’s proof of sorts, that as the majority of Americans don’t own a passport they lack a world view.

I oughtn’t to be too critical, as America is a continent, there’s just so much to see and experience in the United States of America, plus I like America and Americans in general.

Anyway, in the article – How many Americans have a passport? – in The Expeditioner they’ve done the research into the % of Americans owning a passport, turns out it’s 46%. Though the article provides the breakdown of passport ownership by state, which shows a wide variety from just 18% in Mississippi to 62% in New Jersey.

Amusingly odd interview in CNBC’ s Squawk Box TV show

Spotted in the Financial Times Alphaville blog is a report of an odd interview between a Martin Shanahan, an Irish finance executive and a co-host on the American CNBC Squawk Box TV show. The transcript, reported in full in the Irish Times, follows the video. Go to 7 minutes in the video to see this odd conversation.

CNBC: How does the tax policy turn out such a string of great golfers, Graham, Rory…is it the tax, is this another tax, how does the tax affect the…it is a small place to have so many good golfers?

Shanahan: It is the environment that is probably doing that. It is a pretty good place to live and visit and everything else.

CNBC: What has the weaker euro meant in terms of tourism?

Shanahan: So, I think, em, Ireland is a very globalised economy so we look to what is happening here as much as we do to what is happening in Europe and we look to what is happening in…

CNBC: You have pounds anyway don’t you still?

Shanahan: We have Euros.

CNBC: You have Euros in Ireland?

Shanahan: Yes. We have euros, which is eh…

CNBC: Why do you have euros in Ireland?

Shanahan: A strong recovery….

CNBC: Why do use euros in Ireland?

Shanhan: Why wouldn’t we have euros in Ireland?

CNBC: Huh. I’d use the pound.

Shanahan: We use euro.

CNBC: What about Scotland? I was using Scottish eh…

Shanahan: Scottish pounds.

CNBC: Scottish pounds.

Shanahan: They use Sterling.

CNBC: They use sterling?

Shanahan: They use sterling. But we use euro.

CNBC: What? Why would you do that?

Shanahan: Why wouldn’t we do that.

CNBC: Why didn’t Scotland? No wonder they wanted to break away.

Shanahan: They are part of the UK we are not.

CNBC: Aren’t you right next to er?

Shanahan: We are very close but entirely separate.

CNBC: It is sort of the same, same island isn’t it?

Shanhan: And in the North of Ireland they have sterling.

CNBC: They do?

Shanhan: And in the North of Ireland they use sterling.

CNBC: It is just too confusing…

America’s view of Great Britain, a not so ‘Special Relationship’

Having a common language, democratic tradition, free market economy, and so much else means that many Britons see a strong affinity with America. We see it, as Churchill said, as us having a ‘special relationship’ with America.

This isn’t generally how America sees its relationship with Great Britain. This view is articulated in evidence submitted, by Bruce Stokes, Director of Global Economic Attitudes, Pew Research Center, to the Foreign Affairs Select Committee of the British House of Commons on December 17, 2013.

The evidence presented is derived from the Pew Research Center’s America’s Place in the World 2013 survey, which found divergent views of America’s and Great Britain on America’s role in the world, and hence the so called ‘special relationship’. You can read a more positive and fascinating view of the ‘special relationship’ by Henry Kissinger HERE.

Here’s the overview, the full article follows after the break,


“The “special relationship” between the United Kingdom and the United States, a concept first voiced by Winston Churchill in 1946, has always had more salience in Whitehall and Foggy Bottom than it has in the minds of the American public.

Americans have a long history of ambivalence about their role in the world. And the new “America’s Place in the World” public opinion survey by the Pew Research Center describes a United States that is neither isolationist nor protectionist, but that is increasingly inward looking on security and foreign policy issues, while more and more outward looking on economic matters.”

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