Issue Date: January 5, 2004
Hands warmed by heat pipes
Engineer Hongbin Ma at the University of Missouri, Columbia, and W. L. Gore & Associates are developing a glove containing flexible heat pipes to help stave off potentially hazardous frostbite. The body conserves energy in cold weather by shutting off heat to its extremities, whose temperatures may fall by as much as 40 °F. The new gloves, Ma says, "simply use the body heat from the upper arm to warm up the fingers during the wintertime." He recently completed a prototype of the glove.
The gloves will be made of polyester. Each will contain five heat pipes, one for each finger, about 14 inches long. Each pipe has an evaporating section, which is attached to the upper arm; an adiabatic section between the fingers and arm; and a condensing section attached to the finger area.
Ma says heat is transferred to fluid in the glove by direct contact between the wearer's arm and the heat pipes. The heat vaporizes the fluid, and the vapors heat the fingers. The vapors then condense and flow back to the arm through a wick structure embedded in the heat pipe. Thus, heat is transferred continuously from arm to fingers. Heat transfer depends on temperature difference, Ma points out. When the fingers are colder than the arm, as in winter, the heat transfer capability increases. When the temperature difference is small, as when someone comes in from outside, the glove automatically adjusts the degree of heat transfer.
Mention here of a street named for Nikolai Tesla (1856–1943), inventor of the Tesla coil, said he was a Croat (C&EN, Oct. 27, 2003, page 80). Not so, according to reader Branko Radetich, who says Tesla was Serbian. The Encyclopaedia Britannica says Tesla was "born in ... Croatia to a family of Serbian origin."
Don Matteson writes that the e-mail program Eudora flags incoming and outgoing e-mail with one, two, or three chili peppers, according to the messages' content of "possibly offensive" language. It also flags offensive words in red as you type.
Recently, while e-mailing another chemist, Matteson says, he typed "boron-carbon bond cleavage." Oops! "The word 'cleavage' lights up in red and the message immediately rates one chili pepper."
Childrens' science books thriving
Science books for children "are thriving, experts say," according to the Dec. 16 New York Times. Numbers are difficult to nail down, however, according to Times reporter Eric Nagourney. He writes, "Science books now make up a significant segment of the 5,000 children's books issued each year, although specific figures are not available, according to a trade group."
Today's science books for children look little like those of the 1940s, when the field emerged, Nagourney reports. The books that popped up then were prompted by a move to teach science to schoolchildren by playing on their natural interest in their surroundings, according to Leonard Marcus, a historian of children's books. But little was tried, he says, to make the books physically appealing. "They can be pretty grim," Marcus says. "They can look like government publications."
Nowadays, however, college-educated parents, book chains, and publishers are pushing for more attractive and marketable science books for children. The trend has been partly responsible for creating glitches for authors, Nagourney writes. "It's all too common for the paramount importance of accuracy to conflict with the need to make a book enticing, or at least accessible."
The Times reporter cites, for example, the writer and illustrator Peter Sís, who was at work on a children's book on evolution. Sís developed a fancy gatefold section depicting Charles Darwin's big moment aboard the vessel Beagle in the Galapagos Islands when Darwin was struck by the concept of natural selection. Sís was well into his project when he learned that Darwin actually didn't get his big idea until some time later, while back at home in England. Sís said, "I had to scrap the whole thing." He replaced it with a gatefold based on the publication of Darwin's "The Origin of Species."
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