This past week, the Trump Administration notified Congress of its intention to reallocate $3.8 billion from the Department of Defense to the Department of Homeland Security in order to fund construction of an additional 177 miles of barrier wall along the US-Mexico border. President Trump has repeatedly stated that this wall, a major campaign promise of his, would be paid for by the Mexican government, and the wall has featured prominently in the national dialogue as the President cyclically denies and reaffirms this claim. …


Part I: Positivity in Principle

This past week began as any other. Driving to work on Tuesday morning, I threw on a podcast from somewhere deep within my backlog. It was an episode of Mindscape, a podcast hosted by Caltech theoretical physicist Sean Carrol. The episodes tend to be interviews or conversations featuring guests with a wide variety of backgrounds. This week the guest was Ramez Naam, formerly a computer scientist at Microsoft, currently a technologist and science fiction writer, and a self-proclaimed renewable energy optimist. If you’re interested in hearing a compelling case for why you should be more…


Climate change and environmental pollution now seem to be constant themes in our news cycle, with young people increasingly demanding more forward-looking responses from their communities and governments. As this past week’s continuing global climate protests illustrate, environmental concerns are a top consideration for many young people, both in regards to the politicians they support and the establishments they patronize. This concern seems to be grounded in a hard truth, as we are inundated with frequent reminders that we only have 20, 15, or 10 years to right our ship and prevent global warming from exceeding the 1.5 …


Despite recent efforts to combat global climate change, we are a long way from reaching internationally recognized climate change milestones. According to the Nationals Resource Defense Council, the U.S. needs to shift its energy consumption to 80% renewable sources by 2050 to meet the goals set out by the Paris Climate Accord. While electricity generation from renewable energy is set to overtake coal in the next 10–20 years, the most recent projections by the U.S. Energy Information Administration anticipate only reaching 40% renewable energy production by 2050, well short of the Paris benchmarks, which have already been routinely criticized within…


My last post covered the early surface science developed by Benjamin Franklin to explain the calming of rough waters by oil, but prominent examples of use of nanotechnology have been around for thousands of years. The Romans have long been regarded as expert engineers, but it turns out they might have been some of the earliest nanoscience pioneers as well.

The Lycurgus Cup is a cage cup (so named because of the way the glass is cut back to leave a decorative “cage” surrounding the body of the cup) crafted in the 4th Century AD by Roman Empire craftsmen. The…


In my previous post, I briefly touched on one of the most fascinating properties of nanoscale systems; their incredibly high surface-to-volume ratio. In this post, I want to discuss some of the methods that we use to measure the size of different nanoscale materials. How do scientists go about measuring the diameter of a nanoparticle, the thickness of an atomically thin material, or the size of a single molecule?

Many modern characterization techniques, including transmission electron microscopy, scanning tunneling microscopy, and atomic force microscopy (the inventors of the former two shared the 1986 Nobel Prize in Physics), are incredibly precise…


The High Technology of Butterfly Wings

What comes to mind when you hear the word “nanoscience”? Do you think of DNA or microscopic robots? Do you imagine groups of lab-coat clad scientists buzzing around some large and unnecessarily complex looking piece of equipment?

Or do you picture the electronics that power and control the smart phone or laptop with which you are reading this? Each of these are certainly examples of nanoscience (depending on the instrument your imaginary scientists are fiddling with). However, for the first installment of this project, I want to open with a brief discussion of some…

Dominik Stemer

I’m a graduate student at UCLA studying at the intersection of nanoscience and physical chemistry. I write about examples of nanoscience in our everyday life.

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