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November 15, 2010
Volume 88, Number 46
p. 56

Record-Breaking Gas, GC For The iPhone, Uncertainty In Words

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A restless Bob: Poetic uncertainty.

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It’s a gas: Linde sets record for most components in a single mixture.

Thursday, Nov. 18, is the sixth-annual Guinness World Records Day, a 24-hour period set aside by the organization that honors all things small, tall, and otherwise out of the ordinary “to celebrate record setting—and record breaking—from all around the world,” according to the Guinness World Records website. Memorable records set during last year’s celebration include “largest conga line on ice” and “most nationalities in sauna.”

Now, chemistry is getting some WORLD-RECORD LOVE, too: Last month, industrial gas company Linde was awarded a Guinness World Record for creating a specialty gas with the greatest number of separate components in a single mixture.

The 110-component mixture includes mostly volatile organic compounds and is part of Linde’s HiQ specialty gases line. The mixture was formulated as a calibration standard for the company TestAmerica, which uses the blend for environmental analysis at its laboratory in Austin, Texas. Producing such a complex mixture of gases is challenging, according to Linde. Getting it right requires the “evaluation of possible interaction of the various components” to ensure mixture stability and also depends on factors such as “accurate manufacture of the final mixture and even the cylinder material selection,” the firm says.

And in case you’re as curious as Newscripts, a search of recent blog entries on the Guinness World Records website for “gas” turned up the oddball record for “fastest marathon wearing a gas mask,” as well as those for “largest burrito” and “largest pot of baked beans.”

In other gas news, Agilent Technologies recently introduced the GC Calculator App, “a first-of-a-kind GAS CHROMATOGRAPHY APP for the iPhone and iPod Touch,” the firm says. “The GC pressure and flow calculator app can be used to instantly and accurately determine pressures and flows through open tubular capillary columns.”

This new app expands Agilent’s offerings in smartphone resources for researchers on the go; earlier this year, the firm introduced a liquid chromatography calculator app. But never fear, loyal PC users: The free iPhone app is based on a PC version that’s available on the Agilent website.

Along with the “Department of Obscure Information,” poetry submitted by readers used to be a more common feature on this page. In a nod to those days gone by, Newscripts presents A POEM submitted by reader George Anderson that recently caught our fancy.

Anderson, a retired physical chemist, wrote the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle-themed poem for an adult education course for which he is a volunteer instructor. The course, called “Sacred Doubt: A Search for Truth in Uncertainty,” is one of the offerings of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute program affiliated with the University of Minnesota College of Continuing Education.

Restless Bob

There once was a restless Bob
who literally swung
from the likes of a fob.
With Bob’s to-and-fro motion
Einstein grasped at the notion
to observe this cyclic commotion.
Albert said, “Bob be still, small as a dot!
My rule by graph, I’ll measure the spot
where you are … and where you are not.”
Bob flinched, “It was you, ’twas not I
who tickled my wiggle
that jiggled your ruler thereby!”
Einstein aghast, Bohr entered the scene,
confounding matters once 
formerly keen
with vagueness of Heisenberg’s uncertainty scheme:
Where objective systems of sightings give way
to subjective shadows of objects at play,
Planck’s constant warrants all doubts to stay.

George Anderson
November 2010

Kimberly Twambly wrote this week's column. Please send comments and suggestions to newscripts@acs.org.

Chemical & Engineering News
ISSN 0009-2347
Copyright © 2011 American Chemical Society
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