November in Chemistry

November in Chemistry

Grace Parsekian, Tech Editor

Detonation of a Thermonuclear Fusion Bomb (1952)

The first detonation of a thermonuclear fusion bomb, also known as a hydrogen bomb, occurred at Elugelab Atoll, Marshall Islands. The device was named “Mike” and was tested by the United States. Despite its appearance, the device was not meant to be used as a weapon, as it was 20 feet tall and weighed over 150,000 pounds. The explosion yielded 10.4 megatons of energy and completely destroyed the island, leaving a crater over 6,000 feet deep in its wake. The energy released was over 450 times that of the bomb dropped on Nagasaki. Despite President Truman’s efforts to keep the test under the radar, news eventually seeped out into the press, forcing him to announce the testing of the world’s first functional hydrogen bomb. 

Discovery of X-Rays (1895)

In 1895, Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen discovered the electromagnetic wavelength that he would eventually name “X-rays.” He learned through his research that if the X-ray discharge tube was in a sealed, black carton, and he worked in a dark room, the rays would turn a plate covered in a compound of barium platinocyanide a bright fluorescent color. By passing these rays through objects of varying thicknesses, he found out that he could use the rays to essentially see through different things to see what was inside. This eventually led to the usage of X-rays to view bone fractures and other various injuries under the skin and revolutionized health sciences.

Studying Honey Bees (1973)

Karl Von Frisch, a renowned zoologist, won a Nobel Prize for his study of the behaviors of honey bees in 1973. He uncovered a lot of information about the intelligence of bees. Although he was met with skepticism at first, his discoveries were eventually recognized as a huge contribution to Melittology (the study of bees). He discovered that bees can distinguish different blossoming flowers by using their sense of smell., and tend to focus their efforts on one chosen flower throughout their lives. He also studied the various dances that bees perform to communicate with each other, some of which are the round and waggle dances. The round dance is used to show where nearby feeding places are located, and the waggle dance is used to give directions to farther away feeding places. He also studied the pheromones that the queen bee releases and how that regulates the social order of the hive.