the WGBH Educational Foundation
the The Hewlett Foundation
This 5-minute video adapted from NOVA scienceNOW explores the potential of carbon nanotubes, whose strength and unique properties make them useful for a variety of applications. See animations of how carbon atoms bond to one another in different ways to make diamond, graphite, buckyballs, and nanotubes. Consider how a seemingly impossible application, such as an elevator from the surface of Earth to space, is now theoretically possible given this revolutionary new building material. Hosted by Neil Degrasse Tyson.
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Editor's Note:Editor's Note: Carbon nanotubes are members of the fullerene structural family, which includes buckyballs. They are the strongest material yet discovered in terms of tensile strength, though product development is still in its infancy. The potential applications for carbon nanotubes are impressive, especially in fibers, electrical circuits, optics, and medicine. This resource includes background information for teachers and suggested discussion questions.
Metadata instance created
August 19, 2011
by Caroline Hall
September 30, 2012
by Caroline Hall
Last Update when Cataloged:
May 30, 2011
AAAS Benchmark Alignments (2008 Version)
4. The Physical Setting
4D. The Structure of Matter
6-8: 4D/M1cd. Atoms may link together in well-defined molecules, or may be packed together in crystal patterns. Different arrangements of atoms into groups compose all substances and determine the characteristic properties of substances.
6-8: 4D/M6c. Carbon and hydrogen are common elements of living matter.
6-8: 4D/M11. Substances react chemically in characteristic ways with other substances to form new substances with different characteristic properties.
9-12: 4D/H7a. Atoms often join with one another in various combinations in distinct molecules or in repeating three-dimensional crystal patterns.
9-12: 4D/H8. The configuration of atoms in a molecule determines the molecule's properties. Shapes are particularly important in how large molecules interact with others.
8. The Designed World
8B. Materials and Manufacturing
6-8: 8B/M3. Advances in manufacturing processes can reduce costs and improve products.
6-8: 8B/M5. Efforts to find replacements for existing materials are driven by an interest in finding materials that are cheaper to obtain or produce or that have more desirable properties.
9-12: 8B/H4. Increased knowledge of the properties of particular molecular structures helps in the design and synthesis of new materials for special purposes.
9-12: 8B/H6. Groups of atoms and molecules can form structures that can be measured in billionths of a meter. The properties of structures at this scale (known as the nanoscale) and materials composed of such structures, can be very different than the properties at the macroscopic scale because of the increase in the ratio of surface area to volume and changes in the relative strengths of different forces at different scales. Increased knowledge of the properties of materials at the nanoscale provides a basis for the development of new materials and new uses of existing materials.
This resource is part of a Physics Front Topical Unit.
Topic: Particles and Interactions and the Standard Model Unit Title: Teaching Nanoscale Science
This 5-minute video adapted from NOVA scienceNOW explores the potential of carbon nanotubes, whose strength and unique properties make them useful for a variety of applications. See animations of how carbon atoms bond to one another in different ways to make diamond, graphite, buckyballs, and nanotubes. Consider how a seemingly impossible application, such as an elevator from the surface of Earth to space, is now theoretically possible.
The Hewlett Foundation. NOVA: A Nanotube Space Elevator. Boston: WGBH Educational Foundation, May 30, 2011. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/education/tech/nanotube-space-elevator.html (accessed 1 May 2016).
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