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Videos: Material Marvels

Ainissa RamirezAinissa Ramirez, associate professor of Mechanical Engineering & Materials Science at Yale, explains the wonders of her ever-expanding field in a series of YouTube videos. In the latest, she describes how a layer of carbon that is one atom thick, called graphene, will revolutionize our lives. Discovered by scientists who won the Nobel prize, graphene can be found in everyday pencils, is incredibly strong and super-conductive and will make blazingly fast computers and video games a reality.

In other videos, she demonstrates how materials behave strangely when they are nanosize—about 1/100,000 the thickness of your hair; “metals with a memory” that are used in space, in robots, and even in your mouth; the strange world of quasicrystals, where atoms arrange themselves in forbidden ways; and the heat absorption properties of the space shuttle’s ceramic tiles. In a segue to physics, Dr. Ramirez shows what gives a football its speed, drag and spin.

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