Links ‘n Things Monday (10/22/12)

Took a week off from the blog last week, had so get some things in order on the business side. The job market it still hot – if you’ve got kids who are talented at math or science and they’re having a hard time deciding what to do in college, engineering is a pretty good option. Good starting salaries, job security and excellent growth prospects — what more could you want, especially considering the difficulties college students are having finding jobs these days. Anyway, here are the interesting links for this week:

1) Stumbled across this article the other day – a professor of Chemistry from the University of Princeton has found a way to make iron behave like Platinum in chemical reactions which could prove extremely valuable as many basic materials require platinum, which is very expensive. Very interesting article about the potential future of manufacturing: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/16/science/modern-day-alchemy-has-iron-working-like-platinum.html?_r=1&

2) Everyone watched last week as Felix Baumgartner broke 3 world records during his skydive from 128,100 feet. The story that less people know is about the guy who pioneered high-altitude sky-diving, Joseph Kittinger Jr. Baumgartner’s dive was largely a publicity stunt but Kittinger risked his life during a time at which scientists and pilots did not know what would happen to the human body at speeds greater than the speed of sound (Mach speeds). Here’s a brief synopsis of Kittinger’s story: http://news.discovery.com/space/thin-air-big-mystery-skydive-120925.html

3) Last week – the Space Shuttle Endeavor made one last trip, from LAX (Los Angeles International) to the California Science Center. It was a relatively short trip by shuttle standards, only 12 miles, but it was through the streets of Los Angeles and took 4 days. This website has a time-lapse video of the event: http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2012/10/time-lapse-endeavour-final-journey/

4) Sulzer Chemtech and Synbra Technology, along with Purac,  have come up with a new, cheaper way to make Polylactic Acid (PLA) and between the two companies, they have two plants up and running (one in The Netherlands and one in Switzerland). It is thought that this will make PLA-based bioplastics a stronger alternative to petrochemical plastics that currently dominate the market: http://www.chemicalprocessing.com/articles/2012/innovative-process-boosts-emerging-bioplastics/

5) Another article from Chemical Processing which backs what I’ve been saying all along – the market for chemical engineers (and engineers in general) continues to be strong and this article goes into the reasons why: http://www.chemicalprocessing.com/articles/2008/228/

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