10-Year-Old Accidentally Discovers New Explosive Molecule

Mike Kayatta

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Aug 2, 2011
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10-Year-Old Accidentally Discovers New Explosive Molecule



Fifth-grader Clara Lazen has achieved two major results by rearranging the atoms used in nitroglycerin: a unique new molecule, and making the rest of us feel rather dumb in the process.

There are many ways to discover new molecules and their properties, but I doubt many are more delightful or endearing than a ten-year-old fumbling some balls and sticks together before innocently asking her science teacher, "is this real?" ... and being right. And that's exactly what happened in Kenneth Boehr's fifth-grade science classroom when 10-year-old Clara Lazen approached his desk with a fully constructed tetranitratoxycarbon molecule.

The physical model young Clara had constructed was a somewhat complex combination of nitrogen, oxygen, and carbon that Mr. Boehr had never seen before. To his credit, instead of dismissing the creation as mere child's play, he photographed it and sent it to a chemist at Humboldt State University for rigid analysis. His instincts were correct, and soon after, tetranitratoxycarbon was officially recognized as a feasible molecule.

Tetranitratoxycarbon doesn't exist in nature, but based on its unique arrangement of atoms, can be created artificially in a lab. These things take time and funding, however, so an "on-paper analysis" is coming up first. For those interested in a little light reading, you'll soon find a copy of Professor Robert Zoellner's (pictured above) paper on the subject (with a co-author credit given to Clara ... Awwww!) in Computational and Theoretical Chemistry. According to Zoellner, this new molecule has all sorts of possible uses, spanning the gamut from bottling energy to blowing crap up. I can see why a 10-year-old might be subconsciously be drawn to it.

This is all great news for Clara, as she and the rest of her class have shown an increased interest in chemistry and the rest of the sciences since the discovery. And as for the science teacher, Mr. Boehr? We don't know for sure, but I would be willing to bet that the next six months of his life will involve little more than fifth-graders storming his desk with nonsensical molecule configurations hoping that they've stumbled onto something. Poor guy.

Source: PopSci [http://www.popsci.com/science/article/2012-02/10-year-old-accidentally-creates-new-explosive-molecule-science-class]

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Mike Kayatta

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Aug 2, 2011
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So did the child just put together a model for the craic or did she intentionally put it together with full knowledge of what she is doing.

If it's the former then I really don't care. If it's the latter then "Good for you".

EDIT I was right

"But that?s what happened when Clara Lazen, 10, randomly arranged a unique combination of oxygen, nitrogen and carbon atoms."

http://now.humboldt.edu/news/not-your-average-fifth-grade-assignment/

Randomly

It was pure chance and she isn't going to be the one researching its uses so well done little girl, you discovered something by accident and will have no involvement in making it useful.
 

Amarok

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Matthew94 said:
So did the child just put together a model for the craic or did she intentionally put it together with full knowledge of what she is doing.

If it's the former then I really don't care. If it's the latter then "Good for you".
Bit harsh. In the world of real growny-uppy scientists things get discovered accidentally all the time.
 

Redlin5_v1legacy

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Aug 5, 2009
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Cool. Science being pushed forward by the next generation before they are even supposed to be pushing science forward.
 
Feb 13, 2008
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Mike Kayatta said:
but I would be willing to bet that the next six months of his life will involve little more than fifth-graders storming his desk with nonsensical molecule configurations hoping that they've stumbled onto something. Poor guy.
"I've discovered ice-creamium!"

If it's made into an explosive, she really deserves to have her name on it. Clartex or something.
 

Nimzar

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The_root_of_all_evil said:
"I've discovered ice-creamium!"

If it's made into an explosive, she really deserves to have her name on it. Clartex or something.
The original article mentions that what the scientists really find exciting about it is that it could be used to store energy. Something that got lost over the 4 or 5 secondary sources used before it got here.

http://now.humboldt.edu/news/not-your-average-fifth-grade-assignment/
 

Mike Kayatta

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Aug 2, 2011
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Amarok said:
Matthew94 said:
So did the child just put together a model for the craic or did she intentionally put it together with full knowledge of what she is doing.

If it's the former then I really don't care. If it's the latter then "Good for you".
Bit harsh. In the world of real growny-uppy scientists things get discovered accidentally all the time.
That's good for them but if the former is true (in my original post) then it means she isn't gifted or anything and should be praised as much as anyone else who discovers things with no real use ie not much.

If she discovered it and then she found a way to sythesise it in real life and found a use for it then that's fantastic and she should be praised for it but I think the Professor should get more praise in this case as he is actually going to investigate it and its uses.

EDIT Boom, I was right

"But that?s what happened when Clara Lazen, 10, randomly arranged a unique combination of oxygen, nitrogen and carbon atoms."

http://now.humboldt.edu/news/not-your-average-fifth-grade-assignment/

Randomly
 
Feb 13, 2008
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Nimzar said:
The original article mentions that what the scientists really find exciting about it is that it could be used to store energy. Something that got lost over the 4 or 5 secondary sources used before it got here.
I think that's a very convuluted way of saying it's an explosive (Stored Chemical Energy), but cheers for that. Will see if I can get more info. from my chemist friends. :)
 
Feb 13, 2008
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Matthew94 said:
Instead of getting hit on the head with an apple, tasting your finger, letting orange go mouldy, serving someone wafer-thin potatoes or any of the other random ways Science is progressed?

Or would you class Gravity, Saccharin, Penicillin, or Crisps as not very exciting?

Why should Douglas Addams get credit for a Fungus moth (Erechthias beeblebroxi)? Simply because he wrote a very famous character with two heads?
 

Mike Kayatta

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The_root_of_all_evil said:
Matthew94 said:
Instead of getting hit on the head with an apple, tasting your finger, letting orange go mouldy, serving someone wafer-thin potatoes or any of the other random ways Science is progressed?

Or would you class Gravity, Saccharin, Penicillin, or Crisps as not very exciting?
And those people all wrote papers/investigated uses of their discoveries.

Fleming didn't go, "I found an odd mould pattern, would you solve why this has happened please?" to another person, no, he took it upon himself to research it and helped save many people as a result.

He had the intelligence to actually use his discovery unlike this person.
 

deathninja

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Our repository is down at the minute, but I grabbed the abstract.

It's a typical CompChem paper: based on wave mechanics this compound could *theoretically* exist, as could several alkylated analogues.

It's pretty esoteric at the minute, but it may trigger more research, us synthetic lot might even find a use for it/route to it eventually, if it does exist.
 
Jun 7, 2010
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Today's headlines: the world's first Man-Crocodile begs for the sweet release of death, Kim Kardashian Krushes the Kompetition in the race for the 2032 presidential election and 30-year-old former 5th grader Clara Lazen is found hanging this morning after hearing of yesterday's testing of the first tetranitratoxycarbon death bomb as part of Operation: 'the fuck's an Icarus?
 
Feb 13, 2008
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Matthew94 said:
He had the intelligence to actually use his discovery unlike this person.
She's 10.

Beethoven may have been publishing his sonatas around that age, but he wasn't taking them to the publishers himself.
 

Versuvius

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Matthew94 said:
So did the child just put together a model for the craic or did she intentionally put it together with full knowledge of what she is doing.

If it's the former then I really don't care. If it's the latter then "Good for you".

EDIT I was right

"But that?s what happened when Clara Lazen, 10, randomly arranged a unique combination of oxygen, nitrogen and carbon atoms."

http://now.humboldt.edu/news/not-your-average-fifth-grade-assignment/

Randomly

It was pure chance and she isn't going to be the one researching its uses so well done little girl, you discovered something by accident and will have no involvement in making it useful.
I think you are just sore a 10 year old will have more reknown than you ever will.
 

Mike Kayatta

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Aug 2, 2011
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The_root_of_all_evil said:
Matthew94 said:
He had the intelligence to actually use his discovery unlike this person.
She's 10.

Beethoven may have been publishing his sonatas around that age, but he wasn't taking them to the publishers himself.
And he understood that music theory, she just put molecules together randomly.

If you had 1000 monkeys on 1000 typewriters writing forever you eventually get the best novel of all time.

Does that make the monkey a literary genius or is just the result of probability taking it's course? No it is the latter and thus the monkey shouldn't be praised and neither should she.

Don't ever compare her to Beethoven.
 

kael013

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Jun 12, 2010
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Matthew94 said:
Fleming didn't go, "I found an odd mould pattern, would you solve why this has happened please?" to another person, no, he took it upon himself to research it and helped save many people as a result.

He had the intelligence to actually use his discovery unlike this person.
She is TEN. She's just learning about this stuff. Fleming was an adult when he made his discovery. Your sentiment is like telling a kindergardener who's just learning how to add that they should know how to perform algebraic equations.
 

Mike Kayatta

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Aug 2, 2011
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kael013 said:
Matthew94 said:
Fleming didn't go, "I found an odd mould pattern, would you solve why this has happened please?" to another person, no, he took it upon himself to research it and helped save many people as a result.

He had the intelligence to actually use his discovery unlike this person.
She is TEN. She's just learning about this stuff. Fleming was an adult when he made his discovery. Your sentiment is like telling a kindergardener who's just learning how to add that they should know how to perform algebraic equations.
Not that she should know it but she shouldn't get tons of praise for her "discovery".

Read my above post about the monkeys and the novel.
 
Jan 17, 2012
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Matthew94 said:
Amarok said:
Matthew94 said:
So did the child just put together a model for the craic or did she intentionally put it together with full knowledge of what she is doing.

If it's the former then I really don't care. If it's the latter then "Good for you".
Bit harsh. In the world of real growny-uppy scientists things get discovered accidentally all the time.
That's good for them but if the former is true (in my original post) then it means she isn't gifted or anything and should be praised as much as anyone else who discovers things with no real use ie not much.

If she discovered it and then she found a way to sythesise it in real life and found a use for it then that's fantastic and she should be praised for it but I think the Professor should get more praise in this case as he is actually going to investigate it and its uses.

EDIT Boom, I was right

"But that?s what happened when Clara Lazen, 10, randomly arranged a unique combination of oxygen, nitrogen and carbon atoms."

http://now.humboldt.edu/news/not-your-average-fifth-grade-assignment/

Randomly
She's ten dude, why the fuck should she be doing any of that? You just jelly that a ten year old has accomplished more than you likely ever will?
 

Mike Kayatta

Minister of Secrets
Aug 2, 2011
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Versuvius said:
Matthew94 said:
So did the child just put together a model for the craic or did she intentionally put it together with full knowledge of what she is doing.

If it's the former then I really don't care. If it's the latter then "Good for you".

EDIT I was right

"But that?s what happened when Clara Lazen, 10, randomly arranged a unique combination of oxygen, nitrogen and carbon atoms."

http://now.humboldt.edu/news/not-your-average-fifth-grade-assignment/

Randomly

It was pure chance and she isn't going to be the one researching its uses so well done little girl, you discovered something by accident and will have no involvement in making it useful.
I think you are just sore a 10 year old will have more reknown than you ever will.
I doubt after this week anyone will mention her name again. I can live with her "fame".