Short items, September 2011

Making more pores

Chemists in Korea and the US have come up with a method to create zeolites with a hierarchical range of pore sizes, making way for the reaction of larger molecules than ever before. The group made mesoporous materials with walls made of crystalline zeolites. As surfactants based on two long alkyl chains linked by ammonium groups clump together, they form the basis of the mesopores. Meanwhile, the ammonium groups allow for the crystallisation of zeolite layers with smaller micropores. The new zeolites could be used in the petrochemical industry to crack oil, or in organic synthesis.   

ERC shakeup needed

A European Commission task force charged with evaluating the operating structure of the European Research Council (ERC) has concluded that, although the Council has performed well, changes are needed to improve its flexibility and efficiency. The report recommends transforming the position of ERC president into a Brussels-based position, and strengthening the role of director of the ERC Executive Agency. 

BBC science has weaknesses 

An independent review of the BBC’s coverage of science has found it to be ’high quality’ and ’accurate’. But it alsoidentifies a number of weaknesses, including providing a platform for marginal opinions with little scientific merit. In response, the BBC has announced it will appoint a science editor and create a pan-BBC science forum to share information. 

Go Figure

400 billion

The number of neutrons released per square metre of the cooling ponds at Fukushima between 13 and 20 March.