10-year-old Clara Lazen is the proud discoverer of a brand new, possibly explosive molecule- tetranitratoxycarbon – which is compound that contains oxygen, nitrogen and carbon. But as you can probably tell, she didn’t get to choose the name it was given!!! Tetranitratoxycarbon is quite similar to nitroglycerin and scientists believe it can store energy hence making it useable as an explosive.
The middle-grader from Kansas City, was fiddling around with a molecule ball-and-stick model when she found the new combination.
She showed her musings to science teacher Kenneth Boehr to see if her work corresponded with any existing molecule, and Boehr was stumped. So instead of sending her back to the drawing board, he took a picture of the model and mailed it to Robert Zoellner, a friend of his who works at Humboldt State University.
Zoellner was quickly intrigued by the Clara’s arrangement and started researching it. He found no record of such a molecule in the HSU database. The scientist believes it should be a working molecule, but because it does not occur naturally, and had not yet been synthesized – Clara had had a hand in its discovery – she is also cited as a co-author on the paper that Zoellner has written about it, along with her science teacher!
Imagine going to school and coming home to tell your parents that you’d discovered a brand new explosive molecule. I don’t think mine would have believed me!
Wow, science lessons really are getting more exciting these days!!