Lego science • Peter Stang lives in a world, largely invisible to the rest of us, that he's spent a professional lifetime trying to figure out. And in his quest to open up that world, the University of Utah scientist has logged a remarkable string of discoveries that have put him near the head of the class in organic chemistry. In recognition of Stang's advances in "supramolecular chemistry," the American Chemical Society has awarded him the 2013 Priestley Medal, one of the country's most prestigious honors for a scientist. The award follows by a few months President Barack Obama's awarding of the National Medal of Science to Stang. The chemist compares his findings on how organic molecules assemble themselves to the building blocks in a Lego toy, with the spontaneous formation of large and complex molecules from simpler ones that are pre-designed for that purpose. We expect that the Nobel committee has taken note.
Sun spots • The federal government is putting science and dollars into formation of "solar energy zones" on 285,000 acres of public lands. Three of those zones are on 18,658 acres of land in Utah thought to be ideal for solar power installations. They are in Iron County's Escalante Valley and Milford Flats and the Wah Wah Valley in Beaver County. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar says the zones were designated for their proximity to existing electrical transmission lines, their potential energy yield, and low impact on the natural and cultural environments. The plan resulted from a commendable compromise between competing interests that took two years to complete. The hope is that the zones will enhance development of enough solar energy to light 7 million homes. Now that's a sunny prospect.
BYU lettermen • A quartet of congressmen with Brigham Young University diplomas is halfway to seeing that the school gain ownership of the land under the giant "Y" that has been plastered on the face of Y Mountain since 1906. Legislation sponsored by Rep. Jason Chaffetz, a former Cougar placekicker, passed the House last week. It would allow BYU to buy the land from the feds and thus be able to better maintain it. While we recognize that the white, concrete "Y" is much loved, we wonder, with respect, why 33,000 square feet of artificial school spirit should mar the stunning natural beauty of the mountainside. Lest Y lovers judge us U lovers, we once said the same thing about the "U" above the University of Utah campus. And, believe it or not, it's still there.