Graphene, entrepreneurs and bad weather

Today: three different and unrelated topics in one blog post:


First: a link that has to do with graphene (this is not the first graphene related blog post). The last episode of In Business, the Radio 4 programme that previously looked at Staedtler and Faber-Castell, had a closer look at graphene and what it means for Manchester.

As far as I know Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov used lumps of graphite, but I think I heard that in the beginning they used a pencil to ‘isolate’ graphene. I might have heard that on the Andre Geim Desert Island Discs episode, but it might have been somewhere else.

I like to imagine that it was a Noris or Tradition, just because they are so ubiquitous in the UK, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was another pencil. Imagine having worked in Staedtler’s Welsh factory in Pontyclun on the day the pencil that made this all happen rolled off the conveyor belt [1]I guess it would be a bit like having assembled the NeXT computer that became the first web machine..


I received an email telling me about a new notebook for entrepreneurs. I don’t think I understood the entrepreneur angle, but according to the photos this is a very elegant looking notebook. It’s another crowdfunded stationery project.

Bad Weather

To make good use of the great weather yesterday we went to have a walk. Influenced by Sean’s blog post about the Graf von Faber-Castell pencil extender I got mine out and decided to use it again. I bought it more than five years ago. It was very cheap for a GvFC item, probably because it has lots of scratches. Here’s a picture I took during the walk.


Within a few minutes the temperature suddenly dropped by more than 5°C. Luckily we (just) made it back to the car before the rain started.

Anyone has any idea how I can remove the scratches from the pencil extender, preferably without removing the silver plating?


1 I guess it would be a bit like having assembled the NeXT computer that became the first web machine.

Graphite in the news

Pencils made it into the news this week.

You might have heard about this year’s Nobel prize for physics. In 2004 Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov started removing layers of graphite from pencil leads  …which eventually led to the Nobel prize for their work on experimenting with graphene. Here is also an older article about graphene with the catchy name ‘Black Hole in a Pencil’.

From the world of science to entertainment:

Do you remember A-ha’s music video with the pencil drawings? That was 25 years ago (time flies, doesn’t it). In time for this anniversary: an article about this music video.