Nobel-winning goof-offs.

In case you missed it this morning, NPR had a story about graphene, the single-atom-thin form of carbon that won its inventors a Nobel prize… even though it all started as a lab joke with Scotch tape and pencil lead:

Graphene transistors are predicted to be substantially faster than today’s silicon transistors and result in more efficient computers,” the academy said in the citation. “Since it is practically transparent and a good conductor, graphene is suitable for producing transparent touch screens, light panels and maybe even solar cells.”

And researchers at the University of Southern California are using graphene in organic photovoltaic solar cells as a highly transparent material that’s also good at conducting electricity. OPV cells are cheaper and more flexible than silicon cells, and researchers say they could be hung as curtains or even made into fabric and worn as power-generating clothing….

The two scientists used simple Scotch tape as a crucial tool in their experiments, peeling off thin flakes of graphene from a lager piece of graphite, Geim said.

“It’s a humble technique. But the hard work came later,” he said, comparing the material to plastics in its ability to revolutionize the world.

“It has all the potential to change your life in the same way that plastics did,” he said.”It is really exciting.”

One of the laureates is only in his 30s. Dang kids!