The Universe is accelerating
For a while now, astrophysicists have known that our Universe is expanding, and accelerating. And much like the surface of a rubber balloon getting inflated, space is getting bigger, and bigger, and bigger… Continue reading The Universe Expands Far Faster Than Anticipated…
On 19 June 2018, a peculiar number emerged from the blockchain space. The series of numbers and letters sent the cryptosphere into overdrive, sparking rampant talk of quantum computing breakthroughs, time travel, Satoshi’s return, and the esoteric meaning of Bitcoin. Continue reading Time Travel or Quantum Leap – Where Does Bitcoin Meet Relativity?
The Infinitesimally Small
Viewing tiny objects, like cells, under a microscope is a real game of hide-and-seek with the light. It follows that the specimen must be carefully prepared, or ‘mounted’ on a slide. Here we get a little closer to the eukaryotic cell. The building block of life itself… Continue reading Life Under The Microscope
What lies 5,000 metres below the sea?
It’s cold down there. Icy cold. It’s dark. Pitch black, in fact. And the crushing pressures make the deepest parts of the oceans into some of the most hostile places on our planet. Continue reading Sailing the Lower Midnight… – The Uncharted Frontier of Modern Deep Sea Exploration
Four Elements Come Along at Once…
Just like buses, it seems. But even rarer and a damn sight more exciting to be honest. Ooohoo!!! Out with your old Science books!! HeL-LOOooo elements 113… 115, 117 and 118!! Continue reading You Wait Ages for a Chemical Element, and Then… BINGO!!
Modern-Day Hipsters Take Heed…
With his wind-swept mane, the inimitable Richard Feynman looked devilishly handsome. And he darn-diddly knew it too! As for Fritz Haber, Rosalind Franklin and Neil deGrasse Tyson, they were the original hipsters. That’s according to BuzzFeed anyway… Continue reading Proving that Physicists were the Original Hipsters
I met Cortana mid-afternoon. The perfect time for a well-earned tea break and a chat down at the local café. I was keen to meet Cortana for the first time. By then, she was already a celebrity. Continue reading All the Trappings of Artificial Intelligence – Does Cortana Dream of Electric Sheep?
What Does a Second Look Like?
1/60 minute. 1/3,600 hour. 1/86,400 day. 1/1 hertz. The duration of 9,192,631,770 periods of the radiation corresponding to the transition between the two hyperfine levels of the ground state of a 133 55Cs caesium isotope corresponds to one second. But what does it look like? And where might you find a second? Continue reading Just a Second…
How could the humble Tortoise ever beat legendary Greek champion, Achilles, in a race to the finish? And what about that time when the champion of the animal kingdom simply ridiculed his next-door neighbour aka the Hare? Continue reading Zeno’s Paradoxes or What Happened When Achilles and the Hare Decided to Outfox the Legendary Tortoise
Eye on the Energy Sources of the Future
Geothermal energy prospectors have long used gravity meters in their search for the right subsurface characteristics. But these have been point measurements. GOCE now provides this information across the World at a resolution never before achieved on that scale. Continue reading Geothermics and Gravity – The IRENA Global Atlas for Renewable Energy
A friend of mine once casually asked me over a drink: “What is entropy?” Eeek! Interesting concept. But… How do you define entropy in a non-mathematical way? How can you sum up entropy in 30 seconds? In one mental image. In a single concept… In one word. A form of energy? A measure of disorder in the Universe? Randomness? All of the above? Tricky question. And then, I dropped my glass… Continue reading Thermodynamics and Entropy – Our Irreversible Universe
“That’s Star Trek stuff!”
… is pretty much the bemused reaction you’ll get if you allow yourself to answer casual questions about science over a drink with a non-physicist. AB-SO-LUTE disbelief. Your fault! Shouldn’t have gone there… Pretend you didn’t hear the question… Especially if the answer is ion propulsion! Continue reading The Ion Propulsion System – What the… #!$@*!!
The Ebola Crisis is Growing Exponentially
“The West Africans are scared” said Ban Ki-moon at a meeting of the United Nations in Washington U.S., discussing the growing threat of Ebola. And you could feel the sense of urgency as World leaders discussed the Ebola crisis. Not enough money has been put forward to tackle the disease. We are late in our response. And the clock is ticking… Continue reading Ebola NOW! The Exponential Growth of a Deadly Outbreak
Make the Perfect Hollandaise Sauce
Eggs Benedict! The perfect breakfast item. Probably. If both you and I love this indulgent breakfast staple, it’s down to that wonderful creamy and tangy garnish that is really the glue that holds the eggs benedict together. The perfect Hollandaise sauce… Continue reading The Perfect Hollandaise Sauce – More Science in the Kitchen…
Scotland’s Quiet Revolutions
It seems quiet at first, and even dull. Not much happening… Dreich, as one might say! Sad. Grim. Bleak. Not much to do… Not much to see here… Just sheep… But wait!! Look closer! Is that Dolly in this field? Now, that’s interesting! Oh, Aye, we’re in Scotland! It changes EVERYTHING… Continue reading Scotland’s Quiet Revolutions – One Nation with Sovereign Achievements… and a Pure Dead Brilliant Future!
Scotland’s First Nano-Satellite
Earlier this month, UKube-1, a satellite built by Glasgow-based technology firm Clyde Space, successfully launched on a test flight from Baikonur, Kazakhstan. It is the first ever spacecraft to be fully assembled in Scotland. Continue reading Satellite of Love – It’s Up, Up and Away for Scotland’s UKube-1
It’s About Heat and Temperature
What is the difference between heat and temperature? Heat is thermal energy. Temperature is a measurement of the average kinetic energy of the particles which compose the matter being tested. When heat flows into a material, one of two things happen: either the temperature of the material can rise, or there may be a change in its state (such as from ice to liquid, or liquid to vapour). Continue reading Calculating Entropy – The Energy of Change
60 Years Hence
Today’s the 60th Anniversary of the Death of Alan Turing – a genial mathematician, a cryptographer and one of the pioneers of computer science at Bletchley Park. He is considered one of the greatest mi More…nds of the 20th Century. Alan Turing‘s life was one of complexity and secret triumphs, overshadowed by a very public tragedy. Continue reading Colossal Genius: Alan Turing
Archimedes’ Principle and Helium Balloons
Buoyancy is the upward force exerted by a fluid that opposes the weight of an object immersed in a particular substance. Essentially, this is what Archimedes (c.287 BC – c.212 BC) observed when he stated that:
“Any object, wholly or partially immersed in a fluid, is buoyed up by a force equal to the weight of the fluid displaced by the object.” Continue reading Up Archimedes! – The Principle of Buoyancy
The Language of Nature
They are found everywhere in Nature. From the leaf arrangement in plants, to the pattern of the petals of a flower, the bracts of a pine cone, or the scales of a pineapple. The Fibonacci numbers are applicable to the growth of every living thing: a single cell, a grain of wheat, a hive of bees, all of mankind. From sunflowers to sea shells, the same recurrent mathematical pattern can be observed in Nature, again, and again, and again… Continue reading Fibonacci’s Golden Spiral – The Relationship between Maths and Nature
Please take a moment to enjoy this thing of great beauty… Simple to look at. Yet incredibly profound. Does it get any better than this? Continue reading Euler’s Equation: A Thing of Great Beauty
The Rosetta Spacecraft
January 20, 2014. 500 million miles from Earth. 09:59:58… 09:59:59… 10:00:00 GMT. After spending two and a half years into deep-space hibernation, Rosetta awakes…
Launched in March 2004 by ESA (European Space Agency), it has since travelled around the Sun five times, picking up energy from Earth and Mars to line itself up with its final destination. Continue reading Waiting for Rosetta to Wake Up…
21st Century Women in Physics and Sciences
At a time when the United Kingdom’s Education System is being put on the spot for encouraging the enduring gender bias in subjects being taught at school, Google celebrates the 107 year-old birthday of Grace Murray Hopper in classic Google Doodlestyle. That is, Dr Grace Hopper. Rear Admiral Grace Murray Hopper. “Amazing Grace” Hopper. Continue reading Amazing Grace Hopper
What is Energy?
And what does the Law of Conservation of Energy actually mean? In science and Nature, the word ‘energy’ conjures up a wealth of images associated with speed of movement, activity and work. Energy does appear in many guises. Even matter is a form of energy. Actually, everything in the Universe is nothing more than energy in one form or another… Continue reading The Law of Conservation of Energy: Life’s a Roller Coaster!
A Historical Experiment
In 1909, physics pioneers Robert Millikan (1868-1953) and Harvey Fletcher (1884-1981) performed an experiment that would ultimately enable them to determine one of the most fundamental of all physical constants: the elementary electric charge, i.e. the electric charge of an individual electron – the constant e. Continue reading Revisiting the Millikan Experiment – What’s in an Oil Drop?