Category Archives: Algebra

Time Travel or Quantum Leap – Where Does Bitcoin Meet Relativity?

Artwork showing a Bitcoin symbol being sucked into a gravity well.  Image: NaturPhilosophieBlockchain Oddity

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?

Life Under The Microscope

A close-up negative photograph of the lenses on my microscope. Image: NaturPhilosophieThe 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

Sailing the Lower Midnight… – The Uncharted Frontier of Modern Deep-Sea Exploration

A photograph of the not-so-friendly, and frankly scary-looking, footballfish, a deep sea-predator from the anglerfish family.What lies 5,000 metres Below Sea Level?

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.  The lowest of the low.  The deepest of the deep.  Only three human explorers ever made it down there.  As a brand new wave of deep-sea exploration begins, we look at the mysterious world where marine scientists will be diving into… Continue reading Sailing the Lower Midnight… – The Uncharted Frontier of Modern Deep-Sea Exploration

You Wait Ages for a Chemical Element, and Then… BINGO!!

A photograph of Kosuke Morita, the leader of the Riken team, posing with a board displaying the new atomic element 113 during a press conference in Wako, Saitama prefecture on 31 December 2015.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!!

Proving that Physicists were the Original Hipsters

A black and white photograph of Nobel physicist Richard Feynman, pictured smiling in front of the blackboard of a lecture room, which is covered with mathematical equations.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

All the Trappings of Artificial Intelligence – Does Cortana Dream of Electric Sheep?

A portrait of computer artificial intelligence Cortana, as pictured in computer game Halo.Meeting Cortana

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?

Just a Second…

A close-up photograph of an analog clock showing the hands just reaching the hour.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…

Zeno’s Paradoxes or What Happened When Achilles and the Hare Decided to Outfox the Legendary Tortoise

A drawing showing Greek champion Achilles chasing the hare and the tortoise in a race to the finish, with the legendary tortoise in the lead.Wacky Races

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

Geothermics and Gravity – The IRENA Global Atlas for Renewable Energy

A satellite colour map taken from the IRENA Global Atlas for Renewable Energy - Free Air Anomaly Map.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

Thermodynamics and Entropy – Our Irreversible Universe

A photographic montage representing entropy, shown a dropped china tea cup being broken down on impact.Irreversibility

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

The Ion Propulsion System – What the… #!$@*!!

Four different ion thrusters. Source: Michigan Technological University (MIT)“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… #!$@*!!

Ebola NOW! The Exponential Growth of a Deadly Outbreak

A photograph showing one of the containment-suited Ebola doctors caring for a yound victim of the illness during the Liberia epidemic in 2014.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

The Perfect Hollandaise Sauce – More Science in the Kitchen…

A photograph showing the classic (and ever so delicious) "There goes my diet" eggs Benedict!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 – One Nation with Sovereign Achievements… and a Pure Dead Brilliant Future!

A photograph of the countryside north of Glasgow - sheep grazing. Image: NaturPhilosophieScotland’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!

Satellite of Love – It’s Up, Up and Away for Scotland’s UKube-1

An artist's impression of the new Scotland UKube-1 micro-satellite in orbit around Earth.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

Calculating Entropy – The Energy of Change

A drawing showing a snowflake of Ice melting into molecules of water. From order to disorder, there is only entropy.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

Colossal Genius: Alan Turing

A black and white portrait of Alan Turing - the man behind the Enigma decryption.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 minds 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

Up Archimedes! – The Principle of Buoyancy

A photograph showing a huge mass of helium balloons carrying their human payload up into the sunset sky. Image: Jonathan FrappeArchimedes’ 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

Fibonacci’s Golden Spiral – The Relationship between Maths and Nature

A close-up photograph of a cross section through a Nautilus shell showing that the Fibonacci sequence can be found everywhere in Nature.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

Euler’s Equation: A Thing of Great Beauty

A picture showing the equation for Euler's Identity: e^{i Pi} + 1 = 0.Euler’s Identity

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

Waiting for Rosetta to Wake Up…

An artist's impression of the Rosetta spacecraft in outer space. Image: ESAThe 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…

Amazing Grace Hopper

A black and white photograph of a young Grace Hopper.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

The Law of Conservation of Energy: Life’s a Roller Coaster!

A photograph showing buddhist monks enjoying the scary thrills of a roller coaster ride. The Law of Conservation of Energy: Life's a roller coaster! - NaturPhilosophieWhat 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!

Revisiting the Millikan Experiment – What’s in an Oil Drop?

A droplet of oil just falling into a little yellow pool.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 eContinue reading Revisiting the Millikan Experiment – What’s in an Oil Drop?

Strings + A Capella = “Bohemian Gravity”?

Bohemian Gravity: "Any way you quantize, you encounter infinity."Describing The World Dynamics So Far

According to the current understanding of Physics, there is as yet no uniform field theory.  No all-encompassing well-rounded theory that would enable all the known fundamental forces and elementary particles to fit neatly into one simple model, and to be expressed in terms of a single field.

And since there is no accepted unified field theory, it remains an open line of research.  Canadian graduate student Timothy Blais decided to explore the idea and promote his findings in a way that really rocks…  ♫  Continue reading Strings + A Capella = “Bohemian Gravity”?