It’s not often you can see lightning above Glasgow, so this 2006 Flickr photograph is a rare and impressive sight. But that’s not the point… A study by researchers in the United Kingdom shows it is not just conditions here on Earth that determine how much thunder and lightning we get. The Sun’s magnetic field also has a major influence, more than doubling the number of lightning bolts on some days… Continue reading Lightning and the Sun’s Magnetic Field
The Leviathan is a large natural gas field located in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea. Together with the nearby Tamar gas field, the Leviathan has been seen as an opportunity for Israel to become a major energy power in the Middle East. This is the Leviathan – a giant gas field with the titanic potential to change Israel’s foreign relations towards a closer collaboration with Turkey and Egypt. Good news in an uncertain energy security climate… Continue reading Leviathan: The Energy Giant that Sleeps under the Mediterranean
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!
The human nervous system contains roughly 100 billion nerve cells. Worth pausing for an instant… and read it again. That’s right, 100 billions! To give an idea of the scale, the Milky Way, our own galaxy, contains roughly 100 billion stars. And although human beings are way smaller than galaxies, we begin to appreciate how each one of us is as complex, as mysterious, and as magnificent in its own right, as any large astronomical entity in the physical Universe. Continue reading We Glimpse at the Body Electric – An Introduction to the Physics of the Human Nervous System
Geckos are amazing creatures. They scamper up walls, scuttle along ceilings and hang upside down on polished glass surfaces. However, the secret of their amazing climbing ability remained a mystery until relatively recently. The secret lies in weak intermolecular forces, described by Van der Waals in 1873. Continue reading Van der Waals and the Gecko
On 12 June at Arena Corinthians in São Paulo, shortly before 5pm local time, a young paraplegic Brazilian youth will stand up from a wheelchair… walk over to midfield… and take a kick in the opening ceremony of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil! Continue reading Rise of the Exoskeletons – Get Up… and Kick-Off!
Ten years ago, the discovery of the wonder material – Graphene – was announced. Graphene is thin, stronger than steel, flexible, non-metallic, yet electrically conductive. For all these reasons, graphene promises to transform electronics, as well as other technologies. Because of its potential in industry, researchers have been looking for ways to make defect-free graphene in large amounts. Continue reading Graphite to Graphene… in a Kitchen Blender
A crisp and perfectly flat white plain lies like freshly fallen snow, 100 kilometres (60 miles) across and 3,600 metres (12,000 ft) up in the remote Bolivian Andes. This hauntingly beautiful place, Salar de Uyuni, could be part of the key to tackling climate change, helping to wean the World away from its love of fossil fuels. Continue reading Salted Earth – At one Corner of the Lithium Triangle
Time-of-Flight Mass Spectrometry is a technique for separating ions of different masses by measuring the time taken to traverse a fixed distance through a magnetic field. Sounds a bit arcane? The technique is used daily by forensic investigative teams to research criminal profiling and provide reliable evidence for the prosecution… Continue reading We Delve into Time-of-Flight Mass Spectrometry Forensics!
Mysterious flashes of light and clear-sky lightning, blue flames? Glowing orbs and fireballs? Will-o’-the-wisps? Stand-alone rainbow clouds and light pillars? How could this be…?
Scientists in the United States now say that earthquake lightning flashes appearing to precede earthquakes, are likely to be sparked by movements within the ground below. This phenomenon could be used to trigger alarms and help warn millions of an impending danger…
Break a magnet into two pieces, and what do you obtain? What you get, unsurprisingly perhaps, are two new magnets – each one with two sides of opposite polarity. You don’t get a north half and a south half. Back to square one, it seems… Continue reading Magnetic “Monopole” Observed in Quantum System – The Lowdown on Electromagnetism
A world wide web for robots to learn from each other and share information is being unveiled for the first time. The eventual aim of the system is that both robots and humans will be able to upload information to the cloud-based database, which would act as a kind of common brain for machines. Continue reading http://www.roboearth.org/ – The Matrix is Everywhere…
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?
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”?
Seeing the World in glorious colours is central to our lives. Colours shape the way we behave. They affect our mood and our perception. They can influence the way we interact and respond to social and environmental stimuli, whether we are directly aware of it, or through subliminal awareness of our external world. Again, it is one of those things that most people take for granted in everyday life.
Colour perception is all subjective. Colours only exist when three components are present: a viewer, an object, and light. Continue reading Colour Perception and Retinal Neurons – Attempting to Map the Human Brain
Over 50,000 deaths each year in the UK are attributed to air pollution. Physicist, entrepreneur and father Mark Richards is concerned about the environment and in particular the air pollution that we expose our children to. He has developed a handy machine which can monitor air quality. He wants people to see how bad air pollution is, so that we all think more carefully about our lifestyles and travel methods.
Near-tropical thunderous rain downpours have succeeded the balmy high temperatures that summer has brought to Glasgow of late. Deep black skies. Thunderbolts. Lightning. (♫ Very, very frightening! Galileo Galileo… ♫) Unusual conditions even for a very wet Scotland. Continue reading Tropical Thunderstorms in Glasgow: The Tale of the Atmospheric River
Made of Atoms
IBM researchers currently hold the Guinness World Record for the ‘World Smallest Stop-Motion Film’ after creating a short film about a boy and his ball, by manipulating single atoms. Continue reading A Boy and His Atom
The Open University has teamed up with “geek chic” comedian David Mitchell to release a series of 12 short animated YouTube videos about the Physics of the Cosmos: “60-Second Adventures in Astronomy”. A real treat. And it’s educational! If you have only 60 seconds, you can now learn everything we know about matter, energy, life, the Universe and everything…
The Earth has an electric field. On average, this field points vertically downwards and it has a magnitude of about 100 N C-1 (Newtons per Coulomb). It exists because the Earth’s surface carries a negative charge of – 5 x 105 C, while the upper atmosphere carries a compensating positive charge. An average of 400,000 thunderstorms a day Continue reading Lightning and the Earth’s Electric Field
Light. Most of us take it for granted during the day. And at night, we have learned to domesticate it. Light, the natural agent that stimulates our sense of sight and makes things around us visible. Continue reading Let There Be Light…