Category Archives: Electricity

Leviathan: The Energy Giant that Sleeps under the Mediterranean

An aerial photograph of an oil rig at Sedco gas field, Leviathan.The Leviathan Natural Gas 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 – One Nation with Sovereign Achievements… and a Pure Dead Brilliant Future!

A photograph of the countryside north of Glasgow - sheep grazing. Image: NaturPhilosophie

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!

We Glimpse at the Body Electric – An Introduction to the Physics of the Human Nervous System

An artist's impression of the human nervous system at work.The Human Nervous System: 100 Plus Billion Cells

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

Van der Waals and the Gecko

A photographic collage showing a black and white portrait of Van der Waals and a gecko climbing on the outside of a corrugated glass panel.The Sticky Physics of Van der Waals Forces

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

Rise of the Exoskeletons – Get Up… and Kick-Off!

An artist's impression of one of the ground-breaking medical event due to take place at the Sao Paulo, Brazil 2014 Footbal World Cup opening ceremony. Image: Walk Again ProjectMind Controlled Exoskeleton Demonstration at 2014 World Cup Opening Ceremony

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!

Graphite to Graphene… in a Kitchen Blender

A photograph showing a ball-and-stick model of graphene near a typical kitchen blender. Image: NaturPhilosophieThe Wonder Material

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

Salted Earth – At one Corner of the Lithium Triangle

A photograph showing the great salt lake plain at Uyuni in the Lithium Triangle, in South America.Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia

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

We Delve into Time-of-Flight Mass Spectrometry Forensics!

A photograph showing latent fingerprints under the magnifier, enhanced using a large electrical potential. Source: RSCSleuthing with Time-of-Flight Mass Spectrometry

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!

The Enduring Mystery of Earthquake Lights – What Makes a Miracle?

A photograph showing an earthquake light - a rainbow cloud, taken in May 2008, in the region of Sichuan, China.Earthquake Lights in the Sky

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…

Continue reading The Enduring Mystery of Earthquake Lights – What Makes a Miracle?

Magnetic “Monopole” Observed in Quantum System – The Lowdown on Electromagnetism

A representation of an artificial magnetic monopoles field.On the Trail of the Elusive Magnetic Monopole

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

http://www.roboearth.org/ – The Matrix is Everywhere…

A photograph showing an old-fashioned computer screen showing a lot of data in green font type on the black screen background and the words "The Matrix has you..." is displayed in the centre.What is RoboEarth?

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…

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”?

Colour Perception and Retinal Neurons – Attempting to Map the Human Brain

A close-up photograph showing a brown eye. Image: NaturPhilosophieColour Perception – The Eye of the Beholder

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 lightContinue reading Colour Perception and Retinal Neurons – Attempting to Map the Human Brain

What do Physicists do anyway?

Air Apparent

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.

Continue reading What do Physicists do anyway?

Tropical Thunderstorms in Glasgow: The Tale of the Atmospheric River

A MET Office satellite map showing thunder and heavy rain over Glasgow on 26 July 2013.Scottish Downpours Tropical-Style

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

A Boy and His Atom

A picture slide from the World's Smallest Movie. Image: IBM

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

60-Second Hilarious Adventures in Astronomy

A slide picture from 60 seconds in Astronomy, showing English astronomer on holiday. Image: The Open University12 Short Videos about the Physics of the Cosmos

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…

Continue reading 60-Second Hilarious Adventures in Astronomy

Lightning and the Earth’s Electric Field

A photograph showing some spectacular lightning bolts above a city skyline at night.Earth’s Electric Field

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 10C, 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

Let There Be Light…

A photograph showing the sun reflecting over the waters at Loch Kathrine through a curtain of trees. Low sun. Image: NaturPhilosophieFiat Lux…

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…