Category Archives: Energy

Music for Cats… – Guaranteed to be your Cat’s Jam!

"His Mistress's Voice" - original artwork starring Quark the cat pictured in 2011. Image: NaturPhilosophieScientifically Proven to be Your Cat’s Jam

A team of scientists have written music that they found most cats respond to a “little like sonic catnip”.  They used tempos and melodies originating from purrs and suckling.  Continue reading Music for Cats… – Guaranteed to be your Cat’s Jam!

Hunting Ripples in the Fabric of Space-Time – The Trials and Tribulations of LISA

Artwork for "Hunting Ripples in the Fabric of Space-Time – The Trials and Tribulations of LISA" showing the LISA space array, with the caption: "Think Again!" Artwork: NaturPhilosophieMeet LISA!

Erm…No.  Not Mona Lisa!  (Rolls eyes.)  Think again!!  This is LISA – the Lisa Pathfinder satellite, the key element for a grand new project: a space-based gravitational observatory.  Continue reading Hunting Ripples in the Fabric of Space-Time – The Trials and Tribulations of LISA

In the Midst of the Sixth Mass Extinction…

An artist's impression of a post-apocalyptic New York City skyline, with the scorched cracked earth at the forefront and an eerie yellow glow at the background.Exponential Population Growth

The World population has grown to 7 billion, and it is expected to reach over 9 billion by 2050.  In the long-term, this  growth is unsustainable, as vital resources are becoming increasingly depleted and humanity faces a number of threats to its continued expansion.  Many believe that scientists will solve these problems with new technology.  Are humans causing the sixth mass extinction?  What is the reality?  Continue reading In the Midst of the Sixth Mass Extinction…

Breaking Bad – The Evolutionary Perspective of Evil

A blurred photograph featuring the face of an angry ape chimpanzee. Image: NaturPhilosophieEvil as an Evolutionary Advantage

There is a side of us that is not unique to our own species.  Evil.  Why?  How did it start?  The first time.  Asking why evil came into existence is a valid question.  Evil behaviours are categorised into four distinct groups.  Of course, it gets pretty dark.  But what is “Evil”?  Continue reading Breaking Bad – The Evolutionary Perspective of Evil

A Theory of Life… The Physics of Cells and Macroscopic Irreversibility

A meme that reads: "Life has No Ctrl + Z".“It’s Life!  But Not as We Know it…”

There is one essential difference between living things and inanimate clumps of carbon atoms.  From an all-physical point of view, the former tend to be so much better at capturing energy from their environment and dissipating that energy as heat.  At MIT, Jeremy England derived a mathematical formula that he believes explains this capacity.  Continue reading A Theory of Life… The Physics of Cells and Macroscopic Irreversibility

Between the Lines of the Herculaneum Papyri using X-Ray Imaging Techniques

A photographic montage showing a calcinated Herculaneum papyrus scroll on a Greek scriptures background. Scrolling Back the Past at Herculaneum

Once a chic resort on the Bay of Naples, Herculaneum was favoured by the finest of Roman’s elite society, who spent the hot Italian summers there… until a catastrophe struck one afternoon in 79 AD.  The Villa dei Papiri, excavated centuries later, was found to contain the only library to have survived from the Classical World – a unique cultural treasure, which the eruption of Mount Vesuvius nearly destroyed, and yet preserved all at once.  How do you read what is essentially a charred book?  Continue reading Between the Lines of the Herculaneum Papyri using X-Ray Imaging Techniques

A Day in the Life of a Plant – Photosynthesis and Phytochemistry

A photograph showing two hands together holding a clod of earth with a small green seedling.Plant Life

Plant life is one of Nature’s miracles.  Imagine being a plant and almost all you will ever need to keep on striving is sheer sunlight.  In green plants, both photosynthesis and aerobic respiration occur.  It’s a lot like the way in which the human body breaks down food into fuel that it can store.  Essentially, using energy from the Sun, a plant can transform carbon dioxide CO2 and water into glucose and oxygen… Continue reading A Day in the Life of a Plant – Photosynthesis and Phytochemistry

The Discovery of Gravitational Waves – Merging Black Holes and Advanced LIGO

An animation illustrating two colliding and merging black holes in outer space.

Black Holes Far Ago Have Been Causing a Stir…

You know how when you throw a rock into a pool, that makes ripples in the water?  And how Einstein once upon a time predicted that the very mass of stars and planets should warp spacetime?  Although we have had a justified inkling that Einstein was right for quite some time, we had never before detected such a phenomenon.  Until THIS happened… Continue reading The Discovery of Gravitational Waves – Merging Black Holes and Advanced LIGO

Defining the Anthropocene – What is the Age of Man?

An artist's impression of a baffled orangutan.The Age of Man

We, humans, have driven environmental changes on a scale that is unique in Earth’s history.  Human-driven biological, chemical and physical changes to the Earth’s system are so great, rapid and distinct that they may characterise an entirely new epoch – The Anthropocene. Continue reading Defining the Anthropocene – What is the Age of Man?

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!!

The Everlasting Storm of Catatumbo, Venezuela

A photograph showing the intense lightning at Catatumbo in Venezuela. National Geographic MagazineCatatumbo’s Lightning Show

There is a place on Earth where lightning storms last forever.  We are at Catatumbo, in Venezuela.  And this year, Catatumbo was approved for inclusion in the Guinness Book of World Records, as the place in the World with the most lightning bolts per square kilometre each year at 250.  What causes such a powerful storm to develop in the same spot, up to 300 nights a year? Continue reading The Everlasting Storm of Catatumbo, Venezuela

We Do Science on Crack… with Cocaine and the Blood-Brain Barrier

A classic picture showing a line of cocaine, along with a rolled-up dollar bill.Root of All Evil

Goofball, candy, ice, crack, snow, weasel dust, Belushi, Charlie…  High in the Andes of South America, Erythroxylum coca grows as a shrub.  For 2,500 years at least, its leaves have been known and used for their stimulant properties.  Over 5 million people use cocaine and its derivatives in the United States alone. Continue reading We Do Science on Crack… with Cocaine and the Blood-Brain Barrier

Professor Challenger, The Earth Core and The Moho

A photographic montage featuring a classic Joseph Clement Coll's Professor Challenger character seen running and waving an umbrella against a background of serpentinite. Image: NaturPhilosophieProfessor Challenger, We Meet At Last!

The days of Professor Challenger are here.  This week, scientists have set out to drill deeper into the Earth’s mantle than has ever been done before.  This time, let us hope the World will not scream!  Continue reading Professor Challenger, The Earth Core and The Moho

COP21 – The Return Les “Entreprenieurs” in Paris

A mock cinemascope picture featuring a well-dressed male in control of green business practices in the background. The prominent white text on the foreground says: "Bronze Age: 3200 BC - 600 BC" and "The Oil Age: 1859 - 2015". Image: NaturPhilosophieCOP21  They’re Back!!!

Better than the A-Team, it’s COP21!  Never have so many World leaders been in the same place on the same day.  This time, they have just ten years to make a difference!  Could the problems be solved?  Will the World finally be saved?  Continue reading COP21 – The Return Les “Entreprenieurs” in Paris

What’s the Matter… with Spontelectrics?

An artist's impression of a blue electric field in gas. Source: Science AlertSpontelectrics

This blog is cool.  It’s spontaneous!  It’s electric!!  But not as cool as it has been at these cutting-edge laboratories on the outskirts of Europe.  Scientists there are dealing with an entirely new type of solid matter – ‘spontelectrics’. Continue reading What’s the Matter… with Spontelectrics?

What Lies Beneath – The Toxic Legacy of Post-War Ammunitions Sea Dumping

A stamp from the Faroe Islands depicting a naval ship dumping barrels of chemical warfare agents at sea.A Long Time Ago…

Following World War I and World War II, at least three major powers disposed of massive quantities of captured, damaged and obsolete chemical warfare material by dumping them into the oceans.  Mustard gas, phosgene, lewisite…  Submerged chemical ammunitions pose very serious ongoing environmental problems. Continue reading What Lies Beneath – The Toxic Legacy of Post-War Ammunitions Sea Dumping

On the Trail of Hurricane Patricia

A NASA photograph showing the extent of Hurricane Patricia seen from space - the largest hurricane ever recorded on Earth.The Strongest Ever Hurricane

23rd October 2015.  The ‘strongest ever’ hurricane recorded in the Western hemisphere is about to make a “potentially catastrophic” landfall on the western coast of Mexico.  This is hurricane Patricia.  At that time, the super storm is a Category 5.    Weather scientists predict 20 inches of rain and 200 miles per hour winds… Continue reading On the Trail of Hurricane Patricia

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

Three Trillion Trees

A photograph of trees in the Meridon Forest in Central France. Image: NaturphilosophieGreen Planet

Once upon a time, Europe was almost covered by one giant forest.  Now, it’s almost entirely fields and grasslands.  Humans are controlling tree densities.  Understanding the global extent and distribution of forest trees is central to our understanding of the terrestrial biosphere. Continue reading Three Trillion Trees

From Super Weed to Super-Capacitors, Another Surprising Use for Cannabis…

A close-up photograph of "skunk" cannabis being poured out of a glass container. The photograph has been stamped with the "Intel Inside" logo.Nano-Cannabis?

Waste fibres from cannabis crops can be transformed into high-performance low-cost pseudo-graphene energy storage devices.  Cannabis is quite possibly the most versatile, yet highly controversial, plant we have on the planet: from a popular recreational drug to a potential medicine for a range of incurable conditions.  If Carlsberg made a weed, this would be it… Continue reading From Super Weed to Super-Capacitors, Another Surprising Use for Cannabis…

Size Matters… in Astrophysical Terms

Little Big Earth and the Universe

Let’s talk about size…  😉  How big are the objects floating in our Universe and how big can they get?  Starting with a “big” object, our very own Moon…  Embark on a tour of space…  A tour of our Universe… Continue reading Size Matters… in Astrophysical Terms

Behold… the Mystical Pentaquark! – More Exotic Matter Discovered at CERN

A photomontage showing my two open hands facing the camera, between which a pictorial representation in red of the elusive pentaquark particle appears to be levitating. Image: NaturPhilosophiePentaquark… Eh, WHAT?!

First predicted in the 1960s, like the Higgs boson before it, the pentaquark eluded science for decades until its recent detection at CERN’s LHCb collaboration.  The discovery amounts to finding a new form of matter… Continue reading Behold… the Mystical Pentaquark! – More Exotic Matter Discovered at CERN

Eyes of the Beholder

Look into my eyes! Image: NaturPhilosophieReading Someone’s Mind through their Eyes?

Look into my eyes.  The eyes, the eyes.  Not around the eyes.  Don’t look AROUND the eyes.  Look INTO my eyes.  The eyes…  [click]  You’re not under!  But…  Can you read my mind? Continue reading Eyes of the Beholder

We Check the Time of Death with Post-Mortem Degradation of Skeletal Proteins – And Other Gruesome Forensic Facts of Life

A photomontage showing a body outline, "Do Not Cross" yellow police tape, and a magnifier focused on the word "Forensics". The picture also lists the following forensic ways to estimate the time of death - Wait: Determine the time of death; Rigor mortis; Decomposition; Forensic Entomology; Succession on corpses; Other decomposers.Estimating the Time of Death

Forensic researchers from the University of Salzburg have developed a new method for establishing an exact time of death after as long as 10 days – a significant step forward from the current method of measuring core body temperature, which only works up to 36 hours after death. Continue reading We Check the Time of Death with Post-Mortem Degradation of Skeletal Proteins – And Other Gruesome Forensic Facts of Life

Seeing the Light Fantastic – Particles, Waves and All

This seminal photograph shows, for the first time, light in all its beauty, simultaneously seen as a wave and as a particle.Light in All its Beauty

Taking a radically different experimental approach, EPFL scientists were able to take the first ever snapshot of light behaving simultaneously both as a wave AND as a stream of particles.  You need light to take a photograph.  But how do you take a photograph of light? Continue reading Seeing the Light Fantastic – Particles, Waves and All