Category Archives: Environment

Are the Jet Streams Dynamics Santa’s Revenge? No, really.

A picture showing the location of the Earth's jet streams taken by NASA's Cassini space probe.Unprecedented Weather Events

If you have had it up to here with floods in England, if you are left cold by the snow in the United States or mystified by the unseasonably mild temperatures in Scandinavia, blame it on Santa Claus!  Continue reading Are the Jet Streams Dynamics Santa’s Revenge? No, really.

Algae to Bio-Crude Oil in 60 Minutes?

A photograph showing a hand covered with slimy green algae.Evergreen Energy from Algae

Engineers have designed a continuous chemical process that produces useful crude oil in under an hour.  All from a verdant green algae paste with the consistency of pea soup…  Continue reading Algae to Bio-Crude Oil in 60 Minutes?

Sea Level Rise vs Atmospheric CO2

A map showing what the coast lines of Western Europe will look like with a 20-metre sea level rise.Manmade Carbon CO2 Pollution Has Already Put Us on Track for 20 Metres of Sea Level Rise

The bad news is that we’re all but certain to end up with a coastline at least this flooded: 20 metres or 69 feet The “good” news Continue reading Sea Level Rise vs Atmospheric CO2

Silent Sun

A photograph of the Sun's full disk. Image: NASAWhy has the Sun been so quiet?

The Sun ought be awash with activity right now.  But space scientists are baffled…  The Sun has reached its solar maximum: the point in its 11-year cycle where activity is at a peak.  Yet it has hit a lull.  And to see when the Sun was this inactive last… you’ve got to go back about 100 years…  Continue reading Silent Sun

North by Northeast: The Trouble with the Earth’s Shifting Magnetic Field

A photograph taken at Loch Lomond. Image: NaturPhilosophieA Rambling Geomagnetic Pole

Magnetic North made an unusual and historic shift.  For the first time in more than 220 years of map making, Ordnance Survey has noted that North lies East, and not West, of Grid north for parts of Southern Britain.  But how does this shift in magnetic field affect map reading in Scotland’s hills?  Continue reading North by Northeast: The Trouble with the Earth’s Shifting Magnetic Field

Water of Life

A clever design showing the word H2O drawn in condensation water droplets.An Essential Molecule for the Sustainability of Life

Water.  H2O.  The chemical formula is simple.  Two atoms of hydrogen H and one atom of oxygen O, held together by covalent bonds, are all it takes to make what is perhaps the most fundamental substance to life on Earth.  Continue reading Water of Life

Olivine – Squeezing Hydrogen from Stone and Capturing Carbon

A photograph showing a block of olivine gemstone.Olivine, A Common Earth Mineral

Olivine is a common green mineral, present in the Earth’s subsurface.  The mineral is also called ‘peridot’ and ‘chrysolite’ when mined as a semi-precious stone.

When exposed at the Earth’s surface, olivine weathers quickly.  The serpentine mineral that results is of increasing interest to scientists looking for a viable solution to clean the atmosphere from CO2Continue reading Olivine – Squeezing Hydrogen from Stone and Capturing Carbon

November’s Greatest Sex Show on Earth

An aerial photograph of the Big Blue Hole - a stunning part of the Belize Coral Barrier Reef.The Coral Barrier Reef is Only in the Mood Once a Year.

Aawww!!  What?  Not what you were expecting?  What are you like…  Anyway, it made you look!  😉

This great sex show, the greatest sex show on Earth, happens every year, around about now, in November.  When the tides are just right and the Moon is full, the Coral Reef literally erupts!  Continue reading November’s Greatest Sex Show on Earth

In the Eye of Super Typhoon Haiyan

A photograph of typhoon Haiyan over the Philippines, taken from the International Space Station (ISS). Image: NASATyphoon Haiyan of the Philippines

Typhoon Haiyan was a huge weather system.  If you haven’t heard about the devastation caused by Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines by now, then you probably don’t care…  Continue reading In the Eye of Super Typhoon Haiyan

Chelyabinsk Asteroid: Nine Months After The Russian Meteor Impact

A CCTV photograph showing the Chelyabinsk meteor burning bright in the atmosphere over Russia. Image: NaturPhilosophieThe Day of the Chelyabinsk Asteroid

Just nine months ago, a massive asteroid blew up above the city of Chelyabinsk in Russia.  The explosion created by the Chelyabinsk asteroid on Friday 15 February 2013 was the    Continue reading Chelyabinsk Asteroid: Nine Months After The Russian Meteor Impact

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!

IPCC 2013 Stockholm – Latest Findings on Climate Change

A photograph showing the bright Sun shining over the Chukchi Sea. The planet's far northern and southern latitudes are projected to experience the greatest change under increasing global temperatures - and in many cases they already are. Image: Chris Linder, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

The IPCC 2013 Report

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has just released its latest summary of the science behind human-caused climate change or, to use its catchy official title, the IPCC Working Group 1 Fifth Assessment Report Summary for Policy Makers – Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis.

The document summary is 36 pages long.  The report includes 14 chapters and a dizzying amount of graphs, data and figures.  Here are just a few…  Continue reading IPCC 2013 Stockholm – Latest Findings on Climate Change

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?

The Moser Bottle Lamp: ‘Divine Light’

A close-up photograph of Alfredo Moser in the light of the bottle lamp - his makeshift invention.Sun Light in a Bottle

“God gave the Sun to everyone”, Alfredo Moser states modestly.  And Moser gave his light to everyone.  Over the last couple of years, Moser’s ingenious innovation has spread throughout the World, bringing the bottle lamps to locations from Brazil to the Philippines and Bangladesh.  By early next year, it is estimated that one million homes will have benefited from his simple idea…  Continue reading The Moser Bottle Lamp: ‘Divine Light’

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

Once in a Blue Moon…

A photograph showing a blue-tinged Moon in 2012.One of a Rare Status Update

Apparently, the phrase “once in a blue moon”, in the sense of something that occurs very rarely, dates back to 1824.  I will check this out as soon as I have time… Continue reading Once in a Blue Moon…

Earth’s Atmosphere

A NASA picture showing the sunset seen from the edge of the Earth atmosphere.

Planet Earth

Our planet is surrounded by layers of gas, the ‘atmosphere’, maintained around it by the very gravitational attraction of the Earth.  An important part of the atmosphere that we use to breathe and that plants use in photosynthesis is the ‘air’.  Continue reading Earth’s Atmosphere

Meteors over Russia

A CCTV picture showing the large fireball meteor fly-over Russia on 15 February 2013.

Historic Event in Astronomy

Today, Friday 15th February 2013.  Russia’s Ural mountains.  A fireball streaks through the clear morning sky.  Loud bangs follow.  A meteor crashes in Russia about 1,500 kilometres (930 miles) east of Moscow.   Continue reading Meteors over Russia

Rainbows, Rainbows Everywhere!

A photograph showing a rainbow over Glasgow Southside in 2004. Image: NaturPhilosophieRainbows: Technicolor Symphonies in the Sky

Rainbows are one of Nature’s most gorgeous optical spectacles to behold, brightening up clouded skies with an ephemeral palette of colours when the light falls just right…  Continue reading Rainbows, Rainbows Everywhere!

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

Fallen from Outer Space…

A photograph of Daredevil Felix Baumgartner, as he boldly prepares to jump off his high altitude capsule for the ultimate record-breaking space dive on 14th October 2012.

Record-Breaking Space Dive

14th October 2012.  During his ultimate high-altitude parachute jump, Felix Baumgartner spends approximately 4 minutes and 22 seconds in freefall, at the maximum speed of 1,342 kilometres per hour.  Continue reading Fallen from Outer Space…