The Universe never sleeps. Every now and then, the night sky presents us mere mortals with some heavenly spectacle. A Bonnie Tyler moment. This Friday, the Moon will enter the catwalk dressed in red to accomplish its otherwise normal nightly travel around the Earth. For one night only. A strange and rare celestial sight at dusk – a total lunar eclipse. Continue reading Crimson Moon – A Total Lunar Eclipse
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
They are made from assemblies of multiple elements fashioned from composite materials, like metals or plastics. And they promise to revolutionise the way we look at things. Continue reading Optically Brilliant Metamaterials
Already this article is beginning to sound like one of those sempiternal quizzes you so often get on social media… but it actually shows how science reality connects. Are you having a scientific identity crisis? Continue reading Lateral Thinking in Science – Who Are You?
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?
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…
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
About four billion people on our planet actually live in places with no house numbers, no street names, or without anything that constitutes a proper address. They are effectively off-the-map, with no voting rights or access to public utilities. A new company called What3Words proposes to revolutionise that… Continue reading Where The Streets Have No Name
“Dark matter?” You cannot see it. But there is something there. As for what it is, it’s anybody’s guess! Dark matter does not interact with light. At all. Which makes it difficult to detect. “But if you cannot see it? How do you know it is in fact there?” Well, it does interact with gravity, and as it does so it bends the path of any light ray passing nearby... “And did it really kill the dinosaurs…?” Continue reading That Mysterious Missing Matter – Cocktail Party Physics
Right on cue, day turned into a sudden eerie twilight as a great swathe of the Earth’s surface quickly plunged into transient darkness. The magic number is 400. For many observers, weather conditions were far from ideal. Clouds obscured the much awaited spectacle of the 2015 eclipse. Thankfully, alternatives were available to astronomers keen not to miss the big event… Continue reading 400 – Anatomy of a Solar Eclipse
At the beginning of the 20th century, the discovery of the radiometric “clock” revolutionised our understanding of the Earth’s deep history, confirming what geologists had been claiming for decades. Nevertheless, newer and more accurate dating methods posed further problems in themselves. After all, how do we know our Earth is 4.5 billion years old, and not a mere few thousands of years as suggested by the Bible? Continue reading Testing Times – Methods of Dating the Geological Past
“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
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!
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
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 mi More…nds 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
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
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
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
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…
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”?
Any signal that may be represented as an amplitude varying over time has a corresponding frequency spectrum. This applies to concepts (and natural phenomena) that most human beings encounter daily, without giving them a second thought. Such as visible light (and colour perception), radio/TV channels, wireless communications… Even the regular rotation of the Earth. Even the sound of music… Continue reading The Art and Science of Music Acoustics – From the Humble Flute to the Mighty Didgeridoo (Featuring Tarzan…)
“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’
Exploring Vacuum Instability
Scientists are currently exploring the concept of vacuum instability. What does this mean? Well, they believe there is a chance that… Billions of years from now, a new universe could open up into the present one and replace it. It all depends on some very precise numbers related to the Higgs boson particle that researchers are currently trying to pin down.
If the calculation on vacuum instability holds, it would revive the old idea that the ‘Big Bang’ Universe we can observe today, is merely the latest version in a permanent cycle of events… Continue reading Why the Universe may be Inherently Unstable
Keeping It Relatively Simple
The Einstein Field Equations of General Relativity are vast and complex, but they can be written with deceptive simplicity. Using modern notation, the field equations can be formulated as
Nope. Nothing to do with the arch-nemesis of the Smurfs or with an avant-garde artistic masterpiece, unlike the top picture appears to suggest… Actually, the Gargamelle on the left is at CERN and takes its name after the giantess in the works of satirist François Rabelais: she was Gargantua’s mother! The Gargamelle is a historical ‘bubble chamber’ detector however… Continue reading Secrets of the Bubble Chamber