Category Archives: Geometry

Crimson Moon – A Total Lunar Eclipse

A meme showing Lance Corporal Jack Jones, from the fictional Home Guard platoon portrayed in popular British sitcom 'Dad's Army' uttering his familiar catchphrase: "Don't Panic!" with a total eclipse of the Moon appearing crimson red in the background.The Motion of Celestial Spheres

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

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

Optically Brilliant Metamaterials

Artwork illustration for 'Optically Brilliant Metamaterials', depicting a human eye looking at the nanoscopic world with the help of metamaterial molecules. Source: Canada Stock Journal

Smart Materials

They are made from assemblies of multiple elements fashioned from composite materials, like metals or plastics.  And they promise to revolutionize the way we look at things. Continue reading Optically Brilliant Metamaterials

Lateral Thinking in Science – Who Are You?

A photographic montage showing Laura Dern, Benedict Cumberbatch and Lennie James in various cinematic and TV roles as scientists. The caption asks: "What kind of scientist should you be?"What kind of Scientist are you?

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?

All the Trappings of Artificial Intelligence – Does Cortana Dream of Electric Sheep?

A portrait of computer artificial intelligence Cortana, as pictured in computer game Halo.Meeting Cortana

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?

Just a Second…

A close-up photograph of an analog clock showing the hands just reaching the hour.What Does a Second Look Like?

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…

Zeno’s Paradoxes or What Happened When Achilles and the Hare Decided to Outfox the Legendary Tortoise

A drawing showing Greek champion Achilles chasing the hare and the tortoise in a race to the finish, with the legendary tortoise in the lead.Wacky Races

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

Where The Streets Have No Name

A computer-generated drawing based on a photograph from a typical street in Saragossa, in Spain. Image: NaturPhilosophieAddressing the World

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

That Mysterious Missing Matter – Cocktail Party Physics

A 3D animation showing dark matter creation and the large scale structure of the Universe.Dark Matter

“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

400 – Anatomy of a Solar Eclipse

A photograph of the total eclipse seen from Tokyo in 2012, featuring the Sun's corona and the famous "diamond ring".Orbiting Spheres

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

Testing Times – Methods of Dating the Geological Past

A spiral-shaped drawing illustrating the Earth history through the ages, since the Big Bang and the birth of our Solar System.Cross-Referencing Geological Time

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

Ebola NOW! The Exponential Growth of a Deadly Outbreak

A photograph showing one of the containment-suited Ebola doctors caring for a yound victim of the illness during the Liberia epidemic in 2014.The Ebola Crisis is Growing Exponentially

“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 – One Nation with Sovereign Achievements… and a Pure Dead Brilliant Future!

A photograph of the countryside north of Glasgow - sheep grazing. Image: NaturPhilosophieScotland’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!

Satellite of Love – It’s Up, Up and Away for Scotland’s UKube-1

An artist's impression of the new Scotland UKube-1 micro-satellite in orbit around Earth.Scotland’s First Nano-Satellite

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

Colossal Genius: Alan Turing

A black and white portrait of Alan Turing - the man behind the Enigma decryption.60 Years Hence

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 minds 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

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

Fibonacci’s Golden Spiral – The Relationship between Maths and Nature

A close-up photograph of a cross section through a Nautilus shell showing that the Fibonacci sequence can be found everywhere in Nature.The Language of Nature

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

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

Waiting for Rosetta to Wake Up…

An artist's impression of the Rosetta spacecraft in outer space. Image: ESAThe Rosetta Spacecraft

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…

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”?

The Art and Science of Music Acoustics – From the Humble Flute to the Mighty Didgeridoo (Featuring Tarzan…)

A photograph featuring an aboriginal didgeridoo player sitting on the beach with his instrument.Fundamentals of Music Acoustics

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…)

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’

Why the Universe may be Inherently Unstable

"The Cosmic Soup": An impressionist artist's view of the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) Radiation at the edge of our Local Universe. Artwork:: NaturPhilosophie

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

The Field Equations of General Relativity

An artist's impression of the Earth's gravity field as described in Einstein's General Relativity.

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

\boldsymbol G = \frac {- 8 \pi G}{c^4} \boldsymbol T   Continue reading The Field Equations of General Relativity

Secrets of the Bubble Chamber

A picture collage showing the Gargamelle bubble chamber and the Smurfs archvillain sorcerer, Gargamelle.What Do Gargamelle and Picasso Have in Common?

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