Category Archives: Gravity

All Alone in the Night…

Late O’ Clock at Night

It’s late o’clock at night. All alone in the night? Enjoy this amazing time footage flyover of the Earth from the International Space Station. Absolutely uplifting… Positively enthralling…
Continue reading All Alone in the Night…

Coffee’s Up!

A photograph showing Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti, sporting her Starfleet uniform on board the International Space Station.#BlueDot

Expedition 43 astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti snapped this photograph of herself wearing the Starfleet uniform from TV series “Star Trek: Voyager” aboard the International Space Station, and posted it on her Twitter account @AstroSamantha last month.

Continue reading Coffee’s Up!

The Sound of Physics

A photograph featuring an electric guitar player and the music score of the Higgs "sonification" by the rock band, Traq.LOUD!!!

Should you ever have wondered what the Higgs boson sounds like…  It’s…  “AS LOUD AS A RIFF BY JOE SATRIANI.  WHAT?!  IT’S AS LOUD… AS A…”  Oh, wait!!  Here it is. Continue reading The Sound of Physics

Geothermics and Gravity – The IRENA Global Atlas for Renewable Energy

A satellite colour map taken from the IRENA Global Atlas for Renewable Energy - Free Air Anomaly Map.Eye on the Energy Sources of the Future

Geothermal energy prospectors have long used gravity meters in their search for the right subsurface characteristics.  But these have been point measurements.  GOCE now provides this information across the World at a resolution never before achieved on that scale.  Continue reading Geothermics and Gravity – The IRENA Global Atlas for Renewable Energy

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

The Basics of the Higgs Boson Explained

A slide from the TED lecture on the Basics of the Higgs Boson featuring particle physicists Dave Barney and Steve Goldfarb in the guise of a pink slug...Two Guys Walk Into a Bar…

That’s how this TED video on the Higgs boson begins.  I say two guys…  It’s more like one physicist working on the Large Hadron Collider at CERN – the European laboratory for Particle Physics – aka Dave Barney, and a Blues singer, aka Steve Goldfarb, in the guise of a pink slug… Continue reading The Basics of the Higgs Boson Explained

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

Celestial Rendez-Vous – An Equinoctial Total Eclipse of the Sun

A photograph showing the Sun's diamond ring during a total eclipse.

Polar Equinoctial Eclipse 2015

On 20th March 2015, the Moon will pass in front of the Sun and exactly block out most of its light.  It will be the first total solar eclipse of the 21st century that is visible from the northernmost regions of Europe… Continue reading Celestial Rendez-Vous – An Equinoctial Total Eclipse of the Sun

Northern Lights over Scotland

A photograph taken from the International Space Station and showing the northern lights $ ($aurora borealis$ )$ above Scotland.#BlueDot

This mesmerising image of the Northern Lights over Scotland was captured by Baltimore-born NASA astronaut Terry Virts, a member of Expedition 42 from the International Space Station earlier this week, as it drifted over Europe. Continue reading Northern Lights over Scotland

Planck’s Time and the “Oldest Light” in the Cosmos

A photomontage showing an image of the Planck spacecraft superimposed on a sky planisphere of the Cosmic Microwave Background $ ($CMB$ )$ Radiation.Who, What, Where?

What happened at time T = 0?  is still anybody’s guess.  At least, earlier observations of Planck’s radiation had suggested the first generation of stars were bursting into life by about 420 million years after the Big Bang.  However, scientists from Europe’s Planck satellite mission now say the first stars lit up the Universe later than was previously thought… Continue reading Planck’s Time and the “Oldest Light” in the Cosmos

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

Earth Creation – The Story So Far…

An artist's impression showing two hands touching on a cloudy night sky background, inspired by Michelangelo's famous scene of Genesis on the frescoed ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican. The moment of Earth creation?Earth is Born

Our planet has existed for 4.5 billion years, and it has been a busy lifetime.  From amazing leaps and bounds forward into evolution to devastating asteroid impacts and other episodic extinctions, here are the biggest milestones in Earth’s history – the eventful journey that shaped our World today.  Continue reading Earth Creation – The Story So Far…

The Ion Propulsion System – What the… #!$@*!!

Four different ion thrusters. Source: Michigan Technological University (MIT)“That’s Star Trek stuff!”

… is pretty much the bemused reaction you’ll get if you allow yourself to answer casual questions about science over a drink with a non-physicist.  AB-SO-LUTE disbelief.  Your fault!  Shouldn’t have gone there…  Pretend you didn’t hear the question…  Especially if the answer is ion propulsion!   Continue reading The Ion Propulsion System – What the… #!$@*!!

We Need to Talk about Multiple Sclerosis…

A pictorial representation of what Multiple Sclerosis does to the mind and body.Multiple Sclerosis?  Is that contagious?

We all know about diabetes, heart disease and cancer.  Well, as much as any of us can learn from watching the news whether on TV or on the Web.  On average, the advice is loud and clear.  You’re told to: eat healthily, exercise moderately.  Additionally, don’t smoke, don’t take drugs and go easy on your alcohol consumption.  Overall, it makes good sense.  Your heart, your lungs and your liver play a major role in keeping you alive and wellThat little, everybody realises.  But how much do we really know when it comes to illnesses of the nervous system?  And without a healthy nervous system, well…  This article deals with Multiple Sclerosis.  It is an attempt to fill a gap in my own general ignorance and to inform others about this cruel condition…

Continue reading We Need to Talk about Multiple Sclerosis…

GOCE and Gravity – Looking Down at the Oceans Up Above

An artist's impression of GOCE. Source: ESAGOCE – Gravity Field and Steady-State Ocean Circulation Explorer

GOCE succumbed to gravity – the force it had been sent up into space to study.  Ironically.  When the xenon fuel for this engine was exhausted, the satellite fell back to Earth in November 2013.  The first of ESA’s Living Planet Programme satellites, GOCE was intended to map the Earth’s gravity field in unprecedented detail.. Continue reading GOCE and Gravity – Looking Down at the Oceans Up Above

It’s All Go at “Cape Kebaberal” in Sheffield…

A photograph showing Azuma Makoto bonsai sent into space in 2014.Lift-Off!

Florida has Cape Canaveral, and now it seems the UK city of Sheffield has a new space port dubbed “Cape Kebaberal”.  The name was inspired by the favourite student food of Alex Baker and Chris Rose, who run the Sheffield-based company SentIntoSpace Continue reading It’s All Go at “Cape Kebaberal” in Sheffield…

A Starry Starry Night or The Unexpected Maths in a Van Gogh’s Masterpiece

An image showing Van Gogh's painting "The Starry Night" (1889).Van Gogh’s Starry Night

When Classical Physics and Post-Impressionist artists meet, few results are as hauntingly beautiful or as enchanting as one of Vincent van Gogh’s most famous masterpieces.  The Starry Night embodies the inner, subjective expression of van Gogh’s response to Nature.  And the churning night sky he depicted tells of the artist’s very unique perception of the World around him… Continue reading A Starry Starry Night or The Unexpected Maths in a Van Gogh’s Masterpiece

Four Minutes and 27 Seconds of Freefall Fun – Two Years after Baumgarten, a New Record!

A photograph showing Alan Eustace, one of Google Executives, preparing for his Space Jump on 24 October 2014. Source: Paragon Space Development.Falling from Outer Space

Since October 24, 2014, Alan Eustace holds the World Records for vertical speed reached during freefall with a peak velocity of 1,321 kilometres per hour (822 mph) and total freefall distance of 123,414 feet – lasting four minutes and 27 seconds. Continue reading Four Minutes and 27 Seconds of Freefall Fun – Two Years after Baumgarten, a New Record!

“Looks Like a Great Day, Scotland!”

A photograph of Scotland taken on board the International Space Station (ISS) on 14 October 2014. "Looks Like a Great Day, Scotland!"#BlueDot

This beautiful image of Scotland was tweeted by a German astronaut from the International Space Station today, as it drifted over Europe.  Continue reading “Looks Like a Great Day, Scotland!”

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!

The Craic about “Fracking” – Technical Facts on Hydraulic Fracturing

A photograph illustrating the phenomenon of natural hydraulic fracturing or 'fracking'.The Industry Term is ‘Fracturing’

Hydraulic fracturing, more commonly referred to as “fracking” in the media, is the fracturing of rock by a pressurised liquid.  Some hydraulic fractures form naturally – certain veins or dikes are examples.  However, induced hydraulic fracturing or hydro-fracturing is also a long tried-and-tested mining technique that has been most controversial recently…  But let’s not panic!  Continue reading The Craic about “Fracking” – Technical Facts on Hydraulic Fracturing

Eroded Earth: The Forge of Gravity

A beautiful photograph showing rock arches at National Park - Mesa Arch starburst panorama.Gravity-Defying Lanscapes

Over millions of years, weathering and erosion of sandstone have produced unique landforms, such as arches, alcoves, pedestals and pillars.  Until now, the natural process remained a mystery.  It was difficult to study, because of the huge time-scales involved in the erosion of natural slabs of sandstone.  Gravity-induced stresses had been assumed not to play any role in landform preservation.  Instead gravity was thought to increase the rates of weathering and natural erosion…   Continue reading Eroded Earth: The Forge of Gravity

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

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!

Helium – Lighter than Air

A photograph showing a bunch of Helium red party balloons on strings over a sunny blue sky background.More Than Just Party Balloons…

Helium is the second most abundant element in the Universe, after hydrogen.  On Earth, helium is relatively rare, because it is one of the few elements that can escape gravity and leak away into space.  Therefore, helium exists as a finite resource.  But as our reserves of the precious element steadily decreases, helium is in increasing demand.  In medicine, helium supports the fight against cancer…  Continue reading Helium – Lighter than Air