Category Archives: Space

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

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

Yes, Calcium is a Metal!

A photographic montage showing a human skeleton pulling on a giant container of calcium supplements.Building the World

Most of us are familiar with the idea that our bodies need calcium.  And calcium is indeed the key element in our bones.  Calcium is the most abundant metal in the human body – and those of animals too.  The fifth most abundant element on Earth and our World’s chosen architectural building block.  Yes, calcium is a metal.  Do we really appreciate its true value? Continue reading Yes, Calcium is a Metal!

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?

Name: Tim Peake Job: Space Electrician

A selfie photograph taken by British astronaut Major Tim Peake of himself during his historic first space walk outside the International Space Station on 15 January 2016. The British Union flag is visible on the left shoulder of his pressure suit, as well as a view of the Earth being reflected in his visor. Spaceman, I always wanted you to go into space, man!

After nearly five hours in space, British astronaut Tim Peake completed his first spacewalk, at 17:31 GMT on Friday 15 January.  Intended to last over six hours, the space walk was cut short after his US colleague Tim Kopra reported a water leak in his helmet. Continue reading Name: Tim Peake Job: Space Electrician

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?

On the Evolution of Darwin’s Finches

A close-up photograph of a female Medium Ground Finch from South Plaza Island.Adapt or Die

Finches in the Galápagos Islands are being threatened by a parasitic fly that attacks their young, placing the same species of birds that helped Charles Darwin refine his theory of evolution in danger of extinction.  But the authors of a new study say that human intervention could alleviate the risk. Continue reading On the Evolution of Darwin’s Finches

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

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

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

Mars Has Water!

Mars has water: An artist's impression of Mars primordial ocean.Liquid Water on Mars

Mars is not the dry, arid planet we once thought it was.  Under certain circumstances, liquid water has been found.  NASA’s announcement has the potential of turning some Red Planet theories on their heads…

Continue reading Mars Has Water!

Armchair Fossil Hunting in the Turkana Basin

Workers busy documenting a paleontological dig site in a desertic part of the Turkana basin in Kenya where some fossil bones have been found.

Online Citizen Science Project

A new online citizen science initiative, Fossilfinder, is inviting ordinary members of the public to help hunt for fossils in the Kenyan desert. The volunteers will have the opportunity to sift through one million images from the arid Turkana Basin – a key area for fossils of early human ancestors. Continue reading Armchair Fossil Hunting in the Turkana Basin

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

Exoplanet ‘Young Jupiter’ 51 Eridani b

An illustration showing the distant exoplanet 51 Eridani b, nicknamed "Young Jupiter". Source: SETIKing of Planets

Astronomers have found the smallest exoplanet yet to be directly photographed by a telescope on Earth.  A methane-shrouded gas giant.  A young Jupiter… Continue reading Exoplanet ‘Young Jupiter’ 51 Eridani b

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

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

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

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…

Physics at 13 TeV – Cranking Up the LHC

A composite picture showing inside the underground tunnel at CERN, and a small portion of the giant particle accelerator in artificial colours, with the words 13 TeV superimposed on it. Image: NaturPhilosophieA Vernesque Feat of Human Engineering

Deep down, in huge subterranean caverns… Underneath the Franco-Swiss border… 300 feet underground… lies a beast of unprecedented power… and mystery.  The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) that man summons to  explore the uncharted corners of the sub-atomic realm…  After two years of a deep slumber, the mighty beast has awoken… Continue reading Physics at 13 TeV – Cranking Up the LHC

El Niño – Return of the ‘Enfant Terrible’

A composite picture showing a heat map of the Earth, highlighting the location of the temperature anomaly in the southern hemisphere, with superimposed on it the face of a young child having a tantrum. Image: NaturPhilosophieEl Niño: A Temperature Anomaly

Still in its early stages, El Niño has the potential to cause extreme and even devastating weather around the World.  According to climate graphs, we have reached a 0.6 value for the ENSO.  It’s a 60% probability.  El Niño is now officially back. Continue reading El Niño – Return of the ‘Enfant Terrible’

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

Space-Age Rocket

A photomontage showing the American space shuttle taking off over a background of roquette salad, hence "Space-Age Rocket".Salad Growing… in Space?

Ever since the early days of human space travel, back in the 1960s, astronauts have run experiments involving plants in space.  Over a million seeds of rocket (two kilograms of rocket seeds) are shortly due to take off from Florida, bound for the International Space Station, as part of British ESA astronaut Tim Peake’s six-month Principia mission. Continue reading Space-Age Rocket