Category Archives: Time

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…

Living out in Space: From ‘Major Tom’ to Major Tim

A photograph showing astronaut Chris Hadfield on board the International Space Station (ISS) in the video of his cover version of 'Space Oddity' by David Bowie.Chris Hadfield’s Space Oddity

♫ This is Ground Control to Major Tom… ♫

Commander Chris Hadfield ascended to international stardom when he released his cover version of David Bowie’s 1972 Song ‘Space Oddity’ from the International Space Station.  Continue reading Living out in Space: From ‘Major Tom’ to Major Tim

CSI Scotland: Murder by the Loch – Studying the Forensics…

A colour drawing of Ross Priory - an early 19th-century country house, located west of Gartocharn, West Dunbartonshire, on the south shore of Loch Lomond, Scotland. The scene of the crime? Forensic science and murder meet by the Loch.Can you Solve the Murder by the Loch?

Well, you can try…  I love a gothic mystery, don’t you?  😉

You have six weeks to do it – and a staged murder at Strathclyde University’s Ross Priory house – using the techniques of forensic science.  Starting NOW.  Continue reading CSI Scotland: Murder by the Loch – Studying the Forensics…

2013: A Year in Physical Science and Technology

A cartoon by Drew featuring Voyager 1. The caption reads: "What do you mean I haven't left the solar system? I've already posted it on Facebook."Voyager leaves the Solar System

A lot of things happen in 12 months.  And 2013 is no exception.

Remember when you were a kid back in 1977, when Voyager-1 was all the talk?  Remember the wonderful artefact it carried away into space like a gift from the Earth human civilisation – the golden disc and the message on it?  Where is it now?  Continue reading 2013: A Year in Physical Science and Technology

Making Plans on the Comet – C/2012 S1 IS ON!!

A photograph of comet ISON. Image: Damian Peach.A Comet is not just for Christmas…

Just when you had high hopes of getting your hands on the latest gizmos and trendy gadgets in time for Christmas… and Boom!  You’re being given a comet!  Not just any comet.  Comet ISON (C/2012 S1).  It’s 4.6 billion years old!  And it will pass within 40,000,000 miles of Earth.  Continue reading Making Plans on the Comet – C/2012 S1 IS ON!!

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 largest explosion on Earth  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!

Physics Nobel Prize 2013: Scotland’s Own Peter Higgs

Don't try this one: Professor Peter Higgs with a description of the Higgs model.The Latest Physics Nobel Prize Laureate

The Physics Nobel Prize was awarded on 8 October 2013 to Edinburgh University-based scientist Peter Higgs for the theoretical discovery of a mechanism crucial to our understanding of the origin of everything…

At the end of the 19th century, many people considered Physics as the foremost of sciences.  Perhaps chemical engineer Alfred Nobel (1833-1896) saw it in this way too, and that is why Physics was the first prize area which he did mention in his will. Continue reading Physics Nobel Prize 2013: Scotland’s Own Peter Higgs

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”?

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

Colour Perception and Retinal Neurons – Attempting to Map the Human Brain

A close-up photograph showing a brown eye. Image: NaturPhilosophieColour Perception – The Eye of the Beholder

Seeing the World in glorious colours is central to our lives.  Colours shape the way we behave.  They affect our mood and our perception.  They can influence the way we interact and respond to social and environmental stimuli, whether we are directly aware of it, or through subliminal awareness of our external world.  Again, it is one of those things that most people take for granted in everyday life.

Colour perception is all subjective.  Colours only exist when three components are present: a viewer, an object, and lightContinue reading Colour Perception and Retinal Neurons – Attempting to Map the Human Brain

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…)

“Pow”! “Bang”! The Physics of Superheroes

A photograph showing a few frames of a Marvel superheroes comic book. Two masked superheroes - one wearing a red outfit and the other one with a green outfit - are flying through space. The captions read: Red Man "You can open your eyes now. There they are." Green man "Wait. I'm confused. If we're smaller than light particles now. How are we even seeing?" Red Man "You're not... Not in any human way. The five senses become something else entirely at this quantum level. Your mind's doing you a favour. It's processing all this into familiar visuals so you won't go insane. By the way, you're not breathing oxygen either. It's best not to think about it." Green Man "No kidding." Superheroes smaller than photon-life.Physics meets Comic-Book Superheroes

The Physics of Superheroes is a popular science book by  James Kakalios, a Physics professor at the School of Physics and Astronomy of the University of Minnesota, and a long-time comic-book fan.  Continue reading “Pow”! “Bang”! The Physics of Superheroes

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?

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 Glasgow Science Festival 2013 Starts Today. Naturally!

Glasgow Naturally

Glasgow Science Festival 2013 begins today with a busy schedule of events for all ages!!  Highlights include “Science Sunday”, a free event taking place at the University of Glasgow, Hunter Halls on June 9th between the times of 10:00 and 16:00.  Continue reading The Glasgow Science Festival 2013 Starts Today. Naturally!

60-Second Adventures in Thought

A picture illustrating the Hilbert's Infinite Hotel. Image: The Open University6 Short Videos about the Philosophy of Maths and Science

The Open University has created a series of 6 short animated iTunes videos about the Philosophy behind Maths and Science.   Continue reading 60-Second Adventures in Thought

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…

It’s a Higgs!

An illustration ins[ired by Michelangelo's scenes of Genesis at the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican: Adam discovers the "God" particle - Higgs Boson.Hunting For The God Particle

Today, Thursday 14th March 2013.  Only last year, the world of Particle Physics research was getting excited among rumours and speculation that the hunt for the Higgs boson at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) was finally over, following the news that a Higgs-like particle had been identified in July. Continue reading It’s a Higgs!

60-Second Hilarious Adventures in Astronomy

A slide picture from 60 seconds in Astronomy, showing English astronomer on holiday. Image: The Open University12 Short Videos about the Physics of the Cosmos

The Open University has teamed up with “geek chic” comedian David Mitchell to release a series of 12 short animated YouTube videos about the Physics of the Cosmos: “60-Second Adventures in Astronomy”.  A real treat.  And it’s educational!  If you have only 60 seconds, you can now learn everything we know about matter, energy, life, the Universe and everything…

Continue reading 60-Second Hilarious Adventures in Astronomy

The Standard Model

... but what is a Higgs Boson?

20th Century World View

The Standard Model of Particle Physics is a theory about the electromagnetic, weak and strong nuclear interactions, developed throughout the mid-to-late 20th century, as a worldwide collaborative effort.  Continue reading The Standard Model

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…

Let There Be Light…

A photograph showing the sun reflecting over the waters at Loch Kathrine through a curtain of trees. Low sun. Image: NaturPhilosophieFiat Lux…

Light.  Most of us take it for granted during the day.  And at night, we have learned to domesticate it.  Light, the natural agent that stimulates our sense of sight and makes things around us visible.  Continue reading Let There Be Light…