Category Archives: Universe

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

Radioactivity and the Background of Dancing Particles

A picture showing dancing black silhouettes, each one bearing a Greek letter, over an abstract background symbolising a radiation event. Artwork: NaturPhilosophie Natural Radiation

Our environment is permeated by radiation, present around us at all time.  We are constantly exposed to radioactivity from natural sources for the most part naturally occurring radioactive nuclei in rocks and cosmic rays – the ‘background’.  Without ado, this is my lowdown on radioactivity.

Continue reading Radioactivity and the Background of Dancing Particles

Charming New Particle Xi-cc++ Discovered at CERN

Abstract artist impression of the particle newly discovered at CERN in psychedelic colours. Artwork: NaturPhilosophieThe Xi-cc++ Particle

CERN’s LHCb collaboration has announced the discovery of a new “charming” particle, thought to be instrumental to the strong force – the Xi-cc++.  Another particle.  So…? Continue reading Charming New Particle Xi-cc++ Discovered at CERN

Arecibo and the Great Silence – Where We Talk About a Parrot Named Alex

An aerial photograph showing the Arecibo Observatory telescope, with a picture of Alex at the forefront.  The dish reflector of the telescope is built into a valley in the landscape, and the feed antenna is suspended by cables above it. Since the reflector can't be moved, the telescope is steered to point at different regions of the sky by moving the feed antenna $ ($in bell shaped dome$ )$ along on a curving track. The dome shields the feed antenna from interfering radio signals. Collage: NaturPhilosophieArecibo – What a Dish!

The Arecibo observatory is a very large radio telescope located in Puerto Rico.  In 1974, astronomers used it to broadcast a message into outer space intended to demonstrate human intelligence.  Why are we so interested in finding intelligence in the stars, and yet so deaf to the many species who manifest it here on Earth?

Continue reading Arecibo and the Great Silence – Where We Talk About a Parrot Named Alex

CIA Releases “X-Files”

A photograph of two very young buddhist monks, showing one of them sitting in an alley while the other is seemingly levitating in front of him. The image is stamped by the Central Intelligence Agency.The Real X-Files

As the X-Files series enjoy a revival on TV, the American spy agency has decided to place thousands of declassified documents detailing government research into UFOs on its website.  The CIA documents also confirm the reality of humans with ‘Special Abilities’ able to do seemingly impossible things.  Continue reading CIA Releases “X-Files”

The Earth, as Seen from Mars

A photograph taken from Mars showing the Earth and the Moon. Image: NASA.Home World

We start the new year with this photograph of the Earth and its Moon, taken from Mars.  Continue reading The Earth, as Seen from Mars

2016: Another Year in Cutting Edge Science

A photo-montage showing pictures of the recent scientific developments of the year 2016. From Major Tim Peake's extraordinary space adventure, to the discovery of the missing elements in the Periodic Table, and the gravitational wave detection from a merger of black holes far away in outer space...  Collage: NaturPhilosophieYou Spin Me Right Round…

Just over a century ago, Einstein proposed the existence of waves in the spacetime continuum – the logical deduction from his Theory of General Relativity.  In February 2016, scientists finally announced the detection of those “ripples” in gravity, using the technique of laser interferometry.  Continue reading 2016: Another Year in Cutting Edge Science

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

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

You Wait Ages for a Chemical Element, and Then… BINGO!!

A photograph of Kosuke Morita, the leader of the Riken team, posing with a board displaying the new atomic element 113 during a press conference in Wako, Saitama prefecture on 31 December 2015.Four Elements Come Along at Once…

Just like buses, it seems.  But even rarer and a damn sight more exciting to be honest.  Ooohoo!!!  Out with your old Science books!!  HeL-LOOooo elements 113… 115, 117 and 118!! Continue reading You Wait Ages for a Chemical Element, and Then… BINGO!!

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?

What’s the Matter… with Spontelectrics?

An artist's impression of a blue electric field in gas. Source: Science AlertSpontelectrics

This blog is cool.  It’s spontaneous!  It’s electric!!  But not as cool as it has been at these cutting-edge laboratories on the outskirts of Europe.  Scientists there are dealing with an entirely new type of solid matter – ‘spontelectrics’. Continue reading What’s the Matter… with Spontelectrics?

Physics Without Frontiers…

Young international physicists holding out their passports - most of them from different nations.It’s Nobel Prize Season Again!

In the run-up to the 2015 physics Nobel prize, which was awarded on Tuesday 6 October, Physics World looked at how Nobel-prize-winning physicists have been moving around the globe over the past century. Continue reading Physics Without Frontiers…

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

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

Behold… the Mystical Pentaquark! – More Exotic Matter Discovered at CERN

A photomontage showing my two open hands facing the camera, between which a pictorial representation in red of the elusive pentaquark particle appears to be levitating. Image: NaturPhilosophiePentaquark… Eh, WHAT?!

First predicted in the 1960s, like the Higgs boson before it, the pentaquark eluded science for decades until its recent detection at CERN’s LHCb collaboration.  The discovery amounts to finding a new form of matter… Continue reading Behold… the Mystical Pentaquark! – More Exotic Matter Discovered at CERN

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

The World Outside My Window… What a Window!!

What a World!!

Amazing timelapse footage of the Earth (including aurorae, lightning and city lights) as seen from the International Space Station.  Just mesmerizing…

Published on YouTube on 3 Dec 2013
Images: http://eol.jsc.nasa.gov/
Music: ‘Fill My Heart’ by Two Steps from Hell
Editor: David Peterson

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…

Rare Beauty Decays at CERN

Two computer models showing the Beauty (B0s) particle decaying into two muons, as detected by CERN's LHCb and CMS experiments.The rare Bs0µ+µ decay

The Standard Model of Particle Physics describes the fundamental particles and their interactions via the strong, electromagnetic and weak forces, providing precise predictions for measurable quantities that can be tested experimentally.  Here’s the latest!!  It’s hot!!!  It’s exciting!!!  At least, if you’re a particle physicist… Continue reading Rare Beauty Decays at CERN

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

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