Category Archives: Waves

Where the Chernobyl Wolf Roams…

A pseudo-photograph focusing on a grey wolf howling, with the abandoned Pripyat amusement park, near Chernobyl, Ukraine, in the background. Collage: NaturPhilosophie (2018)

Pushing the Boundaries

The Chernobyl nuclear disaster left behind a highly toxic landscape.  Thirty-two years hence, the area around the Ukrainian ghost town of Pripyat largely reverted to forest.  Despite the contamination, wildlife gradually took over.  Hints of recovery emerged as animal species began to thrive, free from the disruptive influence of human activity.  And for the first time, researchers recorded evidence of a young wolf boldly venturing away from the danger zone. 

Continue reading Where the Chernobyl Wolf Roams…

A Day Trip to the Ayrshire Coast of Scotland

A photography and drawing montage depicting the dark silhouette of the Scottish Isle of Arran, as seen from a sandy beach in Ayrshire in Spring 2018, with the smiling Cocktail Party Physicist avatar at the foreground left. Image: NaturPhilosophieThe Cocktail Party Physicist at the Seaside

The Scottish coast is renowned for the wealth of its rocky features.  And if you can’t abide Geology, you can while away the hours with the local marine biology.  It’s dead quiet and if you’re lucky on a clear day, you might even see Arran magically emerge from the mist across the waters of the Clyde estuary. 

Continue reading A Day Trip to the Ayrshire Coast of Scotland

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

And THIS… is an Atom!

A meme attempting to put into perspective the atom's tiny size in David Nadlinger's prize-winning photograph.  A slideshow of closer and closer view entice you to look closer.  The captions are: "Look Closer", "Closer", "Right There!"  Meme: NaturPhilosophie‘Single Atom in an Ion Trap’

Scientists accomplish the impossible.  This time, a quantum physicist has only managed to capture the photographic image of an atom with a conventional camera.  And THIS is the photograph…..  Continue reading And THIS… is an Atom!

Shedding Light on Art – A Particle Accelerator in Paris

A digitally zoomed picture of an antique Byzantine ceramic bowl under archaeological forensic scrutiny by AGLAE, the particle accelerator at the Louvre Museum in Paris, France. Artwork: NaturPhilosophieArt in a New Light

The World’s only particle accelerator dedicated to analysing artworks is back online at the Louvre Museum in Paris.  Continue reading Shedding Light on Art – A Particle Accelerator in Paris

The Spark of Being – A Not-So-Brief History of Life and Electricity

An original interpretation in inverted negative colours blue and white of the famous 1901 historical black and white photograph showing ground-breaking inventor and electricity visionary Nikola Tesla sitting in his laboratory at Colorado Springs amid a flurry of artificially-produced lightning discharges. Image: NaturPhilosophieOmnipresent Electricity

Within every object on Earth lies concealed a positive or a negative electric charge.  From the very structure of the atom to the essential functioning of our brains, the natural power of electricity is all around us, and it is one of the most potent symbols of our Modern World.  Making the story of electricity, the story of life itself…  Continue reading The Spark of Being – A Not-So-Brief History of Life and Electricity

The Bizarre Behaviour of Negative Mass

"Hokusai's Wavelet", a take on the bouncing droplet in a Getty photograph (see original below). Artwork: NaturPhilosophieObserving Negative Mass at Washington State University

Negative mass has always been theoretically possible, and the concept has finally made it from a mathematical idea on paper to a reality achieved in the lab.  Scientists at Washington State University have created a fluid with negative mass.  Continue reading The Bizarre Behaviour of Negative Mass

Sentinel Is Watching

An artist's rendition of the Sentinel 3-A satellite orbiting over the Earth atmosphere. Image: ESAThe Sentinel Constellation

The Sentinel satellite program was designed to replace the older Earth observation missions, which have reached retirement or are nearing the end of their operational life span.  The satellite array will ensure a continuity of data, so that there are no gaps in ongoing studies. Continue reading Sentinel Is Watching

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

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

Feeding of the Nine Billion – The Future of Photosynthesis and Increased Crop Productivity

A photograph showing a young Asian boy eating a corn cob. Artwork: NaturphilosophieImproving on Nature’s Photosynthesis

Agronomic engineers have managed to improve upon one the most important biological process on the planet – photosynthesis.  The increased yield in crop could be as much as 15%.  Continue reading Feeding of the Nine Billion – The Future of Photosynthesis and Increased Crop Productivity

Fifty Years of Turmoil in One Minute – The Recent Living Respiring Dynamic Earth

A screenshot of the Global Volcanism Program's Map of Eruptions, Earthquakes and Emissions $ ($E3$ )$ from The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, taken at time t = August 2010, showing details of the Icelandic volcano eruption of Eyjafjallajokull on 14th April 2010.Visualizing Dynamic Earth

We live on the ever-changing planetary surface of Earth.  Now, the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History’s “Eruptions, Earthquakes, & Emissions” (“E3”) web application reveals a time-lapse animation of the data held on volcanic eruptions and quakes on Earth since 1960.  The dynamic Earth at one glance!
Continue reading Fifty Years of Turmoil in One Minute – The Recent Living Respiring Dynamic Earth

Sailing the Lower Midnight… – The Uncharted Frontier of Modern Deep-Sea Exploration

A photograph of the not-so-friendly, and frankly scary-looking, footballfish, a deep sea-predator from the anglerfish family.What lies 5,000 metres Below Sea Level?

It’s cold down there.  Icy cold.  It’s dark.  Pitch black, in fact.  And the crushing pressures make the deepest parts of the oceans into some of the most hostile places on our planet.  The lowest of the low.  The deepest of the deep.  Only three human explorers ever made it down there.  As a brand new wave of deep-sea exploration begins, we look at the mysterious world where marine scientists will be diving into… Continue reading Sailing the Lower Midnight… – The Uncharted Frontier of Modern Deep-Sea Exploration

Music for Cats… – Guaranteed to be your Cat’s Jam!

"His Mistress's Voice" - original artwork starring Quark the cat pictured in 2011. Image: NaturPhilosophieScientifically Proven to be Your Cat’s Jam

A team of scientists have written music that they found most cats respond to a “little like sonic catnip”.  They used tempos and melodies originating from purrs and suckling.  Continue reading Music for Cats… – Guaranteed to be your Cat’s Jam!

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

Between the Lines of the Herculaneum Papyri using X-Ray Imaging Techniques

A photographic montage showing a calcinated Herculaneum papyrus scroll on a Greek scriptures background. Scrolling Back the Past at Herculaneum

Once a chic resort on the Bay of Naples, Herculaneum was favoured by the finest of Roman’s elite society, who spent the hot Italian summers there… until a catastrophe struck one afternoon in 79 AD.  The Villa dei Papiri, excavated centuries later, was found to contain the only library to have survived from the Classical World – a unique cultural treasure, which the eruption of Mount Vesuvius nearly destroyed, and yet preserved all at once.  How do you read what is essentially a charred book?  Continue reading Between the Lines of the Herculaneum Papyri using X-Ray Imaging Techniques

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

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 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

From Super Weed to Super-Capacitors, Another Surprising Use for Cannabis…

A close-up photograph of "skunk" cannabis being poured out of a glass container. The photograph has been stamped with the "Intel Inside" logo.Nano-Cannabis?

Waste fibres from cannabis crops can be transformed into high-performance low-cost pseudo-graphene energy storage devices.  Cannabis is quite possibly the most versatile, yet highly controversial, plant we have on the planet: from a popular recreational drug to a potential medicine for a range of incurable conditions.  If Carlsberg made a weed, this would be it… Continue reading From Super Weed to Super-Capacitors, Another Surprising Use for Cannabis…

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

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 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