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?

The Moser Bottle Lamp: ‘Divine Light’

A close-up photograph of Alfredo Moser in the light of the bottle lamp - his makeshift invention.Sun Light in a Bottle

“God gave the Sun to everyone”, Alfredo Moser states modestly.  And Moser gave his light to everyone.  Over the last couple of years, Moser’s ingenious innovation has spread throughout the World, bringing the bottle lamps to locations from Brazil to the Philippines and Bangladesh.  By early next year, it is estimated that one million homes will have benefited from his simple idea…  Continue reading The Moser Bottle Lamp: ‘Divine Light’

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 Field Equations of General Relativity

An artist's impression of the Earth's gravity field as described in Einstein's General Relativity.

Keeping It Relatively Simple

The Einstein Field Equations of General Relativity are vast and complex, but they can be written with deceptive simplicity.  Using modern notation, the field equations can be formulated as

\boldsymbol G = \frac {- 8 \pi G}{c^4} \boldsymbol T   Continue reading The Field Equations of General Relativity

Tropical Thunderstorms in Glasgow: The Tale of the Atmospheric River

A MET Office satellite map showing thunder and heavy rain over Glasgow on 26 July 2013.Scottish Downpours Tropical-Style

Near-tropical thunderous rain downpours have succeeded the balmy high temperatures that summer has brought to Glasgow of late.  Deep black skies.  Thunderbolts.  Lightning.  (♫ Very, very frightening!  Galileo Galileo… ♫)  Unusual conditions even for a very wet Scotland.   Continue reading Tropical Thunderstorms in Glasgow: The Tale of the Atmospheric River

Secrets of the Bubble Chamber

A picture collage showing the Gargamelle bubble chamber and the Smurfs archvillain sorcerer, Gargamelle.What Do Gargamelle and Picasso Have in Common?

Nope.  Nothing to do with the arch-nemesis of the Smurfs or with an avant-garde artistic masterpiece, unlike the top picture appears to suggest…  Actually, the Gargamelle on the left is at CERN and takes its name after the giantess in the works of satirist François Rabelais: she was Gargantua’s mother!  The Gargamelle is a historical ‘bubble chamber’ detector however… Continue reading Secrets of the Bubble Chamber

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

A Boy and His Atom

A picture slide from the World's Smallest Movie. Image: IBM

Made of Atoms

IBM researchers currently hold the Guinness World Record for the ‘World Smallest Stop-Motion Film’ after creating a short film about a boy and his ball, by manipulating single atoms. Continue reading A Boy and His Atom

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!

Earth’s Atmosphere

A NASA picture showing the sunset seen from the edge of the Earth atmosphere.

Planet Earth

Our planet is surrounded by layers of gas, the ‘atmosphere’, maintained around it by the very gravitational attraction of the Earth.  An important part of the atmosphere that we use to breathe and that plants use in photosynthesis is the ‘air’.  Continue reading Earth’s Atmosphere

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

Meteors over Russia

A CCTV picture showing the large fireball meteor fly-over Russia on 15 February 2013.

Historic Event in Astronomy

Today, Friday 15th February 2013.  Russia’s Ural mountains.  A fireball streaks through the clear morning sky.  Loud bangs follow.  A meteor crashes in Russia about 1,500 kilometres (930 miles) east of Moscow.   Continue reading Meteors over Russia

Rainbows, Rainbows Everywhere!

A photograph showing a rainbow over Glasgow Southside in 2004. Image: NaturPhilosophieRainbows: Technicolor Symphonies in the Sky

Rainbows are one of Nature’s most gorgeous optical spectacles to behold, brightening up clouded skies with an ephemeral palette of colours when the light falls just right…  Continue reading Rainbows, Rainbows Everywhere!

Lightning and the Earth’s Electric Field

A photograph showing some spectacular lightning bolts above a city skyline at night.Earth’s Electric Field

The Earth has an electric field.  On average, this field points vertically downwards and it has a magnitude of about 100 N C-1 (Newtons per Coulomb).  It exists because the Earth’s surface carries a negative charge of – 5 x 10C, while the upper atmosphere carries a compensating positive charge.  An average of 400,000 thunderstorms a day  Continue reading Lightning and the Earth’s Electric Field

How to Weigh a Supermassive Black Hole?

An artist's impression of a black hole.Black Holes

Black holes are known to exist at the centres of most galaxies, including our own Milky Way.  The masses of those black holes are correlated to many of the properties of their host galaxies, which strongly suggests that galaxies and black holes evolve together.  Measuring their masses Continue reading How to Weigh a Supermassive Black Hole?

Calculus

Essential Derivatives

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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…

Constant Matters

Pi_NumberPhysical Constants (SI Units)

Avogadro Constant N_{A} = 6.022 \times 10^{23} mol^{-1}

Bohr Radius a_0 = 5.29 \times 10^{-11} m

Boltzmann Constant k = 1.381 \times 10^{-23} JK^{-1}

Charge on an Electron e = - 1.602 \times 10^{-19} C

Gravitational Constant G = 6.673 \times 10^{-11} Nm^{2} kg^{-2}

Magnitude of Acceleration due to Gravity g = 9.81 m s^{-2}

Permeability of Free Space \mu_{0} = 4 \pi \times 10^{-7} T m A^{-1}

Permittivity of Free Space \epsilon_{0} = 8.854 \times 10^{-12} C^{2} N^{-1} m^{-2}

Speed of Light in a vacuum c = 2.998 \times 10^{8} m s^{-1}

 

World Views

Astronomical Beginnings

Early astronomers already make the distinction between stars and planets, as the former remain relatively fixed for centuries, while the latter wander an appreciable amount in a comparatively short time.  But that’s not all!

Continue reading World Views

Little 'Bytes' about Natural Phenomena, Theoretical Physics and the Latest Worldwide Scientific Findings. Edited from Glasgow, Scotland.

 

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