Thursday, 14 April 2011

I can see Uranus.... Heh

He's a gas giant.
It's composed mainly of Hydrogen and Helium but it also contains traces of ammonia, methane and other hydrocarbons.

It has the coldest planetary atmosphere at 49 kelvin.

It was the first planet to be discovered by telescope.

Uranus spins sideways so it's pole's are where other planets equators are.

It's named after the Greek/Roman titan Uranus who was Cronus' daddy; thats better than Saturn.

A picture taken by Hubble

Monday, 4 April 2011

WHAT COMES NEXT... saturn.

So we all know Saturn, you know its the one with the rings! Thats pretty cool right? Well Galileo thought so when he first discovered it in 1610. 
So then. Here are some Saturn facts! Accompanied with pretty pictures:

Saturn is the least dense planet, and its specific gravity is less than that of water. 

Saturns nine rings are prominently made of  ice particles and dust.
An ultraviolet photograph of Saturn's rings 
Saturn has sixty-two moons and its largest moon titan is the second biggest in the galaxy, larger even that the planet Mercury!

Saturn is a gas giant and its core is mainly composed of iron, nickel, silicon and oxygen compounds.

It is named after the roman god... Saturn! But also he's basically Cronus and Cronus is rad.  

Monday, 28 March 2011

Jupiter - The Big Gas Giant.

Jupiter is next in line, being the 5th planet from the Sun. But before we arrive at Jupiter we have to travel through a big asteroid belt. Sigh.
Only one of these asteroids, Vesta, is ever visible to the naked eye, and it's not got the largest diameter! That would belong to Ceres, which is as much as 900 kilometers (560 miles) wide.

You're VERY unlikely to get hit by an asteroid if you were to travel through an asteroid belt though...

Well that'll do, they can get pretty boring when all the excitement of Jupiter awaits.


What a beast. He/She/It 's (Jupiter is named after the King of the Gods from Greek Mythology) 142 984 kilometers in diameter across the  equator and 43128×1015 kmin volume. (That's 1321.3 Earths!) And if that's not enough, he's
2.5 times the mass of all the other planets in our solar system!

He's got 63 moons! But only 4 of these are large enough to be commonly sighted.

Jupiter is primarily composed of hydrogen with a quarter of its mass being helium; it may also have a rocky core of heavier elements. 

NASA are planning on sending out a spacecraft to orbit Jupiter in August 2011.
For more information:


Oo 'ello, what have we here then?

Jupiter has a giant red spot, if you haven't noticed already...

It's basically a high pressure equivalent of a hurricane on Earth, it's said to have been going for at least 300 years.

Jupiter orbits the sun at 13km per second. 
It's mean surface temperature is -150 degrees Celsius.


Saturday, 26 March 2011

And the next planet is... Uuuummmm... MARS

I totally didn't have to look that one up.

Yes, the red planet. So here are some facts, boys and girls:
  • Named after the roman war god, Mars is smaller than earth, with the surface area of 28% of that of the Earth's.
  • Mars also holds several records; it's volcano Olympous Mons is 27km tall, (roughly three times the size of mount Everest,) and takes up an area similar to the American state of Arizona. This is the highest peak in the solar system.
  • It has the longest trench in the solar system too; stretching 4000km, and 7km deep, which makes it longer than the European continent and ten times longer than the grand canyon.
  • As Mars is smaller than Earth, gravity is a lot less; about 37% of what we experience on earth. If we are to ever land on Mars, we'd feel very light. (Though it would take us six months to travel by spaceship from Earth.)
  • It is the most likely of all the other planets in the solar system to have ever housed life; it is believed that water, the vital source of life, used to run on the red planet. It is now frozen, mainly in the polar ice caps.
Oh, and you wouldn't find any socialists here! (I'll just kill the joke.)

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Everybody’s favourite planet (apart from probably Mercury) - Earth!

Earth… perhaps the most unknown planet in our solar system. So what is there to know about this obscure planet?

What makes Earth special is that it is in something called the ‘Goldilocks zone’. This means that it is just the right distance from the sun to be neither too hot nor too cold, allowing it to support liquid water. This is essential for life, and is partially why Earth is the only planet we know of to date to support life.

The element most present in the Earth’s composition, by mass is in fact Iron, making up 34.6% of Earth, followed by Oxygen and then Silicon.

Earth is the only planet in our solar system not named after Greek or Roman mythology- instead Earth’s name has its roots in Old English and Germanic dialects.

Most of the mass of the earth is in the viscous liquid mantle, followed by the semi-fluid outer core and solid iron inner core. The crust only makes up a very small portion of the Earth as a whole.

Earth differs from other terrestrial planets in the solar system in the way its crust floats as plates on top of the mantle.

The Earth’s crust is mainly made up of quartz.

The Earth’s core can reach temperatures of 7500K in the centre, exceeding those on the surface of the sun.

The Earth is denser than any other major body in the solar system.

In fairly short periods of time (only about 500000000 years or so) the Earth’s surface will actually be completely destroyed and recreated, so no traces of the early earth are left on the surface today.

Without life on Earth Oxygen probably wouldn’t exist, due to its reactivity. As it is it makes up about 21% of the Earth’s atmosphere, Nitrogen being the most abundant gas at 77%

And, just for you Ieuan-
Socialists live on Earth.

Monday, 21 March 2011

Feeling Hot?

I like Venus, But i feel it gets a bad rep, it's always left out in exploration voyages and in sci-fi it's never populated by people, even when mars and Mercury are.

There is a reason for this; Venus is the hottest planet in the whole solar system (around 460 degrees Celsius), despite being further away from the sun and having a remarkably similar composition to earth.

This is because it has a load of super reflective gas clouds on its surface made form none other than our good friend H2SO4 (sulphuric acid).

You can see the cloud formations on Venus' surface.
Fun facts:
It has the densest atmosphere of any planet in the solar system, composed mainly of Carbon Dioxide.

It's also roughly the same size as earth.

It's named after the Roman Goddess of love and beauty.

Scientists think it used to have Earth-like seas before it got too hot.

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Everybody's favourite planet (apart from probably Earth) - Mercury!

 Today I'm talking about Mercury. (Can you see a running theme? - crazy!)
The closest planet to the sun, Mercury basically resembles our own moon in that it is mainly cratered with regions of smooth plains has no natural satellites and no atmosphere. Being so close to The Sun Mercury only takes 87.969 earth days to orbit it fully unlike Earths 365.3, it is also the smallest planet in the solar system and has the smallest axial tilt.

We don't really know that much about Mercury as you can only see an illuminated crescent when looking through a telescope, however we do know that it has a core of iron which generates a magnetic field about 1% as strong as the earths. This large iron core makes the planet incredibly dense. The surface temperature of Mercury varies from -183 °C, at the bottom of its deepest craters near the poles and 427°C at its subsolar point, its mean temperature being 169.35 °C. So all in all a pretty inhospitable planet! Still at least its named after the roman god of trade... And he had wings on his hat! 

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

The Sun.

So, we're all living on one of many planets, in one of many solar systems, in one of many galaxies, in the one universe that we're aware of.

So we're pretty insignificant. But hey, luckily we, as a species, have the ability to discover and learn about the great world around us.

Let's start with something familiar...

'The Sun' is the name we have given to the only star in our solar system. It's a big ball of really hot gas. We can feel its heat from Earth and we're between 91 and 94.5 million miles away depending on our position of orbit.

The sun, like all other stars gets its energy from burning its gases by nuclear fusion. It's around 14 000 000°C at the center (where the fusion of atoms happens), but only 6000° at the surface. Most stars are made up almost entirely of two main gases: hydrogen and helium.

Our Sun was born from a cloud of gas around 5 000 million years ago. It is made up of different layers of gas; the surface is called the photosphere. Huge flames of hot gas occasionally explode from here. They're called Solar Flares and Prominences.

I'll just throw this out there:

Our Sun has a 1 393 000 kilometer diameter. It rotates once every 27 Earth days.
It has 8 planets orbiting it (Poor Pluto :/)

earth sun comparison

As with all stars our Sun will eventually die, but luckily for us, we've got about another 5 000 million years until this occurs. When it does, it will have used all its hydrogen and helium will become its main fuel. It'll expand to around 100 times larger and 1000 times brighter. It will then be a Red Giant. It will then shrink to a white dwarf star, only the size of the Earth.

Saturday, 12 March 2011

My favourite statesman... I admire him for his military achievements. Oh the IRON-Y

Before you get too dragged in to my brother's socialist brainwashing (the previous post), I'd like to talk about Aurthur Wellesley, my favourite British Prime Minister. You probably know him as the Duke of Wellington, often nicknamed Nosey or the Iron Duke. (Brilliant play on words in the title, I know.)

Anyhow, the Anglo-Irish general did play a significant role in British politics; by pushing forward catholic emancipation - giving catholics full citizen rights in Britain. On the downside he was very conservative in his ideas - not willing to extend the sufferage from the privileged classes. This lost him his premiership in 1830 to Earl Gray, the man the tea was named after.

It was on the battlefield where the Iron Duke did excel. As the first ever  general to be appointed as Field Marshal, his professional, calculated approach to war helped him to succeed time after time, often against forces with much greater numbers. By the end of his military career he'd gained much land for England after campaigning in India, defeated Napoleon Bonaparte's marshals in the Iberian Peninsular, and with the help of Blucher and his Prussians beat the French Emperor at Waterloo. Not once did he lose a battle. Beat that Mr Attlee.

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Clement Attlee.

Clement Attlee is widely considered to the greatest ever prime minister in British history, a view which I share, him being a socialist after my own heart. Attlee came to power in 1945, after the surprise defeat of wartime prime minister Winston Churchill. The coalition government during the war had again brought to the forefront of politics Attlee's labour party, previously having resided in a sort of political limbo.

The greatest challenge Attlee's post-war government now faced was poverty. Evacuation during world war two had brought to the attention of many people the shocking conditions in which many of the British poor lived. Attlee introduced a policy of reform during his six-year term of office, nationalizing many industries such as gas and steel and introducing numerous measures to help the impoverished, including setting up the NHS with his health minister Aneurin Bevan. He also supported Indian independence, followed a diplomatic cold war policy and still managed to control the volatile personalities within his cabinet such as Herbert Morrison, Ernest Bevin and Aneurin Bevan.

Also, he had a pipe.

Monday, 7 March 2011

Buckminsterfullerene Buckminsterfullerene Buckminsterfullerene

Buckminterfullerenes are carbon mollecules, thats all, really.
Well... there a little more complicated than that, the mollecular formula of a Buckminterfullerene is C60 so there are sixty carbon atoms in each sphere each is joined to three other carbon atoms with one double bond per each carbon atom.

This is a picture of the skeletal formula of a Buckminsterfullerene which is difficult to depict as its three dimensional.
If you were to count all the shapes you would find 20 hexagons and 12 pentagons.

Fact Time:

Each carbon atom has a free electron so it is free to move and carry and conduct electricity.
Each molecule has a diameter of 0.71 nano meters, but despite it's large size it has wave-particle duality (has both wave and particle like qualities) 

Although Buckminsterfullerenes sound like something that can only be found in labs; C60 molecules can be found in small quantities in soot.


Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Julius Caesar and the interesting tale of piracy.

In 75BC Julius Caeser was captured by the Cilician Pirates of whom infested the Mediterranean sea. After his capture the pirates behested a ransom of twenty talents, at which point Caeser burst into laughter saying that he would give them fifty. They did not know, he said whom they had captured. At this point he sent his followers to various islands to collect the ransom and was left on his own with one friend and two servants among the bloodthirsty Cilicians, of whom he treated highhandedly it is said that he even sent his servants out to tell them to be quiet while he slept.
               For thirty-eight days Caeser took his capture with the greatest unconcern, joining in on the games and exercises. Almost behaving as if he was their leader rather than prisoner, he wrote poems and speeches that he promptly read to the crew of the ship. If they failed to admire his works he would call them to their faces illiterate savages, and would often laughingly threaten to have them all crucified. 
               At this point the ransom arrived and he was set free onto the shores of Miletus, where he quickly raised a very small fleet of ships and set sail against the pirates. He soon found them still anchored off shore and attacked, capturing nearly all of them and taking their properties as spoils of war. Placing the men as prisoners at Pergamon. Going in person to Junius the Governor of Asia asking what to do with them, Junius however ummed and ahhed about the case saying he needed to look into it more. 
               It was at this point that Caeser decided to take matters into his own hands and crucified the lot of them, just as he had often told them he would, although they always thought he was joking...
              In conclusion JULIUS CAESER WAS A BAD-ASS. 

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

FLASH....1..2..BANG! We're all going to die!

Sooo, how does the lightning get there?

The Lightning:

Dark thunderclouds form when warm, wet air surges upwards into the sky and cools dramatically.
Inside these clouds, some of the water freezes and strong air currents make this ice and water droplets bump together. This knocks electrons off the atoms in the ice and creates a builds up of static electricity. Positive charge builds up at the top of the cloud and negative charge at the bottom and attempts to escape to the ground, when the charge is released, its a bolt of lightning. When the lightning doesn't come down to earth, it creates sheet lightning.

The Thunder:

The lightning can heat the air around it up to 30 000°C - this is five times hotter then the surface of the sun!
This huge amount of heat causes the air to expand faster than the speed of sound. This creates the crash of thunder.

If the thunderstorm is not overhead, you can count the seconds between the time you see the lightning and the time you hear the thunder and divide this by 5 to find out how many miles away it is.

AND REMEMBER KIDS: Lightning always tries to find the fastest route to the ground, so don't stand under trees, sit in cars. If the car is struck, the steel frame conducts the electricity over the surface of the car to the ground.

Saturday, 26 February 2011

Have you ever wondered why golf balls have dimples?

If yes, I must ask what is wrong with you. (YOU VERY SAD PERSON)

Anyhow, now I've asked the question, I feel obliged to give an answer.

What it boils down to is the two different types of airflow; laminar and turbulent. Laminar flow is characterised  by a system of orderly layers, with no eddies or irregular fluctuations. In simpler terms, the flow lines do not cross.
Turbulent flow then is where there is not a system of orderly layers; that the flow lines cross.

Laminar flow past a ball is bad; it forces a larger separation in the air flows, causing greater drag, so that the ball will not travel very well. However, the balls dimples cause the flow lines to cross, and creates a turbulent stream behind the ball, lessening drag.

Really, all I needed to say was that golf balls with dimples travel further... But that would have been no fun.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

A Rant.

Salvador Allende
Salvador Allende became the first democratically elected Marxist leader when he became president of Chile in 1970, after his fourth attempt. Allende had been a medical student and subsequently went on to become minister of health. Once elected to president, Allende found Chile in a dire economic situation. He immediately started methods of nationalization and started redistributing wealth, while at the same time forging relationships with China and nearby Cuba.

However, America didn’t like having a communist nation so close to them, especially with its ties to Cuba, and what America doesn’t like tends to disappear. President Nixon ordered his advisor for national security, Henry Kissinger, to organise a coup to overthrow Allende. The CIA sent a taskforce into Chile, violently murdering the first person they tried to coerce into overthrowing Allende, chief of staff general Rene Schneider, when he refused before having success. They managed to stage a military coup, installing a junta under right-wing General Pinochet. On the morning of this Allende broadcasted a famous speech, saying he would not resign, finishing with “¡Viva Chile! ¡Viva el pueblo! ¡Vivan los trabajadores!“(“Long live Chile! Long live the people! Long live the workers!”) Later that day Allende was found dead, and although it was declared suicide, there have been questions raised over this. In the following months Pinochet’s regime went on to murder thousands of its political opponents and install fascist-style restrictions in Chile, imposing strict controls on the media, suspending the constitution, banning all political activity and even closing down the Chilean parliament. He also tortured and exiled many, and destroyed Chile’s industry and agriculture.

Of course, America were no help for the people of Chile, even murdering many of the ‘dissidents’ who fled the regime, assassinating Allende’s peaceful supporters such as Orlando Letelier before attempting to cover it up. Britain’s right-wing prime minister of the time, Margaret Thatcher also provided Pinochet with weapons to enforce his tyranny and blocked the UN from investigating the breaches of human rights in Chile.

Pinochet was eventually voted out of power in 1989, although staying as commander-in-chief until 1998. In the same year he was arrested for his crimes during a visit to Britain. Before he was able to be extradited to Spain he was released home on compassionate grounds, where he was found unable to stand trial due to dementia, in 2001. In 2005 it was discovered that Pinochet had illegally laundered $28000000 during his rule. Pinochet died in 2006.

Thanks for him, America.

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Dead or Alive.

I like viruses, I know I shouldn't as they are a classification that consists entirely of pathogens but I still like them.
There are 3 main parts to viruses, the genetic bit (made of DNA or RNA), a protein coat to hold it all together and some, more advanced viruses have a lipid envelope.
 Some viruses have quite simple shapes like helix's while some start to look more like living things.

My Favorite virus is this badboy:

His name is Enterobacteria phage T4 and he infects E.coli 

What else...

Oh yeah viruses have the most genetic diversity out of everything; plants, animals, archea etc but that's mainly because their DNA varies in shape so much as it's a large part of their overall structure.


I'm tired so i'm going to leave it there, i'll just do a really good blog next week.

Saturday, 5 February 2011

Yay for a monopoly of organised violence!

According to a history professor I saw give a talk, that is what the state does. What's more, I agree.

He also said that the state is that which has law.  To enforce law, one must be the only person, or organisation (such as a government) to be able to have total control over the population.

A monopoly of organised violence follows this- normally administrated by the police force, or in extreme cases an army. If you are to disobey their law, they'll arrest you. If you protest violently against arrest, say with a firearm, it's within their rights to shoot you. Government controlled violence. It may sound horrific, but it's one of the only reasons that prevents us from descending in to anarchy and mob rule. In essence a revolution. History shows us that these are normally bloody.

An example of this is Egypt. If we follow this logic, it is no longer a state. It's army is not fully following the commands given by its government, and can no longer exert its monopoly. It can not disperse the hundreds of thousands of protesters marauding on the streets, so a overthrow of government is becoming more and more likely.

What will happen? Don't ask me - I'm only 17. It's not up to me...

Tuesday, 1 February 2011


Enough with the science, here's some Maths!

a = x [true for some a's and x's]
a+a = a+x [add a to both sides]
2a = a+x [a+a = 2a]
2a-2x = a+x-2x [subtract 2x from both sides]
2(a-x) = a+x-2x [2a-2x = 2(a-x)]
2(a-x) = a-x [x-2x = -x]
2 = 1 [divide both sides by a-x]

How can this be true? What's wrong with this is that at the last stage, both sides have been divided by zero (a=x, so a-x must equal 0). This is a mathmatical impossibility. But why?

As you divide by smaller numbers, the answer gets bigger and bigger, tending towards infinity as the number you divide by tends towards 0:

10/0.00001= 1000000
10/0.000000001= 10000000000
and so on:

Anything divided by zero will give infinity, and so the equation above is impossible.

Friday, 28 January 2011

Vampyroteuthis infernalis, shiny-shiny

Vampyroteuthis infernalis, it translates to 'vampire squid from hell' and it's awesome for a number of reasons; firstly 
I mean look at it, it's kind of awesome, in a lovecraftian way.
But before you think I'm wasting your time there is some science here, you see 

That's right it glows in the dark (and those aren't eyes).

Ha! I fooled you, this blog is actually about bioluminescence.

When our friend Cthulhu here turns out the lights his tentacles and eye-nodes emit two chemicals; luciferin and luciferase (aptly named)

The pigment luciferin reacts with oxygen to produce light while the enzyme luciferase acts as a catalyst speeding up the reaction and producing light, it's 'cold light' as only 20% of the reaction is given off as heat energy.

[sources: wikepedia and planet earth BBC]

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

SUPERFLUID. Like Superman, only better.

Bet you never thought a liquid could appear to travel 'through' a solid?
Well, this is what happens when you cool a liquid down to absolute zero. (Well almost absolute zero, currently it is near impossible for humans to do so.)
So what happens to a liquid at around absolute zero that gives it the ability to move out of it's container?

Absolute zero is bloody cold: -273.15°C. At this degree of temperature, certain elements, such as helium(II) experience a total loss of viscosity, allowing the substance to overcome all friction forces. This is called the Lambda Point, and allows a superfluid to move against all forces (such as gravity,) allowing a superfluid to move upwards and around obstacles, effectively giving it an appearance of traveling strait through an object.

Saturday, 15 January 2011

Without force, I can still move...

Just not start or stop, in other words accelerate. I'd be going on and on forever. Luckily there's forces such as friction to stop me doing this. However, it is interesting (or at least I think so,) that I can still move at a constant speed without a resultant force. It is only when forces are unbalanced, (skewed in one direction) that I will accelerate, either with a positive or negative magnitude. This is the essence of Newton's first law.

His second law covers this too, with the simple equation F= ma (Resultant force = mass x acceleration)

If my F= 0, it is clear to see that I will not accelerate.

What I think is more important about this second law is that it links acceleration to mass, and thus gives mass (a very hard concept to explain) a definition (though there are several); the measure of an objects resistance to acceleration.

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Cream of primordial soup.

Primordial soup theory is an Abiogenetic theory; that boys and girls means it's a theory about how life began.

So get ready to follow me on a conveniently short journey back in time to well before life began but first we will take a short stop at year eleven history and the theory of spontaneous generation; the idea that microbes and other organisms associated with dirt just appeared in unclean materials.
Well this theory was quickly disproved by our favourite Frenchman Louis Pasteur.

Well in 1924 a clever bloke called Alexander Oparin said that spontaneous generation of life did in fact occur but not in the sense that it was once accepted.
Oparin reckoned that because of the oxygen-less atmosphere a 'primeval soup' of organic molecules could be synthesised through reactions caused by the action of sunlight.   

These organic molecules would 'grow' by fusing with other molecules and 'reproduce' by splitting into daughter droplets.  This formed the basis of basic metabolism.

Now this is a very old theory and isn't really widely accepted as there are other theory's that are better.

But this is my favourite theory SO SHUT UP!

Saturday, 1 January 2011


The placebo effect demonstrates the amazing impact the brain can have on physical health. If a patient thinks medicine has been administered to them, by receiving a placebo (a 'fake' tablet or solution) then their symptoms can be alleiviated and the condition healed to some degree. H.K. Beecher looked at 15 different clinical trials of different diseases and found that 35% of the subjects were healed by a placebo alone. However many think they are much less reliable than new treatments, and so it is not a viable process. It also contrasts with the doctor-patient agreement, as it relies on decieit. Whatever the pros and cons of placebos, they are now used in all medical trials. There is argument over their usefullness and effectiveness, but is hard to deny that they have their use.

Hungry? I'll print you a meal!

I assume you’ve all heard of 3d printing, well those kids down at Cornell University’s Computational Synthesis Lab are taking things one step further and claim to be making a printer that prints food!

All you have to do is pop in the raw food inks,download your recipe and wholla!

It also will apparently have the added bonus of reducing the amount of waste, be that food and/or packaging. According to their blueprint their current design includes precise syringes that will layer up food inks line by line, layer by layer.

Currently they can only use food that are melted or liquefied versions of food.

Does this mean we'll be able to chose exactly the shape, size and whereabouts of chocolate chips in a cookie? :)

Soon enough we'll seldom need to go outside! ... Or be too fat to.


The thought of humans eating like this sickens me. What's wrong with a fresh banana?