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?