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
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
Music: ‘Fill My Heart’ by Two Steps from Hell
Editor: David Peterson
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…
Surrounding the town of El Ejido, Almeria Province, southern Spain is a sea of greenhouses, stretching for tens of kilometres, visible from space. Millions of tons of vegetables are exported from there to other European countries and further parts of the World. Along the Mediterranean coast, tourism flourishes, fuelling a booming real estate economy… Continue reading Food as Geopolitical Subjugation – Welcome to Plastic City, Almería!
Geothermal energy prospectors have long used gravity meters in their search for the right subsurface characteristics. But these have been point measurements. GOCE now provides this information across the World at a resolution never before achieved on that scale. Continue reading Geothermics and Gravity – The IRENA Global Atlas for Renewable Energy
“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
Right on cue, day turned into a sudden eerie twilight as a great swathe of the Earth’s surface quickly plunged into transient darkness. The magic number is 400. For many observers, weather conditions were far from ideal. Clouds obscured the much awaited spectacle of the 2015 eclipse. Thankfully, alternatives were available to astronomers keen not to miss the big event… Continue reading 400 – Anatomy of a Solar Eclipse
Polar Equinoctial Eclipse 2015
On 20th March 2015, the Moon will pass in front of the Sun and exactly block out most of its light. It will be the first total solar eclipse of the 21st century that is visible from the northernmost regions of Europe… Continue reading Celestial Rendez-Vous – An Equinoctial Total Eclipse of the Sun
Four states of matter can be seen in everyday life: solid, liquid, gas, and – somewhat more exotically – plasma. As a tightly bound combination of oxygen and hydrogen atoms, a water molecule is nothing out of the ordinary. Liquid water, steam or ice are still just water. Yet, it is intriguing to see how the very same building blocks of matter are capable of producing such broadly distinct states. Continue reading Changing States – Fundamental Phases of Matter
This mesmerising image of the Northern Lights over Scotland was captured by Baltimore-born NASA astronaut Terry Virts, a member of Expedition 42 from the International Space Station earlier this week, as it drifted over Europe. Continue reading Northern Lights over Scotland
What happened at time T = 0? is still anybody’s guess. At least, earlier observations of Planck’s radiation had suggested the first generation of stars were bursting into life by about 420 million years after the Big Bang. However, scientists from Europe’s Planck satellite mission now say the first stars lit up the Universe later than was previously thought… Continue reading Planck’s Time and the “Oldest Light” in the Cosmos
At the beginning of the 20th century, the discovery of the radiometric “clock” revolutionised our understanding of the Earth’s deep history, confirming what geologists had been claiming for decades. Nevertheless, newer and more accurate dating methods posed further problems in themselves. After all, how do we know our Earth is 4.5 billion years old, and not a mere few thousands of years as suggested by the Bible? Continue reading Testing Times – Methods of Dating the Geological Past
Our planet has existed for 4.5 billion years, and it has been a busy lifetime. From amazing leaps and bounds forward into evolution to devastating asteroid impacts and other episodic extinctions, here are the biggest milestones in Earth’s history – the eventful journey that shaped our World today. Continue reading Earth Creation – The Story So Far…
A friend of mine once casually asked me over a drink: “What is entropy?” Eeek! Interesting concept. But… How do you define entropy in a non-mathematical way? How can you sum up entropy in 30 seconds? In one mental image. In a single concept… In one word. A form of energy? A measure of disorder in the Universe? Randomness? All of the above? Tricky question. And then, I dropped my glass… Continue reading Thermodynamics and Entropy – Our Irreversible Universe
… is pretty much the bemused reaction you’ll get if you allow yourself to answer casual questions about science over a drink with a non-physicist. AB-SO-LUTE disbelief. Your fault! Shouldn’t have gone there… Pretend you didn’t hear the question… Especially if the answer is ion propulsion! Continue reading The Ion Propulsion System – What the… #!$@*!!
GOCE succumbed to gravity – the force it had been sent up into space to study. Ironically. When the xenon fuel for this engine was exhausted, the satellite fell back to Earth in November 2013. The first of ESA’s Living Planet Programme satellites, GOCE was intended to map the Earth’s gravity field in unprecedented detail... Continue reading GOCE and Gravity – Looking Down at the Oceans Up Above
Florida has Cape Canaveral, and now it seems the UK city of Sheffield has a new space port dubbed “Cape Kebaberal”. The name was inspired by the favourite student food of Alex Baker and Chris Rose, who run the Sheffield-based company SentIntoSpace. Continue reading It’s All Go at “Cape Kebaberal” in Sheffield…
It’s not often you can see lightning above Glasgow, so this 2006 Flickr photograph is a rare and impressive sight. But that’s not the point… A study by researchers in the United Kingdom shows it is not just conditions here on Earth that determine how much thunder and lightning we get. The Sun’s magnetic field also has a major influence, more than doubling the number of lightning bolts on some days… Continue reading Lightning and the Sun’s Magnetic Field
When Classical Physics and Post-Impressionist artists meet, few results are as hauntingly beautiful or as enchanting as one of Vincent van Gogh’s most famous masterpieces. The Starry Night embodies the inner, subjective expression of van Gogh’s response to Nature. And the churning night sky he depicted tells of the artist’s very unique perception of the World around him… Continue reading A Starry Starry Night or The Unexpected Maths in a Van Gogh’s Masterpiece
The United States have one. The Danish used to have one, and so did the Brits, but no longer. France remains the only country in Europe to have one. So, what exactly is the GEIPAN? Continue reading Le GEIPAN – Qu’est-Ce Que C’est?
This beautiful image of Scotland was tweeted by a German astronaut from the International Space Station today, as it drifted over Europe. Continue reading “Looks Like a Great Day, Scotland!”
Scotland’s Quiet Revolutions
It seems quiet at first, and even dull. Not much happening… Dreich, as one might say! Sad. Grim. Bleak. Not much to do… Not much to see here… Just sheep… But wait!! Look closer! Is that Dolly in this field? Now, that’s interesting! Oh, Aye, we’re in Scotland! It changes EVERYTHING… Continue reading Scotland’s Quiet Revolutions – One Nation with Sovereign Achievements… and a Pure Dead Brilliant Future!
The human nervous system contains roughly 100 billion nerve cells. Worth pausing for an instant… and read it again. That’s right, 100 billions! To give an idea of the scale, the Milky Way, our own galaxy, contains roughly 100 billion stars. And although human beings are way smaller than galaxies, we begin to appreciate how each one of us is as complex, as mysterious, and as magnificent in its own right, as any large astronomical entity in the physical Universe. Continue reading We Glimpse at the Body Electric – An Introduction to the Physics of the Human Nervous System
Earlier this month, UKube-1, a satellite built by Glasgow-based technology firm Clyde Space, successfully launched on a test flight from Baikonur, Kazakhstan. It is the first ever spacecraft to be fully assembled in Scotland. Continue reading Satellite of Love – It’s Up, Up and Away for Scotland’s UKube-1
Geckos are amazing creatures. They scamper up walls, scuttle along ceilings and hang upside down on polished glass surfaces. However, the secret of their amazing climbing ability remained a mystery until relatively recently. The secret lies in weak intermolecular forces, described by Van der Waals in 1873. Continue reading Van der Waals and the Gecko