Science

10 facts about Mars

  1. Mars has never been known by another name, unlike Snickers.
  2. It’s known as the red planet because of its communist tendencies.
  3. Matt Damon is the only person who has been to Mars.
  4. We only send Rovers to Mars as they’re a proper British car brand.
  5. Mars is named after the Roman god of war. Someone put the first letter on upside down.
  6. There is no life on Mars. Which is why it’s twinned with Slough.
  7. H.G. Wells wrote ‘The War of the Worlds’ about an invasion from Mars. But the chances of anything coming from Mars are a million to one.
  8. Mars is covered in ‘canals’. It is currently not possible to navigate them on an overpriced gondola.
  9. The centre of Mars is solid ice. As well as caramel and soft nougat.
  10. The symbol for Mars is the same as the symbol for man. This is why Mars never washes its hands after taking a pee.

Science Christmas around the world

Christmas isn’t just for ordinary people, scienticians like to celebrate it too. Of course, different countries have different traditions with regards to how the celebrate the day of presenty goodness. Let’s take a look at how sciencefolk mark the day of turkey munching in different countries of the world.

Lunch after launch

Eating in space has its own challenges. Everything floats around, for a start, and keeping the meatballs in a meatball sandwich is difficult at the best of times. So food, like everything else in human space flight, is very tightly controlled.

But it was not always that way.

Pluto, planets and you

SpaP_2_01-600x900Engines to power! Turbines to speed!

Action Science Theatre is back, everyone!

I’m only allowed, by law, to use one more exclamation point in this blog, so I’m going to save it for later.

Now that we’ve returned, let’s tackle one of the big problems, something which has dogged humanity since at least 2006.

Is Pluto a planet or not?

Talking about talking

Let’s talk about talking, shall we?

Many scientists and experts believe that to win over the public – to make them feel the same way they do towards their work – is to impart more facts to the public.

Let’s say you want to convince people that your research into genetic engineering should be funded, but people are uncomfortable about the possible applications. So, you painstakingly explain the science behind what you’re doing, pointing out at length how many safeguards you have in place to stop the genetically modified murder-pigeons from escaping the lab. The public, you think, just need to be better informed, and all will be well. Environmental science, biotechnology, nuclear physics,  murder pigeons – all the public needs to do is understand, and they’ll agree with us. There’ll be no more controversy.

This is a very tempting argument, and it sort of feels like it should be true. But the problem is that it’s not even slightly how things work.

What's long and hard and full of...

So, I thought I’d give Science Brian a break from doing the science post for our latest episode, and I’m going to take on this particular one. Handily, I know a lot about submarines. Really I do.

Let’s start at the beginning.

The submarine is named after Sir John Submarine, who at one time was proprietor of the largest chain of funeral directors in the British Empire. His company, ‘Submarine’s Emporium of Loved One Despatch’, buried some of the Empire’s most well-known colonial expansionists.

Playing with a very tiny fire

cannonCracker

Ah, Christmas. That time of year where we exchange presents, eat too much, watch television programmes that we would never watch under any other circumstances, politely listen to relatives we avoid during the rest of the year, and have a nice time playing with gunpowder.

Wait, what?

Seeing the invisible

Astounding Stories of Super-science

From pulpcovers.com

Did you ever think about how you’re able to see glass? I mean, the light just passes straight through glass, right? So how come I can see the edges, and the glasses I wash-up don’t just disappear from view? Why aren’t glasses invisible?

Well, it’s all to do with how light doesn’t just travel in straight lines.

Outrunning a decimal point

By Nicholas_T on Flickr

Now, we’re all polite people here. So let’s be polite and talk about the weather. No wait! Don’t go! I mean, let’s really talk about the weather.

Now, aside from the extremes, most weather can be dealt with. Rain? Raincoat. Sun? T-shirt. Snow? Stay inside, what are you even thinking about, jeez.

What’s difficult to deal with is the unpredictability. It’s sunny now, but next week? That’s tricky. And you know what the kicker is? You can’t know the weather that far in advance. There is a theoretical limit to that of about a month. Anything beyond a week is tricky, but no matter what you do, how good our computers get, however many weather stations we have, how much we shake our fists at the clouds, we can’t get past a month.