Tagged: Science

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.

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.

Episode 16a: A Waste of Time

“We are pleased to present a guest episode of Action Science Theatre created especially for LabLit.com!”
LabLit.com

If you could travel back in time and bring anyone back to the modern day, who would it be? Our choice? We’d leave them where they were, but suggest more people wear hats. Very tall hats. A lot of you would probably say Shakespeare, but, well, that’s you isn’t it? Predictable. And slightly shifty looking.

Join us for a special episode created just for our friends at LabLit.com. It has the answers to everything, and so much more. What is Parkin? Who has the best carpets? And, of course, which is better; art or science? Check, check, check, check it out.

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.

King Water vs the Nazis

Francis-H.-C.-Crick-Nobel-Prize-Medal-1Gold is a Noble metal. What this means is that it’s particularly tough, that it doesn’t corrode very easily. Which is one of the reasons we humans have been using it as a precious metal for a long time – your gold ring will stay nice and shiny and attractive for a very long time. So when they were deciding what to make Nobel prizes out of, well, it’s the obvious choice. We like the nice things in our lives to have permanence, and gold delivers while being shiny at the same time.

But what if your shiny gold medal was about to get you killed. What then?

This is the problem renowned scientist Niels Bohr had.

How to fall and miss the ground

One day Isaac Newton sat under a tree and watched an apple fall (or probably he didn’t, but let’s not dwell on that just now). He thought to himself “I wonder if an apple at the bottom of the tree feels a stronger pull towards the earth than an apple at the top of the tree?” – so perhaps the force something feels due to Earth’s gravity changes depending on how far away it is from the Earth. “Now I come to think of it,” he continued, “I’m hungry for apple pie,” and he went on his way, for all we know.

A very closely described mess

Pick an animal. Any animal. Somewhere in the world is a very special, carefully stored, individual of that species. Meticulously described, it is as well preserved as we can possibly make it. We’re trying to keep this one individual, above all others of it’s species, perfect.

It is what’s called the “Type Specimen”, and it is the chosen representative of its entire species. And we need one of these, for every single living thing, because if the world is going to be so very untidy, we at least need to be able to keep straight what it is we’re talking about.