Light

What is light? It’s photons that are little packets of visible energy. They don’t weigh anything, they are quanta (a tiny quantity). There have been different ideas about light, whether it is made up of waves or particles (called a wave particle duality). Probably the most interesting physicist to read is Richard Feynman, he died several years ago. But his book QED, quantum electro dynamics was quite good in helping me understand it slightly (its too complex for me). I liked his diagrams which helped to visualise the ideas….. Anyway that’s another random thing I’m interested in…

Landscape

I love playing with things as you know. I add textures or add colours, mirror things or duplicate them. Art is exciting. Not every image is good, some work, others don’t. But playing with things helps you learn new things. Scientists experiment, that’s how they changed from Alchemists to chemist’s or physicists or biologists or mathematicians. They took things and learnt how they worked. That’s basically what I hope I do. Maybe not as logically or not done in an organised way, but I try.

Vaccine

How amazing to think that a vaccine is coming out for Covid19. If only fake news had not run like a virus through the Internet. There are also fears from other vaccinations in the past. The doctor who linked MMR vaccination to autism and who was discredited over it has not helped matters. At the end of the day we need to listen to scientists and experts. Yes we should ask intelligent questions, but this is a chance to get the ‘R’ number down below 1.

How would it have been if Edward Jenner had worked out how to inoculate people against Smallpox only to be told that he couldn’t use it to save lives? What about all those other viruses out there that used to kill people or make them seriously ill? If they didn’t die people sometimes had to survive in Iron Lungs when they had Polio. Now a new disease needs us to accept a vaccine that may not cure it but could be a game changer.

Too many books?

Featuring a painting by my artist friend Charlie Walker. The other, little yellow rose, is one of mine.

Who needs insulation when you have lots of books? Well I only have them lining one wall so I guess we do. I did start counting them once, but when I got to 1000 I gave up. Some of them are unreachable because they are too high up. I sometimes get the step ladders out if I notice one I’d like to read again. I have my favourites, including sci-fi and fantasy, biography and science books. I’m about to start a book about the history of Jodrell Bank Radio telescope.

There are books by Carl Sagan, Isaac Asimov, Arthur C Clarke that I like. I also enjoy books by Terry Pratchett. I think that’s because I read some them when I was at school so I have that memory ingrained in me. I remember reading Arthur C Clarke Dolphin Island when I was young. It enthralled me. I read it again recently but it had lost some of its magic. I guess some of the fantastic things he talked about dont seem as amazing in the modern world….

Boat Band live!

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I went out for a walk today up our steep hill and then called into the local pub to see our friends in the Boatband who were playing outside in the beer garden. We stayed to listen to the music, it was the first time we had been there since March. Everything was socially distanced with a one way system in the pub so you could use the facilities. The music was cajun. You can find them on YouTube. We had an excellent socially distanced afternoon although I drank far to much gin and tonic! (it’s taken me three goes to type something coherent here).

 

Noctilucent clouds.

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High up in the atmosphere, close to space, Noctilucent clouds start to appear in the summer months. They glow an almost electric blue and are caused by sunlight reflecting off gas particles from meteors that have broken and burned up as they strike the earth’s atmosphere at high speeds. Over the last few years these clouds have become more common and scientists are investigating why.

I see information about these and other atmospheric and astronomical phenomena at Spaceweather.com a fascinating Web page.

Art…

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The Sunday Times newspaper has run an article which compares essential and non essential workers.

Their survey had a list of images, essential has doctors I think at the top, and artists at the top of non essential jobs. So it says artists are the least essential workers?

I feel this argument should be challenged.

So no one ever designs things using their artistic skills, or paints scenery, or designs art for their walls, or cars, or wallpaper, or covers for books, or diagrams for science books, or medical textbooks. Or designs for online gaming art, or creating beautiful jewellery, or clothes or shoes. Or patterns on China and pottery. No art is used in news papers to show images of essential or non essential workers, how could anyone be employed to illustrate anything? No one ever read a cartoon or a children’s book! Obviously……! No one ever drew rainbows for the NHS. Children don’t need art to learn how to understand biology or architecture or any other complex concept. Richard Feynmann and Steven Hawking never used pictures to explain their theories of quantum mechanics. What about technical drawing? But… statues are now grey boxes, Leonardo is a turtle…. And he was never drawn!

World

_20200303_224853what would happen if the Earth was tipped up on its axis?

The world would spin so the equator was spinning at nintey degrees or so to where it is now. Every twenty four hours it would still spin West to East as it does now, but the Sun would not rise and set every day. I think it would only do that when the Earth was mid way between when either pole faced the Sun. Because the Earth rotates round the Sun. So the North or North East or North West would face the Sun for half  of the year and the South, South East and South West for the other half.

So what would happen to the poles? Even now, because the Earth is tipped at an angle and doesn’t rotate vertically, we get summers and winters. So there  twenty four hour days in the polar summer, and twenty four hour nights in polar winter. If the Earth was tipped over more the twenty four hour days and nights would last for months. The side away from the Sun would be colder, the side towards it would be hotter. Perhaps all the ice would melt at one pole and freeze much more at the other? Who knows? I’m sure scientists would have the answer. Thankfully we don’t face that question. Sadly we do face climate crisis. We need to sort out the current situation. How? I don’t know the answer to that. But perhaps we should follow what teachers put on school reports. We must try harder?!

Chemicals

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Something I wrote a couple of years ago on Facebook :

I keep seeing posts, don’t use this, don’t eat that, they are full of toxic, carcinogenic, genetically modified ingredients. BUT does anyone ever question where this information comes from? There does not seem to be scrutiny of whether things are FACT or FICTION.
Firstly everything is made of chemicals..because they are made of atoms or molecules of various elements. Even the wind is made if chemicals, because it is in fact gases like Nitrogen, Oxygen, Carbon Dioxide and other elements. The only thing that us not chemical is energy, like light (photons) and energy on the electromagnetic spectrum.
So when someone writes there are chemicals in something that is FACT.
Some are harmful and some are good, it can depend on the amount of something in it. That seems to be where the problem lies. Especially where people believe in homeopathic remedies, where the original active ingredient is so diffuse it sometimes can not be measured any more but people still believe in its effectivness (the placebo effect).
There seems to be an idea that even trace amounts of chemicals can do harm, in some cases that is true, we have all seen films where terrorists plan to put nerve agents in water supplies, and they show a tiny phial of stuff and say this thing can kill a million people. But it is not true that all things in trace amounts can be harmful. It’s these scare stories that worry me. I love science and finding out things. I am not an expert, so I tend to ask people who know or look up things on Wikipedia or Snopes to see what the facts are.
I think we should all question things, but try and follow the facts, not being scared to seek the truth. Certain newspapers will say something is poisonous one day, and then say it is a cure for everything the next. Sometimes you can’t take things at face value.
Science is important, without it we would be back in the stone age.

How to tell the earth is a sphere…

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So how can you tell the Earth is a sphere? The ancient Greeks worked it out ( I don’t remember the name of the person who did).

The experiment was to put a stick in the sand at or near the equator, so it would have a tiny shadow directly underneath the it at mid day as the Sun was directly overhead.

If you place a stick upright, at 90° to the Eaths surface either North or South of the equator, the stick casts a shadow at mid day. (Look at the hands of a clock the hands move round in the same way). Say the equator is 3pm and the Sun is overhead, you would get no shadow, then as you go further away from the stick at the equator you get increasing angles (see diagram). Eventually at the poles the shadows would be at their longest.

So how can you tell its a sphere? The angles add up. You can calculate the curvature of the planet from these simple experiments. The ancient Greeks got very close to calculating the circumference of the Earth. Their calculations were only a small percentage out on their measurement.