Condensation trail

We don’t see many planes overhead these days, but the last couple of afternoons we have seen a condensation trail as a plane has flown over.

Condensation because water vapour in the atmosphere condenses out on soot from the plane engines as the plane flies through the cold moist air. It makes a cloud that can hang in the sky for ages or dissipate quickly. In this case it was almost gone by the time the plane had passed over.

There are conspiracy theories that the trails are releasing chemicals into the atmosphere. This isn’t true but stems from some experiments years ago by scientists seeding clouds with silver iodide to create rain by giving water droplets a nucleus for the water droplet to form on.

So there is a grain of truth, but just that. The reality is far simpler. See https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Contrail. For more information.

Northern lights

My digital doodle of the northern lights. A couple of days ago the sun threw off a medium sized Coronal Mass Ejection (CME). A plume of hot plasma which the Sun throws out every few days into space. This time it was a halo CME which was pointing directly at us on Earth.

The Sun releases plasma and radiation which can cause effects like auroras on Earth. Streams of electrons and ionised gas travel down the magnetic lines of force that surround the Earth in a protective layer. They hit out atmosphere and glow different colours depending on what atoms they excite.

Yesterday aurora were seen quite far down the longitude of the Northern hemisphere. It might happen again tonight. The sky glowed. I don’t live far enough north to be able to see it. One day I hope I do.

Most of this is written from memory after reading about the Northern lights. If you want more information please check out relevant websites like spaceweather.com

Perseid meteor

It was about 11.40pm tonight in the UK. I was looking through my kitchen window looking west. I was ringing my sister to tell her the Perseid Meteor shower was due tonight, when I saw what I can only describe as a fireball flash by heading north west. Two seconds later, my sister who lives eighty miles away saw it too! It flew over her right shoulder and dissappeared. So it must have been travelling about 40 miles a second. Since then I’ve seen about four meteors (shooting stars). It’s clouded over now. But there should be about 150 an hour after local midnight! X

Jack of all trades

I looked at all my book cases and realised how eclectic my reading must be. I’m not sure exactly how many booked I have but I gave up counting after I reached over 1000.

Sci-fi, science (biology, chemistry, physics) novels, biography, art, graphics, illustration, history, old books, new books, even magic Eye books from a couple of decades ago.

Can your reading be too chaotic? I’ve got a book about chaos theory… There are a few cookery books and travel books. There are books that were Christmas presents, birthday presents, and ones I bought for my college course. Too many? I don’t know….

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!

DSC_2839

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).