karohemd: photo by me (Science)
was fun, interesting but also brain hurting.
Robin Ince was the compere, Simon Singh did among other things an interesting bit on cryptography including the demonstration of an actual ENIGMA machine(!), Steve Jones talked about evolution, Adam Rutherford about genetics and inbreeding in Norfolk, Brian Cox about cosmology, the LHC and Einstein's theory of relativity, Helen Arney sang geeky songs and played Ukulele and Ben Goldacre talked about bad science in medical trials.
All very interesting, entertaining and very often funny.

One of the best quotes of the night was from Brian Cox talking about relativity and went something like this:
"You can fit a 4 metre long car into a 3.9 metre long garage if you drive fast enough. I just hope the guys from Top Gear won't try that now..."
karohemd: photo by me (Science)
The Save the Rhino foundation are going to publish a recording of the Douglas Adams Memorial lecture on their website. I'll probably get notified so I'll let you know when it's available.
karohemd: photo by me (Science)
Prof. Brian Cox' that is.
This evening, I went down to the RGS in London to see the 9th Douglas Adams Memorial Lecture.
After a prelude by the Save the Rhino foundation (see link above) and a very funny introduction by Robin Ince (I think I'm going to go and see his solo thing at The Junction) Cox pretty much talked about life, the universe and everything (at least relating to astro- and particle physics). There were bits on the creation and expansion of the universe and why we know it's happening (redshift etc.), particle physics and the LHC and other aspects of physics and the importance of science in general. Some bits hurt my anti-mathematical brane a bit too much but most of it was very accessible to informed laypeople.
It was also rather entertaining, interspersed with anecdotes and quotes from other scientists and some criticism on (the lack of) science funding by the government.
From the title I'd expected some more information on and arguments for the space programme and projects like the various probes, the Hubble telescope etc. but that didn't really happen although they were mentioned. I guess he got a little side-tracked.
What impressed me most was that Cox talked for one hour about all these complicated themes without a script or teleprompter. This sort of thing is obviously part of his job but it's still impressive.

I'm really looking forward to the Uncaged Monkeys in May now. They're all over the UK, have a look on the website for dates.

I had managed to get out of work on time to catch the 4:45 train to London and also meet up successfully with Sheila (the curse of the spare ticket was apparently finally lifted) and it finished reasonably early so I could get the 10:15 train to Cambridge and the last bus home.

An excellent, very geeky evening. :D

ETA: I just remembered something Sheila pointed out as we were walking back to the tube station: In his bit about Hubble's Law on the expansion of the universe, Cox gave the speed as 42miles/second (which is only a roughly rounded 70km/s). We wondered if that was deliberate (as he surely would use metric measurements) and if it was the source of Douglas Adams' ultimate answer. I sat there thinking, "Why is he using miles? That's unusual." The 42 just didn't click...
karohemd: by LJ user gothindulgence (Captain Future)
NASA Probe Sees Solar Wind Decline

Which means it's not far (relatively speaking) from leaving the solar system altogether and entering interstellar space. It's taken 33 years and I read somewhere else that it has another 25 years or so before it becomes useless, just a dead object, unless of course, something unexpected happens.
karohemd: photo by me (Science)
There might be indications that Betelgeuse, the ninth biggest and ninth brightest star in the known/observable 'verse is on its way to go supernova, possibly within the next few months or even weeks (obv. this is the observation of the supernova that will have happened over 500 years ago as the light takes that long to get here - there is no precise measurement for how far away the star actually is).

This blog post collects a few facts and thoughts on the matter.

(HT: @madmoses)
karohemd: photo by me (Science)
For a simplistic but effective demonstration of what happens when a jet plane flies into a cloud of volcanic dust, watch last night's episode of Bang Goes the Theory.

How to pronounce the name of the Volcano God properly:
karohemd: photo by me (Science)
As my knowledge of historic female scientists (apart from the obvious like Mme Curie) is sadly limited, I shall randomly pick three female scientists I know personally:

[livejournal.com profile] feanelwa who does fancy things involving electron microscopes
[livejournal.com profile] jupiter_jones who works on the microbiology part of a huge inter-university biodiversity study in Germany (the icon photo was taken in her lab)
and [livejournal.com profile] professoryaffle who works on the 1000 Genomes project

I take my proverbial hat off to you and your bra(i)n(e)s. :o)
karohemd: photo by me (Science)
I've been looking forward to Wonders of the Solar System for a while and the first episode is finally on BBC2 on Sunday.

Interesting bit in this article: The Voyager probes are soon to enter interstellar space proper, 33 years after launch, which is all kinds of awesome.

Impact!

13 Jan 2010 04:32 pm
karohemd: photo by me (Science)
Ever wondered how big an asteroid would need to be to obliterate, say, Cardiff?
With this little tool you can test the combination of size, composition, angle and speed of impact until you find the right one. :o) It will also give you the size and depth of the resulting crater, temperatures, seismic data and so forth.
Thanks to [livejournal.com profile] martinhesselius for the link.
karohemd: photo by me (Science)
The wonders of surface tension (youtube vid)
I've seen slow motion footage of drops but this effect was new to me. Cool stuff.

ETA: Don't try this at home...
karohemd: photo by me (Science)
The podcast of today's episode of Infinite Monkey Cage is now online. Today's topic: Quantum Physics (and astrology, of all things).
karohemd: photo by me (Science)
Hubble Space Telescope Advent Calendar 2009, i.e. a new photo each day until Christmas. Very exciting.
karohemd: photo by me (Science)
The new scientific comedy with Prof. Brian Cox and Robin Ince is this afternoon at 4:30 on Radio 4. Tune in!

Particles

23 Nov 2009 11:55 am
karohemd: photo by me (Science)
The LHC has been working again since Friday night and has yet to switch itself off from the future.
Now to wait for the first real Big Bang. :)
karohemd: by LJ user gothindulgence (Default)
Watched the programme mentioned in yesterday's post on iplayer last night. Very fascinating. From the earliest stages of scientific method through the invention of algebra (Itself an arabic word) to medieval medicine (humours and all that). Also interesting from a linguistic point of view, the way Arabic was spread not only as a means of communication but also for forming a common base for scientists in different countries. They even adopted the script, adding the dots and extra squiggles common today so non native speakers would know how to pronounce it properly. The language also has barely changed so that texts written over 1,500 years ago can still be read easily by anyone who understands Arabic.
karohemd: by LJ user gothindulgence (Default)
This article describes the "first true scientist", an islamic scholar who lived in AD 965. Then and for many centuries later, the Islamic world was known for its scholars and scientists (as well as fanciful commodities). These days, it's mainly war, religious fanatics and oil. Shame, really.

Good programme to watch but I'll miss it as I'll be RPGing. Thank the BBC for iplayer. :o)

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