New Blue Northern Lights Courtesy NASA

The northern lights are a well known phenomena and quite a tourist attraction for those visiting Norway. The beautiful display of the famous auroras was intersected by strange blue lights with geometric patterns on the fifth of April. The gorgeous symmetric patterns may have pleased the eye, but the worried the locals.

These were definitely not part of mother nature’s show. The locals were wondering about the possibility of alien invasions and the discussions about just what caused this phenomena were hot and bothered. Conspiration theories have been the next step, thankfully people were still in the discussion stage. This lasted till NASA owned up to causing these new blue lights in the area.

Apparently NASA was using a pair of rockets in the area to conduct an experiment that was supposed to study the processes taking place within the polar cusp of the Earth. This is the region where the magnetic lines bend down through the planet’s atmosphere, resulting in the creation of the northern lights. Now that was a science experiment that got more results than it had bargained for!

Leave a Comment

Beyond Cryogenics

Traditionally cryogenic liquids were used to achieve low temperatures for research and industrial purposes, with a variety of liquefied gases and a range of applications. Liquid nitrogen is the most commonly used cryogenic liquid these days. Another popular cryogenic is liquid helium.

While cryogenic liquids have been used for maintaining cooler temperatures in research laboratories, they are not only potentially hazardous but also extremely expensive. Not to mention rare to harness in the natural state. In addition making sensitive measurements in cryogenic environments poses many difficulties to researchers.

For these reasons research has been ongoing to create a cryogenics free environment, which would still be able to maintain the cooler temperatures that are requisite in certain science experiments. At Oxford Instruments researchers are working on nano technology based instruments that can help eliminate the dangers and uncertainty of using cryogenic liquids.

Since Nano Devices are extremely sensitive, they can be used to make a wide range of temperature measurements. This means that they can be used effectively at room temperature as well as extremely low cryogenic temperatures. As the instruments are improved, they may well take over the niche, removing the need to use cryogenic liquids in science experiments.

Leave a Comment

Up-cycling Plastic Waste

The resources we have are limited. That’s why the emphasis on reusing everything we can. We have all heard of recycling waste products so that they may be reused to save the planet more wear and tear. Now we have the concept of up-cycling plastic waste.

From the innovative people on the planet come a number of options to up-cycle your plastic waste. Plastic brown grocery bags have been made into yarn and stitched into a suit. Plastic bottles have been cut and reworked to make storage units for daily necessities. Plastic crocs that have broken have been remade into bird feeders hanging on a tree branch.

While a large number of ideas have been formed around already existing plastic products, at the Swansea University, researchers have come up with a technique to up-cycle the plastic waste bags that were used for food packaging, and make electricity conducting carbon nanotubes from them.
Alvin Orbaek White, who headed this science project hopes that
idea of upcycling waste in this way not only offers a potential solution to the problem of environmental plastic disposal, but by turning it into something useful that we can use for energy

Leave a Comment

Regulations for Drones

What started out as a simple hobby to fly an unmanned aerial vehicle or UAV has turned into a potential commercial venture with drones flying from location to location with mail, courier items, medical supplies and more. People are buying and flying drones as a hobby and doing all kinds of tricks with them. The number of drones being flown at present is very few compared to what can be envisioned for the future.

As more companies gain permission to fly their drones for whatever commercial or other purposes within the city limits it is going to become increasingly more important to have regulations for flying them. This fact becomes even more important when you consider that last year in the US nearly 69 collisions with drones were avoided. Of course there were some collisions which could not be avoided on record as well.

The aerospace sector needs to be ready to handle this potential crisis. Not only do they have to undertake the issue of flying so many drones safely within city limits, they have to ensure that the buildings and infrastructure is also kept safe. Not to mention keeping the drones out of the zones where commercial airliners are likely to fly in and out of the city airport. This is one huge science project that needs a lot of attention.

Leave a Comment

Challenges of Being Pioneering Women in Space

Have you ever felt bad because you were the last to be picked for a sports team? It’s disappointing, but you tell yourself that when you are an adult these things will not happen. Guess what? Even when you are pioneering woman astronaut, it may still happen as Anne C McClain and Christina H Koch discovered on the International Space Station. This occurred when they attempted to have the first all female spacewalk.

The mission which would have turned out to be a historic one had it gone through, had to be called off due to the lack of medium sized spacesuits. There is only one medium sized torso component available on the ISS. The duties that require the space walk will still be carried out by two astronauts. the mission comprises of a six hour space walk during which lithium ion batteries will be installed to help power the research laboratory.

While Christina H Koch will still be participating in the mission, Anne C McClain will have to wait for the next one. As for the women only spacewalk? That’s a science project that will have to wait for another day!

Leave a Comment

Banning Plastic- Why It Helps

There is no denying the fact that using plastic materials has made life a lot more easier for this generation of people. However the overwhelming amount of plastic that ends up in landfills and in the oceans is slowly but surely threatening to suffocate our planet.

To gain a better perspective about just why the plastic menace is so bad, imagine every single tooth brush, straw, plastic spoon or fork that you have ever used in your life. Now imagine them all added up and lying in one place, because there is not way that any of it has decomposed and gone back to nature.

A number of countries are waking up to this perpetual problem understand that if they don’t want to poison the land and seas with plastic, there must be drastic action. The European Union is thus planning to ban plastic consumer goods like glasses, straws, plates and cutlery by 2021.

The scientific research that backs this decision hopes that using environment friendly alternatives will help scale back the percentage of plastic in the garbage from 80% at present to less than half of that number within the five years after the implementation of the ban.

Leave a Comment

You don’t become an Adult till you’re 30!

The stages of growth have always been associated closely with the physical changes seen in the body. As the infant grows to a toddler and then to a child, it is easy to see the changes. The child reaches the height of an adult around their late teens and this is why most countries concur that people reach their majority, or adulthood at the age of either 18 or 21 years depending on your country of residence.

A new study conducted by neuro scientists at the University of Cambridge, is looking into the changes that the brain undergoes when growing up. One thing is for certain, the brain develops at different times in every individual. So to define a specific age when a person moves from childhood to adulthood, is practically impossible in terms of brain development.

The degree of individual brain variability only begins to level out when people reach their thirties. This means that effectively the brain of an adult is only seen in people who are aged or more! So if you are below thirty, it’s fine to be considered childish. Now here’s a science project that gives you licence to act as a child for a little while longer.

Leave a Comment

Jupiter’s Journey

Gas giants like the planet Jupiter are usually formed further away from the sun and then move closer to it’s orbit. It has now been researched by astronomers at the Lund University and revealed that over the last 700,000 years the planet has been moving ever inwards and has now migrated more than four times the distance that it was away from the sun.

The constant inward migration which was fueled by the gravitational pull of the sun, has been proved in theory in a complex computer simulation.
Simona Pirani, is a doctoral student in astronomy at Lund University as well as the lead author of the study which has used the evidence of the migration in the Trojan asteroids orbiting close to Jupiter to substantiate this theory in the science project.

The Trojan asteroids are two groups of thousands of asteroids  which were located at the same distance from the Sun as Jupiter. They have now positioned themselves around the planet and have the same migratory path. Gradually more than 50% of these asteroids have shifted in front of Jupiter and closer to the sun in the solar system. Leading the researchers to believe that the migration of the asteroids is similar to the journey made by the gas giant planet.

Leave a Comment

Mars Had Rivers

The possibility of settling a colony on Mars has been in the forefront of many research projects. The availability of water would be a major mark in the plus side for sustaining life on the Red Planet. Scientists studying the landscape through the Mars Rovers have been excited to see the traces of water in the past through fissures and canals on the surface of the planet.

NASA’s Curiosity Rover has indicated that deep channels in the Martian surface indicate the presence of big and powerful rivers that once flowed through the landscape. Some of these are believed to be even larger than rivers on Earth. The geological evidence seems to suggest that these huge rivers flowed in hundreds of locations all over Mars around one billion years ago.

This is the time frame that current day scientists feels is when the planet was losing it’s atmosphere and drying out. If human beings are ever to live on the planet, having a sustainable source of water is going to be a requirement that needs to be met. Many science projects are working on solving this issue at present. Only time will tell if they are successful.

Leave a Comment

Does Music Enhance Creativity?

The general consensus in popular lore is that when you play some music, you are likely to feel more creative. Research students at the Lancaster University decided to put this popular belief to test. The psychologists devised an experiment where three types of musical backgrounds were provided to the participants of the study who were involved in a problem solving exercise.

The first was background music with foreign (unfamiliar) lyrics. The second was instrumental music without any lyrics. The third was popular music with familiar lyrics. The participants of the scientific research experiment were given verbal tasks to perform as they listened to one of the three types of music playing in the background. If popular theory held true, the ones who were listening to music they identified with, should have been very creative and solved the problems quickly.

That did not seem to happen when the results of the study were collected. Dr Neil McLatchie of Lancaster University said that they found strong evidence of impaired performance when playing background music in comparison to quiet background conditions. The inference was that the music disrupted the verbal working memory and caused the participants to perform their assigned tasks poorly.

Leave a Comment