o The Frog Blog: 2008

Sunday, 28 December 2008

Edublog Awards - SCC English Wins Best Group Blog

The Frog Bloggers would like to once again congratulate the members of the English Department, but especially Mr. Julian Girdham, for their wonderful achievement in winning the Best Group Blog at this years Edublog Awards, a prestigious worldwide Education Website Award! This is yet another confirmation of the excellent resource that has been created by the staff and pupils of St. Columba's and collated by the ever hard-working Mr. Girdham. Of course, the Frog Blog would not be here, if not for the influence of the English Department Blog and the fine example they have given us, not to mention technical advice! Well done again to all who have contributed!

Thursday, 25 December 2008

Why, It's Christmas!

It's Christmas Day! And no I am not sad enough to log onto my computer on this the day of days to announce to you Merry Christmas. But I did pre-post this last week and scheduled it to arrive today! Saying that, I did care enough to do it!! Happy Christmas to all in cyber space!

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Christmas Holidays!!

Today we are all heading on our Christmas Holidays (Thank Goodness!!) This term has been excellent, especially in terms of the Frog Blog's progress. I would like to thank all involved in the Blog's resurgence, especially the pupils who have contributed projects or essays or ideas for the Frog Blog. So, as a Christmas present I have created a "Santa Frog" for all to enjoy!!! Merry Christmas and we'll see you all in the New Year.

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Science Fact of the Week 5 - The Loudest & Biggest Animal is...

The loudest animal in the world is also the largest animal in the world, in fact the largest animal that has ever existed on this planet (yes, bigger than any dinosaur). It is of course the Blue Whale. The blue whale can produce sounds up to 188 decibels. This is the loudest sound produced by a living animal and has been detected as far away as 530 miles. A jet engine creates only 140 decibels! Blue whales grow to be about 80 feet (25 m) long on average, weighing about 120 tons (109 tonnes). The largest specimen found was a female 94 feet (29 m) long weighing more 174 tons (158 tonnes). The females are larger than males, as with all baleen whales. The largest of the blue whales (150 tons) has a heart that weighs about 1,000 pounds (450 kg) and has 14,000 pounds (6,400 kg) of blood circulating in its body. The heart is about the size of a Volkswagon bug car. A human could crawl through the aorta (a major blood vessel). Surely being this size they must eat a hell of a lot. Well, Blue whales (like all baleen whales) are seasonal feeders and carnivores that filter feed tiny crustaceans (krill, copepods, etc.), plankton, and small fish from the water. They are gulpers, filter feeders that alternatively swim then gulp a mouthful of plankton or fish. They can travel up to 30 mph too!!!!

Monday, 15 December 2008

Honda FCX Clarity - The Car of the Future

Why am I talking about cars in the science blog? Well I love cars! But also because the Honda Clarity is the car of the future. Why? Well because it looks like a regular four door saloon and acts like a regular four door saloon,but it is not a regular four door saloon car. It is an electric car but with no battery. Instead of a battery it has a Hydrogen Fuel Cell. Instead of putting petrol or diesel into this car, the car is filled with Hydrogen. The Hydrogen is burned and the energy converted into electricity, which makes the car go! This car can produce around 130 bhp, which makes is comparable to most family cars. But why is Hydrogen power so useful. Well first, unlike oil, Hydrogen will never run out as it is the most abundant element in the universe. It also produces no emissions. All that comes out of the exhaust is Water, H2O! But this is no car of the future, it is available for sale now, but unfortunately not in Ireland. The Clarity is available in Japan and also in California, where a thorough study is being carried out. Hydrogen is available in "Gas Stations" at the same price as petrol, but it will probably come down in price when more cars are produced in the future. I am sure many of the pupils in this school will be driving Hydrogen powered cars in the future! To find out more about how this amazing feat of engineering works click here.

Friday, 12 December 2008

The Monticello Dam & "The Glory Hole"

The construction of the Monticello Dam in California started in 1953, and it was completed in 1957. The height of the dam is 304 feet, and its length at the top is 1,023 feet. It's volume is 326,000 cubic yards. The Dam is used for produce hydroelectricity and as a resevoir for the people of Napa. However, the dam is most noted for its spillway (overflow controller) which is commonly called "The Glory Hole".

The glory hole is located about 200 feet from the dam. Water spills over its lip when the lake reaches 1,602,000 acre-feet. The funnel’s largest diameter is 72 feet and narrows to about 28 feet. It is designed to handle a maximum of 362,000 gallons of water per second, which occurs when the lake level rises to 15.5 feet above the level of the funnel.

For obvious reasons, swimming near the glory hole is both prohibited and stupid. There are buoys strung across the lake to discourage boaters and swimmers from approaching the glory hole and the dam. Furthermore, the glory hole is well fenced off from the land. The eerie appearance of the spillway in operation attracts visitors, and when the spillway is dry the outlet downstream is popular with skateboarders .

Thursday, 11 December 2008

Focus science magazine in the Library

The monthly science magazine Focus is produced by the BBC, and is full of well-written and nicely illustrated articles on topical science and technology issues. There is quite a journalistic spin to the way issues are presented, but the underlying science is pretty sound.

Features include a monthly round up of science ‘stories’ from around the world – which is a good way of keeping in touch with what is going on, and always provides an interesting snippet or two. There are always stunning photographs and a range of major articles each month e.g. the effect of eating cooked meat on human evolution, climate change and its implications for temperature and rainfall in the British Isles over the next 70 years (both in the November issue), the story behind an 800 metre high skyscraper planned for Dubai, and a stunning photo-essay on the Libyan desert (both in the June issue). There is also a quirky “your questions answered section”, and many short reports and articles on a whole range of topics.

In SCC current issues are held in the magazine racks (behind the dictionaries in the main Library), and past issues are archived in a box at the end of the general science section (on your right as you enter the Library), just before Physics and Chemistry proper.

The next time you are in the Library with a few minutes to spare – have a quick browse, you’re bound to come across something interesting!


Marie Curie

Today, in 1911, Marie Curie became the first person to be awarded a second Nobel prize at a ceremony in Stockholm, Sweden. She had isolated radium by electrolyzing molten radium chloride. At the negative electrode the radium formed an amalgam with mercury. Heating the amalgam in a silica tube filled with nitrogen at low pressure boiled away the mercury, leaving pure white deposits of radium. The isolation of radium opened the door to deep changes in the way scientists think about matter and energy. She also led the way to a new era for medical science and the treatment of diseases.

This second prize was for her individual achievements in Chemistry, whereas her first prize (1903) was a collaborative effort with her husband, Pierre, and Henri Becquerel in Physics for her contributions in the discovery of radium and polonium. Her early researches were often performed under difficult conditions, laboratory arrangements were poor and both she and her husband had to undertake much teaching to earn a livelihood. She also received, jointly with her husband, the Davy Medal of the Royal Society in 1903 and, in 1921 President Harding of the United States, on behalf of the women of America, presented her with one gram of radium in recognition of her service to science. Mme. Curie died in Savoy, France, after a short illness, on July 4, 1934. To find out more about the life of Marie Curie click here.

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

An Early Christmas Present!!

What happens when you mix a frog and a beatle? Classic Christmas song with extra froggage! How could we not?!!??

Science Fact of the Week 4 - Lightning

This week's fact of the week is in fact a series of shocking revelations about lightning!

  • Did you know that a lightning bolt generates temperatures five times hotter than those found at the sun's surface!
  • In addition, lightning strikes somewhere on the surface of the earth about 100 times every second.

  • Each flash contains about one billion volts of electricity. That's enough energy to light a 100-watt bulb for three months.
  • In the United States alone, lightning sets 10,000 forest fires and causes $100 million in property damage every year.
  • Between 1940 and 1991, it killed 8,316 people in the U.S.

  • Today the average number of lightning-related deaths in the U.S. is 80 a year.
  • Not everyone who is struck by lightning dies.

To find out more about lightning click here.

Monday, 8 December 2008

John Joly

Today marks the 75th anniversary of the death of John Joly.
John Joly was an Irish geologist, botanist, physicist and inventor whose interests spanned several fields. Using Edmond Halley's method of measuring the degree of salinity of the oceans, and then by examining radioactive decay in rocks, he estimated Earth's age at 80-90 million years (1898). Later, he revised this figure to 100 million years. He published Radioactivity and Geology in 1909, in which he demonstrated that the rate of radioactive decay has been more or less constant through time. He also developed a method for extracting radium (1914) and invented a constant-volume gas thermometer, a photometer, and a differential steam calorimeter for measuring the specific heat capacity of gases at constant volume. He was also involved in pioneering radiation therapy for use in cancer treatment and patented the first method of using colour photography. As for those who study Biology, his name is synonymous with explaining how xylem transports water from root to leaves, as he developed the 'cohesion - tension model' of water transport with his colleague Horatio Dixon. He died on this day, December 8th, in 1933.

Penguin Corner 2

Evolution of the Penguins has resulted in them losing the ability to fly, but they are great underwater swimmers. Or so we thought, until now!!!!

Saturday, 6 December 2008

The Arctic Fox by Sophie Miller

Here is another example of the excellent projects the IV Form have been carrying out on the mammal of their choice. Sophie Miller chose the Arctic Fox, a beautiful animal with a very interesting life. Click on the image above to download her PowerPoint Presentation. (1.7MB)

Friday, 5 December 2008

Congratulations to the English Blog

Many congratulations to our colleagues in the English Department (and the pupils who have contributed over the past number of years) for receiving nominations for two Edublog Awards. This is an excellent achievement, and fitting recognition for what is a truly excellent educational resource. For information on how to vote for the SCC English Blog, click here. Well done again to all involved on this fine achievement, especially considering the fact that you don't have a catchy title (like The Frog Blog or The Clog) or any obsession with amphibians or penguins (apparently we have graduated to flightless birds, thanks Jeremy).

Thursday, 4 December 2008

Penguin Corner

We are going to kick off a new regular slot on the frog blog entitled “penguin corner”. Simply press play below for the Happy Feet - Since You've Been Gone Remix. Classic Rainbow-inspired rock married seamlessly with excellent penguin related graphics. Crank up the volume and ENJOY!

Crescent Moon

Every once in a while, something appears in the night sky that attracts the attention of even those who normally don't bother looking up. It was that way on Monday evening. A slender crescent moon, just 15 percent illuminated, came in very close proximity to the two brightest planets in our sky, Venus and Jupiter. People who were unaware or had no advance notice almost certainly wondered, as they cast a casual glance toward the moon, what those two "large silvery stars" happened to be? I was lucky enough to look up at the sky, during a clear spell, and caught a glimpse of the event. The picture above isn't mine, but it was taken in Ireland. Venus is seen just under the moon, while Jupiter is just out of shot. It was a beautiful and rare spectacle and won't happen again until 2053!

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

First Heart Transplant

On December 3rd, 1967, in Cape Town, South Africa, Dr. Christiaan Barnard, with his team of 20 surgeons, performed the first human heart transplant on a South African businessman, 54-yr-old Louis Washkansky. His diseased heart was replaced with the healthy heart of a 25-year old woman who had died in a car crash. Washkansky lasted only 18 days before succumbing to double pneumonia, contracted after destruction of his body's immunity mechanism by drugs administered to suppress rejection of the new heart as a foreign protein. However, the next patient, Philip Blaiberg, lived for nearly two years. Since then, many thousands of human heart transplants have been performed.

Almost exactly 15 years later, on December 2nd 1982, Barney Clark became the world's first recipient of a permanent artificial heart. Surgery was performed by Dr. William DeVries in cooperation with the inventor, Dr. Robert Jarvik. In preparation, Clark visited the veterinary laboratory at the University of Utah to see calves that had already received the artificial hearts. Near death, and with his own heart practically useless, Clark agreed to the experiment. He said, "It may not work that well for me, but I'll do it for the next patient." He lived 112 days on the artificial heart. Of the next four implants, the longest survivor was William Schroeder, who lived 620 days.

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Cryonics by Emily Plunket (VI Form)

Cryonics (often mistakenly called "cryogenics") is the practice of cryopreserving humans or animals that can no longer be sustained by contemporary medicine until resuscitation may be possible in the future. The largest current practitioners are two member-owned, non-profit organizations, the Alcor Life Extension Foundation in Scottsdale, Arizona, with 74 cryopreserved patients and the Cryonics Institute in Clinton Township, Michigan with 75. The process is not currently reversible. Cryonics can only be legally performed on humans after clinical death. The idea of cryonics is that the process may be reversible in the future if performed soon enough, and that cryopreserved people may not really be dead by standards of future medicine. Cryonics is viewed with skepticism by many scientists and doctors today. However, there is a high representation of scientists among cryonics supporters. Scientific support for cryonics is based on projections of future technology, especially molecular nanotechnology and nanomedicine. Some scientists believe that future medicine will enable molecular-level repair and regeneration of damaged tissues and organs decades or centuries in the future. Disease and aging are also assumed to be reversible. The central premise of cryonics is that memory, personality, and identity are stored in the structure and chemistry of the brain. While this view is widely accepted in medicine, and brain activity is known to stop and later resume under certain conditions, it is not generally accepted that current methods preserve the brain well enough to permit revival in the future. Cryonics advocates point to studies showing that high concentrations of cryoprotectant circulated through the brain before cooling can largely prevent freezing injury, preserving the fine cell structures of the brain in which memory and identity presumably reside. To its detractors, the justification for the actual practice of cryonics is unclear, given present limitations of preservation technology. Currently cells, tissues, blood vessels, and some small animal organs can be reversibly cryopreserved. Some frogs can survive for a few months in a partially frozen state a few degrees below freezing, but this is not true cryopreservation. Cryonics advocates counter that demonstrably reversible preservation is not necessary to achieve the present-day goal of cryonics, which is preservation of basic brain information that encodes memory and personal identity. Preservation of this information is said to be sufficient to prevent information theoretic death until future repairs might be possible.

Monday, 1 December 2008

Science Fact of the Week 3 - The Sun

Believe it or not, the Sun is just a star, exactly like those we see twinkling at night. The Sun, however, is so much closer to us on Earth that it looks much bigger and much brighter, and we can even feel heat coming from it. Scientists know a great deal about the stars that shine at night. Compared to these other stars, the Sun is actually quite average. Many of the stars that appear so small in the night sky are actually much bigger than our Sun, although others may be quite tiny in comparison. Some are much hotter, and some are so cool and dim we can barely see them. But for us on Earth, the Sun is just right! The Sun is made of hot gases and contains many of the same materials we find here on Earth. These materials include hydrogen, helium, calcium, sodium, magnesium, and iron. In fact, most of the atoms in our bodies were made inside stars! As the famous scientist and educator Carl Sagan says, we are "star stuff." The Sun is HUGE. It looks small because it is 93 million miles away. (That's about 150 million km.) The Earth is very tiny in comparison to the Sun. In fact, if you think of the Sun as a basketball, the Earth would only be the size of the head of a pin -- a mere speck. The Earth is about 13 thousand kilometers (8,000 miles) wide, whereas the Sun is roughly 1.4 million kilometers (900,000 miles) across. This means it would take more than 100 Earths to span the width of the Sun. If the Sun were a hollow ball, you could fit about one million Earths inside it. We will publish some more star facts in a few weeks time!

Friday, 28 November 2008

Fear of Physics? Not anymore!

Fear of Physics is an excellent website for pupils of Junior Science, TY Physics or Leaving Certificate Physics. It explains, in an interesting way, some of the puzzling aspects of everyday physics like: why don't satellites fall to the Earth or what is friction? The website contains games, quizzes, animations and more to get its point across - physics is nothing to be feared. I would recommend it for anyone doing a project in physics or anyone looking for a slice of interesting information! So here is the link - http://www.fearofphysics.com/ - physics explained, finally!

Thursday, 27 November 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

The Science Department would like to wish all of our American friends, colleagues and pupils a Happy Thanksgiving.

He finally did it!!

Sorry, but I felt that with the exams currently on, we could all do with a bit of light hearted humour!

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Tidal Power

Today, in 1966, President Charles de Gaulle opened the world's first tidal power station at the Rance estuary, in Brittany (shown above). La Rance is the most powerful tidal power plant in the world and uses Barrage Technology, and works very similarly to a dam. With its width of 700 metres, the barrage blocks the Rance estuary situated near Saint-Malo. The operation of the dam is similar to that of run-of-river power plants since its head is also low and there is a substantial flow rate. At high and low tide, the water builds up rapidly on one of the sides of the dam. When the difference in level is sufficient, the gates are opened and the water rushes into the dam. The turbines are reversible so as to be able to operate regardless of the direction of water flow. Each year, the power plant generates 500 million kWh. In July of this year, Tidal Power was used for the first time on the island of Ireland when Marine Current Turbines Ltd started to produce electricity in Strangford Lough using their SeaGen technology, a horizontal axis turbine. The system takes advantage of the fast tidal flow in the lough which can be up to 4 m/s. Although the generator is powerful enough to power up to a thousand homes, the turbine has a minimal environmental impact, as it is almost entirely submerged, and the rotors turn slowly enough that they pose no danger to wildlife. Below are photos of the working SeaGen installed in Strangford Lough and the turbines in the yard of Harland & Wolff in Belfast before installation. If anyone would like to research more on SeaGen and submit to the blog click here.

Leaving Certificate Biology - Photosynthesis Synopsis

Attached is a two page synopsis of photosynthesis available for all to download. It would be useful for Leaving Certificate pupils of Biology and contains details on the Cyclic and Non Cyclic Electron Pathways, the Dark Stage and Mandatory Practicals associated with this topic. The file is in pdf format and a free copy of Adobe Reader is available by clicking here. Click on the image of the chloroplast above to download the file. More detailed notes on photosynthesis and other Biology topics for Leaving Certificate (by Mr. Jones) are available by clicking here.

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Examinations Week

The Science Department would like to wish all our pupils the very best of luck in their exams this week. Many will be sitting exams in Junior Science, Biology, Physics, Chemistry, Geology and Agricultural Science and have been working hard all term. All of your hard work will pay off, eventually.

Monday, 24 November 2008

Humans and the Gramineae (Grass Family) by Stephanie Brann, Form IV

The Gramineae (grass family) are arguably the most successful family of the flowering plants or Angiosperms. The grasses are extremely important to human beings, as the family includes: wheat (shown above), barley, oats, maize and rice – all of which are vital foods across the world. Due to being cultivated by humans, grasses have replaced the native vegetation in many parts of the world.
Over 50% of the human world’s daily calorie intake comes from the Gramineae, particularly rice, wheat, maize, sorghum and millet. Recent trials have also shown that oats and other kinds of grain may help to lower cholesterol levels, and thus reduce the likelihood of coronary heart disease, and some types of cancer. Many of us are not aware that grains contain all the major nutrient groups: carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins, minerals plus of course fibre. 100 g of red winter wheat for example contains 71 g of carbohydrate, 12.6 g of protein, 12.2 g of dietary fibre, 1.5 g of fat and 3.2 mg of iron. When comparing modern grains to ancient grains, it has been found that ancient grains may have been even more nutritious.
Bamboo is also part of the grass family, and is usually found in warm or tropical regions. Bamboos are the tallest in the grass family as they can sometimes grow up to a height of 30 metres. Bamboo has many commercial uses, such as in manufacture of furniture, paper, water pipes and scaffolding, and is also used for fuel. Bamboo scaffolding is thought to be better at withstanding strong winds than comparable steel scaffolding. Bamboo shoots are eaten as a vegetable, and bamboo grains are eaten locally in several parts of the world. There are many different species of bamboo in the genus Bambusa.
There are between 9,000 and 10,000 species of grasses, many of which are of use to humans. Grasses are used as animal feed, either for direct grazing or for straw or silage. They are also cultivated as lawns and as coverings for the playing surfaces of pitches for sports such as football, tennis, golf, cricket, rugby, GAA and baseball. Ornamental grasses are sold in garden centres and grasses can also be used to make biofuel and as thatching for roofs.
Arundo donax is a grass from which ‘reeds’ for woodwind instruments are made.
Grasses grown for their seeds to be eaten are called cereals. Rice is the staple cereal in south and east Asia, maize in Central and South America, and wheat and barley in Europe and northern Asia. Wheat for example is used to make flour for bread and pasta, and can be fermented to make beer and vodka. One side effect of wheat consumption is coeliac disease – a condition resulting from a response of the immune system to a protein found in wheat called gluten. This condition seems to be particularly common in Ireland, especially in the west of the country – possibly due to ancient genetic migration patterns of human populations.

UCD Entrance Awards

At a ceremony on Friday last, in the O'Reilly Hall in UCD, Lauren O'Connell (Medicine), Christopher Fenelon (Medicine) and Claudia Felstead (Veterinary) were presented with their 'high achievers' entrance awards. These are awarded to students who achieve 540 or over in their Leaving Certificate. As the vice-president of the university pointed out 'this represents the top 4% of the country'. Lauren, Christopher and Claudia achieved excellent results in the sciences, with each achieving at least one A1 in a science subject at SCC. It is with great pride that we see them continue to study the sciences at UCD.Our congratulations to them and all those other Columbans who have just started their university career. We wish them all the best in their studies.

Science Fact of the Week

800 Million people world wide are infected with Hookworms! That's approx 12% of the entire human population, and as many as 35 people in St. Columba's!

The hookworm is a parasitic nematode worm that lives in the small intestine of its host, which may be a mammal such as a dog, cat, or human. Two species of hookworms commonly infect humans, Ancylostoma duodenale and Necator americanus. Necator americanus predominates in the Americas, Sub-Saharan Africa, Southeast Asia, China, and Indonesia, while A. duodenale predominates in the Middle East, North Africa, India and (formerly) in southern Europe. Hookworms are much smaller than the large roundworm, Ascaris lumbricoides, and the complications of tissue migration and mechanical obstruction so frequently observed with roundworm infestation are less frequent in hookworm infestation. The most significant risk of hookworm infection is anaemia, a lack of iron in the diet. The worms suck blood voraciously and damage the mucosa. However, the blood loss in the stools is occult blood loss (not visibly apparent).

Sunday, 23 November 2008

J.D. van der Waals - A Short Biography

Johannes Diderik van der Waals was born on November 23, 1837. He was a Dutch scientist famous for his work on the equation of state for gases and liquids, for which he won a Nobel Prize in 1910. Van der Waals was born in Leyden, the Netherlands, as the son of Jacobus van der Waals and Elisabeth van den Burg. He became a school teacher, and later was allowed to study at the university, in spite of his lack of classical languages. He studied from 1862 to 1865, earning degrees in mathematics and physics. In 1866, he became director of a secondary school in The Hague. In 1873, he obtained a doctorate degree. In science his name lives on, where polar forces of attraction between molecules are called van der Waals Forces. Van der Waals died in Amsterdam on March 8, 1923.

Saturday, 22 November 2008

First Scheduled Concorde Flight

Today, in 1977, the first scheduled service from Paris to New York using the supersonic passenger jet, Concorde, took flight. Although services to Washington had taken place since 1976, but it had been banned from landing at JFK due to noise pollution. Concorde cruised at around 1350mph - more than twice the speed of sound - and at an altitude of up to 60,000 ft (over 11 miles high). A typical London to New York crossing would take a little less than three and a half hours as opposed to about eight hours for a subsonic flight. Travelling Westwards, the five-hour time difference meant Concorde effectively arrived before she left. She travels "faster than the sun". It made it's last commercial flight to New York in October 2003.

Friday, 21 November 2008

The Otter by Harry Brooke (Form IV)

Members of the 4th Form have been studying mammals this term and for their Michaelmas assessment have been producing presentations on the mammal of their choice. Harry Brooke chose the Otter and his PowerPoint Presentation can be obtained by clicking on the image above.

First Ever Manned Flight!

Today, in 1783, Jean Francois Pilatre de Rozier, a professor of physics and chemistry, and the Marquis Francois Laurant d'Arlandes became the first men to fly. Their hot-air balloon, built by the Montgolfier brothers lifted off from La Muettte, a royal palace in the Bois de Boulogne, Paris. They flew nearly 6 miles in 25 minutes, reaching an altitude of around 300-ft. Spectators included Ben Franklin and King Louis XVI, who offered to send two prisoners, but Rozier wanted to deny criminals the glory of being the first men to go into the atmosphere. The Montgolfier brothers, Étienne and Joseph had publicly demonstrated the first unmanned hot-air balloon a few months earlier and a second with animals to verify that air travel was safe for living beings. A model of their balloon can be seen in the London Science Museum and is shown in the picture on the right! On a less lighter note (get it?) the pilot, Jean Francois Pilatre de Rozier, later died in his attempt to cross the English Channel when his balloon exploded. It was an experimental design using a hydrogen balloon and a hot air balloon!

Thursday, 20 November 2008

More Wallpapers

By popular request here are a few more wallpapers, frog and non-frog related!
Just click on the image for a larger version.

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

BT Young Scientist Exhibition 2009

Congratulations to III Form pupils Eamon McKee and Lingfan Gao whose science project has been accepted into the 2009 BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition which will be held in the RDS from the 6th - 10th January 2009. The boys' project is an investigation into how plants are affected by different forms of household radiation. Work on their investigations is well under way and they are ably guided by their science teacher, Ms Karen Hennessy. The boys will compete in the Intermediate Group category within the Biological & Ecological section. For more information on the exhibition, log onto www.btyoungscientist.com. This year's competition will the biggest yet, with 3,712 students applying with 1,616 projects in 32 counties across the island which includes a 25% increase in the number of projects from Northern Ireland. This is a clear indication of how the BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition has grown from strength the strength throughout its 45 year history to become one of the largest events of its kind in the world. Year on year there has been a steady surge in the number of entries; from 669 entries in 2001 to an overwhelming 1,616 this year marking an overall increase of 240%. The achievement of Eamon and Lingfan is even more impressive considering only 500 projects have been accepted out of the 1616 that were originally proposed. Well done lads.

First Organ Transplant Using Stem Cells Reported

It is reported today that a Colombian woman has received the world's first tailor-made organ transplant, grown by seeding a donor trachea with her own stem cells to prevent her body rejecting it. The success of the operation, performed in June using tissue generated from the woman's own bone marrow, raises the prospect transplanting other organs may be possible without drugs to dampen the immune system, they said. Doctors work hard to match tissue type when transplanting organs so that the body does not completely reject the new organ, but patients usually have to take immunosuppressants for the rest of their lives. Claudia Castillo sought help after a case of tuberculosis destroyed part of her trachea, the windpipe connected to the lungs (as shown in the diagram), and left her with breathing difficulties, prone to infections, and unable to care for her two children. The 30-year-old's only option other than the experimental surgery was for doctors to remove part of her lung - a choice that would have seriously degraded her quality of life, the researchers said. Castillo, who lives in Spain, had no complications from the surgery and left the hospital after 10 days. She is returning to normal activities and even called her doctors from a night club to say she had been out dancing all night, the researchers said. "We believe this success has proved we are on the verge of a new age in surgical care," said Birchall, one of the surgeons who performed the operation, who predicted the technique could be applied to other hollow organs similar in structure, such as the bowel, bladder, and reproductive tract.

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

The Irish Seal Sanctuary

"True seals (or ‘earless seals’) are amphibious pinniped mammals, and are closely related to the group of mammals known as the Carnivora (which includes the dog and cat families). Pinniped means ‘fin-footed’, and seals are highly adapted for life in the sea, although they have to return to land to give birth. Other pinniped mammals are the fur seals (‘eared seals’), sea lions and the walrus.

There are two resident species of seal in Ireland: the common seal Phoca vitulina - pictured above - (called the ‘harbor’ seal in N. America) and the grey seal Halichoerus grypus - pictured below. Common seals occur in the Pacific and North Atlantic oceans, and are generally thought to be less aggressive and to look ‘cuter’ than grey seals. Common seals can be black, brown, grey or tan in colour with dark or light patches. The larger grey seal has a more dog-like head, and half the world’s population is found off the coasts of the British Isles. The common seal pups are born around June and July, and the grey seal pups are born later in the year from October to November.

Our friends at the Irish Seal Sanctuary in Garristown, north County Dublin are an entirely voluntary organisation who’s goal is to “provide shelter treatment and rehabilitation for rescued marine wildlife found in difficulty around Ireland’s coast”. They have an excellent website at http://www.irishsealsanctuary.ie/ which explains their work and has good links and details about individual seals etc. Please have a look!


Niels Bohr

Niels Bohr was a Danish physicist, born in Copenhagen, who was the first to apply the quantum theory, which restricts the energy of a system to certain discrete values, to the problem of atomic and molecular structure. For this work he received the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1922. He developed the so-called Bohr theory of the atom and liquid model of the nucleus. Bohr was of Jewish origin and when the Nazis occupied Denmark he escaped in 1943 to Sweden on a fishing boat. From there he was flown to England where he began to work on the project to make a nuclear fission bomb. After a few months he went with the British research team to Los Alamos in the USA where they continued work on the project. He died on this day in 1962 in his home city of Copenhagen.

Frog Wallpapers

Here are some wallpapers for your laptop / desktop with extra froggage!

Just click on the image for a larger version

Monday, 17 November 2008

New Feature - Science Fact of the Week

The smallest bone in the human body is the stapes or stirrup bone located in the middle ear. It is approximately .11 inches (.28 cm) long.

Sound waves travel through the ear canal and make their way to the middle ear. The middle ear's main job is to take those sound waves and turn them into vibrations that are delivered to the inner ear. To do this, it needs the eardrum, which is a thin piece of skin stretched tight like a drum. The eardrum separates the outer ear from the middle ear and the ossicles What are ossicles? They are the three tiniest, most delicate bones in your body. They include:

  • The malleus (say: mah-lee-us), which is attached to the eardrum and means "hammer" in Latin
  • The incus (say: in-kus), which is attached to the malleus and means "anvil" in Latin
  • The stapes (say: stay-peez), the smallest bone in the body, which is attached to the incus and means "stirrup" in Latin

When sound waves reach the eardrum, they cause the eardrum to vibrate. When the eardrum vibrates, it moves the tiny ossicles — from the hammer to the anvil and then to the stirrup. These bones help sound move along on its journey into the inner ear.

Friday, 14 November 2008

Science Unleashed Website

A fantastic new website has been set up for pupils of Junior Certificate Science. This Irish website provides pupils with the opportunity to explore videos, games, quizzes and weblinks , all of which are relevant to the Junior Certificate Science curriculum. Check the "Best of the Web" section to find 60 of the top interactive science websites available. It also contains 15 videos, each 12 minutes long, on different aspects of the Junior Science course. Science Unleashed is part of a collaborative project between RTE and the National Centre for Technology in Education (an agency of the Department of Education and Science). This collaborative project is entitled IMMERSE — Innovative Multimedia Educational Resources for Students and Educators. It has set out to develop innovative, interactive, curriculum-relevant resources for students and teachers in the Irish education system.

Check it out at http://www.scienceunleashed.ie/