Saturday, 28 February 2009
Friday, 27 February 2009
Thursday, 26 February 2009
We have just added two new links to our Useful Science Website Blog Roll (scroll down and to the right). The two websites are produced by Discovering Science & Engineering and include their wonderful website http://www.science.ie/ (TY pupils might find their Marine Biology Expedition of particular interest), and their blog http://www.myscience.ie/. Have a look!
Wednesday, 25 February 2009
The OCO was supposed to capture eight million carbon dioxide measurements every 16 days, a dramatic increase in the current data available from a small network of instruments on the ground, on tall towers and in aircraft. Up to 30 per cent of the carbon dioxide produced by humans “disappears” each year, absorbed by processes which scientists still do not understand. NASA had hoped the spacecraft would have shed light on the natural processes which take place in forests and oceans, absorbing the carbon dioxide produced by humans. Scientists cannot currently explain why the amount varies dramatically from year to year.
Tuesday, 24 February 2009
Like all animals discovered at the site, Zed became stuck in a tar pit along a river bed and ultimately died of exhaustion or starvation. Researchers believe his skeleton remained largely intact because soon after he died he was washed away by a flood and then covered by enough sediment, sand and debris to keep predators from making off with parts of the carcasse. They estimate his skeleton is 80 percent complete, missing only a hind leg and a vertebrae. While most mammoth tusks, which are made up of fragile material called dentine, are only found in small chunks, Zed's are intact and a remarkable 10-feet long. Examination of Zed's bones shows he was between 47 and 49 years old, suffered from arthritis and had broken three ribs during his lifetime, possibly in fights with other mammoths.
Monday, 23 February 2009
I spotted a common lizard a few months ago, when I was picnicking on the Wicklow mountains. Below is a video I took with my mobile phone. The quality isn't great but you can see how the lizard moves.
Friday, 13 February 2009
Cosmic collisions of space junk are not unheard of, but NASA officials say it is the first collision involving two intact satellites. The International Space Station does not have the ability to manoeuvre to avoid the debris.
Half Term begins today, so the Frog Blog will suspend posts for a period of 10 days. The next post will be on Monday 23rd February with the 11th Science Fact of the Week. Click here to see the previous 10 Science Facts!
Thursday, 12 February 2009
"I find in Geology a never failing interest, as [it] has been remarked, it creates the same grand ideas respecting this world, which Astronomy does for the universe."
"But Geology carries the day: it is like the pleasure of gambling, speculating, on first arriving, what the rocks may be; I often mentally cry out 3 to 1 Tertiary against primitive; but the latter have hitherto won all the bets."
I promise I will never try another cheap dig! Well maybe? HJ. Oh and when did you take that photo?
As mentioned earlier in the Frog Blog (see Bradyseism in the Pozzuoli area north of Naples, 11/11/08), the most influential Geology book ever written was probably Charles Lyell’s Principles of Geology published from 1830 to 1833. In these three volumes Lyell caused a revolution in the way that people thought about planet Earth and its age. At that time most geologists and particularly the Church supported the view that a series of unique catastrophes (such as Noah’s flood) were responsible for shaping the Earth.
Lyell was a great supporter of the ideas of Scottish geologist James Hutton, who thought that all that can be seen today on the surface of the Earth can be explained by the cumulative effects of the processes we see in action around us. In other words “the present is the key to the past”. This viewpoint is known as uniformitarianism and, amongst other things, it implies that the Earth must be much older than the 6,000 years or so allowed for by calculations from biblical records – a view that was surprisingly widely held by scientists of Darwin’s time.
Darwin avidly read Lyell’s work whilst on the Beagle, and even arranged for the most recent volumes to be sent out to him in S. America. Lyell’s geology book was one of the major influences on Darwin’s thinking during his voyage, and on his return to England Darwin became a personal friend of Lyell, and saw himself almost as a disciple of the great man. It is beyond doubt that without Darwin’s volte-face on the matter of reading geology books the theory of evolution by means of natural selection would not today bear Darwin’s name.
"I believe there exists, & I feel within me, an instinct for the truth, or knowledge or discovery, of something of the same nature as the instinct of virtue, & that our having such an instinct is reason enough for scientific researches without any practical results ever ensuing from them. "
"I have always maintained that, excepting fools, men did not differ much in intellect, only in zeal and hard work; and I still think there is an eminently important difference."
"A scientific man ought to have no wishes, no affections, a mere heart of stone."
"Among the scenes which are deeply impressed on my mind, none exceed in sublimity the primeval forests undefaced by the hand of man; whether those of Brazil, where the powers of Life are predominant, or those of Tierra del Fuego, where Death and Decay prevail. Both are temples filled with the varied productions of the God of Nature: no one can stand in these solitudes unmoved, and not feel that there is more in man than the mere breath of his body."
"As the sense of smell is so intimately connected with that of taste, it is not surprising that an excessively bad odour should excite wretching or vomitting in some persons."
"During my second year at Edinburgh [1826-27] I attended Jameson's lectures on Geology and Zoology, but they were incredible dull. The sole effect they produced on me was the determination never as long as I lived to read a book on Geology." (Sorry Jeremy) OK Humphrey - but see the posting above! JJS
"I have been speculating last night what makes a man a discoverer of undiscovered things; and a most perplexing problem it is. Many men who are very clever - much cleverer than the discoverers - never originate anything"
Wednesday, 11 February 2009
A Darwin Award is a tongue-in-cheek "honour" given for people who "do a service to Humanity by removing themselves from the Gene pool", i.e., lose the ability to reproduce either by death or sterilization in a stupid fashion (un-natural selection so to speak). Although slightly morbid, the Darwin Award has been given to indiduals involved in many a stupid act. Examples of Darwin award winners include:
- Juggling active hand grenades (Croatia, 2001)
- Leaving a lit cigarette in a warehouse full of explosives
- Jumping out of a plane to film skydivers without wearing a parachute (U.S., 1987)
- Using a lighter to illuminate a fuel tank to make sure it contains nothing flammable (Brazil, 2003).
- Crashing through a window and falling to your death in trying to demonstrate that the window is unbreakable.
- Or our friend in the picture above who attempted to jump across a ridge in the grand canyon.
Tuesday, 10 February 2009
Monday, 9 February 2009
A snowflake starts out as three ingredients, water vapour, ice crystals, and dust. Ice crystals form when water vapour freezes on a microscopic piece of dust. This dust can come from volcanoes, flower pollen, meteorites falling stars, soil erosion and much more. Snow begins forming in a very cold cloud that has both super cold water droplets and ice crystals. When water vapour droplets collide with a piece of already formed ice crystal, the droplet freezes to it making it grow into a slightly larger new ice crystal. The shape of the snow crystal is determined by the temperature in the cloud. The size of an ice crystal is determined by moisture in the cloud. The more moisture there is, the bigger the crystals will be. When many ice crystals stick together and fall, they are called "snow crystals." This is what we call a "snowflake." As it falls from one cloud, it will pass through other clouds with a different temperature or moisture level and change shape and size of the snowflake. It may combine two different shapes. The speed of the snowflake falling can also change the shape of the crystal. Despite all these changes happening as the snowflake falls, you can still find single ice crystals in any snowfall. There are 7 main types of ice crystal shapes but as we know, they can change shape as temperatures change in the air, or if they combine with other ice crystals of another shape.
Saturday, 7 February 2009
On April 26th, 1892 Charles Darwin was laid to rest in Westminster Abbey only a few feet away from the grave of Sir Isaac Newton. His pallbearers included Alfred Russell Wallace (a man also accredited with the theory of Natural Selection) and the two scientists who were his closest friends and staunchest defenders -- Joseph Hooker and Thomas Huxley.
Friday, 6 February 2009
Try Science is a website designed to allow pupils of science to experience the excitement of contemporary science and technology through on and offline interactivity with science and technology centres worldwide. Their motto is simple; "Science is exciting, and it's for everyone". Try Science contains some fabulous experiments, interactive expeditions, live cameras in numerous science centres around the world and much more. It's colourful and highly interactive and well worth a look both as a teacher looking for ideas or a pupil looking for some mischief..
Thursday, 5 February 2009
Wednesday, 4 February 2009
Laser Eye Surgery is performed most often on people who are short sighted (myopic), which means that they only see nearby objects clearly; anything far away is blurry. Below is a You Tube Video showing an eye undergoing the surgery. It's not pretty, but very interesting. Thanks to Rebecca Stewart for recommending this to me.
Tuesday, 3 February 2009
The offer of a position on the Beagle, which Charles received on August 30th, 1831, came through his advisor, Henslow, at Cambridge. Henslow himself had been invited to be the naturalist for the ship, but had turned down the opportunity. The voyage had been commissioned by the government to map the coast of South America and was being captained by Robert FitzRoy, a 26-year-old gentleman who had led an expedition to South America the year before. FitzRoy was eager to have the companionship of someone who, unlike the sailors and officers of the ship, was of his social class. A gentleman naturalist would fit the bill perfectly, providing companionship while increasing the usefulness and prestige of the voyage. Most well-established naturalists, like Henslow, had proven to be busy or disinclined, so the job had fallen to the promising but inexperienced Charles Darwin. Despite the objections of his father Robert, and numerous failed attempts to launch due to bad weather, Charles finally began his voyage on December 27th, 1831.
At the beginning of the voyage of HMS Beagle, Darwin was almost incapacitated with seasickness. He swung miserably in his hammock in the small cabin he shared with several of the ship's officers or hung by the rail of the ship. Eventually, the nausea passed away and he was able to focus on the voyage itself. The ship's first stop was meant to be Tenerife in the Canary Islands, the same place that Darwin had hoped to visit with Henslow. Unfortunately, because of a recent cholera outbreak in England they would have been quarantined for twelve days before landing, so Captain FitzRoy gave the order to set sail for St. Jago in the Cape Verde Islands, 300 miles off the African coast. Along the way, Darwin began his work as a naturalist by collecting plankton. When they landed at St. Jago he hiked through the volcanic hills, encountering his first tropical jungle in a small valley and seeing real evidence of geological change: a layer of compressed sea shells in the cliffs thirty feet above sea level. Leaving St. Jago on February 8th, 1831, they stopped at St. Paul's Rocks to kill birds for food, then crossed the equator on February 16th.
They reached South America at Bahia, at All Saints' Bay, on February 28th - where they spent several weeks before departing for Rio on March 18th. On arriving, on April 5th, Darwin received letters from home for the first time since leaving England. Over the next few months and years, as the Beagle surveyed the coastline, Darwin explored the interior. He starting filling books with notes on the flora, fauna, and geological formations he encountered. He hunted and collected, setting aside samples to be sent to Henslow in England. Darwin even took part in a very successful Andes expedition. Towards the end of his trip, the Beagle headed west and on September 15th 1835 the team soon caught their first glimpse of the Galapagos Islands, which Darwin was later to make famous.
The Beagle returned home on October 2nd, 1836, nearly five years after he had departed. Darwin returned home with a massive amount of scientific data and a developing theory in his head.
That's it for our Amphibians, but next week I will post something about our reptiles. Yes, we do have reptiles!
Monday, 2 February 2009
Diamond is composed of pure carbon. It is important to note, however, that diamond is an example of a network covalent compound. In the diamond structure the atoms are connected by covalent bonds, with each carbon atom bonded to four others in a tetrahedral shape. A diamond is the hardest natural substance on earth, however, if it is placed in an oven and the temperature is raised to about 763 degrees Celsius, it will simply vanish, without even ash remaining. Only a little carbon dioxide will have been released. Diamonds are formed over a period of a billion or more years deep within earth's crust - from 150km to 450km deep - and are pushed to the surface, by unusual volcanic activity, in magma which forms 'kimberlite pipes'. Kimberlite intrusions are important sources of diamonds (e.g. near Kimberly in S. Africa). Diamonds can also be recovered from rivers and the sea where exposed kimberlite has been weathered and eroded.