Friday, 29 May 2009
Thursday, 28 May 2009
Wednesday, 27 May 2009
This is an extract from an article in today's Times. To see the full article click here. Have your say, email us to tell us what you think!
Tuesday, 26 May 2009
Monday, 25 May 2009
Friday, 22 May 2009
White-tailed Eagles were once widespread in Ireland, although apparently largely confined to western coasts. They died out after being trapped, shot and poisoned in the 19th century. By 1894 there were still one or two pairs in Mayo and Kerry, but by 1900 the species was gone, the last documented nesting being in 1898. In 2007, in an effort to re-establish the species in Ireland, fifteen Norwegian birds were introduced into Killarney National Park in 2007. As mentioned previously, some of the reintroduced birds have been poisoned and only 10 of the original 15 reintroduced birds now survive. White Tailed Eagles are sometimes found in Ulster, having flown across from Scotland. Europe currently has nearly 2000 breeding pairs. In Scotland, where a reintroduction programme began in 1975, there are now 33 breeding pairs. One interesting story about the White Tailed Eagle is that on the Shetland Islands, fishermen believed that as soon as a sea eagle appeared fish would rise to the surface, belly up; this led to some fishermen using eagle fat, smeared on their bait, to increase their catch. A truly majestic bird of prey.
Thursday, 21 May 2009
Wednesday, 20 May 2009
Tuesday, 19 May 2009
Monday, 18 May 2009
Saturday, 16 May 2009
Friday, 15 May 2009
These 312 particles are held together by forces called morons, which are surrounded by vast quantities of lepton-like particles called peons. Since governmentium has no electrons, it is inert; however, according to the team of research scientists in Budapest, it can be detected because it impedes every reaction with which it comes into contact.
Governmentium has a normal half-life of two to six years. It does not decay, but instead undergoes a reorganisation in which a portion of the assistant neutrons and deputy neutrons exchange places.
In fact, governmentium’s mass will actually increase over time, since each reorganisation will cause more morons to become neutrons, forming isodopes. This characteristic of moron promotion leads some scientists to believe that governmentium is formed whenever morons reach a critical concentration. This hypothetical quantity is referred to as critical morass.
When catalysed with money, governmentium becomes administratium, an element that radiates just as much energy as governmentium since it has half as many peons but twice as many morons.
In contrast, medicines based on the 'hero' gene could boost survival by more than a year, research suggests. Dr Brian Dickie, of the Motor Neurone Disease Association, said: 'This is a significant finding, bearing in mind the speed with motor neurone disease can progress in patients. 'Just as there are genetic "villains" that can cause or predispose people to disease, so there are undoubtedly "hero" genes that help delay the onset of the disease or slow its progression..." Click here to see the full article.
Thursday, 14 May 2009
Hair cells reside in the inner ear inside the shell-shaped cochlea. Bundles of hair-like extensions, called stereocilia (shown above), rest on top of them. When sound waves travel through the ears and reach the hair cells, the vibrations deflect off the stereocilia, causing them to move according to the force and pitch of the vibration. For instance, a melodic piano tune would produce gentle movement in the stereocilia, while heavy metal would generate faster, sharper motion. This motion triggers an electrochemical current that sends the information from the sound waves through the auditory nerves to the brain. When you hear exceptionally loud noises, your stereocilia become damaged and mistakenly keep sending sound information to the auditory nerve cells. In the case of rock concerts and fireworks displays, the ringing happens because the tips of some of your stereocilia actually have broken off. You hear those false currents in the ringing in your head, called tinnitus. However, since you can grow these small tips back in about 24 hours, no real damage is done. From "How Stuff Works.com".
Wednesday, 13 May 2009
Designed by the world famous Spanish architect and engineer, Dr Santiago Calatrava, the Samuel Beckett Bridge began its journey from Rotterdam, where it was built, just over a week ago. . While winds hampered its initial arrival, the final stages of construction will begin shortly. The total cost of the project is approximately €60 million. Calatrava is also responsible for the James Joyce Bridge on the Liffey
Tuesday, 12 May 2009
Monday, 11 May 2009
Sunday, 10 May 2009
A massive solar storm could cause enormous economic disasters, as many satellites could be damaged by increased solar radiation. This could lead to brighter and more spectacular aurora but that would be the only positive. The last major solar storm was in 1859 and it damaged a large amounts of telegraph wires and caused fires in North America. However, the advent of technology since then means there is more at stake if a similar electrical storm occurred. Above is a picture of two large (about the size of earth) sun spots that appeared on the Sun's surface this week. These are caused by massive "knots" in magnetic energy. For more information on the sun, click here. For more information on the new solar cycle, click here.
Saturday, 9 May 2009
Ultrasounds are high-pitched sounds more than 20 kilohertz (kHz) in frequency, which exceeds the upper limit of sounds detectable by humans and is far higher than the 5 to 8 kHz frequencies most amphibians, reptiles and birds are capable of hearing or producing. Key parts of the ear must be specially adapted to detect ultrasounds. These frogs can hear sounds up to 38 kilohertz, the highest frequency any amphibian species has been known to hear, the scientists report. Humans can hear up to about 20 kHz and typically talk at 2 or 3 kHz. While most of the more than 5,000 frog species worldwide have eardrums that are flat on the side of the head, Huia cavitympanum has eardrums recessed in the side of the skull, similar to mammals.
Friday, 8 May 2009
Thursday, 7 May 2009
Vitamins are chemicals needed, in small amounts, for the body’s internal chemistry (“metabolism”) to work correctly. We have to eat (or drink) our vitamins directly, as they can’t be made in the body. If we lack any vitamin we suffer from a deficiency disease, and in some cases too much of a vitamin can cause problems as well. It is widely said for example that you should not eat a polar bear’s liver because it is so rich in vitamin A (and it will also, no doubt, anger the polar bear). Eating a large amount of vitamin A in a short time leads to “chronic vitaminosis A”, the symptoms of which include: drowsiness, blurred vision, peeling skin and ultimately liver damage, coma and death.
Vitamins all have a chemical name and also a code letter (+/- a number). They are generally divided into two groups: those that are water soluble (B vitamins and vitamin C), and those that are fat soluble (vitamins A, D, E and K). Unlike the water soluble vitamins, fat soluble vitamins are relatively easy to store in the body – hence the problems with overdosing. Water soluble vitamins are lost in urine and during cooking and processing of food, and the body needs a steady supply of them.
The discovery of vitamins and their role in human nutrition started with the work of Christiaan Eijkman – a Dutch doctor who discovered in 1897 that chickens fed on polished rice (with the husk removed) suffered from polyneuritis (known as beriberi in humans), but soon recovered when fed on cheaper unpolished rice. Eijkman proposed that there was something in the rice husks which stopped the condition developing – we now know this ‘something’ as vitamin B1 or thiamine. Chemist Casimir Funk followed Eijkman’s idea and in 1911 isolated a chemical from rice husks which cured polyneuritis in pigeons. He named this chemical “vitamine” i.e. an amine compound vital to life. It later turned out that the chemical was not an amine compound after all – but the name stuck, with the loss of the final ‘e’. In 1913 vitamins A and D were discovered, and in 1928 vitamin C (ascorbic acid) was isolated by Albert Szent-Gyorgyi, who received the Nobel Prize for medicine in 1937 (as had Eijkman in 1929).
At first, when the precise chemical nature of the various vitamins was not known, for ease of reference, they were called “fat soluble A” and “water soluble B” etc. In 1920 Jack Drummond suggested they should simply be known as A, B etc., “until their true nature was identified”. Vitamin K was discovered in the late 1920s, and was so called after its German name Koagulationsvitamin, as it was found to be necessary for blood to coagulate.
The Froggies are massive fans of David Attenborough (although he was not involved in the production of the series he does narrate the episodes) and we keep a large collection of his series in the science DVD library. We also enjoyed his new series on Charles Darwin and look forward to the delivery of the DVD.
Wednesday, 6 May 2009
Tuesday, 5 May 2009
Friday, 1 May 2009
Below is a video from New Scientist showing the design, production and testing of a new robotic penguin, no joking. Not only can these robotic penguins swim, but they can also fly and indeed can communicate with each other to avoid collisions.