Category Archives: General Science

Incredible Polar Temperatures. Weather or Climate? Natural Cycle or Man Made Catastrophe?

The BBC (among other news) reported that the polar temperature on December 25th 2016 could break all records by a staggering 20 degrees celsius above the average for that time of the year.

Some would argue that this is merely an unusually warm winter. Nothing more than  'weather'. This may be the case, if examined on its own, however 2016 has broken all current records by some margin with each of the last 15 or so months (by my last count - I may be incorrect here): See image.

2016 Record Breaking Temperatures

Other people refer to the fact that the climate of the Earth is continually going through trends of cooling and warming. One thing about that particular argument is that these trends tend to take centuries and not years/decades.

Yet more people refer to record breaking cold weather in other parts of the world.  The data that is presented is a global average. its measured in a consistent way in order to have a minimal local interference as possible. Could this data be questioned? Sure. Could it be wrong? Sure. However, there is much anecdotal and observable evidence that also supports the figures: melting of permafrost, recession of glaciers, shrinking of ice caps, alterations of migratory patterns, extended lives of insects (due to milder winters).

Of course I could still be incorrect. After all, science is built on the mistakes of those that have come before. One thing about a theory is that it can not be definitively proved correct so if you ask me to guarantee my argument, I simply cannot.

Home Experiment to see Sub Atomic Particles

This is an awesome experiment that shows that subatomic particles exist and lets you watch their paths in your own home. All you need is:

  • A Jar and Lid
  • Black Marker
  • Sponge
  • Rubbing Alcohol
  • Dry Ice

Watch the video below to for instructions and an explanation.

 

Ever wondered what a space walk is really like?

This video, published by ESA (European Space Agency) gives some idea what it's like to take a space walk. Hollywood did a great job of recreating something similar in the movie Gravity, but there is nothing like seeing the actual thing. This movie was filmed on a GoPro that looked like it was attached to the astronauts arm. For the best view, watch this on the biggest screen you have and set it to full screen.

ISS Panoramic Tour

ISS Panoramic Tour

… And now for something completely different

Snake fossil discovered with legs

While I neither teach Biology, nor is it my primary area of interest, I do love all things science and this is no different. Fossils have been discovered that have found an evolutionary 'missing link' between snakes and other reptiles. The really interesting thing about these fossils is that they HAVE LEGS! The fossil is over a hundred million years old and was discovered in Brazil.

Check out the story here or click on the image

Fossil of snake with legs

Fossil of snake with legs

 

 

 

 

 

 

These legs come as no surprise to biologists who have predicted this as a number of species of snakes carry 'spurs' that are vestigial leftovers from legs that have long since evolved away (see image below).

Spurs are vestigial remnants of legs on some species of snake

Spurs are vestigial remnants of legs on some species of snake

Ever wanted to take a tour of the International Space Station

This is a really cool web page that allows you to do just that (without all that zero gravity of course). It allows you to navigate the entire space station and gives little snippets of information in your own time at your own pace.

Click on the image or follow the ISS TOUR LINK.

ISS Panoramic Tour

ISS Panoramic Tour

T-Rex wa a big chicken!

Fossilized feathers on the forelimb of a Zhenyuanlong dinosaur

Fossilized feathers on the forelimb of a Zhenyuanlong dinosaur

Ok, so that may be over exaggerating, but new fossils of a velociraptor relative have been unearthed with some evidence of soft tissue such as primitive feathers. While this is not my field of study, I (like many people) are fascinated by dinosaurs and would prefer the idea of scary (and scaly) beasties as seen in the Jurassic Park movies, but this discovery is interesting in another way. It demonstrates the evolutionary link between Dinosaurs of long ago and their feathery compatriots of today.

We used to think that this family of dinosaurs looked like this - scaly, probably brown and green and lean.

We used to think that this family of dinosaurs looked like this - scaly, probably brown and green and lean.

Of course the link between dinosaurs and birds has been something that paleontologists have been aware of for some time. Many dinosaurs have beaky snouts, stand on their back legs, have feeble front limbs (like chicken wings), lay eggs, make nests and other similar traits. However, the strongest link between the two groups is hips. There is a remarkable similarity between dinosaur hips and bird hips, and I believe (although I am no expert) that this similarity unites all dinosaurs.

Now we think they look more like a giant goose!

Now we think they look more like a giant goose!

The interesting question that paleontologists are asking now is: why did feathers evolve in the first place? This is why I love science: Just when you think that you know everything there is to know about nature, you realize that you're only just scratching the surface and there is another whole level underneath.