Physics

Most massive (not biggest) star discovered

The story:

Astronomers discovered a huge star in a nearby galaxy last week.  R136a1, part of the Large Magellanic Cloud, is estimated to have a mass 265 times more than the sun and to shine around a million times more brightly. More

Big beaks help cool birds down

Image: Jon Hanson

The story:

Two scientists have collaborated in a study that suggests that the size of a bird’s beak is linked to the temperature of its natural environment.

We already know that a bird’s beak is adapted for the food it eats and sometimes to attract a mate, but now it looks like it is also a good way of regulating temperature.  More

Is a lack of pressure to blame for World Cup exits?

Image: Shine 2010-2010 world cup good news

For those of you who are football fans, many of the results from the group stages of the World Cup such as past winners Italy and France exiting from the competition at this early stage will have come as a surprise.  Other countries (including England) have not lived up to the promise of the qualifying matches.  For those of you who couldn’t care less – maybe you could be persuaded to ponder if the reason is scientific. More

Festival science

Credit: Logan1138

With Glastonbury commencing on Wednesday, the festival season is well and truly underway.  In this post I will attempt to use the famous music festival as a way of connecting exothermic reactions to Ozzy Osbourne (not literally).

Music festivals generally involve camping and camping involves heating food over naked flames next to a highly flammable nylon tent.  More

What’s plastic, very annoying and heard at football matches?

Image:Flowcomm

Nope, not a CD of the latest repetitive football anthem but the vuvezela – a plastic horn that gets blown by South African football fans at matches. This instrument/weapon of torture is fast becoming one of the most talked about subjects in this year’s World Cup.

The reason for the scientific interest is that it can be loud – very loud. More

The crazy world of future electricity generation

Image: Joby Energy

With all of the publicity surrounding the BP leak, crude oil is earning a very bad reputation indeed.  Hopefully some good will come out of the tragedy by persuading governments to look more seriously at using renewable sources of energy. More

Mobile phones: should we be worried?

A story that has appeared a lot in British press this week is the report on findings of a major study into the link between mobile phone use and brain cancer. More

Mind bending optical illusions

The video above shows the amazing gravity-defying optical illusion that won the 2010 Best Illusion of the Year Contest earlier this week.

Using optical illusions in science lessons never fails to amaze students.  This particular one could be used as an engaging starter to any lesson on forces. More

A shining use of smart materials

image courtesy of David Hilowitz

Smart materials are those that respond to external stimuli such as changes in temperature, pressure and movement.

Getting celebrities involved is sure to give momentum to the use of the technology, and the recent appearance of the singer Katy Perry in a light-up dress at a recent awards ceremony will do wonders for the sale of wearable technology. More

Spinning around

firewinder

© 2008 The Firewinder Company Limited.

I’m always on the lookout for new toys and gadgets that can demonstrate science in a fun way.  The latest one to catch my eye is the Firewinder.  The helical structure catches the wind, and the turning affect creates electricity which is used to light the LED bulbs embedded in its surface.  It’s a bit like a wind turbine, only looks nicer in the dark. More

Load More