Science home education resources

Elaine Kirk

Super Moderator
The Crystals at the Center of the Earth


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Wired Science
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Great article from Wired Science on the Earth's Core
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In the textbooks of yore, the Earth’s inner regions like the mantle and core were presented as simple, fairly homogeneous regions. But the geology of the core is turning out to be much more complex as scientists make use of more and better seismographs to generate better data about how seismic waves travel through the planet.
 

Elaine Kirk

Super Moderator
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I found this site whilst looking for science resources

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Unfortunately for me the page I landed on was the Cockroach FAQ page
Q51: Robert asks:
I read here that the cockroach can live for about a month without its head. Is it possible for a female to be headless and get pregnant by a male and give birth before it dies?

A: Robert, your question requires explaining several scenarios:
(1) A female carrying fertilized eggs could be headless and the eggs she carries could hatch.
(2) Females also store sperm and can fertilize several subsequent egg packages (oothecae) before they need to mate with a male again. However, a cockroach female needs the head associated gland, corpora allata, to produce the reproductive hormone, JH, to produce a batch of eggs and produce the pheromone that attracts a male to mate. Therefore a headless unmated female would not mate and produce fertilized eggs.
(3) Whether a mated female with ripe eggs who loses her head could ovulate the now mature eggs and hold onto them until they hatched is questionable. I am not sure if we know the answer to that question. I do know that I did take the ovaries out from of a female German cockroach that was half-way through her ovulation of eggs. The eggs continued to be ovulated in the physiological saline that I was observing them in. I do not know if the other organs that put the oothecal covering over the eggs would have functioned properly. This would be a simple experiment to confirm using the synchronized batches of mated females that I have used previously in my experiments, URL:
http://www.bio.umass.edu/biology/kunkel/ms/k1966/
(4) In Blattella germanica, the German cockroach, the ootheca is held by the female for about 18 days before it hatches. The female provides moisture to the ootheca which the female carries protruding from her bursa. It is precisely the moisture that she provides the ootheca that is in short supply when her head is severed. I doubt that a female which has lost her head and just ovulated her eggs could bring those eggs to term and hatching given the inability to provide water. In a moist atmosphere perhaps it would be possible.
(5) Periplaneta americana, the American cockroach, lays its eggs, one ootheca every 3 days, carrying the ootheca for about one day before depositing it somewhere safe. If such a female lost her head prior to dropping the ootheca then I am not sure whether the ootheca would be dropped but it is entirely provisioned with enough water to last until it hatches.
So, your question's answer has several stages of possibility. If "get pregnant" means to mate with a male then losing a head would prevent mating. If a female has already gotten to the stage when she has released her sex pheromone to attract the male then a male would be attracted but the female must exhibit some requisite behavior, requiring the head, when a male presents himself to mate with her. Without its head it would not accept the male's mating overtures. But if a female was already mated before her head was lost and "get pregnant" means the ovulation and fertilization of the eggs by the already acquired sperm, then the above discussion does not absolutely preclude her producing and hatching some eggs. Carried eggs might well hatch, unovulated eggs might ovulate and be fertilized but whether they would acquire the requisite oothecal covering to reach hatching is experimentally unknown at the moment. That is a good question.
 

Elaine Kirk

Super Moderator

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from NASA's Earth Observatory
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Shades of green and blue blend in subtle swirls in this photo-like image taken by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite on June 24, 2010. Made of millions of microscopic, plant-like organisms called phytoplankton, this splash of color is part of the annual North Atlantic phytoplankton bloom. Every year, a massive phytoplankton bloom spreads across the North Atlantic, moving from south to north and peaking in the late spring. This image shows a manifestation of the North Atlantic bloom west of Iceland.

Most scientists think that phytoplankton are dormant in the winter and flourish in the spring because an increase of sunlight, warmer temperatures, and abundant nutrients. However, recent research suggests that the bloom might instead be connected to winter storms. An analysis of ten years of data from the Sea-viewing Wide Field-of-view Sensor (SeaWiFS) on the SeaStar satellite showed that the phytoplankton bloom might actually start in the middle of the winter and then continue unchecked until late spring when the blooms fade.

Why would phytoplankton grow when conditions would seem to be worst? Winter storms, it turns out, churn the ocean, mixing surface waters with deeper waters. The churning water drags surface-dwelling phytoplankton into deeper waters, distributing the organisms throughout the water. Since the phytoplankton are more widely distributed, predators (zooplankton) have a harder time locating and feeding on them. Because they are not being eaten so fast, the abundance of phytoplankton begins to increase.

Throughout the winter, the ocean continues to be stirred by winds and storms, and phytoplankton continue to increase in number. Spring brings gentler weather. The deep mixing that happened in the winter ends. Phytoplankton in deep water get trapped there, while phytoplankton near enough to the surface to receive sunlight start to grow faster. The growth is a boon for zooplankton, who now have ready access to an easy-to-find feast. The intensified feeding effectively checks the more rapidly growing phytoplankton, so the bloom continues to build at about the same rate from winter through spring.

Eventually, the surface phytoplankton exhaust the available nutrients and slow their growth. Now, the zooplankton consume the phytoplankton more quickly than they can multiply, bringing an end to the spring bloom. The brilliant show of color ends until the next year.

This image of phytoplankton was produced by the MODIS Rapid Response System. The large image is the highest-resolution version of the image, but the image is available in additional resolutions.
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additional resolutions and other links can be found here
 

Elaine Kirk

Super Moderator
The football that can power a mobile phone


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A football which generates enough electricity to charge a mobile phone or power a light from a brief kick about is undergoing trials in World Cup host country South Africa.
The sOccket works in the same way as a "shake to charge" torch, where a magnetic ball rolls through a coil to create an electric charge.
In just 15 minutes of being kicked around, it can generate enough electricity to power an LED light for three hours and charge virtually any type of mobile telephone.
It has been designed by four female undergraduate students in their twenties from Harvard University, who wanted to find a solution to the developing world's chronic power shortages.
"Soccer is something you will find in every African country," Jessica Lin, one of sOccket's inventors, said. "People play for hours a day, so we thought, 'Why not try to get a little more out of that energy?'" She said the aim was to harness the passion for football particularly among children in Africa's poorest communities to provide them with reading torches for when the light fades – at present around 5.30pm in South Africa.
"We would hear of children going out to the street and studying underneath street lamps, or literally coming to school with blackened noses because they'd been studying near kerosine lamps," she said.
The sOccket team hope to have their product available for sale online by the end of the year. They intend to sell them to people in developed countries in a buy-one-give-one scheme that will see the second ball sent to charities working in African townships.
"Obviously, this won't be a regulation ball," Miss Lin said. "But it's a big improvement over some of the makeshift balls the kids create from things like old plastic bags."
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Website is obviously still under development
 

Elaine Kirk

Super Moderator
Carl Zeiss Photography Competition at the Department of Engineering


The Winning photo 2010: Rob Gordon - 'Aircraft engine flame-out'

Inclement weather or other unforeseen circumstances could cause the flames in aircraft engines to extinguish, with a subsequent loss of power. In order to design against this unlikely but serious event, aircraft engine designers must research the physics of flame extinction.
The photograph is taken a few tens of milliseconds before the flame extinguishes. It is a composite false-colour image, where the bright outer area is the light from a thin laser sheet, scattered from micrometer sized olive oil particles carried by the fuel-air mixture as it enters the combustor. The inner, darker region is light from the flame itself, struggling to survive as the fast cold air eats away at it. The temperature drops, and this allows the olive oil particles which are normally consumed within a flame to be visible progressively throughout the combustor, denoting flame extinction. The photo is part of a sequence that contains both the stable flame and the blow-off event, taken by two high speed CMOS cameras at 5000 frames per second.
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The 2010 photography competition, open to all staff and students in the Department of Engineering at the University of Cambridge was sponsored by Carl Zeiss (electron microscopy division).
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I will leave you to guess the following pic :) the answer is amongst the flikr album


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Elaine Kirk

Super Moderator
Rare species named for the first time by British public

The Natural England competition to name Britain's rare species has concluded.
Emerging from obscurity, ten previously unnamed British species are now enjoying some long-awaited limelight as the results of the competition to give them popular names were announced today (Saturday 17 July).

The Queen’s executioner, sea piglet and witches’ whiskers were previously only known as Megapenthes lugens, Arrhis phylonyx and Usnea florida, respectively. They now join the ranks of the more familiar shepherd’s purse, swallowtail and foxglove, now having popular names that describe their characteristics.

Thousands of people submitted entries in response to the Name a Species competition organised by Natural England, The Guardian and The Oxford University Museum of Natural History. The competition invited the public to give popular names to ten species of British beetle, bees, jellyfish, shrimps and lichens, all of which are endangered and all of which have until now been listed only in Latin.
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These are the ten species given common names

The BBC have a slideshow here
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Elaine Kirk

Super Moderator

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from the New Scientist
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Thirty species of frog have been wiped out from the El Copé National Park in Panama by the deadly chytrid fungus (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0914115107). Many survive in neighbouring regions, but the finding illustrates the threat posed by the fungus: the frogs wiped out represented 40 per cent of the region's amphibian diversity. We look at some of the prettier/weirder (delete as you see fit) species to have been lost.
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I have been looking to see if I could find a uk site specific to frogs and found the
British Herpetological Society
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Help out UK Herps! BHS Volunteers Needed
Get healthy helping out UK herpetofauna! Eager volunteers needed for a variety of tasks to benefit amphibians and reptiles. Click here to learn more!
thanks to Laurie for the NS link
 

Elaine Kirk

Super Moderator
India unveils prototype of $35 tablet computer


ipad
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from .
It looks like an iPad, only it's 1/14th the cost: India has unveiled the prototype of a $35 basic touchscreen tablet aimed at students, which it hopes to bring into production by 2011.

If the government can find a manufacturer, the Linux operating system-based computer would be the latest in a string of "world's cheapest" innovations to hit the market out of India, which is home to the 100,000 rupee ($2,127) compact Nano car, the 749 rupees ($16) water purifier and the $2,000 open-heart surgery.

The tablet can be used for functions like word processing, web browsing and video-conferencing. It has a solar power option too — important for India's energy-starved hinterlands — though that add-on costs extra.

"This is our answer to MIT's $100 computer," human resource development minister Kapil Sibal told the Economic Times when he unveiled the device Thursday.
 

Elaine Kirk

Super Moderator

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The Telegraph have a pic
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India has unveiled a $35 (£23) iPad-style computer aimed at students.
While the prototype device looks like an iPad, it's just a fourteenth of the cost.
The basic touch-screen tablet could be in production by 2011.
The tablet can be used for word processing, web browsing and videoconferencing. It has a solar power option too – important for India's energy-starved hinterlands – though that add-on costs extra.
 

Elaine Kirk

Super Moderator
Computer-simulated life forms evolve intelligence


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Computer-simulated life forms which reproduce themselves inside their electronic world have evolved to produce basic intelligence.
It is hoped that the discovery may in future lead to artificially intelligent brains "bred" within a computer.
The "Avidians", a race of digital beings in a computer world called Avida run by scientists at Michigan State University, with computer code instead of DNA that is copied - not quite perfectly - every time they breed. The random copying errors create differences in their code which dictate how well, or badly, they will perform in their simulated world.
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Artificial life from a digital sea (Image: Gusto Images/SPL)
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Similar to microbes, Avidians take up very little space, have short generation times, and can evolve new traits to out-compete their rivals. Unlike microbes, their evolution can be stopped at any time, reversed, repeated, and the precise sequence of mutations that led to the new trait can be dissected. "They're wonderful evolutionary pets," says Ben Kerr, a biologist at the University of Washington in Seattle.​
 

Elaine Kirk

Super Moderator
Moon Water Dreams Evaporate

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from .
The inside of the moon might not be all wet after all. A new study suggests that, contrary to recent work, the lunar interior is as bone-dry as scientists thought 40 years ago, when NASA astronauts lugged home the first moon rocks.

New analyses of chlorine in those rocks, published Aug. 5 in Science, indicate that the moon contains just one–ten-thousandth to one–hundred-thousandth the water that the Earth’s interior does.
Studying the wateriness of different worlds can illuminate how they evolved, says geochemist Zachary Sharp of the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, lead author of the new paper. “It’s a window into processes that shaped the solar system soon after it formed.”

Researchers have long argued over whether the moon contains water on its surface — frozen in shadowy craters, for instance. Such water would not be native to the moon, but instead delivered there over time by comet impacts. The new studies tackle a more fundamental question: How much water did the moon contain inside when it formed, 4.5 billion years ago? the article continues here
 
science bits!

Apologies if this has already been mentioned as I haven't read all the threads. I checked out a website called stocking-fillers. It has some really cool gadgets for under a tenner, like the Geyser tube (mentos and fizzy drink!) and the mr grass head and more cool stuff.http://www.stocking-fillers.co.uk
 

Elaine Kirk

Super Moderator

Marc Hauser Photo: GETTY IMAGES
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from the .
Marc Hauser: monkeying with the truth​
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There's one central feature of science that is often overlooked: despite the glossy sheen of objectivity that surrounds this great quest for universal truths, it is at heart a human enterprise, and as such it has its share of cheats and rotters.
They are less prevalent than in other industries – why does banking come to mind? – because the nature of the field sifts the good from the bad. Science is open: others must always be told how you have done your experiments, constructed your theory or reached your conclusions. And it is sceptical: you can never accept an idea or a result on face value, until others have tested it or examined it independently.
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Which brings me to Marc Hauser, a charismatic, likeable Harvard University professor whom I have met and written about over the years. In the field of primate behaviour and animal cognition, there are few bigger names. He has produced remarkable findings that blurred the distinctions between how animals and humans think, popularising his ideas about the origins of morality with his book Moral Minds: How Nature Designed Our Universal Sense of Right and Wrong.
Hauser has argued, persuasively, that a universal
moral grammar is wired into the human mind, similar to the universal linguistic grammar proposed by Noam Chomsky, as an explanation for our extraordinary facility with language.
Then, this month, the Boston Globe revealed that Harvard has been investigating this eminent professor. The probe began long ago, after some of his graduate students complained about how he had interpreted his data. The university's failure to provide details of its three-year investigation, reportedly completed in January, attracted widespread criticism.
Eventually, the university confirmed – in a letter emailed by Michael Smith, the dean of arts and sciences – that "Professor Marc Hauser was found solely responsible, after a thorough investigation by a faculty investigating committee, for eight instances of scientific misconduct." Smith added that Harvard has moved to "impose appropriate sanctions", without saying precisely what that meant.
Hauser's undoing seems to have been his experiments, many of which depended on videotaping cotton-topped tamarin monkeys and noting their responses. His team would study the tapes of the experiments and "code" the results, meaning that they wrote down how the monkeys reacted. This is a subjective process, so there is opportunity for self-delusion – and plenty of temptation, too.
A former research assistant provided the Chronicle of Higher Education with telling email exchanges about what happened in the Hauser laboratory. A research assistant's evaluation appeared to differ significantly from Hauser's, yet he reportedly refused the assistant's repeated suggestions that a third party look at the data.
According to the dean, the investigation eventually found evidence of misconduct in three published academic papers. Problems were found with five additional studies, which either did not lead to papers or which were corrected before being published. Hauser announced in a statement: "I am deeply sorry for the problems this case has caused to my students, my colleagues, and my university. I have learned a great deal from this process and have made many changes in my own approach to research and in my lab's research practices."
The problem, however, is that many other scientists have followed up Hauser's work, or have been inspired to adopt new lines of inquiry by his findings. Without knowing more about the investigation, researchers will remain unsure about how much of Hauser's work to trust.
 

Elaine Kirk

Super Moderator
flickr - NASA on The Commons' photostream


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NASA photo's are being placed on flickr, although they can all be viewed on the NASA site there is no comment facility there, so the flickr 'NASA on The Commons' photostream ' will give the public the chance to comment and discuss each photo.
 
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Elaine Kirk

Super Moderator
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A series of video's about the symbols of physics and astronomy from the
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From this screen you can click a symbol to find it's meaning
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Ever been confused by all the letters and squiggles used by scientists?

Hopefully this site will unravel some of those mysteries.

Sixty Symbols is a collection of videos about physics and astronomy presented by experts from The University of Nottingham.

They aren't lessons or lectures - and this site has never tried to be an online reference book.

The films are just fun chats with men and women who love their subject and know a lot about it!

It's worth noting many symbols have multiple uses across scientific disciplines and we somtimes tackle them from an unexpected viewpoint.

Click on "gamma" and you'll find a professor of physics talking about cricket balls... Click on "rho" and we're stuffing paperclips into coffee cups.

And sometimes when there's no symbol to tell a story (like Schrödinger's cat), well we just make one up!

Whatever symbol you click on, we hope you'll see something interesting and maybe learn something new.

Or if there's a symbol you'd like explained, contact us at sixtysymbols@hotmail.co.uk

You can also leave comments on our YouTube channel at
www.youtube.com/sixtysymbols

We've also got a great site about chemistry at www.periodicvideos.com

Or go behind the scenes with scientists at our other site www.test-tube.org.uk
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screenshot
 

Nina

ScotHE
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