Superacids

The concept of superacids was a new on to me until the other day when I read about a chemistry competition that had been held in Moscow earlier this summer. You may have been in this very competition so, if you had, and I get something wrong, please do put me right! The competition asked students to 'design' (on paper) an alien blood that resembled the blood in the 'Alien' movies. If you recall, this blood needed to be capable of ...

Concerning Leap Years

Who Introduced the Leap Year? Julius Ceasar, believe it or not. The Roman calendar had got seriously out of date with the solar calendar, even though Roman officials were supposed to introduce an extra month every so often. So Caesar consulted his top astronomers who worked out that the solar year—the time it takes for the Earth to do exactly one rotation around the sun—was 365.25 days. So, by maintaining a calendar with 365 days, and adding one extra day every ...

A Theme? A Motif? Which Is It?!

One of the cranky little issues that often (almost always) arises when you are trying to write about the leading ideas or stylistic choices in a piece of literature—as you often must in your courses that involve this kind of art—is when to use the term 'theme' and when to use 'motif.'  And it's no wonder. However, if you decide to settle this in your own head once and for all, and search out definitions either digitally or in print, ...

From the Ridiculous to the Sublime: The Visual Elaboration of Ideas

The Ridiculous (or at least, misguided) As an exhibition moderator I sometimes encounter work that seems to be based on a misinterpretation of the visual arts course. Of course the work is not really ‘ridiculous’, but let’s say it might be a little misguided. For example, in one case a student submitted (as artworks in their exhibition) a single Lego brick, and Lego ‘Batman’ and ‘Superman’ figures. Source: Wikimedia Obviously, there is no technical competence involved here: the Lego belonged to the student’s ...

Drawing Graphs on the TI-84

A previous post on solving equations with the TI-84 has proved very popular, so here are some tips and tricks when using the GDC for drawing graphs and associated functionality. Pre-set scales It's easy enough to type in an equation and then press the graph button. However, the most important thing to do which helps make sense of any graph is to set up the correct window: the minimum and maximum value of the displayed coordinates, and the associated scale marks. The ...

It Is What It Is!

I want to tell you a story about a most remarkable man, Bo Frolchenko. There will be scant links to economics but read it anyhow. It's a story about hard work, intent of purpose, success, honour, and love. Bo is one of my best friends and his life can indeed teach us something. He was born in 1947 and spent his tender first years in a German refugee camp. You guessed it; life was not a rose bed. He and his family ...

Rise in Infections Due to Chickens

The rising trend of raising backyard chickens in US cities and suburbs is bringing with it huge increase in the number of illnesses from poultry-related diseases, at least one of them fatal. Between January 2017 and October 2017, over 1,100 people contracted salmonella poisoning from chickens and ducks in 48 states, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Almost 250 were hospitalized and one person died. The rate was four times higher than in 2015. The CDC estimates that the actual ...

How to Assess IMPACT on Your Audience

Recently I have been working with small devising companies to explore how they can obtain meaningful and accurate data to assess audience impact. I am going to give you three scenarios of their process of evaluating impact, and then how they re-worked this data gathering the second time they performed. The first performance was a ‘soft’ sharing or rather a ‘work in progress’, which is common practice for many devising companies, so they can evaluate their work before it is ...

An Introduction to Equilibria

Equilibria can be a tricky concept to understand. In order to understand it, you need a good idea of reversible reactions and then a good idea of a dynamic equilibria. So, what is a reversible reaction? Put simply, it is a reaction in which products can be turned into reactants, but reactants can also be turned back into products. This can be shown using the ⇌ symbol: Reactants ⇌ Products For example, ammonium chloride will thermally decompose into ammonia and hydrogen chloride gases, but these gases will ...

What’s the difference between an expression and an equation?

Well, I’ll answer that in a moment. More generally, you should be familiar with algebraic terminology since relevant words are used in exam questions—you need to know exactly what they mean. Let’s start at the beginning and build up… Constants and variables A constant is a fixed number, such as 2. A variable is a letter which can take on different values, such as $x$. To complicate things, letters can sometimes be used to stand for constants! For example, I can define ...