Mars mix up and data quality

Do you trust the temperature reading on your thermometer? How important is it to us that equipment records the 'correct data'? You may remember a few years ago (six and a half) that NASA landed a couple of robots on Mars - Opportunity and Spirit. Image kindly reproduced according to the licence at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:NASA_Mars_Rover.jpg The rovers were scheduled to last for a 90 day misson - well, amazingly, they are still working - although Spirit is stuck in sand and hopes are fading for ...

Water (5)

Tuesday was World Water Day 2011 and the theme for this year was ‘Water for Cities’. The theme for this weeks blogs posts will therefore be all about water. So far, we have been focusing on the fact that water has a much higher boiling point than is predicted and that the reason could be pinned down to electronegativity.   Image kindly reproduced according to the licence at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:3D_model_hydrogen_bonds_in_water.jpg You may also remember that yesterday I posted a question asking: ‘What causes electronegativity?’ Well, electronegativity is caused by ...

Water (4)

Tuesday was World Water Day 2011 and the theme for this year was ‘Water for Cities’. The theme for this weeks blogs posts will therefore be all about water. So far, we have been focussing on the fact that water has a much higher boiling point than is prediced and that the reason could be pinned down to the hydrogen bond. By Bidgee (Own work) [CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons  You may also remember that yesterday I posted a question asking: 'How ...

Water (3)

Yesterday was World Water Day 2011 and the theme for this year is ‘Water for Cities’. The theme for this weeks blogs posts will therefore be all about water. You may also remember that yesterday I posted a question asking: 'What causes water to have a much higher boiling point than expected?' And the answer ...... Well, it is the hydrogen bond - the same intermolecular bond that holds your DNA together. How does this (relatively) strong bond come to exist? What causes it? Where ...

Finding the needle

You will have heard of the saying 'like trying to find a needle in a haystack' , well how about this one, 'trying to find a single atom in a crystal'. This phenomena has now been successfully carried out by a research team. Individual atoms of lanthanum have been observed in crystals of calcium titanate. The technique used involves using an electron microscope that has its beam narrowed by a technique called 'abberation-correction'. It is hoped that it will allow scientists an improved ...

Stardust

Those of you who have been reading this blog for a while may remember a few posts about twelve months ago that were linked in with a BBC TV series called 'Wonders of The Solar System'. It was hosted by professor Brian Cox. Well, the prof is back with a new four part series. Episode 2, Stardust aired Sunday evening in the UK. As ever, Professor Cox presents the show with a real laid back, graceful yet accessible approach. Episode 2 has some ...

Boric Acid

Boric Acid is an element that has made its way into the limelight this weekend. Image kindly reproduced according to the licence at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Boric-acid-2D.png Image kindly reporduced according to the licence at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Boric-acid-3D-vdW.png The people of Japan have been hit by a huge natural disaster. First the earthquake, then the devastating tsunami that followed. However, a third disaster is facing the country and this time it is man made. At the time of writing, there have been two explosions at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear ...

Holy Smoke

Is going to church dangerous for your health? The atmosphere in churches are sometimes laden with smoke from candles and incense. This smoke however can contain particulate material in concentrations of PM10 (or less than 10 micrometres). These particles can penetrate very deeply into your lungs and cause a variety of heart and lung conditions. The concentration does depend on the time that burning has taken place - so it may be safer to go to church early in the morning than late ...

Gold wonder drugs

Tumours need a blood supply to grow and so it make sense to hypothesise that if the growth of blood vessels in tumors could be stopped, the tumour would effectively die. Enter a group of antibodeis that can be used to  destroy the protein (vascular endothelial growth factor or VEGF) that tells the blood vessels to divide. The problem? The antibodies have serious side effects on the body. The solution? Gold nanoparticles, approx 5nm wide that seem seem to have blocked VEGF's ability ...