Sunday, 26 August 2012

It will always be a first step...

With deep regret Explorers, I must inform you of the death of Neil Armstrong the first man who set foot on the moon in 1969. He died aged 82.

Neil took to the air aged just 6 with his  father, where he developed a love for flying and later flew Navy fighter jets in the Korean war in the 50s and then joined the Space programme in 1962.

Though this great man has unfortunately passed away, he will always be remembered for his advancement in space exploration, and for his famous quote: 'That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind'.

Saturday, 18 August 2012

What book are you reading?

So we know that the demand for storing any large piece of data onto something really small is getting really competitive, and so is the need for encrypting files. So just to prove a point, a book has been encoded into DNA.

The scientists have encoded 11 pictures, 53,000 words and a computer program, which makes this the largest thing ever stored in DNA (bar anything natural like you!). Apparently the cost of DNA coding is falling so rapidly that in a few decades or even years it could be the cheapest way to store large amounts of data.

Normal data is stored in binary coding so made of zeros and ones, but by using DNA they use G,T,C and A. However to help minimise "translating" it wrong, they stuck to binary coding using A and C as zero and T and G as one.

Though this sounds really exciting, especially as the knowledge of DNA hasn't been around for that long but it's also rather bizarre. How are we (non scientists) meant to be able to read this DNA? Unless we had a translator.

So dear Explorers please cling to the words which you see on the screen, for soon they may only be made up of 4 letters.

Explorer Fact: 1g off DNA can hold 455 billion gigabytes, which is a ridiculous amount of information.

Climbing higher up the tree.

Explorers, we all come to that stage in life where we need to climb to the higher branch, and so that is what I must do. Having finished my stint on a lower branch this coming summer I am progressing to a higher branch. Whoop Whoop.

Explorer Fact: It's jolly high up here!

Friday, 10 August 2012

Weird chemical names...

In the world of science, you would think that scientists are clever and wouldn't name chemicals strangely. Think again. Well, probably when they first named the chemical they didn't see the funny side to the chemicals and that's because the majority of these chemicals are volatile and have dangerous reactions.



Megaphone
AKA
6-[1-hydroxy-1-(3,4,5-trimethoxyphenyl)propan-2-yl]-4-methoxy-6-prop-2-encylclohex-2-en-1-one

This molecule is found in the roots of the Aniba megaphylla roots. This molecule is not limited to just being produced by nature it is also able to be made by man. Its molecular formula is C22H30O6.
 Angelic acid
AKA
(Z)-2-methylbut-2-enoic acid
This acid is also found in nature. It is found in roots of the Garden Angelica and is also used as a mechanism by beetles to prevent them from being eaten. This acid is malodorous and has a sour taste (which is good for the beetle as it provides them with a speedy get-away!). Its molecular formula is C5H8O2.

Windowpane
AKA
Fenestrane
Obviously gets its name from its appearance. But this molecule does not exist in reality but only in theory due to the strain the square shape would place on the Carbon-Carbon bonds. However a "broken" version of this molecule has been made and it only has 3 squares. Its molecular formula is C9H12
 Traumatic Acid
AKA
dodec-2-enedioic acid
This acid also appears in nature. As you could guess from the name, it has something to do with trauma or traumatic incidents. Well that's correct. Traumatic acid is used by plants to "heal" themselves. The acid stimulates cell division so the plant produces more cells near the trauma site to form a protective layer and ultimately close the "wound". It's the plant version of humans forming scabs when they injure themselves. The molecular formula is C12H20O4.

So fear not explorers, though these chemicals have long scientific names they also have these weird and wacky nicknames too. So be ready to impress your friends by sprouting these out the nibs of your pens.



Monday, 6 August 2012

Spider Man!

Imagine being a little tiny spider, creeping through your habitat where you are discovered and named after an esteemed British nature journalist...

Well, this happened to the Prethopalpus attenboroughi. It is a spider which is found solely on Horn Island just off of Queensland, and was named after Sir David Attenborough (in appreciation of over 60 years of his contribution to documenting nature). This tiny spider is little over a millimetre (1.04mm) long. Its name in English is Attenborough's goblin spider.

Although this is not the first species to be named after the famed Sir, he took the accolade with such grace. After myself watching some of his documentaries, I have become fascinated and mesmerised with his commentary and his nature programs which are second-to-none.

So it seems that Spider Man is not reserved solely to the pages of a comic, or the screen of film, but they also belong in the land of Oz.

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Moveover days of black and white...HELLO 3D

The days after WW2 were blessed with the TV set, which were not like the modern day LED and 3D smart TVs, these babies were powered by vacuum tubes and cathode ray tubes. Till 1953, TV was in pure monochrome (black and white), then the magical world of multicolour was born (see the Wizard of Oz).

Weirdly the translation of television is derived from Greek and Latin and roughly translates to "far sight".

With the development of TVs and the bid for producers to be the best, I'm currently waiting for the production of a portable holographic TV encapsuled in a watch.