Friday, 21 September 2012

The pretty catcher

Seeing spiders weave their webs to catch insects is something that I have always found fascinating. The delicate intricacies which mean that the web can hold fast something of a reasonable size in it (I hate when you walk into a web!). But recent studies have shown that spiders now spin their webs in such a way that makes it attractive to flies.

The spiders which spin their webs into the shape of an Orb have now been shown to weave in UV decorations to attract their prey.  Scientists previously had thought that it is for the purposes of camouflage, mating signals, sun shades and to scare away birds.

The scientists studied the wasp spider who seemed to weave diagonally through the web particularly in the centre. This central portion seemed better at reflecting UV light than any other section.

Explorer Fact: it seems pretty much that no one knows precisely what the UV aspect of the web is for and it seems that more studying is necessary. I can assure you that though I am an explorer that would definitely not be something that I would want to do as I am not a fan of spiders in the slightest bit. Thank goodness the spiders here are limited to the size of a 2p coin.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

LHC Mark 2.0

When the Large Hadron Collider was completed in 2008, everyone thought that a fissure would occur in the Earth and half of Europe would fall into the hole which remained (I remember sitting and waiting to hear a rumble).

OBVIOUSLY this didn't happen, and it was total hype. CERN used this collider to record proton-proton collisions.

Though this collider is already called the LHC (Large Hadron Collider), CERN are planning on building another even bigger collider, which will be 3x the size of the current one lying under Geneva! This new collider will have a circumference of 50miles (which dwarfs the Geneva one by a gigantic 33miles!!). This new collider would be used to discover how gravity interacts at the level of molecules. Ooh how exciting!

Explorer Fact: Fear not! The collider would not be built until at least until 2025.

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Time goes by so slowly...

Ever been in a situation of danger or intense anxiety? Or just anything which gets your adrenaline flowing? And you get the feeling that time c-r-e-e-p-s by? Or that everything you see seems to be in "HD"?

Neurologists at UCL have found out that in elite people (sportspeople, musicians, racing car drivers) the brain's ability to process information actually increases. Meaning that more information is received by the brain so the time it takes for the brain to process it increases, making time apparently slow down. This could be so they can take in more of their surroundings to ensure their decisions are correct (whether it will be the right choice to make them win).

So the next time you're in an intense situation, take note and see whether it seems like time is going by s-o  s-l-o-w-l-y, maybe it will help you succeed in your quest to win or save you from danger.

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Superhuman!

With all eyes watching their sportsmen and women competing over the last week and the following week, it is incredible to see people overcome physical adversity to become some of the greatest athletes in the world.

The people we usually see competing in the Paralympics are those who may have lost limbs, yet they are able to run and compete just like "able-bodied" people. And this is due to the brilliant development of prosthetics.

The word prosthetics derives from the Greek word PrĂ³sthesis meaning addition. The science behind prosthesis is called biomechatronics. Although you may think that prosthetic limbs are fairly modern, you'd be wrong. Prosthetics have been found as far back as Ancient Egypt! However the prosthetic limbs of now and the future, are that the wearer can merely think 'I want to wiggle my finger' and the finger wiggles. This would occur by use of the wearer's nervous and muscular systems to iniate the movement.

So with the world of prosthetics gaining momentum, and developing such incredible methods to replace a person's missing limb/s, soon we may not even be able to recognise prosthetics at all!

Explorer fact: apparently the first prosthetic was found on a 3,000 year old mummy. It was a wooden toe!