Monday, 18 April 2011

The Urey-Miller Experiment

Stanley Miller
Over the years, many people have speculated on the origins of life. From religious beliefs to outlandish claims, the truth of our origins is no clearer today than it were two thousand years ago. In 1952 at the University of Chicago, Stanley Miller and Harold Urey performed an experiment which would forever change the way we think of life. Miller and Urey attempted to recreate the conditions of early an Earth under laboratory conditions. In what seems like a remarkably simple set up, both men devised a self cycling system where gasses of water, methane, ammonia and hydrogen were passed through an electrical spark, condensed and boiled. This continuous cycle would self repeat for a week at a time at the end of which a portion of the carbon in solution was in the form of organic compounds i.e. amino acids.

This small experiment was the stepping stone for a greater understanding of life as one year later Watson and Crick would propose the double helix structure of DNA (the code of life) which would ultimately win them the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1962.

The Miller-Urey today still continues to inspire both scientists and amateur science enthusiasts alike in the quest for the origin of life.

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Coloured plants with a twist!

I remember when I was only 5 or 6, one of the science experiments we performed was we submerged celery into coloured water and watched as the water slowly changed the colour of the capillaries. Being so young at the time it blew my mind as I watched a stick of celery "drink". It was small experiments like these that allowed my curiosity in science to grow. Today's post comes courtesy of a YouTube poster, NurdRage. While this experiment is still safe to perform with young audiences, the resulting carnations can be used in various different settings to provide ambience. Either way NurdRage has some great videos, from glow in the dark carnations to a DIY 100' glow stick. Go check out his videos! 

Black Fire Upon Us

Well this if my first official non-science (not to be confused with nonsense) post. The song in the video above is from a band from an Adult Swim program called Metalocalypse. By far this is one of my favourite songs of theirs. Normally I'm not one to crank my music up to 11 and just go nuts, but this song is just too fun to listen to, to not to. (I'm not too sure on the grammatical accuracy of that last sentence.) But all in all it is a great song to go wild with and the video does justice to the music.

A brief introduction into entanglement

Entanglement is one of the trickier elements of quantum mechanics to explain, and even harder to fully understand. By 'entangling' two particles to one another you are in essence binding their existences together, so that one is dependant on the other.  It can be thought of as a symbiotic relationship between two co-species, whatever happens to one will affect the other. Entanglement however, does not require the two particles to be physically touching, or anywhere near one another, they are bound through their wave function.

The easiest way I found to understand this was making spaghetti bolognese. Once you mix the pasta into the bolognese, the two ingredients have become entangled and you can't add seasonings or garnishes to one without affecting the other.

Without rambling on too much, watch the video; its a great informative piece and may even change the way you think!

Friday, 15 April 2011

Unconventional Solar Panels

Stephen Rand, a professor in the departments of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Physics and Applied Physics at the University of Michigan has proposed a novel idea of generating an electric current via the magnetic field component in electromagnetic radiation. This comes as a surprise as for the past 100 years the magnetic component had been considered too weak to contribute significantly. To read more, follow the link.