Gravitational Waves – Belated Post

I am well aware that these were discovered (well, their existence was officially proved) a few weeks ago but I’ve been really rather busy these past few weeks dealing with the irrelevant time consuming project that is my Mock Exam Fortnight and all the stress and comfort eating that it entails. While lying on the sofa basking in self pity one has when blessed with the sort of cold that makes you occasionally forget about the presence of your nose, I sat staring at my phone waiting for scientists to make the eagerly awaited announcement that these waves are, in fact, the real deal, and that Einstein is even more of a genius lad than we had thought.

So, what are gravitational waves?

My knowledge (and enjoyment) of physics is basic at best, but when it comes to astronomy I am a bit of a nerd. My very simple understanding of gravitational waves is that when an enormous gravitational event occurs, such as a star exploding, then these waves are produced, in the same way that ripples go across a pond when something happens in the water.

The waves that were picked up by scientists were produced when black holes that had been orbiting one another collided; black holes are so extremely dense and have such an enormous gravitational pull that for two to collide would (an did) have an enormous impact. This impact was gravitational waves, which actually compress the space they pass through, which, as I’m sure you can imagine, means they are pretty powerful.

How did they prove it?

Physicists built two 4km long tunnels with sensors at either end; these sensors could detect the shortening and lengthening of the tunnel when gravitational waves passed through them – and they did. And then scientists and nerds like me became hugely excited and enjoyed sharing the news to people who responded with blank faces until we explained what we were talking about.

I hope that has made things a bit clearer for people who had heard of these waves but didn’t know what they were, or has amused real scientists who can see that I know pretty much nothing when it comes to the Physics World.

 

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Phrases That Confuse Anyone Who Isn’t British; The Guide To Understanding Our Gibberish

I have seen the expressions on people’s faces when I say “bit nippy outside this arvie, better grab my brolly” (translation at the end); I have read the comments on Facebook asking what on earth people from this country are talking about, and so I give you: Understanding British Colloquialisms.

– “Bee’s knees”. Awesome!!!

– “Bob’s your uncle”. This just means ‘there you go, that was easy’. Gosh, these are actually quite hard to translate. It has become a phrase of its own over the years.

– “Blimey”. Golly. Gosh. Wow.

– “Chav”. I can only explain this with stereotypes, so I shall copy Google’s definition; ‘a young lower-class person typified by brash and loutish behaviour and the wearing of (real or imitation) designer clothes’. Very often the crotch of their trousers in more in the knee-area than anywhere else.

– “Chin-wag”. A favourite of mine. It means a chat. Do you say chat? It means a friendly talk.

– “Dodgy”. A bit out of place, or sometimes suspicious.

– “Donkeys years”. A vair vair long time. I am only now realising how often I use these words.

– “Fit”. There is no other way to say this; hot. As in, looks-wise.

– “Gobsmacked”. Absolutely shocked.

– “Gutted”. If you watched the apprentice at all, you will know this word’s meaning. If not, it means devastated.

– “Lurgy”. A bit under the weather. Which means a bit poorly. Which means a bit ill.

– “Minted”. Absolutely rolling in it. Which means extremely well off or rich.

– “Nicked”. Stolen.

– “Plastered”. Absolutely off your head. Drunk.

– “Quid”. A pound (money-wise. £).

– “Shirty”. “Ooh, he’s a bit shirty, must have had a fight with the missus,” to be used in context. It means a little bit cross or aggravated.

– “Starkers”. Completely in the nuddy-pants. To be wearing no clothes.

– “Sweet Fanny Adams.” This is used instead of a rude word which I shall not write, but I’m sure you’ll work it out. It means absolutely nothing at all.

– “Tickety-boo”. Everything’s great!

– “Tosh”. Utter rubbish.

So, to translate the first sentence I wrote; “It is quite cold outside this afternoon, I had better get my umbrella.” And also, another thing I have to clarify is this;

Pants: NOT trousers. It means knickers. I believe Americans call them ‘panties’ or ‘underwear’.

Chips: NOT crisps (as in, crunchy potato snacks). It means ‘fries’.

And I shall leave with something amusing I saw on the internet;

Tea:

What it usually means: Optional hot drink.

What it means in England: Mandatory life fuel.

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The British Flag. Not the English flag, as the internet would have me believe. Oh, internet.

I hope this clears things up!

Awesome Facts About Frogs

For those of you who have followed my blog for a long time will know, I like to write about random things I find on the internet. It is a hobby and passion of mine, and I haven’t done an Awesome Facts page for AGES so voila; frogs!

– 5000+ species of frog.

– When I was little, I was in flip-flops at the bottom of the garden and I felt something heavy and weird land on my foot. It was a frog! It hopped off again but since then I have always rather liked them as a species.

– They can jump over 20 times their own body length.

– The never close their eyes, even when they’re asleep. I can only sleep with my eyes open in particularly dull maths lesson; got pretty good at it during my time at secondary school, I can tell you. It’s relaxing until you are expected to answer a question.

– They drink through their skin, not their mouths.

– A painkiller 200 times stronger than morphine has been discovered in the skin of a frog.

– Apparently, one type of desert frog can go for up to seven years without water by surrounding itself in a transparent bag that becomes its first meal when rain comes. Weird. And probably untrue. But mainly weird.

– The worlds biggest frog is about one foot long, whereas the smallest is half an inch. How cute would that be?!!!

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Frog 1: What happened to Dave last night? Frog 2: His car got toad!!!!!!!!

10th December – Awesome Facts About Reindeer

As we all know from watching Frozen, Reindeers are indeed better than people (Sven and Kristoff appreciation moment):

But this fact aside I thought I would do a Christmas themed Awesome Facts, so here goes:

– Their noses are designed to warm the air before it gets to their lungs.

– They are usually 4-5 feet tall (excluding antlers, which are 3 feet in themselves).

– They can run up to 50 miles per hour! Like, what?

– In the wild, they live for about 15 years, although Sven from Frozen is immortal. That would just be way too traumatic.

– They are the only mammals that create new sets of antlers each year.

– They have an awesome sense of smell: they can sniff out lichen underneath 60cm of snow!

– When the temperature drops a lot they can make their leg temperature drop so they retain heat in their bodies.

– Their antlers are the fastest growing thing known to science.

– Their eyes change colour with the seasons! Golden green in the summer to a blue colour in winter to help them deal with the lack of sunlight.

– They can’t walk and pee, so have to stop every six miles to do so. Just to end on a classy note.

Reindeer selfie time! So photogenic my goodness.

Awesome Facts About the Human Brain

Okay, so quite frankly I have run out of animals to talk about (well, obviously there are more but ones that spring to mind are gone – I’ll think of some more later) so I’m going to talk about the human mind! It is pretty cool, what our brain does, although the question I always wonder about is does the brain know it’s learning about itself and does it already know what it’s doing? Mind boggling. This is more about the psychology than the physical brain, actually. Anyway, the facts…

– Swearing can reduce pain.

– Emotional pain is remembered better than physical pain.

– We can udnretsnad any msseed up stnecene as lnog as the lsat and frsit lteerts of wdros are in crrcoet palecs. Cool huh?

– We are most creative at night? Presumably that means when you aren’t exhausted from a frustrating day at school.

– Smiling makes you happier! Also, in my case, the use of exclamation marks does as well! I don’t know why!

-Apparently, people are often more productive in blue rooms, but then again my maths room is blue and that doesn’t appear to help me at all.

– You’re sense of smell is the best one for provoking memories. That’s why it’s a good idea to spray a new scent when you revise and then spray it again before you go into the exam. Haven’t tried it yet, but I will inform you of the results…

– Lying takes a lot of effort and people tend to start talking with shorter sentences as they have to think of two things at once, the truth and how to get around it.

– Placebos can sometimes work as well as the real treatment – if you’re nervous and someone gives you a tictac saying it’s some amazing medicine that calms you down, you’ll probably stop panicking.

– Apparently, male politicians are more likely to be chosen if they are manly. If you look at last UK election’s line up it’s a wonder anyone voted at all.

– “Boredom has a bright side. Bored people are often looking for ways to do good things as the entertainment bores them and does not bring meaning to their lives.” Excuse me while I forward this to my maths and physics teachers.

– We often don’t notice what is right there in front of us. Apparently there was a study where an actor asked a randomer for directions, two people carried a door or something between the actor and randomer, the actor changed and only half of the randomers noticed! I think that is pretty interesting.

The Human Brain. I think I shall do a series talking about what each part of the brain does.

Awesome Facts About Wolves

I haven’t posted for a while so many apologies but teacher’s decided it would be a good idea to throw two thousand exams on us and most of them still haven’t marked them (I got a C for maths and trust me, I was happier than my maths teacher). But anyway, you seemed to like the post I did on dogs and these are the same species so off we go:

– Grey Wolves are endangered because they were hunted a lot in America – the people who killed them must have either been very brave or very stupid because these animals can be about two metres long (excluding tail. Like, why not including the tail, they could use it like a weapon, couldn’t they? Just swish it about a bit and take the legs out from under people about to kill you!).

– They are omnivores (eat plants and meat. Greedy).

– Largest members of the dog family.

– They run 20km a day as a pack. About the same length as our cross country run.

– They stay with their partner for life (usually. Even people get fed up with each other sometimes, that’s why we have holidays and divorce).

– They develop really strong bonds with their family and will sometimes even put themselves in danger to rescue their families. That’s more than quite a few humans would do.

– If running short distances, they can run up to 38 miles per hour. Yikes. You wouldn’t want that running towards you in a hurry.

– They have really long legs. Seriously, I saw one picture and it looked like it was in stilettos.

– Baby wolves (called something else probably but I want to call them baby wolves) can’t really hunt until they are 8 months old. Aw!

Also, this wolf is absolutely gorgeous and looks so CUDDLY but unless you had gained their trust and like, lived like a wolf, which people have done but lets face it, it probably wasn’t worth it for a hug, but yeah, it would eat you. So don’t do it.

Awesome Facts About Dogs

As some may know, I am terrified of dogs, so I thought it would be interesting to find out if indeed ‘they were more scared of me than I am of them’ (they are the ones with the teeth and the claws, thank you very much):

– They know 250 words, can count to five and are just generally as intelligent as a two year old child (so after I’ve learned my 400 Latin words I will have the equivalent knowledge of their language as a toddler in ancient Rome. I don’t know if that’s a good or bad thing).

– A Beatles song has a whistle in it only audible by dogs, included for the enjoyment of Paul McCartney’s Shetland sheepdog.

– Some stray Russian dogs have learned to take the train to more populated areas in search of food. That is impressive, although if I was stuck on a train with a dog in it I might well be hyperventilating.

– They can’t distinguish between red and green but have better night vision than us (speaking of, I would just like to point out that carrots have no impact on our vision. It was to get little kids to eat them).

– They can sense diseases: I know someone who has something wrong with his feet, and dogs keep sitting on them. Cool, huh?

– They can fall in love! I never knew that!

– They dream. I don’t know how you’d test for that, but apparently it’s true.