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.

 

The Teenage Brain Explained

This is another episode from the YouTube channel SciShow, and although this video spends the first two minutes going through all the obvious stuff it talks about how the brain is developing a lot through teenage years.

I’ll tell you one of my favourite bits from the clip now, and one that I shall repeat the next time my teacher starts getting cross because I forgot to bring in my book; teenagers aren’t meant to be organised, because their synapses are currently in the process of being insulated with a layer of fat that is fully developed in adults, stopping connections to the pre-frontal cortex from moving so well, the part of your brain that deals with all the logic and stuff. So yeah. Watch it, and you will never again ask why a teenager is in such a bad mood!

Also, I must just say this, and everyone is thinking it; teenagers need more sleep, but produce the sleepy-hormone melatonin a lot later than adults, and then have to get up and have their brains working from six in the morning. I don’t think anyone will argue with me when I say that teenagers have good reason to be fed up with dragging themselves out of bed in the morning.

18th December – Some Random, Non-Christmassy Things

Since it is getting REAL CLOSE TO CHRISTMAS I personally need a break from all the Christmassing (is that a verb? I think that could be a verb, I’m gonna use it) so I’ll just do a little entry about my day like I did in the old days (only four months-ish till I’ve had this for a whole year, how awesome is that?).

Okay, for one thing, I have said that the ‘snow’ falling on my blog is alright but is that annoying because I can see how it might be, but I live in England so it’s the only snow I’m going to get, I think. Anyway, post below if it is, and also if you know how to find out the exact date that your blog was started, because I’m curious 🙂

Secondly, today was very sad because we said goodbye to our science teachers (if any of you remember, 5 out of 7 of them have now left and we are all pretty sad about that, especially since I love science almost as much as I love cake – yes, I know what I just said, but calm down, if I had to choose between science or cake I would of course choose cake). But the sadness aside, it is nice to see everyone giving our headteacher horrible looks. It is pleasant when you aren’t the only one, and I mean that in a nice way.

And finally, here is another ‘SciShow’ video. This one is about the ‘Science of Lying’ and is extremely interesting, so please enjoy it and comment below. I haven’t had comments for a while and my empty notifications box is making me sad. Anyhoo enjoy the vid! Not quite as much as I will enjoy putting ninety seven tags on this post (so many random things, I’ve missed this!).

I’m also just gonna pop a link here to where you can donate to the McMillan cancer charity. I was recently looking through some posts and saw that quite a few people followed the link, so I really appreciate that. Thank you!

http://www.macmillan.org.uk/donate/index.html

Motor Proteins and The Science of Addiction

This video will blow your mind. I advise you to check out some more of SciShow’s videos because they are utterly fascinating and the one below is extremely confusing (seriously, I actually had to slow the video down to get what he was saying) but once you get what he’s talking about you’ll be like ‘oh, wow!’. It’s John Green’s (the author) brother Hank, so some of you may know him. Enjoy!

And also there is this one; this is a little easier to understand but equally interesting.

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.

OH MY GOODNESS PHILAE LANDED ON A COMET OMG

I am so so excited because I’m a wee bit of a nerd when it comes to this sort of thing and the fact that it actually worked is just amazing. Apparently, what happened was that the robot was meant to use harpoons to basically tie itself to the comet and then would screw four legs onto the rock. What they think happened was that the harpoons didn’t work and it bounced three times before managing to attach itself. My dad was trying to explain this to my mum that it bounced three times as she was pulling off the drive in the car, resulting in a series of bizarre hand gestures and signals that probably made the neighbours think we were from the comet. But now they reckon it landed on a rock and only has three legs screwed on and doesn’t have enough power because the solar panels aren’t working so may have to go into shut-down mode (like the tardis in Doctor Who did this season, that was so cool) and charge up before carrying on, but at the moment it’s still sending back data. I just find these things so interesting. My mum has named one of my cuddly toys ‘Rosetta’ in honour of the occasion (Rosetta is like the mother ship and Philae is the one that landed, if I’m correct).

This is a computer generated image of the lander on the comet. I think that is awesome.