What maths defines natural beauty? Chyi Chung dives into the spirals of sunflowers to find out.
Sunflowers – no strangers to being muses in art – also fascinate the minds of mathematicians. Behold, heads of tightly-packed seeds, each framed by a mane of bright yellow petals. Look again, look closer and descend into their spiralling beauty.
Continue reading “Sunflowers: Spiralling in Control”
Philippa Jefferies looks at how Einstein’s theories affect us every day through our GPS devices.
We’ve all heard of Einstein’s theories of Relativity, even if only by name. They’re often associated with black holes and other immense objects in space and they dictate the movement of objects from our own planet to vast galaxies. However, the consequences of Special and General Relativity affect us more personally every day. A good example is the GPS on your phone!
Continue reading “Einstein’s Relativity and How Not to Get Lost”
Marion Cromb and Daniel Thomas reveal the invisible beauty of the world around us with schlieren imaging.
Look here, there’s something cool happening! No, not just on the page, but in the air in front of it! There are many interesting phenomena taking place all the time in the air surrounding us, but their transparency normally makes them difficult to admire. However, certain techniques are able to pick up on slight changes in the way materials bend light, allowing us to see the otherwise hidden beauty of air flow and much much more.
Continue reading “What a Load of Hot Air!”
John Dunsmuir takes us on the journey coffee makes through our body.
Three hundred tonnes of caffeine are consumed globally each year, making it the world’s most popular psychoactive drug. But what makes this insecticide so popular?
The first credible source of coffee drinking comes from Fifteenth Century Sufi monasteries in modern day Yemen. It quickly spread via trade throughout the Mediterranean Basin, entering Europe via Italy.
Caffeine closely resembles the structure of a naturally occuring chemical in the brain known as Adenosine
Continue reading “What Is Caffeine?”
Patrick McCarthy uncovers the link beween your microwave, your uni and World War Two.
How does a microwave oven work? Finely tuned electromagnetic (EM) waves form standing nodes inside the oven’s chamber, exciting the bonds in water, causing them to heat up as the contents spin on the plate. The source of these microwaves, the cavity magnetron, has a history directly linked to the University of Birmingham.
Continue reading “Birmingham and the RADAR Revolution”
Augmented reality is fast becoming a technology of the everyday for millions around the world. Pokémon Go may have seemed like a simple mobile game, yet it signalled the arrival of AR into mainstream public consciousness. The ability to conjure and overlay virtual objects onto the real world is not just a defining advancement in the gaming industry, but also in how we live and operate on a day to day basis.
Continue reading “From Snorlax to Science”
Justin Holloway mourns the missed opportunity to have your own personal, portable haystack.
Whilst relocating to Old Blighty from Down Under, I was warned by Sharon, the air hostess, ‘oi mate, you better not be carrying a Galaxy with ya’. Fortunately, I was equipped with an iPhone and could use the 24+ hour flight to catch up on podcasts. Since then further aircraft carriers in Australia, Asia, Europe and America have banned the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 from being carried on or packed in luggage. Samsung has also taken the phone off the shelves and has issued a recall for 2.5 million smartphones in what is believed to be one of the costliest product safety failures in tech history.
Continue reading “Ode to the Short-Lived, Bright-Burning Samsung Galaxy Note 7”
Proving maths can be fun, Sara Jebril takes us through the rabbit-hole of Alex Bellos’ book.
Place one grain of wheat on the corner square of a chessboard and continue doubling across adjacent squares. “How much wheat would you need to fill the final square?”, Alex Bellos writes. “If you started counting a grain of wheat per second at the very moment of the Big Bang 13 billion or so years ago, then you would not even have counted up to a tenth of 263 by now”.
Continue reading “Alex’s Adventures in Numberland”
Chyi Chung considers the position of vultures within the Indian food chain.
T he doongerwadi seems an inconspicuous stone tower raised on a plinth. But from their flight in the sky, its roofless interior becomes exposed. The bodies of men, women and children are laid out in three carved, concentric circles surrounding a pit. They swoop down and devour the corpses in a matter of hours. They are efficient: the bodies are picked clean to the bone for depositing in the pit, before they take flight once more. They are the unsung heroes of death.
Continue reading “Vultures: The Unsung Heroes of Death”
Are designer genes nearly here? Joanna Chustecki examines the new toolkit in our hands.
Genome editing, the science behind the manipulation of the very code of life, has seen remarkable advances in recent years. The toolkits allowing the changing of genes have varied, but leading the charge is our very hero: CRISPR/Cas9.
Continue reading “CRISPR: The Hero of Genome Editing”