Posts Tagged ‘Science’

My new superpower!

Monday, October 19th, 2009

Before I headed out to Dallas I bought a new pair of sunglasses, since I managed to wreck my last pair in Lanzarote. They were a fairly cheap pair, since they always break or get lost sooner or later. When I put them on during the week, I realised there was something odd about them. And today I worked out what it is – they have polaroid lenses, so they darken by blocking light that is polarised in a different direction to the glasses.

Which means that you can see polarised lighting. This is usually LCD displays (my blackberry looked like the display was broken), and offices with clever windows. But most surprisingly, the sky isn’t uniformly polarised, with the depth of blue changing as you turn round in a circle. I don’t know why this is. I guess some googling will be required.

But anyway, as a result, I feel like I’ve got some kind of superpower – the ability to see polarised light. It’s a very minor superpower, I admit. I don’t expect to get my own plot-line in Heroes or series of comics or anything. But it is kind of interesting. Well, it is to me anyway.

Great day for science

Monday, April 28th, 2008

Well, an interesting day for science news anyway.

Slashdot reports that scientists in Jerusalem have discovered a new naturally occurring element, which for the time being at least will go under the name of Unbibium. Most of the exciting new heavy elements that are found these days are very short-lived, created by smashing smaller atoms together until they fuse, but then they fall apart again after tiny fractions of a second. It’s kind of cheating.

But this one is different – they found it by sifting through a mass of naturally occurring Thorium, which means it’s a “proper” element, that any of us might bump into. The detail is here. It doesn’t seem to have been widely reported yet, but I really hope it’s true.

But wait! There’s more. The BBC links off to the investigation into the colossal squid that was found recently, which is now being defrosted. The science team wrote the following on their blog about the squid:

“the maximum weight of the brain is 22 grams and surrounds the oesophagus. The oesophagus is 11 mm in diametre, therefore everything it eats has to be chopped into tiny pieces as it has to pass through the brain!”

So this huge creature, with tentacle 15 metres long has this teeny tiny brain, which is wrapped around its stomach. I have to admit that being a bloke, the idea of the brain and stomach being very closely linked makes sense to me, but I don’t like the idea of getting brain damage if you don’t chew your food thoroughly enough.