Scrap Metal from the Proton Merry-Go-Round

August 11, 2020

Lawrence’s machines would project Berkeley into the position of world leaders in the creation of artificial elements, stretching the outer edges of the Periodic Table beyond uranium. It is rather surprising therefore that the first new element created in one of Lawrence’s machines in Berkeley was actually tracked down ten thousand kilometres away by an intrepid Italian who knew the value of good piece of scrap metal when he saw it.

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Atom Heart Mother

August 6, 2020

The advantage of a plutonium-238 battery is that it would outlast the patient and never need to be replaced. There are still a few people walking around with a tiny quantity of plutonium in their chest. But today’s cardiac pacemakers are usually fitted with conventional lithium-ion chemical batteries and have to be replaced every ten years or so.

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Henry Moseley and the Nuclear Treasure Chest

July 30, 2020

Moseley’s brilliant experimental work had shown that the nucleus of an atom carries a charge that is a multiple of the charge on the hydrogen nucleus. This multiple is known as the atomic number. And he had conclusively demonstrated that the elements should be ordered by atomic number not atomic mass. 

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The Atomic Bomb Ring

July 25, 2020

Incredibly, the Atomic Bomb Ring really did allow the children of the atomic age to witness the decay of atomic nuclei as they munched their breakfast cereal. Attached to the ring was a bullet-shaped capsule that separated into two halves. As the advert says, one half contained a secret message compartment, but the other half ‘the warhead’ contained a hidden atom chamber. This silver chamber was a device invented four decades earlier by renowned British physicist Sir William Crookes.

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Julia Dream

July 20, 2019

Many naturally occurring objects have a complicated appearance, and when we look closer the complexity only increases. As we zoom in we see what appear to be miniature replicas of the original object. For instance, a branch of a fir tree might resemble a scaled down version of an entire fir tree, and a broccoli […]

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Sex and the Cosmos

June 2, 2019

Looking up at a clear night sky can be quite overwhelming. It puts the world into perspective and invites some deep reflection. Two big questions have puzzled humanity through the ages. What are the stars made of? And just how vast is the universe? The philosophers of classical Greece 2400 years ago offered some speculative […]

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What Does a Black Hole Look Like?

April 21, 2019

Black holes were once just the outlandish speculations of theoretical physicists. Now we know they really are out there. Gravitational waves produced by the collision and merger of black holes have been detected as faint ripples in the fabric of space. And now we even have a picture of a distant supermassive black hole. So […]

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All Eyes on the Centre of the Galaxy

April 2, 2019

The image below shows a beautiful region of the night sky in the constellation Sagittarius. The asterism known to amateur astronomers as the ‘teapot’ forms part of the constellation. This is rather apt as the many nebulae and gas clouds located towards the centre of the galaxy appear as steam rising from the spout of the […]

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Revolutions in Science

January 31, 2019

I was recently interviewed by Oxford University Press about my new book The Cosmic Mystery Tour. This is part of the interview filmed in Oxford in October 2018. ??

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Bagels, Knots and Sculpture

December 23, 2018

This is a short video about some of the Symbolic Sculpture animations that I created some years ago with the sculptor John Robinson. ?? There are more videos on The Cosmic Mystery Tour YouTube Channel. Please don’t forget to subscribe to the YouTube channel.  

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