ffutures: (Default)
The Bank of England wants nominations for a scientist to be featured on the new £50 note. The rules are that the person has to be

(a) a scientist and
(b) dead

I think they also have to be a real person (the site where I heard about this said so, but it isn't mentioned on the nomination page) rather than a fictional character, and British though they don't actually say so - I think any non-Brits will be fairly low on the list. They also ask for a very brief summary of the reasons why the person is important.

I've gone with Rosalind Franklin, one of the pioneers of X-Ray crystallography and an important figure in the discovery of the structure of DNA.


You can nominate on this page:


The page doesn't ask for any personal details about the person making the nomination.

ffutures: (marcus 2013)
"All of the Kepler multi-planet systems (1705 planets in 685 systems as of 24 November 2015) on the same scale as the Solar System (the dashed lines). The size of the orbits are all to scale, but the size of the planets are not. For example, Jupiter is actually 11x larger than Earth, but that scale makes Earth-size planets almost invisible (or Jupiters annoyingly large). The orbits are all synchronized such that Kepler observed a planet transit every time it hits an angle of 0 degrees (the 3 o'clock position on a clock)."

ffutures: (marcus 2013)
Having resisted the siren call of thermal imaging I decided to take a look at my other science posts, noticed this one from 2013:


describing the TI Sensortag, a cheap Bluetooth sensing device that might be interesting for school science etc. and comes with free software for Android and iPad / iPhone. I wondered what, if anything, had happened to the technology.

It turns out that what has happened is that they've apparently made it better. The processor is ten times faster, and there are more sensors. The original gizmo included an accelerometer, magnetometer, gyroscope, barometer, hygrometer, and infra-red thermometer. The new version has ambient light, digital microphone, magnetic sensor, humidity, pressure, accelerometer, gyroscope, magnetometer, object temperature and ambient temperature. .

Since it works out at £24 quid including delivery and VAT I've decided to buy one to play with - not sure I really need it, but if not I'll sell it on. Ought to be here in the next day or two, I'll post when I've tried it out.

ffutures: (marcus 2013)
There's now a UK vendor for the FLIRone range of thermal-imaging cameras for smartphones and tablets:

The original one for iPhone 5/5s - £116.65 + VAT

New versions that plug into other iPhones/iPads and Android phones

iPad/iPhone with lightning connector - £166.63 + VAT

Android (not available yet) £166.63 + VAT

I think all three incorporate two cameras, one for visible light and one for thermal imaging, so that the thermal colours are overlaid on a higher-resolution image. I'd love to have a play, but I'd need the more expensive model and it's a bit outside my "play with technology" budget.
ffutures: (marcus 2013)
Article about the DSCOVR observation satellite now at the L1 position a million miles from Earth, including time-lapse video of the Earth and moon.

ffutures: (marcus 2013)
Anyone else look at the Apod feed today (well actually yesterday but it takes a while to reach Livejournal) and immediately think "Sauron!"?

ffutures: (clanger)
A slight problem here in that dwellers on a small planet will not see what we see on Earth (although it obviously isn't our moon and sun); the odds against their world having a moon that covers the same angle as their sun are enormous! But fun anyway...

ffutures: (marcus 2013)
Just been reminded that there's a solar eclipse coming up on 20th March - only partial in the UK, total in the Faroe Islands, which I suspect may already be fully booked out.

Timings for London will be
Start: 8.25am
Mid-eclipse: 9.31am
Eclipse ends: 10.41am
The rest of the UK should be similar.

Fingers crossed for clear skies!

ffutures: (marcus 2013)
Interesting demonstration of what travelling at lightspeed would really mean, when compared to the size of the universe. It starts at the sun; due to time constraints it ends a little past Jupiter.


Pointed out by ACS WINOLJ on the Twisting the Hellmouth forums.
ffutures: (marcus 2013)
Things just got very interesting in the thermal imaging business.

The last time I saw a "cheap" thermal imaging camera it cost about 600 pounds. But there's now an FLIR camera available for IOS and Android devices; UK price I've seen is £185 + VAT, USA $350. Resolution is 160x120 interpolated to 640x480, which is fairly typical for cheaper thermal imaging cameras.


UK vendor Rapid electronics, there may be cheaper alternatives


I won't be buying one for myself, but I would have been all over it before I retired.

update - looking at this more carefully, it seems to be designed to fit onto the iPhone 5 and 5s rather than generic connectivity, which means that if you have an older iPhone or an iPad you're probably out of luck. I was originally told there was an android version but this appears to be untrue, sorry about that. The Seek Thermal mentioned in comments appears to be for iPads with lightning connectors as well as iPhones, and there really is an Android version, but it's not as versatile in other respects, e.g. it doesn't take a visible light picture as well as IR, also the cheapest I'm seeing it in the UK is on ebay at £269.
ffutures: (marcus 2013)
Powerful rare earth magnets allow some interesting tricks - this one's a self-propelled "train" made of a battery and some magnets, running inside a copper coil. If I was working I'd probably want to try this, though I'm willing to bet it kills the batteries (which look like small camera batteries such as AAAA) fairly quickly.

ffutures: (Mad scientist)
Just noticed this while looking for something else, and even though I'm retired I'm very tempted to get one just to play with it.

It's a tiny low power consumption multi-sensor bluetooth device that is supported by various apps including a free datalogger program for ipads and iphones - for £20.60 + VAT. Think it's $25 in the USA.

The sensors are accelerometer, magnetometer, gyroscope, barometer, hygrometer, and infra-red thermometer.


The datalogger for ipads and iphones is called SensorTag and available through the app store.

This looks amazing, has anyone tried it yet?

later - forgot to say that this is supported by a lot of tools for writing your own apps etc.

much later - just noticed that this is for ipad 3 onwards and similar vintage iphones etc., earlier ones won't work. If in doubt check the documentation.

Also, it looks like power and transmission speed are low - you're looking at status checks, not a continuous stream of data, and not from really long range. Still interesting though.
ffutures: (Phrenology)
A visit to the Yerkes observatory in 1897 - The Greatest Telescope on Earth by Walter George Bell.


It's an interesting look at one of the last big refractor telescopes, but formatting HTML for measurements in weird fractions of an inch is a total pain!

Let me know if anything looks odd.
ffutures: (Mad scientist)
I'm retired now but do like to keep up with what's going on in science education - someone just posted this link to one of the technician forums, a collection of virtual experiments designed for classroom use on e.g. a whiteboard but easily usable on a home PC, tablet, etc.


Level seems to be from secondary up to to A-Level, should be good for home schooling etc.
ffutures: (Mad scientist)
Gacked from [livejournal.com profile] sjgames

Japanese scientists have genetically engineered silk worms with coral or jellyfish genes to produce silk that glows in UV light - in three different colours:


So long as you don't end up with silkworms that sting you I suppose it's OK...
ffutures: (Phrenology)
Someone at another school has found this and is trying to identify it - I've checked a 1927 biology catalogue and a 1952 chemistry catalogue with no success, but maybe someone here has an idea what it is. It's made of earthenware, and the wide part (at the bottom, but for all I know it's intended to be at the top) is 10.5cm wide. The top bit that looks like a handle is solid, not hollow, so it isn't a funnel.

My guess is something like a cover for a drain or some sort of jar, but does anyone know for sure?

ffutures: (marcus 2013)
Weird question - can anyone identify the manufacturer of this fire alarm sensor?

We have rather a lot of them in our labs since they were rebuilt, and we need to cover them with an appropriate red cap when we do anything that might trigger the alarms, which happens all too often. We have three or four caps, but there are two sites with ten labs plus prep rooms and store rooms, and a corridor outside four of the labs with seven of these detectors - the ceiling is split into several areas by beams crossing the corridor, and they have a sensor in each area. We could really use a lot more. The caps look like this:

Unfortunately I have no idea who made these - the number shown is its number on the alarm network, not a model number or anything, and I can't see a maker's name anywhere.

Anyone got any thoughts?

Later - manufacturer tentatively identified, I've contacted them re spares and hope they'll reply sooner or later. Thanks, everyone.
ffutures: (marcus 2013)
[livejournal.com profile] pauldormer mentioned the use of lead in cosmetics in the last century. Not by any means the worst chemical used, others included mercury, antimony, and of course our old friend soap

Maybe Botox isn't so bad after all...
ffutures: (marcus 2013)
Just saw an advert for some skin care stuff made by Olay, and they mentioned that it contains hyleronic acid. My first thought was "they're making that up."

Turns out they aren't, the stuff really exists. There's an apparent causational link between high levels of the stuff in your skin and malignant tumours, so why you would want more of the stuff on your skin is beyond me, but I'm not in the cosmetics business.

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