Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Why We Should All Have Solar Panels

Welcome back my fellow learners. Today we are going to learn about solar panels and why they should be the wave of the future.

Every hour our sun shines down onto Mother Earth, more than enough energy is provided to meet global energy requirements for the whole entire year. Solar energy is technology which harness the sun's rays, and make it more user friendly. Today, this technology provides less than a tenth of one percent of the entire global energy demand.

Most people are familiar with photovoltaic cells, or solar panels. As they are usually seen on such things as rooftops, spacecraft, and even calculators. The cells are created from a semiconductor material similar to those in computer chips. When direct sunlight hits the cells, it knocks off electrons from their atoms. As these go through the cell, they in turn produce electricity.

On a larger scales, solar thermal power plants use numerous methods to harness the sun's energy as a source of heat. This is used to boil water to power steam turbines which produces electricity in a similar fashion as coal and nuclear power plants.

With one method, troughs of U-shaped mirrors point sunlight onto a pipe of oil which runs through the center. This then boils water to produce electricity. Another way uses mirrors to point the sun's rays to a collector tower, where a receiver stands. Molten salt which flows through this is heated to power a generator.

Other methods are static. For instance, large windows installed on the sunny side of a structure allow sunlight to heat materials on floors and walls. These then release the heat in the night to ensure a building is kept warm. Similarly, plates on a roof will heat liquid found in tubes which supply hot water to a house.

Solar energy is an inexhaustible fuel source, which is pollution and mainly noise free. The technology is extremely versatile. For instance, solar cells produce energy for the likes of satellites orbiting the Earth, and cabins located deep within the mountains, as easily as they power buildings and cars.

Monday, 27 October 2014

What Is The Cause Of Tornadoes And Hurricanes?

Welcome back my fellow learners, today we are going to learn about how mother nature creates tornadoes and hurricane's.

A tornado is a fast spinning pocket of air which comes from thunderstorms, and begins from the ground. The makings of a tornado is mainly a thunderstorm, changing speeds in the wind and fast air rising. Should you watch a thunderstorm start, you will see the clouds start to build upward. This rising air causes the rain and hail to be formed out of the water within the air. Throw in rapidly changing wind speed, and the direction with the height creates the rapidly rising air to start to spin. The principle is the same with a toy spinning top. You use your fingers to spin it in opposing directions enabling the top to spin. This is similar to the wind which comes from different directions. Many thunderstorms do not create tornadoes due to the fact the spin cannot be balanced with the rising air from the surface. However, when the balance is right between rising air which comes into a thunderstorm, and the winds change height, then a tornado will be created. Tornadoes come in different categories, can can last a few seconds to several minutes.

A hurricane is a large thunderstorm which starts over the ocean. The mixture of warm ocean water, level winds, and low pressure will create one. The warm ocean will supply the moisture needed for a hurricane. The upper levels winds permit the developing hurricane to be cohesive, and the low pressure lets thunderstorms develop. As they develop, they are influenced over several hours and days by the rotation of the earth. This allows thunderstorms to begin developing into a circulation where they spin round a central point, this is referred to as the eye. Should the circulation stay over warm water, and upper level winds remain weak, then hurricane's winds will get stronger. The hurricane should begin to weaken once it hits land, over water which is too cold to maintain it, or should the upper level winds be strong enough to begin breaking the circulation. 

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

The History Of Photography

Welcome back my fellow learners, today we are going to learn about the history of photography.

The word photography is taken from the Greek words photos which means light, and graphein which means to draw. The word was used first by Sir John F W Herschel who was a scientist in the year 1839. It is a technique of capturing images by light, or radiation on sensitive materials.

Alhazen, an authority on optics sometime around 1000AD, first invented the pinhole camera, also referred to a the camera obscura, and could explain why images were actually upside down. The first reference to this was observed and recorded by Aristotle around 330 BC, who asked why the sun made a circular image when it seen through a square hole.

The First Photograph
One summer day in 1827, Joseph Niepce made the first ever photographic image using a camera obscura. Before Niepce individuals mainly used this camera for viewing or drawing, and not for photographs. Niepce's heliographs were a prototype for modern photographs, by allowing light to draw the picture.

Niepce put an engraving on a metal plate which was coated in bitumen, and exposed it to the light. The shadowy parts of the engraving blocked out the light, however, the whiter areas allowed the light to react with chemicals that were on the plate. When he put the metal plate into a chemical solvent, slowly an image began to appear. But, Niepce's photograph needed 8 hours of exposure to make this appear.

Louis Daguerre
Louis Daguerre was also trying to find a way to capture images, however, it would take him another 12 or more years before he could decrease exposure time to under 30 minutes, plus stop the image disappearing later. He was the inventor of the first process of photography. In 1829, he created a partnership with Niepce to improve on the process Niepce developed.

Monday, 20 October 2014

The History Of Tattoos

Welcome back my fellow learners, today we are going to learn about tattoos and their origins.

The phrase tattoo comes from two derivations, one which is taken from the Polynesian word ‘ta’, this means to strike something, and the Tahitian word ‘tatau’, which means marking something’.

The history of tattoos started over 5000 years ago, and is as complex as the people that indulge in them.

Tattoos are made by inserting ink beneath our skins surface. The first tattoos were probably done purely by accident. A person that had a minor wound, and then rubbed it
with a hand which are full of soot and ashes from a fire. After the wound healed, they noticed they had a mark with was permanent.

Despite societies ever growing fascination with tattoos, not to mention the popularity of them, the art of tattoos has not left much of a historical footprint.

Bronze Age
In 1991, a tattooed ice man referred to a Otzi, who was five thousand years old, made the headlines worldwide when his frozen corpse was found on a mountain which sits between Austria and Italy. This was the best preserved corpse ever found of that period. The skin has 57 tattoos, which are a cross on the left knee inside, six straight lines above the kidneys, and several parallel lines on his ankles. The position of them suggests they were applied purely for therapeutic reasons, such as arthritis.

In 1948, 120 miles between Russia and China, a Russian archaeologist, known as Sergei Rudenko started to dig at a group of tombs, high in the Altai mountains of southern and western Siberia. Mummies were discovered which date around 2400 years ago. The tattoos found on their bodies show various animals. The griffins and monsters are said to have some magical significance, but some are said to be purely for decoration. Altogether, these tattoos are thought to reflect the status of a person.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

The Evolution Of The Denim Jean

Welcome back my fellow learners, today we are going to learn all about a material that stretches back to the cowboy and Indian era.

Did you know every time you wear your jeans, you are actually wearing a piece of history?
While there is some controversy on which came first, the denim or jeans, as technically they aren’t the same, they are linked with a European background dating back to the 1700’s. In France and England, denim was getting more popular as a fabric, due to the fact is was comfortable and very durable, whilst in Italy jeans was getting manufactured into topcoats and trousers for working men.

Levis Strauss in 1872, who at the time was a dry goods salesman, was approached by tailor called Jacob Davis, he was one of the first to use rivets to improve the strength of pants. Davis did not have enough money to patent his rivet idea, and so spoke to Levi to provide the money to pay for the patent application. Levi, being a savvy businessman, decided to became partners with Davis, and so in 1873 they received a patent for an improvement in fastening pocket openings.

At once the coal miners based in California took these as their unofficial uniform, due to the fact they withstood the stress and rigours of life in the mines.

Even though overalls were made with jeans, Levi and Davis decided to make their pants out of denim for extra comfort and durability. By the time 1920 rolled around, Levi' waist overalls were the number one product in working men's pants in the states, and despite the fact they were now made with denim, they were still known as jean pants.

By the 1930s, real cowboys had also adopted this nearly indestructible pant. The rise in Western movies introduced the public to jeans, and soon everyone wanted to imitate their on screen idols and buy a pair. 

Monday, 13 October 2014

What Is The Rarest Diamond In The World?

Welcome back my fellow learners, today we are going to learn why diamonds are indeed a girls best friend.

An extremely rare blue diamond which could command of price of well over £10 million when sold, and also break the world record for clarity, has been found inside a mine in South Africa.

The diamond, which was discovered in the famous Cullinan mine, which is around 25 miles from Pretoria, will be sold at auction very soon, however, the owners of the mine, which are Petra Diamonds, have no clue how much it will be worth until an interested party emerges, they say it will all depend on what people will be prepared to pay for this beauty.

Even though the diamond still requires further forensic testing, the company which discovered it think they have found a rare gem indeed.

A blue diamond is one of the rarest ones in the world, and are only 0.1% of all diamonds discovered each year. Petra Diamonds to this day has only succeeded in finding four blue diamonds since they took over the Cullinan mine.

The price of a diamond is usually decided upon three factors, how flawless it is, its colour, and how rare it is.

While this latest one still calls for more investigation, it has already been declared quite big, and extremely exceptional.

The stone is a vivid blue having an extraordinary saturation, clarity and tone. With the potential to offer a polished stone of high value and great importance. This blue diamond could well break records.

When someone eventually purchases this diamond, they will cut and polish it, meaning it loses one third and half of its total mass, all depending upon the actual quality.

Found in the foothills of the Magaliesberg mountains, the Cullinan mine is 37 miles north-east of Pretoria.

This particular mine has a long history of discovering blue diamonds, however, its usual yield are small white diamonds.

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Is There Another Planet Earth Out There?

Welcome back my fellow learners, today we are going to learn about a possible other planet Earth, which will be yet another thing mankind can exploit the shit out of.

Right now, over 500 light years away from here, is another planet which is similar to ours. It has a slight orange tinge, which at noon is only as bright as the hour before sunset.

NASA scientists are referring to this planet as Kepler-186f, and it's unlike anything they have seen before. The surprising news is that Kepler-186f is the closest thing to the Earth which the big brains have discovered.

It's the first planet within the habitable zone of a star, the spot between Mercury planets and Neptune, and has given scientists their first opportunity to look for life elsewhere in our galaxy. This is no longer the realm of science fiction, says a researcher from the SETI Institute.

However, should there be life on Kepler-186f, it may not be anything like we have here. Due to the redder wavelengths of light, vegetation there would come in hues of yellow and orange not our lush and succulent green.

It's more like Earth's cousin than its twin, states a NASA researcher that spoke about their findings whilst in a conference call with reporters.

For years, the big brains have searched for signs of life by searching space for patterns which could be imprints of technology, or clues which would show a living planet.

Kepler-186f is approximately 10% bigger than Earth, and orbits a sun which is cooler, dimmer, and half the size of ours. The gravitational effects would be more apparent there, and a person would feel heavier.

Our cousin comes with none of the problems which reduce the likelihood of life on other planets similar to Earth. Some are much to cold, too big, contain to much gas, or have gravitation issues. By far, Kepler-186f seems to be a Goldilocks syndrome, not too big, or too far from a star, possibly just right.

Monday, 6 October 2014

Uranus's History

Welcome back my fellow learners, this will be my last instalment on planets in our solar system, much to the relief of some I am sure!

Uranus, which was named after Ouranos the Greek sky god, who was the earliest of the god in the heavens, was one of the first planets that was found by scientists.

Even though Uranus can be seen by the naked eye, just the same as the other planets, Venus, Mercury, Jupiter, Mars, and Saturn, it was originally mistaken as a star, this was due to the fact this planet has a very slow orbit and is extremely dim. English astronomer William Herschel found Uranus completely by accident in 1781 on the 13th March, using his telescope whilst surveying the stars. However, one star looked somehow different, and inside a year Uranus was known to have a planetary orbit.

Physical Characteristics of Uranus
Uranus colour is quite extraordinary, being a blue green colour, this is due to the methane in its hydrogen-helium atmosphere. This planet often referred to a the ice giant, due to 80% of its mass is made from a mix of water, ammonia and methane ices.

Unlike other planets in our solar system, Uranus is tilted so much that it basically orbits the sun whilst on side, with the axis nearly pointing at the star. This unusual orbit may be due to a collision soon after it was created.

This tilt means Uranus have severe seasons, which can be up to 20 years long, meaning for nearly a quarter of a Uranian year, which is 84 Earth years, the sun shines over each pole, leaving the rest of the planet to live with a long, cold and dark winter.

A planet's magnetic poles are usually a lined with the poles, which it rotates on, however, Uranus' is tilted, with its axis tipped nearly 60 degrees from its axis of rotation. This creates a strange lopsided magnetic field, with the strength of the field found at its northern hemisphere's, being more than 10 times the strength at the southern hemisphere's surface.

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

How Many Habitable Planets Are Their In Our Solar System?

Welcome back my fellow learners, today we learn that there could be hope for our future generations once we have exhausted Mother Earth natural resources.

For people that are not familiar with the Drake equation, this method is used to predict how many civilizations could exist in the known universe today.

Unfortunately, the Drake equation doesn't actually give us a definitive answer; it just states what could be possible should we get all the factors right. And while it is fun to imagine that we may eventually locate a planet that is populated with individuals comprised of putty instead of carbon, it's highly unlikely. Instead, we need to define the parameters on Earth to see which other planet is the same.

The requirements are quite straightforward. First, we need water. Water dissolves and carries chemicals, causing crucial metabolic results. We need also energy to create and keep life, so light or chemical energy have to be found. Nutrients are needed to build and help sustain life. A planet that has a water cycle, a breathable atmosphere or volcanic activity will circulate and replenish life. So it would seem the chances are minute that we'll locate another planet which supports life in our solar system. These are after all pretty specific requirements.

However, I find our arrogance and ignorance astounding, to think that in a galaxy as vast as we know it, does not contain any life what so ever. Who is to say that the life found present on other planets has to be the same as ours? And there are parts of our galaxy which are as yet to be discovered, and then there is the continued rumours of UFO sightings, granted many of which are fake, but rumours and legends always have a grain of truth in them somewhere.

My personal opinion is that there is life out there, just not as we envisage it. And hopefully should they ever decide to introduce themselves, we as a human race don't do what we always do, shoot first and ask questions later.