Plus Blog

July 22, 2009
Wednesday, July 22, 2009

What would you like to know about your Universe — The fourth online poll

This poll is now closed. The most popular question was: "How does gravity work?" You can read the answer on Plus, or listen to the podcast. Thank you for taking part and don't forget to vote in the current poll!

This is the fourth online poll in our series to celebrate the International Year of Astronomy 2009. Choose your favourite question from the list on the right, and we'll put the one that proves most popular to world-leading astronomers and cosmologists, including Astronomer Royal Martin Rees and author and cosmologist John D. Barrow. The poll will remain open for a month and the answer will be published in a Plus article and podcast soon after. If your most burning question is not on this list, then leave a comment on this blog and we'll endeavour to include it in a future poll — there will be three more polls dotted throughout the year.

The most popular questions in the first two polls were What happened before the Big Bang? and Are the constants of nature really constant?. Read the answers by clicking on the links, and discuss them on our blog. The third poll came up with the question "What are dark energy and dark matter?" and we will publish the answer on Plus shortly.


posted by Plus @ 1:22 PM


At 9:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A topic that I would like covered are the different black holes and how they formed:
- mega black hole
- stella black hole
- micro black hole
- others ....

July 21, 2009
Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Gettin' funky with da fractals

Summer is the season for music festivals, and why not take in some science between acts by visiting the Guerilla Science tent at the Secret Garden Party this weekend. Plus was particularly tempted by dancing with fractals on Thursday 23rd with Impossible Objects, catching rays with Helen Mason on Friday 24th, hunting for Higgs with John Butterworth and searching for symmetry with Ben Allanach on Saturday 25th, and the Beatbox laboratory on Sunday 26th July.

Find out more about Guerilla Science at the Secret Garden Party on their website, and find out about Our dynamic sun from Helen Mason and Particle hunting at the LHC from Ben Allanach on Plus. And check out the Guerilla Science Freestyle featuring Ben!

posted by Plus @ 1:29 PM


July 15, 2009
Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Consumers, financial institutions, and most importantly regulators did not understand the risks being taken in the financial markets. That was one of the main causes of the current financial crisis according to the Government white paper, Reforming the financial markets, released last week. It is clear to all players in the financial market that they need to make more accurate assessments of the risks they and others are taking. But will they be able to take the more scientific approach needed for a deeper understanding of financial risks, when they were so easily bewitched by unproven claims that you can turn financial lead into gold?



posted by Plus @ 10:22 PM


At 10:46 AM, Anonymous Ron Smith said...

Happy to know about maths all over the world.

At 10:58 AM, Anonymous Derek Grainge said...

Yes we're in crisis - but this started with sub-prime and mortgage transactions in the USA, and we got sucked in as has everyone else because we're all hanging on their coat-tails.

And the USA does have proper scientific representtion in Government.

I agree with your comment about Alchemy, but you are almost implying that we might have avoided the crisis with a proper scientific adviser in the UK: desirable as it might be, this is a non-sequitur.

At 3:38 PM, Anonymous David Lee said...

Sounds like the markets became the meerkats... of never mind the maths, just feel the profit...

There have always been bubbles - wonder what the next one will be?

July 7, 2009
Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Did Mahmoud Ahmadinejad really win a landslide election on the 12th of June 2009? Many believe that he didn't, but only a full election re-run scrutinised by independent observers would bring absolute certainty. With this possibility thoroughly off the cards, as the Guardian Council has made clear, some analysts have had a long and hard look at the figures released by the very government accused of doing the rigging, to see if they reveal evidence of fraud.



posted by Plus @ 8:29 AM


At 7:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My name is R. Mansilla. I work at National Autonomous University of Mexico. After professor Mebane, we used Benford Law to test a fraud in the 2006 presidential election here in Mexico. The results could be found at:

July 7, 2009
Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Meet the fastest mathematician on Earth

Fancy crashing through the sound barrier in a rocket propelled car that goes all the way up to 1000mph? Well, we can't give you that experience, but we can get you as close as any maths magazine ever will. Last week we interviewed Andy Green, currently the fastest man on Earth (and Oxford maths graduate), who's now gearing up to break his own land speed record in his Bloodhound SSC — a pencil shaped car powered by a Eurofighter aircraft engine. The car is currently being simulated on super computers, exploiting the full power of computational fluid dynamics and all sorts of other bits of engineering maths, and it's just about to move into the construction phase.

You will be able to read our interview and an article on the maths that makes Bloodhound possible in the September issue of Plus, but meanwhile go and visit the Bloodhound SSC website. It tells you all there is to know about this engineering adventure, the car, and the team behind it. There's a substantial education programme associated to the project — you can sign up for engineering and maths based teaching resources, from instructions to build your own balloon powered car to experimenting with the speed of sound. You can also sign up for an email newsletter, or follow Bloodhound on Twitter.

posted by Plus @ 7:33 AM


July 7, 2009
Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Scientists/cricket geeks have shown that the weather has a significant effect on the results of the Ashes cricket series between Australia and England when the series is held in Australia. The Australian cricket team is more likely to succeed after El Niño years, while the English cricket team does better following La Niña years, the opposite phase when the weather is cooler and wetter. But how significant is this effect and should the teams change their strategies accordingly?


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posted by Plus @ 1:44 PM


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