Plus Blog

July 29, 2009

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

It's not very often that something I read makes me want to jack in my lovely job at Plus and return to study and research. But that is just what happened when reading "Sync" by Steven Strogatz.

The book tells the story of how questions from diverse areas — Why do we sleep when we do? How do fireflies flash in unision? Why does our heart beat? How do you link generators in a power grid? — have developed into a new field of study. This new field, which Strogatz calls synchrony, examines how order can spontaneously break out in complex systems. The role of sync in such diverse areas of science is fascinating, but equally fascinating is his evocative description of the process of doing this research. Strogatz describes theoretical concepts and research problems almost as if they were physical entities that you could touch or smell.

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July 24, 2009
Friday, July 24, 2009

The media is buzzing with swine flu numbers. Latest government figures say that over 100,000 people in England came down with swine flu during the last week — that's almost twice the amount of the previous week, and up to five times higher than the seasonal flu figures recorded last winter. Twenty-six people in England have died of the disease.

But where do the numbers come from? Patients with swine flu symptoms are no longer tested in the lab or traced, so the published figures are estimates, rather than absolute numbers.

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posted by Plus @ 11:42 AM

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July 23, 2009
Thursday, July 23, 2009

As part of our celebration of the International Year of Astronomy 2009 we brought you the article Are the constants of nature really constant?, in which John D. Barrow tells us how it all depends on which constants you choose. In the podcast of this interview you can hear how changes in the constants that define our Universe might have implications for extra dimensions, gravity, and climbing flies...

Listen to the podcast.

If this has whetted your appetite for astronomy, then why not take part in our online poll to nominate the next question we'll put to the experts.

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posted by Plus @ 2:21 PM

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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.

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posted by Plus @ 1:22 PM

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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 22, 2009
Wednesday, July 22, 2009

New simulations reveal that turbulence created by jets of material ejected from the Universe's largest black holes can stop stars from forming.

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posted by Plus @ 10:25 AM

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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

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