Dmitri Mendeleev was a 19th century Russian chemist with a brilliant mind, a steely determination and a mane of wild hair (yep, your stereotypical ‘mad scientist'). In 1869, he set out to find a way of organising all of the 63 known elements. Mendeleev claimed that the answer came to him in a dream: Arrange the elements horizontally in order of their atomic mass, while also vertically grouping elements with similar properties. Mendeleev's breakthrough resulted in him producing the first Periodic Table of the Elements. The Periodic Table went on to become an invaluable tool for many scientists, and is still widely used today with over [...]
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So far Naomi Morriss has created 10 blog entries.
Bioluminescence - Lighting up the night Residents of Tasmania! Did you know that, each night, tiny organisms called plankton are lighting up the waters right around your state? The phenomenon is called 'bioluminescence' - light energy produced by a chemical reaction that occurs within a living organism. Bioluminescence can serve as a defense mechanism to confuse predators, or as a way to attract mates. Jamie Walker, Robert Moles and Ryan Shan are Tassie-based photographers who regularly go to their favourite spots around Hobart to photograph this amazing occurrence. If you are keen on joining them, you can read about their favourite spots here. (They do recommend proper cameras for taking photos though [...]
What is a Light Year? Although it sounds like a unit of time, a light year is actually a unit of distance. The distances in space are so huge, they require special units to measure them in. One light year is 9.46 trillion km, which is the distance that light travels in one year. (It might feel strange to think of light as 'travelling' anywhere, because the speed of light is so fast we do not observe this in everyday life.) Pictured above is Proxima Centauri - the closest star to Earth after the Sun. It is 4.25 light years, [...]
What is a Black Hole? A black hole is a region of space where the force of gravity is so extreme, everything – including light – cannot escape its pull. There are millions of ‘stellar’ black holes in the universe, formed by the collapse of giant stars. ‘Supermassive’ black holes, are far bigger, and are found at the centre of almost every galaxy. We do not yet know how they form, however Albert Einstein predicted the existence of black holes in his theory of General Relativity over one hundred years ago. Einstein stated that objects with a massive gravitational force, [...]
This image of a black hole has turned scientific theory into scientific fact.. Until now, all ‘pictures’ of black holes have been the impressions of artists or the simulations of physicists. On 10th April 2019, a team of over 200 scientists from around the world unveiled this image, formed from five petabytes (that’s five million gigabytes) of data they collected whilst ‘staring’ into a black hole. The team effort was called the Event Horizon Telescope or EHT project, and used the combined power and resolution of eight radio telescopes at six locations around the world – Hawaii, Chile, Arizona, Mexico, Spain and the South Pole. The [...]
Researchers in the USA have found that eating dark chocolate has several benefits for both brain and body, according to the results of two new studies that were presented last year. Eating chocolate that is at least 70% cacao has positive effects on mood, memory, inflammation and immunity. One could almost say it reduces stress... but we knew that already, right?The effect of chocolate on cats and dogs, however, is very different. Chocolate can be poisonous to pets, due to the presence of a compound called theobromine. Humans can metabolise theobromine easily, but dogs and cats can not, resulting in a build-up of potentially toxic levels.Symptoms of [...]
In March 2006, Cyclone Larry smashed into North Queensland, right into the state’s prime banana-growing region. 90% of the crop was destroyed, creating a huge shortage of the fruit. Banana prices around Australia soared to as high as $14 per kg, or about $3 per banana. The industry recovered within a year, however, in 2011, Cyclone Yasi arrived and wreaked the same havoc all over again. Our thanks and respect goes to Queensland banana farmers - after weathering two huge storms in five years, they continue to produce beautiful bananas for the rest of us to enjoy. [...]
Dr Jon Zawislak is a Hurricane Hunter. He is an atmospheric scientist whose laboratory is a specially-equipped plane that is flown right into severe storms to collect data on windspeed, air pressure, temperature and humidity. All the data is sent to his colleagues in the USA’s National Hurricane Centre to help form predictions and get information out to the public. And yes, it is a very bumpy ride. Jon described his most recent flight, right into the eye of Hurricane Michael, as ‘extreme’.
All magnetic objects contain a metal, but not all metals are magnetic. The most common magnetic metals are iron, nickel and cobalt. Neodymium is a rare earth metal that is combined with iron and another element called boron to make very powerful magnets that are capable of lifting a thousand times their own weight! Magnets have two distinct ends called ‘poles’ (North and South). The north pole of one magnet will attract the south pole of another magnet, but it will repel (push away) the north pole of the other magnet. (This is easily remembered with the phrase ‘opposites attract’.) [...]
What is Photosynthesis? Photosynthesis is a process carried out by all green plants. The plants use carbon dioxide and water to make oxygen and a sugar called glucose. The glucose might be used by the plant for energy, or stored in the form of starch. Glucose and starch are carbohydrates – food sources that animals (like us) need to eat as a source of energy, as, unlike plants, we cannot make our own food. The process of photosynthesis removes carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and releases oxygen into the atmosphere – oxygen that animals (like us) need to breathe. Whilst [...]