Saturday, 22 February 2014

The amazing rattle back

Many of you probably know what a rattleback is but I only found out about them recently. My other half learned about them from watching an episode of QI and was fascinated enough to buy us both one. I am the proud owner of this yellow one you see pictured here. as you can tell, it is a boat shaped piece of plastic. Those of you who are in the dark about this toy as much as I was may be wondering what is so remarkable about it. So let me tell you. it has a preferred spin direction. If you spin it in one direction it will happily spin away until it has gradually lost all of its kinetic energy due to friction and as you might expect then stops. However if you try to spin it in the opposite direction, it will resist and rattle about dramatically before then reversing its spin and once again happily rotating in its preferred direction.  This appears to violate the law of conservation of angular momentum which states that the amount of rotation an object has depends on its mass, shape and speed and this remains content if no external torque is applied to the object.
So this makes the rattleback a curiosity which has excited human imagination since prehistoric times. Indeed it is also known by several other names including "celt' ''celtic stone'' and ''space pet''.

here is a youtube video showing this effect somewhat dramatically on a much large rattle back.

This is a great video but doesn't really explain the effect and I haven't done so in any great detail either. I will say rather teasingly that I leave you to think about it or look it up yourselves. If you are a physicist, then perhaps, you know already and can explain it much better tan i ever could. I hope however that you enjoyed this post. Please let me know in the comments :)

Friday, 3 January 2014

Happy New Year!

I hope you all had a good christmas and I just wanted to wish you all a happy, healthy and productive 2014. I'm looking forward to seeing what the International Year of X-Ray Crystallography brings. What are your plans? If you read my other blog 'Sarah in Training' you'll know that I am now about to get into serious training for the half marathon I will be doing in mid May for my favourite non-profit organisation. Aside from that I shall see what comes. I am waiting for the outcome of a research position I applied for at UCL just before xmas. Not hopeful but nothing to lose. Keep up the good science and take care!

Saturday, 9 November 2013

My Manchester Science Festival 2013

For me this year it was short and sweet. So short and sweet that I can fit it all into this singular post. It ran from 24th October until 3rd November this year. I was in Amsterdam for the opening weekend and know I missed some excellent events. I love the book talks, mostly in Blackwells on Oxford road and there were even more of those this year it seems, most during this weekend. I was available for most of the week to reprise my role as a STEM Ambassador but was only allocated 2 days, friday and saturday. Never mind, this means I can attend events as a visitor myself! Such a bummer that some of the ones you want to attend actually clash. So I found my self attending a couple of afternoon book sessions during the week and I loved them as I always do. The first speaker was a lovely witty guy called Caspar Henderson who obviously loved animals and he spoke about animals which are rare and which many people don't know about. His book was called 'The book of barely imagined beings'. I had initially thought, it was going to be about yetis etc! Silly me. As I enjoyed his talk so much I bought his book.  I always do, a good job I love reading. The following day I saw another wonderful talk by Tim Birkhead, a man who has spent 40yrs studying birds, specifically  the guillmot which looked alot like a penguin to me! Once again another entertaining talk by a guy who was teaching us what it is like to be a bird. He made it sound so fascinating and of course I bought his book Bird Sense and had it signed. I learned that birds can't detect symmmetry but can see in ultraviolet. If you ever make it to this festival, I highly recommend the book readings. There were of course many other amazing events this year, the main themes being brains and the icelab. The icelab was in the rafters of the 1830 and I found myself here for 2 sessions. Firstly on friday I spent the afternoon in the powerhall reuniting with Becky. Lovely girl though my memory fails to inform me of which festival/events we have met up at before. We were doing an event called doodlebots which was tons of fun. Before we could help the kids though we had to make one ourselves and both rose to the challenge admirably. They consist of a motor and 2 AA batteries, a piece of card and 4 marker pens and you need tape and a hole puncher. After making the doodlebots the idea was to place them on a sheet of paper, switch them on and let them go and let them draw a work of art. However, we both failed at this but thankfully the kids did a whole lot better and were able to take their masterpieces home. This is such a fabulous idea! The dads and grandads were really engaged and on a mission to make it work! A truckload of fun. Then my evening session took me to the icelab where I saw a fascinating talk about architecture in extreme enviroments. David Garcia talked us through a series of projects showing us new ways and new approaches to architecture.
Saturday afternoon began with a disney movie called Eight Below back in the icelab. It was an adventure involving huskies and I had to fight back tears but thankfully it was a happy ending. The festival was over far too quickly for me and my evening session saw me in Waterstones on Deansgate. I say this dear readers, as if you all know Manchester. Forgive me :) This was my first time in this bookshop myself, and the other volunteer and I, Meghan, had time for a coffee in the huge coffee shop. This talk was by tv astronomer Mark Thompson who gave a great talk about the cosmos. This talk was aimed at anyone who wanted to get into astronomy but can be enjoyed by experts too. Nobody in the room owned a telescope! Yes, I bought his book and was saddened that the festival is over once again. It was wonderful to see the MOSI team again and I hope to do this again next year. Always a resounding success. Love it!        

Saturday, 28 September 2013

Coming soon...

Well the countdown is on to the Manchester Science Festival! Three nights ago I had my briefing at MOSI. They expected me to be late as I was going there straight from work, but it was over with quicker than I expected.I missed Marieke's talk but it was nice to see her and everone else again. I enjoyed the eveing and of course have a festival program. Naturally there are lots of awesome events and things to see once again. Fun for kids of all ages :) As a fan one thing I am excited about is the Dr Who event. I hope you can all get to see some of the festival. I am looking forward to it immensely and though interrupted by a trip to Amsterdam for a completely different kind of festival I will be there most afternoon and evenings. If you know me or even if you don't, please come see me and say hi. I also can't wait to see what colour t-shirts we have this year.

Love Sarah

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Manchester Science Festival 2013

Not long to go now, this years Science Festival takes place between 24th October and 3rd November. I am proud to say I have signed up to reprise my role as a STEM Ambassador and I shall be there for most of the festival. I say most because during the first weekend I shall be in Amsterdam attending a completely different kind of festival :) If you are in Manchester at the time and planning to go to the science festival please do say hello if you see me.

You can learn all about it and see whats on here:  http://www.manchestersciencefestival.com/

Hope you can make it


Sunday, 23 June 2013

how does a quantum computer work?

My YouTube subscription doesm mean I get emailed some amazing videos to watch. I never knew how a quantum computer worked until I was sent this video about it. I found it fascinating and am happy to say that I've learned something today. I hope you enjoy this as much as I did :)

http://youtu.be/g_IaVepNDT4

About my last post, voting has been closed and the lucky deep space travelers have been chosen. I wasn't lucky enough and my highest postion was in the 1100's. I would have felt excited and privileged to have gone.This is an opportunity which doesn't come along very often. To be honest I had this realistic view of not really making it into the top 200 but I can say I tried and it was alot of fun. Congratulations to Rachana who did make it. Well played and well deserved! xxx

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Please, please vote for me!

Way back in January I learned about something called The Lynx Space Academy from my friend Rachana. They want to take people into deep space and I feel this is an opportunity too good to miss. To be in with a chance you  need to be amongst the top 200 people. Rach joined and in no time at all she has rocketed (excuse the pun!) into the top 50. I don't know how she did it but I'm very pleased for her.Inspired and encouraged by her I joined myself. I still have a long way to go as you can see and my highest position so far has been 1166.  Please go and vote for me, I will be eternally garteful and be happy to return the favour some day. The link is here

https://www.lynxapollo.com/en_GB/106420/sarah-murray

You can vote more than once using different browsers and email combinations. I don't know how much voting time is left but please give a girl a helping hand. Thank you, so so much!

I wish you all a good week and I'll be back when the voting is over and decisions made. Good luck and well done Rach

xxx



I am grateful for any feedback and comments. Thanks for reading and don't be a stranger xxx