Mankind has long been fascinated and perhaps envious of the ability of the bird to fly in the air with such ease and elegance. Inspired by the humble wing, the first ever man-made aircraft that could be controlled and sustained was invented by the Wright brothers in the early 1900s. Their first successful flight took one pilot over a distance of 120 feet in 12 seconds, at an altitude of 20 feet. Impressive as this was at the time, we have since come a long way in our aviation technologies. Steaming through the skies above our heads there are now 500 tonne hunks of carefully engineered metal that can carry upwards of 500 people over the entire stretch of the Pacific Ocean in much less than a day. A reasonable guess as to what this post might pertain to would be something along the lines of the mechanics of flight, right? Truth be told, I didn’t think this introduction through very thoroughly, but just go along with it…
What better way to wind down after a long hard winter’s day than by slumping into your favourite chair with your hands wrapped snugly around a nice warm mug of hot chocolate? Today we will be looking at something coined as the ‘hot chocolate effect’. And no, this is not the amazing effect it has on your taste buds and mood, although that can be considered equally as fascinating.
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Yet another year zooms past as we tip-toe precariously into 2018, in nervous anticipation of what the year bears and what surprises might be awaiting us. At this time of year, it becomes customary to look back and reflect on the year gone by; the good and bad experiences, the people that have had an influence on your life, the skills and knowledge gained, the goals achieved or narrowly missed. No matter where you stand and what you may be feeling, have comfort in knowing that we have all arrived here together, as fellow humans of the this little blue planet. I think it’s safe to say that we are all just as confused about this whole life thing as the next person. Here at the Nexus we hope that through our weekly scientific posts we are contributing our part to help understand this odd universe we live in just that tiny bit better.
The Sun – you might think we’d know quite a lot about this thing already, given how important it is for the sustaining of life on Earth, and well… given just how noticeable it is in the sky. All throughout history, the Sun has represented a cornerstone in mythology, worshipped (and rightly so) by many civilisations. Over the past two weeks we’ve started to scrape away at the surface of what there is to understand about the Sun, but the simple truth is that, despite our everlasting efforts, there’s so much more yet to uncover about this mystical being.
In our last post we took a glimpse at auroras in the making – a spectacular light show staged not by a Roman deity sadly, but by the solar wind. Today we will see where this solar wind originates from (the Sun, unsurprisingly) and see how the draughts of the stars yield the lights of the skies.