December 8, 2012

Advent Chemistry: Sodium Chloride

Ionic bonds are really simple. Where covalent bonds are about sharing electrons, in an ionic bond one atom completely loses an electron to the other. The first atom become positively charged, because it’s got more protons than electrons now. The second becomes negatively charged, because...

Advent Atmosphere: Ice Cores and Ice Ages

There are places in Antarctica where the ice hasn’t melted for fifteen million years. We can’t drill that far down. Our longest ice cores go back about 740,000 years. Long enough to encompass the whole of human history. Long enough to show eight ice ages....

Advent Biology: Too cold in here?

Wonderful as the crisp winter days are, my fingers are creaking with cold as I type. I am however, maintaining an internal temperature with no input from my conscious mind, all the time (even if I am currently applying blankets externally to hoard my warmth!)....

Link to The Naked Baby Jesus Advent Calendar, December 08

Advent Art History: The Naked Baby Jesus Advent Calendar, December 08

Virgin and Child with a Saint Bartolomeo Montagna (c1440 – 1523) c1483 -99 37.8 x 36.5cm For today, I’ve chosen a painting that I haven’t actually studied, but that I found when looking for works by Carlo Crivelli, and was captivated by because it’s so...

December 7, 2012

Advent Philosophy: Hipster Philosophy: Daniel Dennett

For the next couple of days, I’m going to talk about a couple of philosophers who have done some fantastic work, but aren’t very well known outside of Philosophy. Forget Kant, Descartes, Plato and Nietzsche. You can pick up a Very Short Introduction to learn...

Advent Chemistry: Benzonitrile

This is benzonitrile, a benzene ring (remember those?) with a nitrile group attached. Hermann Fehling discovered it in 1844. It smells of almonds, and is the substance which gave its name to all “nitrile” compounds. Benzonitrile is an excellent example of the kinds of thing...

Advent Atmosphere: Layer Cake

How exactly do we know what was going on in the atmosphere millions and millions of years ago? If we want to know what the temperature is today, we just stick a thermometer out the window and find out. It is rather more difficult to...

Advent Roller Derby: Officials

Earlier, we looked at rule 2.2.2 from the WFTDA ruleset. I mentioned how there’s a new set of rules that will be used from January 1 2013. What I didn’t mention is how these rules are actually used, or how the sport of roller derby...

Advent Biology: That thing called Ecology

I’d like to take a brief post to think about ecology, and where it fits into that corner of science we’ve labelled biology. When boiled down, and the one definition most people will hear, ecology is the study of organisms and how they interact with...

Link to The Naked Baby Jesus Advent Calendar, December 07

Advent Art History: The Naked Baby Jesus Advent Calendar, December 07

Happy Friday! Today’s nude baby Jesus is taking from another of my favourite paintings: The Virgin and Child with Chancellor Rolin Jan van Eyck c1433-35 Oil on wood The patron, Nicholas Rolin, was Chancellor to Philip the Good, Duke of Burgundy. In the image below,...