December 10, 2012

Advent Atmosphere: Great Lakes

The cold snap in Europe 12,000 years ago was caused by things warming up in North America. Europe is warmed by an ocean current called the North Atlantic Drift, which is the Gulf Stream to you and me. For fairly complicated reasons, if there’s too...

Link to The Naked Baby Jesus Advent Calendar, December 10

Advent Art History: The Naked Baby Jesus Advent Calendar, December 10

Virgin and Child with Saints Barbara and Elizabeth and the donor, Jan Vos Jan van Eyck 1441-3 Oil on panel Here’s a detail of the Virgin and Child: We’re back to Jan van Eyck again today simply because he was one of the finest painters...

December 9, 2012

Advent Roller Derby: Scrimmage

Scrimmage is usually a private part of a league’s training, allowing them to try out new tactics, line-ups, and plays. Occasionally you might see something called a mixed scrimmage, this is open to skaters from other leagues. It’s a really important way of learning the...

Advent Chemistry: Water

That up there is a water molecule. Now, I know you think water isn’t very interesting, but bear with me. There’s a reason I like water, and it’s not just because it makes me live. It’s a really interesting and unusual chemical. Water is extremely...

Advent Atmosphere: Younger Dryas

The Younger Dryas event is named after the kind of pollen used as a proxy for the temperature. Dryas octopetala grows at the edge of icy regions. So if you find its pollen at a particular time in a particular place, you know that’s where...

Link to The Naked Baby Jesus Advent Calendar, December 09

Advent Art History: The Naked Baby Jesus Advent Calendar, December 09

Virgin and Child Juan de Flandes c1510 I’ve chosen today’s painting for the composition. In this painting, the Christ Child is supported by a ledge. This was a common pictorial device in the second half of the fifteenth century. Ledges are generally there to lead...

December 8, 2012

Advent Roller Derby: Equipment

There’s a basic equipment list that every rollergirl, rollerboy, and referee needs to have. There are varying budgets, but I’m reliably informed you can get started in roller derby for about £200. Firstly you have the things that propel you forwards: skates! There are many...

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!)....