Water – it’s essential to life. Supermodels swear by it. Drinking it supposedly keeps us slim.
And yet the effects of water in the diet are complex and there is not a little misinformation out there, as the recent New Scientist series on health myths so strikingly demonstrated. For a start, the much-quoted maxim that we should all drink eight glasses of water a day is not based on any scientific evidence.
We’ve talked in the past about
the interaction between music and science (see Mozart, Bird Song and IQ) but this has largely centred on the psychological effects of
music. What about the mathematical dimension to sound and the interrelationship
between musical, chemical and physical structures?
For maths geeks, a recent video
from the magazines Quanta and Scientific
American may prove interesting. Many of us are aware that the differential
equations of vibrating strings and surfaces help us understand harmonics and
tuning systems; rhythm analysis informs us of the ways a measure can be divided
into beats; and the study of symmetry relates to the translations in time and
pitch that occur in a fugue or canon.
Some tweets we ran recently, around a feature
on Cities of the Future from the BBC website, attracted some interesting debate
– not so much about ‘smart building’s or ‘delivery drones’, but in relation to the
trees that might be planted there.
One idea revolved around replacing street
lighting with bio-engineered planting that glows in the dark. Imagine instead of a row
of streetlights that the trees that line our streets were able to shine at
night. Scientists have already proved the principle of glowing trees and claim that
this could be one way of saving energy.
Five chemical elements have been named – if only temporarily
– in the 21st century. Some of these designations are not exactly
inspiring, being merely Latin renditions of their atomic number, but they are at
least a testament to the unrelenting curiosity of science.
Take Livermorium, the only one of the five to be given a
permanent name so far. It’s a manufactured element that appears so fleetingly
that, to date, it has been impossible to do any actual ‘chemistry’ on the
substance. Element 116 has the symbol Lv and is placed as the heaviest member
of group 16 (VIA); however, a
sufficiently stable isotope is not known at this time to enable confirmation of
its position as a heavier homologue
Some 54 years ago, a new type of vehicle – the hovercraft – first
took flight and, in the summer of 1959, made its famed crossing of the English
Channel. SR.N1 was an early example of an air-cushion vehicle or ACV: a craft
capable of operating over land, water, swamp or ice at speed and, importantly,
also while stationary.
Back in the day, many of us were used to counting in
twelves: some of us still do. While the UK ditched pounds, shillings and pence in
favour of the decimal system of currency in February 1971, things are not quite
so clear cut when it comes to other measures. Many people still think in feet,
yards and inches – or pounds and ounces – despite SI units being the officially
correct measurements in Europe. In the US, there’s long been a currency system
built around dollars and cents and yet much scientific literature still quotes
Imperial units. So, why do we sometimes count in tens and sometimes in twelves?