Fusion Triple Product: Nuclear-Powered Rockets

If we are to achieve our dreams of interstellar exploration beyond our Solar System, we need to explore propulsion mechanisms that allow us to travel faster and further than current rockets. Chemical rockets used today have a low fuel-efficiency of just 35% and would take 30,000 years to reach the nearest stars outside our SolarContinue reading “Fusion Triple Product: Nuclear-Powered Rockets”

Space Debris

Just 40% of the total satellites that orbit the Earth are active, whilst the remaining 60% amount to useless metal shooting around the planet at speeds of 28,000kph, ten times faster than the speed of a bullet. However, inactive satellites are just a small fraction of the problem. Russia recently destroyed one of its ownContinue reading “Space Debris”

The Physics of Ice Ages

1.5 million years ago, the Earth experienced its most recent ice age, namely the Pleistocene glaciation. An ‘Ice age’ is a period, which can be as long as hundreds of millions of years, during which the global temperature is abnormally low. How cold exactly? Imagine the Chicago skyline under almost 3km of ice; that’s whatContinue reading “The Physics of Ice Ages”

The Forces behind Capillary Action

The seemingly unintuitive phenomena of capillary action, which enables liquids to rise up narrow tubes, even against external forces such as gravity, underpins the fundamental way in which nature and mechanisms in our everyday life operate. Without it, the diverse and abundant plant-life that populates Earth could not thrive, our tear ducts would not beContinue reading The Forces behind Capillary Action

PET Scan: An Overview

Positron emission tomography (PET) is a painless, non-invasive medical imaging technique, widely used for detection cancer, heart disease and brain disorders such as dementia. This process involves detection of metabolism within bodily tissue, enabling construction of 3-dimensional images which show how organs and tissue in the body function, rather than producing an image that solelyContinue reading “PET Scan: An Overview”

The End of Moore’s Law

In 1965, Gordon E. Moore, the co-founder of Intel, observed that every two years the amount of transistors that could fit on a single microchip was doubling, whilst the cost of computers was halving. Moore’s Law, a projection of this historic trend, has been used since 1975 for forecasting and goal-setting in the semiconductor industry.Continue reading “The End of Moore’s Law”

The Standard Model of Particle Physics: An Introduction

Developed in the early 1970s, the standard model is the reigning theory of particle physics, classifying all known elementary particles and describing 3 of the 4 fundamental forces of nature – namely the electromagnetic, weak and strong interactions – and how they interact. Fundamental Forces All forces observed in everyday life arise from one ofContinue reading “The Standard Model of Particle Physics: An Introduction”

Magnetic Resonance Imaging: Spinning Protons

The magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanner was first built in New York in 1977. It has since been vital to the advancement of neuroscience and understanding disorders in the brain. The scanner itself is an enormous magnet that produces a magnetic field which is over 10,000 times stronger than that of the Earth. This fieldContinue reading “Magnetic Resonance Imaging: Spinning Protons”

Semiconductors: Controlling Current Flow

The conductivity of materials is a spectrum; on one end lies conductors, materials that readily allow the flow of electrical current, and at the other lie insulators, which block current flow. Between these extremes lie semiconductors that only conduct under certain conditions, making them perfect for controlling electric current. Pure Silicon (Si) and Germanium (Ge)Continue reading “Semiconductors: Controlling Current Flow”

Entropy: Why the Universe Tends to Chaos

Why does hot air travel to cooler regions? Why are some processes irreversible? How does the concept of time arise? Why does time only run forwards and not backwards? The concept of entropy and randomness provides the answers to all these questions. Entropy is a measure of the amount of randomness or chaos within aContinue reading “Entropy: Why the Universe Tends to Chaos”