Long time – no see…

Well – it’s been a lot longer than I thought since the last post – yet still a surprising number of visitors in the last 30 days and from all over the world.

Screeny Shot 19 Feb 2013 11.04.17


I hope to get back to writing ASAP and maybe rope in a few more student bloggers to keep up the pace.

Mr G


Energy Drinks – the effects on students…

I’ve not blogged for a while – so I’m starting again with something we as teachers are getting concerned about.

These last few years energy drinks are increasingly popular with youngsters. Advertising, sponsoring big events have made energy drinks a “Monster” of a problem in schools.

Red Bull was probably the first really popular energy drink. High in sugar and as much caffeine as a strong coffee, the 250ml cans perked you up and massive sales ensued (Red Bull now have enough money to sponsor a wide range of sports – including 2 F1 teams)

But the craze has spread and the cans have gotten bigger and so has the problem.

Members of the team would often complain of feeling dizzy, shaky and hyper during practice; sometimes they’d vomit in the middle of a workout. It was directly related to their consumption of energy drinks – Coach of Midlakes High School swimming team

Energy drinks are not the same as Sports Drinks – energy drinks contain large amounts of caffeine. Energy drinks have “no therapeutic benefit” where as some sports drinks do. Most people would not guzzle several strong coffees in a quick succession – but that is the same as drinking a 500ml can of energy drink.

They may harm the health of children, especially those with diabetes, seizures, cardiac abnormalities or mood and behavior disorders. Energy drink overdoses in children as young as 5 have been reported both here and abroad and in some cases have resulted in seizures, stroke and even sudden death.

Whenever I see students drinking these drinks I point out the warning “Not suitable for children”. Teachers often see the effects of students drinking energy drinks between lessons – brought into school by the students. Partly to blame is the marketing.

More than half the market is under 25 years of age and 30-50 percent of adolescents and young adults consume energy drinks. A quick perusal of packaging, websites and marketing material for the beverages shows they are clearly aimed at the youth market.

We learned far too late the effects of smoking on addicted teenagers – is this the start of the next big health issue?

Children, or other people sensitive to caffeine, should only consume in moderation drinks with high levels of caffeine – UK Food Standards Agency

Mr G

Sources: ABC News, Medical News Today, The Daily Mail, NHS.

Are airships making a comeback?

Airships have a bit of a mixed history.

Everyone loved the Zeppelins (well – the way they were used after the War)

Giving people luxury transport across vast oceans, faster than boats, bigger, more comfortable and a better range than planes.

Then along came the Hindenburg disaster. (There are many videos of YouTube – But I am not going to post one here)

Since then, airships tended to be smaller designs filled with helium. Now a new company Hybrid Air Vehicles is trying to revitalise commercial airships.

With designs that can lift heavier cargo and transport it longer distances, with less fuel, do not need long runways and are cheaper to buy than a cargo plane. You can find facts and figures about these designs here.

The Telegraph has written about HAV too.

It is not just cargo that is set to get the airship treatment – cruise holidays could be heading back to the skies.

Design company Seymourpowell has envisioned a time when we take cruises through the sky. You can read more about this on the Geeks are Sexy website.

Mr G

Sources: BBC, Wikipedia Commons, HAV, Fast Company, The Telegraph, Seymourpowell, Geeks are Sexy

Science meets Art…

Science and art often cross paths…

These videos show how visual arts, music and science can create something quite amazing…

I will be hoping for something similar for the Academy show next year – with Science, Music, Art and Media working together

Mr G

Source: Physics.Org

How risky are you?

Tonight’s Bang Goes the Theory showed a brilliant experiment where people (MP’s in this case) judge risk by the words used to describe it. It can be easy to sway people to be for or against something by the wording. (That is one of the things I researched and discussed for my MSc in Science course…)

You can catch the episode on iPlayer for the next month.

As part of the episode Bang, along with Lab UK launched The Big Risk Test for you the GB public to take part in.

Apparently I’m best at taking Social risks… not too surprising considering my job is one with lots of social interactions needed.

Mr G

Sources: BBC Bang Goes The Theory, BBC YouTube

The End of Religion?

This post is about something controversial. Be warned… You might not like what you read no matter what side of the argument you are on.


The census data for 9 countries over time has seen an increase in the number claiming “No Religion” and according to the mathematical models religion seems to be heading for extinction in these countries (and likely others too).

You can read the BBC News article discussing the findings here.

But it does appear to be backed up by research in Britain – finding 2/3 of us are not religious. Oddly – many who claimed to have a religion also claimed not to be religious – perhaps linked to our social expectation of people to identify with a religion or to fit with tradition. For example, less than half the Christians questioned thought that Jesus came back to life or is the Son of God, around half of those being unsure.

At the same time religion is reaching out to science to avoid the kind of conflict we see over Evolution and the Big Bang.

Mr G.

Sources: BBC News

[Flashback] Matsushima, Miyagi Prefecture 2010

Not very science – but some stunning photos of Matsushuma before the Tsunami. None of this is there now… 😦

[Flashback] Matsushima, Miyagi Prefecture 2010.

Mr G

Quiz… Science Fiction or Science Fact

Take part in this 8 question BBC quiz

I got 8/8 – rated Professor 🙂

Mr G

Sources: BBC News

Japan… article updated.

Earthquake and tsunami

Unless you’ve been hiding under your pillow for the last few days you must have heard of the magnitude 8.9 9 Earthquake that happened under the ocean near Japan, causing a massive Tsunami that flooded much of the coast.

Here you can see footage of the

And here you can see pictures of the damage by sliding the bar to see the before and after pictures.

You can see from this diagram why the tsunami killed so many people – the earthquake was so close to the shore there was only minutes to warn and evaquate people.

The earthquake even reached the UK, my old university (Keele) recorded the earthquake using their seismometers, it was so big it still went off the scale half the world away.

The full details of the earthquake can be found here on the usgs.com website

The first episode of the new series of BBC’s Bang Goes the Theory was dedicated to the science behind the Japan earthquake and tsunami. You can watch it on iPlayer here.

Here is a clip from the episode showing how earthquake build up so much energy and how tsunami are formed when the seabed shifts suddenly.

Japan has a good record of designing buildings that can survive earthquakes, as can been seen in the video. Wooden buildings are generally good because they can flex without breaking. But a tsunami is a different proposition – with a large mass of water flowing through them few buildings can survive.

Nuclear Reactor

During the earthquake Japans nuclear reactors were shut down. Control rods moved in to stop the reactions, but nuclear reactors get very hot and it takes days and weeks to cool them down. Unfortunately it is the cooling of the reactors that has been the problem. Water pumps have been damaged, so the coolant inside the reactors has been boiling, needing releases of pressure that have taken small amounts of radioactive material with them. Some of these pressure releases exploded – the coolant water having split into hydrogen and oxygen. If the coolant falls below the level of the fuel rods, the fuel rods can over heat and start to melt – this is called a melt down.

As long as the main case of the reactor is not damaged then the bulk of the radioactive material remains safe. Only tiny amounts have been released with the steam (still en0ugh to be over legal limits, but nothing like the dangerous levels seen after Chernobyl exploded). Keep updated


  • This Telegraph article gives numbers that highlight the scale of the earthquakes effects
  • This BBC page shows the stages the nuclear power plant has gone through and answers some questions about the radioactivity – including discussing the risks and comparing it to Chernobyl
  • The video below illustrates what has been going on with the reactor

Mr G

Sources: BBC News, ABC News, MSNBC, BBC iPlayer, Hypocentral.com,  usgs.gov, Telegraph

2010 in review

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Fresher than ever.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

The Leaning Tower of Pisa has 296 steps to reach the top. This blog was viewed about 1,000 times in 2010. If those were steps, it would have climbed the Leaning Tower of Pisa 3 times

In 2010, there were 66 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 81 posts. There were 124 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 34mb. That’s about 2 pictures per week.

The busiest day of the year was April 23rd with 49 views. The most popular post that day was More Beautiful Science….

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were, facebook.com, bluebomber.wordpress.com, phasing.org, and statistics.bestproceed.com.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for physics games 24, norovirus, physics games, mole rat fallout 3, and norovirus pictures.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.


More Beautiful Science… April 2010
1 comment


Physics Games 24 March 2010


Bang Goes the Theory April 2010


Norovirus? April 2010
1 comment


Giant Hole in Guatemala June 2010