Monday, January 22, 2018

World record magnet

A new super-strong magnet has been made powered by superconducting coils as reported by PhyOrg:
The Florida State University-headquartered National High Magnetic Field Laboratory has shattered another world record with the testing of a 32-tesla magnet—33 percent stronger than what had previously been the world's strongest superconducting magnet used for research and more than 3,000 times stronger than a small refrigerator magnet.

Monday, December 25, 2017

Physics MOOC courses again

There have been some interesting changes over the years. According to a previous post in this blog in November 2014 Coursera had 35 courses matching keyword PHYSICS and EdX had 95. This number has grown since then. Coursera now has 126 and EdX 203. And FutureLearn has 46. Please note that these only match the keyword and not all are truly physics courses.

A quick browse shows EdX to have more academic type courses of interest to high school and university students. However Coursera and FutureLearn also have interesting courses. The latter tends to have shorter, less demanding but unusual courses.

Many introductory courses start in September. For example there is the course "Preparing for the AP Physics 1 Exam" which is intended to "bridge the college readiness gap". Fairly basic physics but good videos etc. There are similar courses for other subjects. This has been available since 2014 at least.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Lightning can produce gamma rays and antimatter

According to recent reports the very strong fields produced by the lightning accelerate electrons close to the speed of light colliding with atoms to create gamma photons. According to Phys.org:
Terrestrial gamma flashes were discovered about two decades ago. When lightning strikes, electrons are accelerated to very high energies and crashing into air molecules, causing an explosion of gamma radiation, the so-called terrestrial gamma flashes.
More recetly it was discovered that some of these gamma rays can have enough energy to produced antimatter. See this report:
...researchers from Japan describe how gamma rays from lightning react with the air to produce radioisotopes and even positrons—the antimatter equivalent of electrons.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Interstellar visitor

According to a report in Science Daily:
"A small, recently discovered asteroid -- or perhaps a comet -- appears to have originated from outside the solar system, coming from somewhere else in our galaxy. If so, it would be the first "interstellar object" to be observed and confirmed by astronomers"

Thursday, September 28, 2017

A big solar flare

According to a report in Scientific American there has been a big solar flare - the biggest in 12 years.
"The Sun's level of activity goes up and down in an 11-year cycle: sometimes it produces a ton of large flares, and sometimes it's pretty quiet. Every solar cycle, the Sun delivers a few standout punches. This current solar cycle, however, is the quietest in the last 100 years. It's pretty notable that such a large flare came out of such a calm period."

Questions for discussion: what is a solar flare? Why are they important to us?
See also Wikipedia.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Science CSEC results for Guyana

According to a GINA report the results in Chemistry showed improvement.

However:
"The eleven subject areas where Guyana’s “performance did not measure up when compared with last year’s performance were: Biology, English A, English B, ... Integrated Science, Physics, ... Human & Social Biology, and Additional Mathematics."
With regard to these subjects the Minister said:
'“We therefore recognise that these performances indicate that appropriate measures have to be taken to ensure overall improved performance in all subject areas,” the Minister of Education stated.'
Performance in Mathematics was said to be "consistent".

Friday, July 28, 2017

STEM team returns to Guyana

Image from Guyana Chronicle
According to a report in the Guyana Chronicle:
The young Guyanese team...placed 10th after battling against 164 other countries from around the globe. The achievement by the nine-member team is phenomenal, considering that they had only four months to prepare for a competition which was new to them. However, their achievement is being celebrated by the Guyanese population.
The First Global web site gives some background:
FIRST Global organizes a yearly international robotics challenge to ignite a passion for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) among the more than two billion youths across the world. 
but has little regarding the outcomes of the event.