Science, Nature and Tech

Why We Should Love Clouds

Have you ever looked up at the sky and wondered where clouds come from? Sure, they can form a huge range of different shapes and sizes, but why are they here? Don’t they just block the sunlight on a summer’s day and ruin our holidays with constant showers? The answer is more surprising than you might expect! 

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Travel

Adventure in Uganda

On my second day in Uganda, we went white water rafting on the Nile, near a town called Jinja. The rapids are just Screenshot 2013-10-14 at 10.50.13down river from Lake Victoria, which is where the Nile starts.

The rapids are caused by the force of the water as it crashes over rocks and around islands in the river. There used to be more rapids there, and the famous Bujugali Falls. However, a couple of years ago a dam was built across the river, which has made part of it more like a lake and has increased the water levels, wiping out lots of the rapids, including Bujugali. However, below the dam, the rapids are still just as scary! The rapids are a favourite for rafters and kayakers all over the world. 

The rapids are caused by the force of the water as it crashes over rocks and around islands in the river. There used to be more rapids there, and the famous Bujugali Falls. However, a couple of years ago a dam was built across the river, which has made part of it more like a lake and has increased the water levels, wiping out lots of the rapids, including Bujugali. However, below the dam, the rapids are still just as scary! The rapids are a favourite for rafters and kayakers all over the world. 

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Science, Nature and Tech

Help A Hedgehog

Gretta is a  freelance journalist who blogs at mumsdotravel.com. She and her family are worried how the local wildlife are coping with the lack of water. Strange as it may seem in a country that is famous for rain, there has not been enough of it in the past years in UK.
Read on to find out how to help hedgehogs and other wildlife.

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Written By You

The Adventures of Cha Cha the Dragon – Part 2

Following on from Iona’s wonderful story of Cha Cha the Dragon, here is Part 2

 

Once upon a time, in deepest China, there lived a man named Li-Wang. Li- Wang was getting on in years. His wife and son had both died in childbirth, and he had only his beautiful daughter to comfort him and to keep him company. It was widely said that the daughter of Li-Wang could be no mortal being, but was an angel, sent straight from the Gods as a token of their grace and kindness. However, Li-Wang, poor man rarely ever got to see his beautiful daughter, for Li-Wang was a builder, and his latest line of employment was on The Great Wall of China Teapots.

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Science, Nature and Tech

A Trip to Mars!

Imagine being able to catch a flight to Mars as easily as we travel to another country – that was the idea behind the Trip To Mars session I attended at the Cheltenham Science Festival. It was conducted by Dr Suze Kundu and Dr Simon Foster and presented as a pre-flight safety briefing, with both of them dressed as pilots! There were a lot of humorous moments and sci-fi references but also some great science.

Suze and Simon suggested that in the future, flights to Mars could be far quicker than they are now, and explored how some of the bigger problems could be overcome. For example, the Sun’s magnetic field deflects a significant proportion of the cosmic radiation that could be harmful to humans on Earth; as spaceships travel further away from the Earth and Sun they will have less protection because the magnetic field weakens. To combat this it’s possible that spaceships will contain or be covered with large and powerful magnets, to produce the same deflective effect. This would have the added advantage of also deflecting radiation from solar flares.

Spaceships journeying to Mars would travel at such speed that even tiny fragments of rock and dust could be damaging to the hull. To combat this, and also the heat generated when the spaceship passes through an atmosphere, Suze and Simon discussed the possibility of spaceships being coated in aerogel. This amazing material is a solid formed from silicone dioxide but is 98% air; this means that it is extremely light but also strong. Its melting point is 1,200°C (equivalent to asbestos) and it is a wonderful insulator. Because it consists of large pockets of air between thin layers of silicone dioxide, any dust or rock fragments that hit it would be slowed and stopped before they could penetrate the aerogel completely.

Suze and Simon also discussed the possibilities and problems with cryostasis. Theoretically this is when a person’s body is cooled to temperatures so low that they enter hibernation, ideal for long journeys through space. Unfortunately our technology isn’t advanced enough to do this at the moment; any attempt would result in the cells rupturing and the person dying. But in the future it will be possible, perhaps after the person’s DNA has been altered slightly so that they can produce antifreeze proteins like some species of wasps and turtles.

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