Tuesday, March 29, 2011

What is Nuclear Radiation and How Can It Hurt Me?

People get really freaked out about nuclear radiation.

Dude with Awesome Beard, Freaking Out

Since we are all really freaked out by the ongoing trouble with Japan's Fukushima nuclear power plant and the hazards posed to the Japanese population by escaped nuclear radiation, let's figure out what nuclear radiation is, and let's begin by talking about radiation in general.  The word radiation is used to describe any type of particle or wave that is moving through space really fast, which encompasses lots of things.  The kind of radiation that will be most familiar to you is LIGHT, which is a kind of electromagnetic radiation.

Electromagnetic Radiation, so-named because it consists of electric and magnetic waves that fly through space together.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

"Where Did Helium Come From?" or "Jupiter & Saturn, Helium Hoarders"

All matter in the Universe is made up of three-quarters hydrogen and one-quarter helium (by weight), with relatively insignificant amounts of all the other elements (not including dark matter, whatever that is).  This crazy abundance of hydrogen and helium has been around in nearly the same ratio from minutes after the big bang over 13 billion years ago.  Wowza!


Helium.  (see story of Larry Walters)

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Cool Chameleons, Cool Carotenoids, Cool Colors

Check out what this chameleon can do!  Understanding how chameleons do this will help you to understand how all life on earth is connected.