Monday, 15 December 2008

Friday, 12 December 2008

I'm the prettiest princess in all of the land!

It turns out that art supply shops like to charge about a pound per gram. The smart gentleman acquires his glitter in cheap packages aimed at eight year old girls

Note from a concerned citizen

The note reads: "Selfish, thoughtless parking". I'm not entirely sure why, it was a bit close to a junction yes, but no worse than anybody else on the crowded streets of Bristol. Perhaps somebody was boxed in.

I don't know if it is best to assume that there is am amateur traffic warden out there packing pink postits or whether this particular situation caused such anger that somebody had to track down such note materials

Thursday, 11 December 2008

The walk to work

The sky was strange this morning so a photo was taken. Sadly, the photo does not quite capture the strange burning effect of the sun trying to rise with lots of horizon-based cloud. Ah well.

Thursday, 4 December 2008

The Christmas tree that science built - hour ten

It has certainly bushed up to an impressive degree. Thanks science! Tomorrow we will subject some of the fallen (and seemingly insoluble in the solution which birthed them) crystals to raman spectroscopy.

We have yet to place the star atop it.

The Christmas tree that science built - hour three

One of the perfectly respectable and upstanding gentlemen of science working in my office decided that our shared room was simply not festive enough. The answer to such a problem was simple: a magic crystal tree. For those not in the know such wonders consist of a cardboard tree, decorations and a sachet of magic liquid. You pour the liquid into a dish and then plonk in the decorated tree, within am hour you start to see fluffy green crystals growing upon the tree branches. And so started epic science arguments about the witchcraft contained within the solution. A little research found out that you can grow these fluffy crystals using a mixture of sodium chloride, ammonia and "laundry bluing".

Knowledge of the ingredients led to further arguments. Sodium chloride crystals don't look like that, they are growing too fast for something containing hydrophilic sodium ions, what is the ammonia for then? And what is this damn "laundry bluing"? Just a dye? Something else?

And that took us to this:

So they all seem to be somewhat essential. Our final "agreement" was that the solution is a mixture of ammonia and sodium chloride while the cardboard has been soaked in the "laundry bluing" (which it turns out is a colloidal suspension of the Prussian Blue pigment). The green parts have also been soaked in a dye giving is the lovely green crystals.

Of course, there will be further trials. We need to grow some comparison sodium chloride crystals, some with ammonia added and other bits and pieces.

The wonders of Christmas: RUINED BY SCIENCE

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

This is not where I live

Not actually a thing my eyes have seen but a photo taken by my mother and accompanied by the message: "snow jam - day off work". Here in bristol though we just have temperatures so low that all of the oxygen has condensed out of the air. So you are forced to take a deep breath before you head outdoor kept you suffocate. Oh, and the smoking ban has had to be repealed for fear of catastrophic explosions caused by a smouldering fag end dropping into a lurking pool of the rocket fuel.

As we all remember from secondary school chemistry the test for oxygen is that it will relight a glowing splint (or fag end). I would not advise using this as a test for liquid oxygen or even a sizeable amount of the gas (although I did come near to hands on experience with the latter a few years ago when I thought I'd encountered a leaking oxygen cylinder and needed to check).

And yes, that pitiful amount of snow really will bring England down on its knees. Don't tell anybody that they could conquer us with tanks equipped with snow machines. It's not that we're defeatist, it is just that we really enjoy snow, so when we get some we damn well don't have time to go to work.

Monday, 1 December 2008

First of the season

Every day should start with the fabled Lindt golden reindeer*.

*This may lead to diabetes, bliss and obesity

Happy first of Advent Calendar

You are now legally obligated to commence feeling festive.

Oh, and I know this is an awful photo - for some reason the advent calendar was really fighting not being covered in glare and my phone's ability to crop photos is slightly limited meaning that this one is weirdly off centre with a bit much "plain white wall".