Egg Shape Is No Accident

In these days of uniform food production, hens are sticking with an asymmetrical, tapered oval shape for good reasons. It certainly isn’t because they fit nicely into the container in your fridge! Box shaped eggs will be very strong at the corners, but weak in the middle of the walls. And they’d be really tough…

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Timing A Turkey

These days cooking a turkey requires little skill, because they often come with a handy pop-up timer already inserted in the top. A turkey is finished cooking when the inside temperature reaches about 85 degrees Celsius. That’s the temperature at which the timer pops up to let you know the meat is ready. It’s an…

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The Big Bang

This time, Dr. Humphreys and Ron Hughes discuss the origin of the universe and the implications of the Big Bang theory. Ron Hughes:  David, it seems almost every time you pick up a news magazine, somebody somewhere has made some new discoveries about the origin of the universe or people are working on it feverishly. …

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A Famous Streaker

Long after those physics definitions have faded from memory, we can often recall stories associated with the scientists behind an idea.  For example, many people who can no longer state Archimedes’ Principle formally, (that the ratio of a body’s weight to that of the displaced water is called its specific gravity) still remember that Archimedes…

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Balloons

A balloon filled with any gas which is less dense than air will rise in the atmosphere. This is because the mass of the air displaced by the balloon is greater than the mass of the balloon itself. Since the density of the atmosphere decreases with increasing altitude, the balloon rises until the mass of…

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Turning Grey Over Night

When Thomas More was beheaded by King Henry the eighth, it’s said that his hair turned white over night.  Mary Queen of Scots’ red hair was reported to have turned white just before her execution.  The hair of the builder of the Taj Mahal was said to become white within two weeks of the death…

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Newton’s Inspiration from an Apple

Recently thieves stole a rare first edition of Sir Isaac Newton’s Principia Mathematica from the Russian National Library.  This prompted me to think about the legend of Newton and the apple. Although Principia was published in 1687, it was an event 20 years prior to this which inspired Newton’s ground breaking laws of gravitation. Cambridge…

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Onions Are Nothing To Cry Over

I read recently some tips on “How to peel onions without crying.”  The list of suggestions included the claim that if you start at the root of the onion and peel up, you’ll never shed a tear.  It included some downright humorous suggestions, like the claim that peeling them with a bag over your head,…

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What Makes You Unique

All of us like to think we are special.  That’s O.K., because we are all unique!  Although we all have the same kind of molecule at the core of our reproductive system, every person is different from every other person.  This is because of the wonders of what is called ‘the genetic code.’ It’s easy…

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Johannes Kepler

Johannes Kepler was the born into a poor German family. His father worked as a taverner and later became a mercenary soldier, apparently dying in battle when Johannes was a boy. Kepler himself was a sickly child and fell victim to small pox. His sight was severely affected as a result. His family were Lutherans…

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