Celebrating Cassini: The Ethics of Plutonium Energy

When Cassini was being designed in the 1980s, an innovative plutonium energy source was developed to sustain it’s long journey. A source that would and still does carry considerable ethical considerations.

Millions of Times Greener Than Green?

There is a strong conjecture that climate change and world population numbers are linked. Population growth is driven by poverty and personal incomes are linked to energy poverty. Abundant quantities of clean affordable energy accessible by all nations, particularly those still developing, would bring about a transformation in society at the global scale. Could such an energy […]

Sir Tony Robinson: Talk on Volcanoes In London

The Petroleum Exploration Society of Great Britain (PESGB) is delighted to announce that Sir Tony Robinson, star of the BBC’s Black Adder series and presenter of the hugely popular Channel 4 documentary, Time Team will deliver this year’s Stoneley Lecture on the subject of nature’s most dangerous, destructive and yet strangely beautiful events; volcanoes

Asimov’s psychohistory in maths

Could Mathematics hold the key to predicting the future? According to Professor Dan Crisan, possibly yes. During his inaugural lecture at Imperial College Professor Crisan used some complex mathematical formulae to show how a branch of mathematics – stochastic analysis – can be used to understand the link between microscopic and macroscopic events. Using a […]

News Round-Up: New Moon, Solar Windows, ‘Green’ Algae, Namibian Water

Pluto’s fifth moon discovered Image: Hubblesite A new moon has been found orbiting Pluto, bringing the number of satellites known around the former planet to five. P5 – the moon’s temporary designation – is between 10 to 25 km across (less than the diameter of London’s North Circular Road), and was discovered by scientists at […]

Mirror Mirror on the Wall

Mirror mirror on the wall, who’s the greenest of them all? Eco-conscious consumers are increasingly trying to make decisions based on a company’s green credentials. But beneath all the marketing rhetoric, how can we really tell the environmental heroes from the villains? I’m not very good at recycling. Quite frankly, I struggle to see the […]

The Great Gulf Experiment

Two years ago today, a huge natural experiment was set in motion. Its costs were enormous. The explosion of British Petroleum’s Deepwater Horizon rig resulted in the loss of eleven lives and the spillage of an unprecedented 4.9 million barrels of oil into the surrounding Gulf waters, leading BP to put aside $20 billion to […]

The Arrow of Time (Part 2)

The Thermodynamic “Arrow of Time” in Physics (And to a Lesser Extent, in Snooker) PART 1 | PART 2 | PART 3 Jiggling Particles Let’s look again at the third film. The rolling ball possesses an initial kinetic energy, which gradually dissipates away through friction: the particles in the fabric that the ball travels over, […]

1932: Physics goes ‘Anti’ – Part I

The word “anti” comes from ancient Greek, which literally translates as “against” or “opposite to” and nowadays is very commonly used in many contexts from social-politics (anti-social, anti-capitalism) to medicine (antibiotics, antidepressive) and even religion (Antichrist). In 1932 “anti” prefix officially entered in the world of physical science. Carl Anderson in Pasadena, California, had started […]

Is this the end for space travel?

Atlantis, the Space Shuttle, landed for the final time last week and ended thirty years of routine space flight. NASA has since been fighting to prove it’s not given up on space exploration, and that there are plenty more missions to make with new, better technology. “The things that you’ve done will set us up […]

Elusive energy

By 2025, the UK Government has promised to halve carbon emissions. Clean energy looms large on the political agenda, granting science a lot of room to influence the direction of current and future energy policy. But how much does science really have to say about clean energy? Time and again, we’ve heard the promises of […]

Breathing life into spaceplane technology

The dream of spaceplanes has often been dismissed as fantasy, born out of bad 1950s science fiction films. According to most industry analysts, the rightful place of the spaceplane – along with food pills, floating cities and personal jetpacks – is consigned to the dustbin of history. However, one small company in Britain doesn’t seem […]

Fresh water from sunlight

The Sun has finally got his London hat on.  So to celebrate, here’s a warming story about smart scientists using solar energy to alleviate water poverty. The Middle East is almost always sunny.  Jordan, for example, gets some of the highest levels of solar energy in the world – seven times as much as London […]