How we can take care of the world? asks Luisa (9)

Luisa, an important question. Thank you for asking it. There are obviously some very important things that every human in our world should think about. Let me present you with three of my thoughts. I will let my team present them…….

During the 5 billion years that life has survived on our world a lot of different animals, insects or plants have come to dominate life on our world and not survived.  One of the early plants that became dominant was a type  of moss. It grew so much that it poisoned the atmosphere with all the oxygen that it produced. Dinosaurs were destroyed when our world (the Earth) was hit by an asteroid, it created so much dust that the plant life they eat stopped growing.

Life survives but in a different forms. We should be careful because we might be the next form of life to disappear. 

Unknown (age 7) asked – “Why is the sky blue?”

Hello unknown. I would not normally answer questions to an unknown questioner, but, as it it such an interesting question I asked my friends for some comments.

You are right. Where does the colour come from? It was in 1671 that the famous scientist, Newton, discovered that white light was a mixture of different coloured lights. He did this by passing white light (the light from the Sun) through a glass prism. Look at what he got……….

Later it was found that some of the blue light in the Sun’s light had difficulty passing through the Earth’s atmosphere. this blue light was scattered as it passed through the atmosphere therefore giving the sky a blue colour.

Some of the blue light still got through and appears as part of the white light in the prism experiment and also in the rainbow. In the rainbow the drops of rainwater act as small prisms.

Hope this makes sense. if you want to give your name please let me know in the comment box.

(amended 21/9/18 – raindrops as prisms added)

“What does “eco” in ecosystem mean?” asks Austin (8)

I will just add a few words myself. Thanks for your input.

I like the idea of an ant’s nest being an example of an ecosystem. The nest is ‘everything’ it’s a home, a place to live and to work from, a creche for baby ants, a food store, a food production place, a protective environment, maybe an ant hospital, and lot’s more. It is an ecosystem.

The word ‘eco’ also combines with ‘logy to form ‘ecology’. This is like the word ‘bio’ combining with ‘logy’ to form ‘biology’.  The word ‘logy’ is a word which originally described lots of learning.

I will stop now. For an eight year old I think everything gets very complicated. I very much like the ant’s nest described as an ecosystem.Maybe you could let me know of other ecosystems?

STOP

“How does speed affect the energy of motion during a collision?” asked Damián Muñoz (9)

Thank you for your question Damian. I asked my friends about it and they had the following thoughts.


Sorry Damian it doesn’t really answer the question you asked. They have just presented you with more questions.
Let’s look at what they said.

Firstly energy is about work. The Energy or Work associated with a moving car is its movement. This type of energy is called Kinetic Energy. We could change the car’s Kinetic Energy by making the slope steeper (move the slope up a rung). It will make it go faster.

How do we measure the energy it is gaining as it moves faster and faster down the slope? Yes it does go faster while it is on the slope (we say that it is accelerating). Remember it starts with no energy at all (not moving). When it reaches the bottom of the slope it is going at its fastest speed.

We could measure the energy by seeing how long it takes to stop moving when it reaches the bottom of the slope. Try it. Make sure the test is fair. Fairness is very important in science investigations.

Alternatively you could involve it in a collision at the bottom of the slope…..say some cardboard or paper and see how far the car can push the shape it collides with. That would be another way to measure the ‘work’ that the moving car could do.

Damian, think about it. Experiment, and let me know how you got on.

Science Master

Hamish Astra (11) asked “What are electrons and protons and neutrons made of?”

What a question. I suddenly feel very humble because that is a question that I should have asked myself but I never have. Thank you. I asked my friends to help me and here are the responses.

I have, discovered that electrons are still fundamental particles BUT they have found two types of electrons a negatively charged electron and a positively charged electron so they are now called leptons.  That does not however answer your question. What is a lepton made of?

My friends are quite correct Protons and Neutrons are no longer fundamental particles. (A fundamental particle is a particle that is not made of anything else) It was in 1911 that a scientist called Rutherford first discovered the proton and neutron. Then,in 1968, other scientists found that protons and neutrons were made up of fundamental particles called quarks. The next question of course is what are quarks made of?

To be continued

“Questions about the Universe” by Lewis Jordan Sexton (13)

Questions about the Universe??????

Lewis, thank you very much for your thoughts and the questions in your own mind that you are thinking about. Wow.

I’m tempted to tell you a story about a question that my wife asked to her mother when she was about your age. “Mother what is the Universe and what was the big bang?” Her mother’s reply was “They are very big questions, I think your time is better spent making sure that this planet we are living on lasts as long as possible, rather than worrying about the Universe”

For readers who are interested here is the what Lewis submitted. Lewis, if you would like me to remove it send a request in the comment box below.

My thinking is that we have no idea, at the moment, whether any of the the thoughts put forward by various scientists are valid. It seems to me to be a classic case of a set of developing scientific ideas as the tools and thoughts of the the scientists develop.

For example notable scientists like Newton and Einstein developed ideas relating to your thoughts  which were effectively disproved. This is in fact the way that all scientific arguments progress. For example ……When Albert Einstein was formulating his ground-breaking theory of gravity in the early 20th Century, at a time when astronomers only really knew of the existence of our own galaxy, he used the simplifying assumption that the universe has the same properties in all its parts, and that it looks roughly the same in every direction wherever, in the Universe, an observer happens to be located. Like Sir Isaac Newton two hundred years before him, he assumed an infinite, static or “steady state” Universe, with its stars suspended  motionless in a vast void.

One of the driving forces behind the development of science thinking is to disprove earlier scientific thinking. It is called falsification.

It was a philosopher,Karl Popper who said you can only have a scientific theory if it can be proved to be false. This is what has happened to the scientific theories of Einstein and Newton. Some of their ideas/theories on gravity and the nature of the Universe have been successfully disproved. New theories by Hubble (the telescope scientist) disproved the stable Universe idea’s of Newton and Einstein. This led to new scientific ideas of an expanding (rather than a stationary static state)  Universe …which could be false? To illustrate how scientist are challenging Hubble’s ideas it is now known that the Universe is expanding at an accelerating  rate than rather than a steady rate …….the mystery continues. 

Have a look at this website The Physics of the Universe.

I shall continue thinking and possibly updating.

Thanks again for your thoughts.

 

 

 

Hayley (11) asks “Were unicorns ever real????”

Thanks for the question Hayley. My friends are back from their holiday so I asked them ….this is their answer.

The fact that there are no fossils does not mean that unicorns never existed. If you look at how modern humans evolved (changed) from apes there are a lot of gaps in our understanding, which could be linked to fossils that have not yet been found.

Where fossils have been found we can get lots and lots of information from them especially from the age of the rock in which they are found. This is to do with something called radioactive decay. This allows the fossils to be placed fairly accurately on the ‘evolution table’.

Evolution is the change in the inherited characteristics of  populations of living things over successive generations. Evolutionary processes give rise to diversity at every level of the population. For example a pair of monkeys might give birth to an albino (white) baby. If that baby, when it is older, gives birth to an albino baby, we could call that an evolutionary change which might, in a few thousand years create a whole population of albino monkeys.

I have two immediate thoughts about unicorns. Firstly they are completely made up and secondly they are a brief part of an evolutionary  story that didn’t survive. For example an animal (horse, deer, goat or other animal) was born with one horn by some biological accident, it lived but it’s children were ‘normal’ so the trait ended.

I prefer the mythical, made up model. I would like your thoughts.

 

Is slime a solid or a liquid? asks Taya (11)

In development.

Hello Taya, many thanks for your question.  Slime is a fascinating substance and the best way of producing it is to mix a substance called Borax, with a substance like PVA with some water. There are other ways to do it but this is the traditional way. Is slime a liquid or solid?  How do we measure how ‘liquid’ something is. We use a measure of the way a liquid pours, or if you drop something (a small metal ball) into it …how quickly it falls through it. This property of liquids is called it’s viscosity. Like most scales of measurement there are usually two extremes  and something in the middle can have a little bit of both of the properties of a solid and a liquid – the slimes.

The Viscosity Scale was established by Newton in (would you believe it 1770 -almost 250 years ago). Slimes are registered as a Non-Newtonian fluids .

Why Borax and PVA? PVA is a substance called a polymer. A polymer is a long molecular particle of repeating units. Polymers usually quite happily slide over each other (not very viscous). Add borax and it’s molecules attach themselves to the PVA polymers and stop the easy sliding. Thus a slime is produced.

Uncertain about things in this answer. Please ask more. You can also look at this previous answer to a similar question.

Jaydeep (7) asks “Why do sponges absorb more hot water than cold water?”

Jaydeep. An interesting question, which I need to think about. I suspect it might be a question of ‘testing’. How did you arrive at the question? Did it include elements of ‘fair testing’? I shall start by passing it over to my friends.

Thanks team. Yes, I agree, science knowledge is based upon fair testing. Jaydeep’s question suggest that he has evidence that sponges absorb more hot water than cold. It is and interesting thought BUT is it true? That’s what a scientist would ask.

What do I think? My initial thought is that as water gets hot it expands, so…., the sponge might absorb less water. From another viewpoint it might be argued that the hot water ‘warms up’ the sponge and causes the sponge to expand, thus absorbing more water. Another argument might be that because both the water and the sponge expand when they get hot …..things cancel out.

The important point is that if the original investigation was not fair all the arguments about Why are meaningless.

Jaydeep ….do a fair test`and then ask the question. Many thanks for an interesting input.