Piper Astra (10) asks Why do we have to die ?

Thank you for your question Piper. I shall ask my friends to contribute later.

Humans and animals die because our bodies stop reproducing cells – cells are the building blocks of our body. Amazingly about 40 billion of them die every day…and our body replaces them. However as we get older the replacement process is reduced and eventually it stops, so we die.

However for trees this does not happen, the replacement process continues and the tree keeps on living. Some trees that you might see around you are hundreds of years old.

These are my early thoughts on your interesting question. My friends will add to this when they are ready.

Hugo (7) asked – “Is the world magnetic?”

Hugo, a great question. I think the world is magnetic but I am not sure how we can find out if it is. Let me ask my friends. They should be able to give me an answer in a few hours time. I think it is something to do with compasses.

Hugo, I think you will need some equipment ……. a small bar magnet and a square of polystyrene or woo. This will mean that you can float the magnet on some water.


Clara (7) asked – How are all sorts of jewels made?

Clara, thank you for your question. I will ask you a question “What do you think jewels are made of?”  this would help in deciding how jewels are made.

Are jewels made from hard or soft things? Are jewels made of metal or some other material?

Wow…I used the word “material”. What do you think that means?

Material is a word to describe what things are made of. We recognise a material by its properties. Is it hard, soft, bendy, runny, smelly, strong, brittle?

I asked a friend about your question. Here are her thoughts.

Thanks for that.

Clara, it might be difficult for you to examine the properties of the diamond. It is made from a material that is very, very hard. Maybe you could investigate its hardness ….how do you think you could do that?

Is the diamond held in a metal. There are lots of different metals all of which have different properties. Can you find some metals that are different from the metal that the diamond might be held in.

Let me know in the comment box below.

Jose (10) asks –What is Plasma?

Jose, thanks for your question. I gave it to my team. Here is their answer…..


Thanks team, I liked your answer. Jose…can you understand. A gas, solid or liquid consists of small particles called molecules. A drop of water contains thousands of water molecules. Each molecule consists of two Hydrogen atoms and one Oxygen atom. Each atom consists of a core of a number of positively charged particles called ‘protons‘ which are surrounded by an equal number of negatively charged particles called ‘electrons‘. If we manage to remove an electron from the water molecule …it leaves the water molecule with one less negatively charged electron so it becomes positively charged. It forms a Plasma.

Cheyanne (11) asked “What is the total charge of 7 electrons”


I am a little confused  by your question. I asked my team for an answer……and here it was


Thanks team. I would like to add a little bit more to your answer

Firstly the electron is a very, very small particle, it has a radius of 0nly 2.8×1015 m.   It is very, very small. That is an unimaginable small size.  Associated with this very small particle is an actual , very small electrical charge of about  1.6x 1019 volt (V).

So in reality when you are talking about the total charge of seven electrons you are only talking about  7 x 1.6x 1019 volt (V).

Sorry for this answer. I think it complicates things …stick to what my team member says. In reality when you are talking about the charges on seven electrons as 7- you are talking about the total charge that about  7 x 1.6 x 1019 electrons will give you .

Dhanashree (13) asks “Why is sound a longitudinal wave?”

Dhanashree, thank you for the question. I asked my team about the question and they arrived at the following answer….which I was not happy with …….

There are two types of ways in which waves manage to travel ……. Longitudinal and Transverse. I can see the way the waves they develop BUT need time to think about how to explain them. Longitudinal waves travel along straight lines away from the source …  I am trying to understand how the particles associated with the travelling disturbance (sound) travel in each of these ways.

How do the particles of air (in longitudinal movement) make further particles of air move in the same way…if they are doing forward and back vibrations? The vibrating air particles (or particles of any gas) must be moving forwards as well as moving back and …thus moving the wave forward.

So …to answer your question …..sound is created by things vibrating, the drum skin vibrates, up and down when it is hit…….the air above the drum skin follows this vibration, and the air next to the vibrating air , starts to vibrate and so on. This is your longitudinal vibration.

With Transverse vibrations the particles move up and down. Like waves …which stay in the same place.  More thinking about this later.

Sam (13) asked “What are the building blocks of cells? And does it vary for each cell?”

Up-dated  24/10/2019

Thank you for your question Sam. As usual I put it to a member of my team. Lets see what they say and then, maybe, I can add to it.

Thank you for that team. Cells are obviously very, very important. We, and all, living things are all made up of them. But what about the cells themselves …what are they made of ? A little research shows that all cells contain  proteins, lipids, carbohydrates and nucleic acids. Let’s look at the role of each of these groups of compounds.

Proteins are all important (they are made of things called amino acids BUT enough of that). Proteins have important roles in cells. They provide the cell with energy, they fight infections they help move other components  around the cell.

Lipids are basically fats and therefore are a source of energy. The proteins will access the lipids to help them in their tasks and the Carbohydrates are another source of energy

Nucleic acids are better known as amino acids that make up  RNA and DNA structures. These are probably the most important, ………no I am wrong, the nucleic acid component of the cell needs all the other components to survive. They will not last long if left alone. The nucleic acids are the messengers of the cells. In simple terms they have, in their structure , the message that enables the construction of a living thing (animal, plant) from the activity of the rest of the cell. You could say they are the managers.

A little addition ……. what is an amino acid? Firstly as an acid it contains the -COOH group of atoms. CH3COOH is a familiar acid

Shown here in its structural form

known as acetic acid (vinegar).

Amino acids basically contain NH2 groups instead of CH3 . One of the simplest is glycine.

Proteins also (in some cases) act as catalysts (something that enables a reaction to occur. In these situations they are called enzymes.

I really hope this is helpful. Thanks for the question.

Maya (10) asks “Neutrons, electrons and protons. What are they? Are they parts of an atom? Am I right?”

Maya, you are right. Neutrons, electrons and protons are all parts of an atom.
When do you think these were discovered? Let me show you the timescale

In 1808 a teacher and scientist called John Dalton discovered the atom.
In 1897 the electron was discovered by a scientist called J.J.Thomson
in 1911 the proton was discovered by a scientist called Rutherford
In 1932 Earnest Chadwick discovered the neutron

All this happened in 124 years! and the final bit ‘the electron’ was only discovered 87 years ago and you are now learning about it. I shall let my friends tell you a little bit about these particles.


Ella (10) asks “Was there ever any life form on Venus?”

Many thanks for the question Ella. At the present time there is no evidence that there has been any form of life on the planet Venus. Venus is quite close to the Sun, it is the second planet. Because of it’s closeness to the Sun it is a very hot planet.

It would be brilliant if we did find evidence of life on the other planets of our solar system. It would be evidence that at one time life on Earth was not alone in our Universe. If that was the case we could assume that life could exist on other planets in our Universe.

The planet that is closest to the Earth is Mars. At one stage during its existence Mars had a lot of water on its surface. As life on our Earth originated in it’s oceans any life on Mars might have started in its oceans.

I’ll let my friends continue the conversation.

There are plans to build a new Space Station that will allow humans to go to Mars. Meanwhile there are several mechanical ‘rover’ devices on the surface of Mars which at this very moment are looking for evidence wether life, did once, exist on Mars.

Freddy Benson (11) asked “Is it true that they teleported an atom to the Chinese space station?”

Freddy…first a little background. I asked my team if anybody knew about this , Peter replied…….

Thanks for that Peter.

The Chinese did have a Space Station (Tiangong-1) and some scientists  were trying to teleport a property of an atom to the space station.  It is thought that they managed to get an atom on Earth to share some information instantaneously with an atom on the space station. This has not yet been confirmed. The space station  involved crashed to the Earth  in 2018.

An artist’s concept of China’s Tiangong-1 space station prototype burning up in Earth’s atmosphere during its fiery fall back to Earth overnight on April 1-2, 2018.
(Image: © Alejandro Miranda/Alamy)