Why do thick wires have lower resistance?

This text has come from Furry Elephant so I don’t take credit but it is cool, read and have a think…
Even the most apparently reputable sources of information are sometimes full of misconceptions. The BBC manages to demonstrate several all at the same time with this terrible animation trying to explain why thicker wires have a lower resistance than thin ones.
The main argument is that a thick wire has ’more space’ for the electrons to move around in than a thin wire. But wires are made from atoms – that’s where the free electrons come from. So thicker wires have more atoms and so no more empty space (per cross-sectional area) than thin ones. Another implication of the animation is that the wires are like empty tubes. This suggests that the electrons come from the battery as a sort of source rather than already being there everywhere in the circuit. The final problem is the speed of the electrons. Since the animation shows a longer path for the electrons in the empty thick wire their speed must have increased. In fact, the opposite is the case. Electrons travel slower in thick wires.

For a copper wire (at a given temperature) the speed of the electrons depends only on the voltage across it. Imagine a three-lane road and a single-lane road with cars all going at the same speed. More cars pass per second in the wider road even though the speed is the same. More cars (charges) per second means higher current for a given voltage and so smaller resistance.

Here’s an animation showing how thicker wires have a lower resistance.

Since current is the same around a simple series circuit the charges have to go faster where the wire is thinner. Faster charges mean more interactions with the ionic lattice per second and so higher resistance.

TES Feature Article…

Due to the resources that Animated Science has posted onto the TES Online Resources area the TES have picked us out as one of their top contributors which was a really nice surprise. You can see the article below from the TES and find GCSE Halflife on this site. Also I was even more surprised to get an email telling me that I have been invited to their Gala Awards Ceremony 2011 at the Hilton Park Lane. You can find more resources linked here.

How to write a personal statement for history

How to write a personal ucas statement for history


History is the tenth most popular subject to study at degree level in the UK, and with many universities forgoing candidate interviews, your personal statement is the most important way to make yourself stand out. The competition is fierce (the top universities require grades of A*AA), and a muddled or mediocre statement will harm your application.

So how can would-be historians impress application tutors? Dr Elizabeth Tingle, of Plymouth University, wants the statement to reflect the candidate who wrote it. She says: “When we talk about originality inpersonal statements, we really mean individuality.”

Southampton University’s Dr McHugh agrees that many applications are “too generic and vague. We want to get a sense of who you are as an individual, and what kind of student you would be.”

This individuality should not be achieved through wild or outrageous methods; your statement doesn’t need to be written in old English, or abstractly represent the consciousness of Thomas Cromwell. If you do something outrageously different, there’s probably a reason why no one’s done it before.

Instead, a personal statement should show something of you as a person, and convey your own unique engagement with history. Dr Ryrie, historian of religion at Durham says:

“The kind of personal statement that warms an admissions tutor’s heart is the kind which is honest: which describes, in genuinely personal terms, quite why the student loves the subject, and conveys something of their passion for it”.

‘Passion’, however, is a controversial word. UCL’s Dr Jason Peacey complained that “it gets a bit tiring reading hundreds of forms where the student proclaims that they have a ‘passion’ for history”.

Dr Ansari, head of history at Royal Holloway, agrees, and wants “genuine expressions of interest in history, but not in terms of ‘I am passionate about…’. Simply wanting something strongly is not enough”.

You need to convince admissions tutors that you have the intelligence and academic ability needed to successfully undertake a degree in the subject.

Dr Peacey says: “Students don’t always do enough to explain what it is about history that interests them, why this interest can only be met by undertaking more study at a higher level, and what should make me think that they have the potential and ability to study at this level”.

The same sentiments are also mentioned by Dr McGladdery, admissions officer at St Andrews. “Studying and writing about what happened in the past has little purpose if students cannot develop the skill of critical evaluation. Historiographical awareness is very important, as is the ability to present an opinion supported with evidence and cogent analysis.”

Students who show that they have considered the subject in relation to other academic avenues are likely to impress. As Dr Gadja, of Oxford university, says:

“Historians like to take insight from a huge range of perspectives, so we are always delighted when students can demonstrate how their interest and ability at foreign languages, philosophy, or political thought, literature, and so on, might intersect with their historical interests, and be of use in their development as historians”.

A clear, competent analysis of the ways in which your different subjects interact, and how this has aided your ability as a history student, can be a valuable inclusion in your personal statement.

Dr Gadja says that it is important to mention extra-curriculur interests. For Gadja, an interest in visiting museums, going to public lectures, and anything that shows an interest in history beyond the demands of one’s A-level course, would be relevant.

If you have had any relevant work experience, do mention it, but it must have had a definite impact on your approach to thinking about history. If you haven’t managed to gain experience in a historical field, though, don’t worry too much.

Gadja says: “we certainly don’t look for relevant work experience when making decisions – most applicants will not have had the fortunate opportunity to work in jobs relating to the heritage industry or similar, and that doesn’t put them at a disadvantage at all”.

Mention of non-academic areas in which you are wonderfully talented should be limited to a couple of sentences at most, and should always be linked back to the ways in which they have contributed to your academic or personal development; such as by improving time-management, or organisational skills.

Dr Simon Smith, of Oxford University, say: “Unlike some US universities or colleges, UK universities are not seeking to admit quotas of musicians, sports people, or thespians.”

It is important to write the statement in clear, concise prose, avoiding the use of formulaic words or phrases. Dr Peacey says:

“If I had a pound for every time I had been told that history is important because, as George Santayana said, those who fail to understand the mistakes of the past will merely repeat them… then I would be a rich man indeed.”

Try and avoid stilted references to the “eternal value” and “enduring fascination” of the past. Far more impressive is to explain and analyse what it is that makes you so interested in history, and specific areas in particular.

Above all, you should engage with the concepts that you are discussing, rather than just stating them. As Dr Ryrie says:

“Make us feel that you are a person of vision and imagination, for whom your outstanding A-level performance is just the beginning.”

Avoid anything bland or dull, and make the personal statement a reflection of your individual talents and interests. You want your statement to be different and engaging, otherwise it will slip through admissions tutors’ fingers without leaving a mark.

Synchrotron yields ‘safer’ vaccine

Synchrotron yields ‘safer’ vaccine http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-21958361

Producing vaccines against viral threats is a potentially hazardous business and that’s why manufacturers have to operate strict controls to ensure that no pathogens escape.

British scientists have developed a new method to create an entirely synthetic vaccine which doesn’t rely on using live infectious virus, meaning it is much safer.

What’s more the prototype vaccine they have created, for the animal disease foot-and-mouth, has been engineered to make it more stable.

That means it can be kept out of the fridge for many hours before returning to the cold chain – overcoming one of the major hurdles in administering vaccines in the developing world.

The research, published in the journal PLOS pathogens, was a collaboration between scientists at Oxford and Reading Universities, the Pirbright Institute, and the UK’s national synchrotron facility, the Diamond Light Source near Oxford.

Diamond is a particle accelerator which sends electrons round a giant magnetic ring at near light speeds.

The electrons emit energy in the form of intense X-rays which are channelled along “beamlines” – into laboratories where they are used to analyse structures in extraordinary detail.


Synchrotrons have been used before to analyse viruses at the atomic level, but the technology has advanced considerably to enable scientists to create a stable synthetic vaccine.

“What we have achieved here is close to the holy grail of foot-and-mouth vaccines.

Unlike traditional vaccines, there is no chance that the empty shell vaccine could revert to an infectious form,” said Dave Stuart, Life Sciences Director at Diamond, and MRC Professor of Structural Biology at the University of Oxford.

“This work will have a broad and enduring impact on vaccine development, and the technology should be transferable to other viruses from the same family, such as poliovirus and hand-foot-and-mouth disease, a human virus which is currently endemic in South-East Asia.”

These human disease threats, like foot-and-mouth, are all picornaviruses.

Viruses are inherently unstable and fragile, but picornaviruses can be studied using X-ray crystallography.

Diamond Light Source The Crystal Lab uses robots

This enables the protein shell of the virus to be analysed at the atomic level – something a billion times smaller than a pinhead.

As with any vaccine, the aim is to prompt the immune system to recognise this outer shell and destroy the pathogen before it has time to lock onto cells and infect them with its genetic material.

In this research the scientists created a synthetic viral shell, but lacking its pathogenic RNA interior – the genetic material the virus uses to replicate itself.

Crucially they were able to reinforce the structure of the viral shell to make it stronger, to improve the stability of the vaccine.

Pre-clinical trials have shown it to be stable at temperatures up to 56C for at least two hours. Foot-and-mouth is endemic in central Africa, parts of the Middle East and Asia, so this would be a significant improvement over existing vaccines.

With current foot-and-mouth vaccines it is difficult to distinguish between immunised livestock and those which have been infected.

That proved to be a major hurdle in controlling the foot-and-mouth outbreak in the UK in 2001 because it would have prevented the export of livestock.

But the synthetic vaccine should allow scientists to show the absence of infection in vaccinated animals.

“The foot-and-mouth-disease virus epidemic in the UK in 2001 was disastrous and cost the economy billions of pounds in control measures and compensation,” explained Dr Bryan Charleston, Head of Livestock Viral Diseases Programme at the Pirbright Institute.

“This important work has been a direct result of the additional funding that was provided as a result of the 2001 outbreak to research this highly contagious disease.”

The potential hazards of working with viruses was underlined in 2007 when the Pirbright laboratory site was identified as the source of a leak which led to an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease.

Polio, another picornavirus, which exclusively affects humans, has been eliminated from nearly every country in the world, although it stubbornly persists in Nigeria, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The need for secure vaccine production will become even more vital should polio be wiped out.

“Current polio vaccines, which use live virus for their production, pose a potential threat to the long-term success of eradication if they were to re-establish themselves in the population.

“Non-infectious vaccines would clearly provide a safeguard against this risk”, said Dr Andrew Macadam, a virologist specialising in polio at the National Institute for Biological Standards and Control in Hertfordshire.

“This technology has great potential in terms of cost and biosafety.

“Any design strategy that minimises the chances of accidental virus release would not only make the world a safer place but would lower the bio-containment barriers to production allowing vaccines to be made more cheaply all over the world.”

1st Cheese

This is my first cheese that I have ever tried so I thought I would share it!

This cheese is a soft roule style cheese which is relatively simple to make. However, you will need to assemble some items first.

Equipment / Ingredients

  1. Animal Rennet (100ml bottle) 12 drops (buy from www.Ascott.biz)
  2. Mesophillic Starter (1 sachet) about 1/6th roughly of sachet. I have used Choozit MA4002 in this case. This is a freeze dried starter, which is added directly to the milk and not incubated before use. Each sachet is sufficient for 50 litres of milk. Used with rennet. It is simple to use as you add it to the mil at 32°C and leave for 30 mins soft cheese and 60mins hard cheese. This will provide the “cheesiness” which naturally would happen over time if you left the milk for the natural bacteria to come. (buy from www.Ascott.biz)
  3. Large sheet of cheese cloth (buy from Amazon)
  4. Cheese matting (buy from www.Ascott.biz)aq
  5. Thermometer, sturdy glass standard science one will do. (Avoid mercury)
  6. Large metal saucepan at least 8 litres in size
  7. Large metal colander
  8. Stirring Device and Slotted Spoon (metal)
  9. Nice quality full fat Sainsbury Organic Milk 6.75litres or 12 pints
  10. Cream if required.


It is a simple process in which attention should be paid to the cleanliness to avoid bacterial contamination or your cheese (i.e. you are leaving it to grow bacteria) and also the temperatures for the enzymes as one denatured that is it!

  1. Clean your pan till it is spotless, best dishwasher as it heat drys. Add milk and heat gently to 29-32°C stirring as you go make sure this is stable (i.e. heat from bottom of pan has evened out). If you “cook” the milk you change the chemical composition and change the cheese product.
  2. Boil some water and then leave half a cup to cool covered.
  3. Add the right amount of the mesophillic starter. In this case 1 sachet does 50 litres so about the tip of the knife is about right. Stir in and leave covered for 45 minutes.
  4. Now if the temperature of the milk has dropped significantly you need to very gently heat it back to 30C for the rennet to work well. Check temperature of water is below 30°C Add 12 drops of rennet (no more or you get a nasty taint) to the water and then add to the milk stirring well. Now cover and leave for another at least 45 minutes without touching it (don’t be tempted to stir!). Now it might take more time than this as it is a natural thing. In this specific case it took 2 hours!
  5. Now you should have a curd set and separated from the whey. Use a sharp knife to cut the curd into 1cm cubes. Then fish them out with the slotted spoon and gently drain them in a muslin lined colander. Save the whey you lose for making ricotta later. We are trying to lose the whey but not all the moisture and fat from the cheese.
  6. Gently knot the cloth and hang up the cheese cloth to help draining (a hook might be helpful at this point).
  7. Now unknot and salt salt the cheese curds to taste and return to hang for the final extraction of whey.
  8. Now place into a metal bowl and mix in some cream if desired to make a creamy paste.

Seasoning / Ripening

It might be worth now dividing the cheese into separate bowls and mixing herbs, garlic, paprika, sesame seeds or crushed peppercorns to the outside of the cheese before placing into a mould and shaping.  Remember more is often less!


The cheese will take a better flavour if allowed to ripen in the fridge on a small piece of cheese matting overnight and then wrapping in cling film. In this case they have been put into a shaping mould.

1st cheese

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Extra Information

Mesophile is an organism that grows best in moderate temperature, neither too hot nor too cold, typically between 20 and 45°C (68 and 113 °F)

 The habitats of these organisms include especially cheese, yogurt, and mesophile organisms are often included in the process of beer and wine making.

The starter culture has a crucial role to play during all phases of the cheese making and maturation process. As the culture grows in the milk, it converts lactose to lactic acid. This ensures the correct pH for coagulation in both the press and final cheese curd. It also secures the final moisture level and yield in the cheese. During ripening, the culture enzymes have to give a balanced aroma, taste, texture, surface appearance and if required, eye formation.

Rennet contains many enzymes, including protease that coagulates the milk, causing it to separate into solids (curds) and liquid (whey).  The active enzyme in rennet is called chymosin or rennin but there are also other important enzymes in it, e.g., pepsin and lipase.

Whey is the liquid remaining after milk has been curdled and strained. It is a by-product of the manufacture of cheese or casein and has several commercial uses. Sweet whey is manufactured during the making of rennet types of hard cheese like cheddar or Swiss cheese. Acid whey (also known as “sour whey”) is obtained during the making of acid types of cheese such as cottage cheese.


NASA’S Chandra Finds Youngest Nearby Black Hole

WASHINGTON — Astronomers using NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory have found evidence of the youngest black hole known to exist in our cosmic neighborhood. The 30-year-old black hole provides a unique opportunity to watch this type of object develop from infancy.

The black hole could help scientists better understand how massive stars explode, which ones leave behind black holes or neutron stars, and the number of black holes in our galaxy and others.

The 30-year-old object is a remnant of SN 1979C, a supernova in the galaxy M100 approximately 50 million light years from Earth. Data from Chandra, NASA’s Swift satellite, the European Space Agency’s XMM-Newton and the German ROSAT observatory revealed a bright source of X-rays that has remained steady during observation from 1995 to 2007. This suggests the object is a black hole being fed either by material falling into it from the supernova or a binary companion.

“If our interpretation is correct, this is the nearest example where the birth of a black hole has been observed,” said Daniel Patnaude of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Mass. who led the study.

The scientists think SN 1979C, first discovered by an amateur astronomer in 1979, formed when a star about 20 times more massive than the sun collapsed. Many new black holes in the distant universe previously have been detected in the form of gamma-ray bursts (GRBs).

However, SN 1979C is different because it is much closer and belongs to a class of supernovas unlikely to be associated with a GRB. Theory predicts most black holes in the universe should form when the core of a star collapses and a GRB is not produced.

“This may be the first time the common way of making a black hole has been observed,” said co-author Abraham Loeb, also of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. “However, it is very difficult to detect this type of black hole birth because decades of X-ray observations are needed to make the case.”

The idea of a black hole with an observed age of only about 30 years is consistent with recent theoretical work. In 2005, a theory was presented that the bright optical light of this supernova was powered by a jet from a black hole that was unable to penetrate the hydrogen envelope of the star to form a GRB. The results seen in the observations of SN 1979C fit this theory very well.

Although the evidence points to a newly formed black hole in SN 1979C, another intriguing possibility is that a young, rapidly spinning neutron star with a powerful wind of high energy particles could be responsible for the X-ray emission. This would make the object in SN 1979C the youngest and brightest example of such a “pulsar wind nebula” and the youngest known neutron star. The Crab pulsar, the best-known example of a bright pulsar wind nebula, is about 950 years old.

“It’s very rewarding to see how the commitment of some of the most advanced telescopes in space, like Chandra, can help complete the story,” said Jon Morse, head of the Astrophysics Division at NASA’s Science Mission Directorate.

The results will appear in the New Astronomy journal in a paper by Patnaude, Loeb, and Christine Jones of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., manages the Chandra program for the agency’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory controls Chandra’s science and flight operations from Cambridge.

For more information about Chandra, including images and other multimedia, visit:




UK scientists ‘develop superwheat’

Cambridge-based scientists develop ‘superwheat’

UK scientists ‘develop superwheat’ http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-22498274

Ears of wheatThe scientists transferred some of the resilience of the ancient ancestor of wheat into modern varieties

British scientists say they have developed a new type of wheat which could increase productivity by 30%.

The Cambridge-based National Institute of Agricultural Botany has combined an ancient ancestor of wheat with a modern variety to produce a new strain.

In early trials, the resulting crop seemed bigger and stronger than the current modern wheat varieties.

It will take at least five years of tests and regulatory approval before it is harvested by farmers.

Some farmers, however, are urging new initiatives between the food industry, scientists and government.

They believe the regulatory process needs to be speeded up to ensure that the global food security demands of the next few decades can be met, says the BBC’s Tom Heap.

Primitive grains

One in five of all the calories consumed round the world come from wheat.

But despite steady improvement in the late 20th century, the last 15 years have seen little growth in the average wheat harvest from each acre in Britain.

Just last month, cereal maker Weetabix announced that it would have to scale back production of some of its products due to a poor wheat harvest in the UK.

Now British scientists think they may have found the answer to increasing productivity again.

Around 10,000 years ago wheat evolved from goat grass and other primitive grains.

The scientists used cross-pollination and seed embryo transfer technology to transfer some of the resilience of the ancient ancestor of wheat into modern British varieties.

The process required no genetic modification of the crops.

Germany’s energy storage dilemma

Germany’s energy storage dilemma http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-23259550

The real issues….By Matt McGrathEnvironment correspondent, BBC News


Researchers in Germany who are working on ways of storing renewable energy say their plans are being hampered by feed-in tariffs. The subsidies have encouraged thousands of householders to become energy producers by investing in solar and wind power. But one leading scientist told the BBC that these same tariffs make efforts to store green electricity uneconomic. Solving this problem he says is key to the success of sustainable energy.

Germany introduced a system of feed-in tariffs for solar, wind and other renewable technologies back in 2000. The law guarantees access to the grid and a subsidy payment for 20 years.

A number of different technologies are being tested as a means of storing energy from the wind and sun. One idea is to pump water uphill using renewable power and then letting it flow downhill to drive a turbine when there is no wind. Another idea that was tested in Germany involved storage companies freezing fish below the optimum temperatures when the renewables were working. When the green energy wasn’t available, the power was turned off and the deeply frozen fish were allowed to warm up to the optimum storage temperature, thereby acting as a type of battery. There are now 1.3 million households, farmers and small co-operatives providing green energy. In 2012 they supplied 22% of the country’s electricity needs. But the growth of renewables has been hampered by the intermittent nature of the sun and wind.

On a bright Sunday in June this year, solar and wind provided 60% of Germany’s power needs. So much solar was being produced that wholesale prices were for a time in the negative.

With the German government accelerating the phase out of nuclear in the wake of the Fukushima disaster, finding a way of storing excess renewable energy is seen as a crucial for the success of theEnergiewende, as the energy transition is called. One of the most promising technologies is a system called Power-to-Gas, which converts green energy into both hydrogen and methane. The technology has been developed at the Centre for Solar Energy and Hydrogen Research (ZSW) in Stuttgart.

Electricity from the grid drives a process of electrolysis that creates the hydrogen and oxygen from water. Carbon dioxide is then added to the hydrogen which creates synthetic methane that can be pumped into the gas distribution grid. It can be used for heating or to make electricity.

According to the scientist behind the technology, Power-to-Gas has some major advantages over other ideas that are being tested. The Power-to-Gas facility not only stores green energy but takes care of carbon dioxide as well

“If you want to store energy over a long time, then I think a chemical energy carrier is the only option,” Dr Michael Specht

“The other ideas such as pumped water or large batteries, typically have storage times of one or two days – but with this system we have storage times of weeks or months.”

Dr Specht said that the technology offered the best hope for utilising renewable energy in transport.

“It is a complicated situation, but I think there is no other solution to renewable energy storage and mobility – it is the only way we can go.”

But he says there will have to be some significant changes to the incentive schemes that have resulted in a booming renewable sector in Germany. He argues that the feed-in tariff that is paid to all producers of green electricity make it too expensive to store their products.

“These costs are normally for the consumer, but what we are doing is not the consumption of electricity but the storage – and if we store it we should not pay the costs that the end consumer pays,” he said.

“Under the current frame conditions the system is not economic.”

One potential for Power-to-Gas is in the transport sector. Based on the experiments carried out in Stuttgart, car manufacturer Audiinaugurated the world’s first industrial scale Power-to-Gas plant at the end of last month.

This is a six megawatt facility that Audi use to create gas for use in cars. They believe the energy created at this facility will power 1,500 new Audi A3 vehicles for 15,000km of carbon neutral driving every year.

Dr Michael Specht says that the technology isn’t the issue, it’s the economics

“The same amount that I fill in my car tank, is fed into the grid by the car company Audi – it is sustainable mobility,” said Dr Specht.

There are a number of alternative storage projects being pursued, includinglarge scale lithium electricity storage systems. The German government has also recently allocated 50m euros (£43m) for the development of solar power storage schemes.

But some economists are critical of the development because they believe it will distort the market even further.

Dr Felix Matthes from the Oeko Institute is one of Germany’s leading thinkers on the energy transformation. He says that power storage should only be the last resort.

“I am not in favour of such programmes,” he told BBC News. “The power will not be stored when most cost efficient from the network’s perspective but most attractive from the producer’s perspective.”

With renewables set to play a major part in Germany’s energy mix going forward, politicians are likely to attempt some reform of the Energiewende, after the general election in September.

Dr Specht says the reform can’t come soon enough. Without it, the whole transition could fail.

“I think it is a process to go to sources which are completely renewable but I think it is not possible without storage,” he said.

Young Persons Guide by Benjamin Britten

Here is an introduction to the Orchestra using the soundtrack from Young Persons Guide by Benjamin Britten. Click on the image for the animation. The animation plays each part when you click on instruments. There is also a drag and drop game and fill in the blanks for each section. It takes me back to the time when I played in Gloucester Youth Orchestra as lead EEb Tuba.

The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra, Op. 34, was written by Benjamin Britten in 1946 with a subtitle “Variations and Fugue on a Theme of Purcell”. The work is one of the best-known pieces by the composer, and is one of the three popularly used scores in children’s music education, together with Saint-Saëns’ The Carnival of the Animals and Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf.

Click below to launch the animation….


Graduate recruitment at highest level since 2008

Graduate recruitment at highest level since 2008


How to take great notes – and then find them again

How to take great notes – and then find them again


My Paintings

Here are three examples of my own paintings as the first post in this area..

Spain – This is a thickly based acrylic painting which took an age to dry. It is currently in Spain as a gift to a Spanish friend of mine when he got married. It was designed to capture the vivid colour of spain with a Salvador Dali / Henri- Matisse twist.

Animal – This painting started off an a computer generated image in MS Paint on Windows 3.1. I liked it so much I painted it on board in primary acrylic colours. It is now my logo for the webiste and Animated Science!

Reflections - This painting was inspired by my techincal drawing lessons. I wanted to look at the idea of a refection of a shape which is subdivided. I used a board which my art teacher gave me which curved a lot in the end!

A Selection of Animal Videos…

Just click on the pictures of the animals to see a video….

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Maldivian Snail

This clip was taken on Kurumba Island Beach in the Maldives 2004. It shows the mollusc in action on the sand. (no sound)

Patagonian Cavy

This clip was taken at Twycross Zoo in Leicestershire. It is of a Patagonian Cavy up close. (no sound)


This clip was taken at Caulk Abbey in the East Midlands and features many sheep in a field. (no sound)

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White Faced Marmoset

This clip was taken at Twycross Zoo in Leicestershire. It is of a White Faced Marmoset in a small enclosure. (no sound)


This clip was taken at Twycross Zoo in Leicestershire. It is of a Pelican sitting at the side of a lake. (no sound)

Common Marmoset

This clip was taken at Twycross Zoo in Leicestershire. It is of a Common Marmoset in a small enclosure. (no sound)

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This clip was taken at Twycross Zoo in Leicestershire. It is of a Giraffe indoors and outdoors licking a metal bar of its cage. (no sound)

Sting Ray

This clip was taken on Kurumba Island Beach in the Maldives 2004. It shows a baby sting ray hiding from larger fish in the bay. (no sound)


This clip was taken at Twycross Zoo in Leicestershire. It shows the bird and focuses on they eye as it blinks, quite simply stunning. (no sound)

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Golden Lion Tamarin

This clip was taken at Twycross Zoo in Leicestershire. It is of a Golden Lion Tamarin in a small enclosure. (no sound)

Maldivian Lobster

This clip was taken in the Maldives. It shows a selection of local shellfish and then some lobsters in a tank. (no sound)

Sea Lion

This clip was taken at Twycross Zoo in Leicestershire. It shows the common sea lion swimming and the animal close up. (no sound)

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Indian Elephant

This clip was taken at Twycross Zoo in Leicestershire. It is of an indian elephant up close. (no sound)


Can flywheel technology drive out the battery from car hybrids? | Corrinne Burns

Can flywheel technology drive out the battery from car hybrids? | Corrinne Burns


Etch A Sketch

Here is the game in an animation…

UK China nuclear deal ‘Orwellian’

UK China nuclear deal ‘Orwellian’ http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-25156551

Security fears over ‘Orwellian’ Chinese nuclear deal

By Rob BroombyBritish Affairs Correspondent, BBC World Service

George Osborne with Chinese nuclear workers in Taishan

It was hailed by UK Chancellor George Osborne as a “new dawn” – but serious questions remain about the security implications of Britain’s nuclear energy deal with China.

The UK government has refused to say whether China’s planned investment in the British nuclear industry was approved by the National Security Council – the body that assess the risks from foreign investment in critical national infrastructure projects.

Chancellor George Osborne announced during his trip to China in October that Chinese state owned companies CGN and CNNC would be allowed to take a 40% stake in the company planning to build the Hinkley C nuclear power station in Somerset.

In the future Chinese firms could become “majority owners of a British nuclear power plant subject to British safety rules and policed by the British,” said Mr Osborne.

Tim Yeo, chairman of Parliament’s energy and climate change committee, said Britain should “warmly welcome investment from China in the nuclear industry” but said he did not know whether the National Security Council had formally discussed or approved the investment.

“It would be a great pity if on some security reason this was thrown back into jeopardy.” he told BBC Radio 4’s The World Tonight.

But other members of Mr Yeo’s committee are worried.

Conservative MP Dr Phillip Lee said it was “perverse” and “Orwellian” to allow Chinese state owned firms a role in critical infrastructure projects like nuclear power at a time when questions over Chinese cyber-attacks on the west had not been resolved.

He said future conflicts would not be about the “physical possession of nations” but would involve “control of information, control of infrastructure, water electricity and communication.”

Military links

The Chinese could not take away a nuclear power station in the event of tension between the two countries but they could “virtually switch it off” if they wanted to, he claimed.

It would also bind Britain’s hands in respect of China diplomatically, when it comes to speaking out on human rights.

On the website of the China National Nuclear Corporation – one of the companies connected to the Hinkley project – the company boasts openly of its military links.

“China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) is the large state-owned enterprise under the direct management of the central government. Historically, CNNC successfully developed the atomic bomb, hydrogen bomb and nuclear submarines and built the first nuclear plant in the main land of China. CNNC is the main body of the national nuclear technology industry, the core of the national strategic nuclear deterrence”.

The company website says it “shoulders the dual historical responsibility for building the national defence force, increasing the value of state assets and developing the society.”

Hinkley Point CHinkley Point C is set to take 10 years to become fully operational. It will be made up of two nuclear reactors and will be built next to Hinkley Point A and B.

Just days after George Osborne made his nuclear announcement Chinese state-run TV was showing-off its nuclear armed submarines for the first time in 42 years accompanied by rousing music.

Official Chinese news agency Xinhua called the subs an “assassin’s mace that would make adversaries tremble”.

Labour MP Dr Alan Whitehead, also a member of the energy and climate change committee called the Chinese nuclear company CNNC an “arm of the state”.

“There doesn’t appear to be a clear distinction between the role of the Chinese National Nuclear Corporation in developing civil nuclear and developing and forwarding military nuclear,” he told the World Tonight.

“Big corporations particularly national corporations in China are not companies in the way that we would see them in the UK.”

He said the Chinese military – the People’s Liberation Army – would be involved in some of the decisions made by the firm.

He has called on the UK government to state publicly how the investment in critical national infrastructure was approved and by whom.

Corruption case

Nuclear expert Mark Hibbs, of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said the decision to invest in the British nuclear project would have been a “strategic decision” that would have been approved by China’s State Council – the nation’s ruling executive.

The UK Cabinet Office said in a statement that “the process for dealing with such issues falls under the aegis of the National Security Council”.

It said the government had “put in place an approach which enables it to assess the risks associated with foreign investment and develop strategies to manage them.

Cost of generating electricity, Nuclear £92.50 from 2023, onshore wind £100, offshore wind £155, tidal and wave £305, biomass £105, solar £125, electricity (gas/coal generated) £55.05, all other prices from 2014.

The National Security Council “brings together the economic and security arms of the government and is the forum that ultimately balances the risks and opportunities of inward investment decisions,” added the Cabinet Office statement.

But despite repeated requests the Cabinet Office has refused to say whether Chinese investment in Hinkley or the possible full majority ownership of nuclear reactors in the future has been formally discussed, assessed or approved by the National Security Council.

Critics fear Britain may be sleepwalking into nuclear relationship with China it will regret especially if in years to come China wants to introduce its own nuclear technology to the UK.

“The Chinese domestic nuclear programme certainly leaves much to be desired” says Dr Paul Dorfman of the University College London Energy Institute.

‘Safe power’

He is worried by the lack of transparency in the Chinese nuclear industry and cites the arrest and dismissal by the Chinese Government in August 2009 of the President of CNNC in a £260m corruption case involving allegations of “bid-rigging in nuclear power construction”.

Chinese investment in key energy infrastructure is “deeply problematic,” he said and industry experts were worried about “China’s weak regulatory structures”.

The UK Cabinet Office says Chinese firms have a “track-record in delivering safe nuclear power over the past thirty years. And that in the long-term it will deliver lower and more stable energy prices.”

“Any company involved in the UK nuclear power industry does so in accordance with the most stringent regulations in the world. On this basis, we welcome companies which can demonstrate the capability to contribute to safe nuclear power generation in the UK.”

The economics of the Hinkley C project have also been slammed. Peter Atherton of the respected city firm Liberum Capital said they were “flabbergasted” by the deal.

At £8bn per reactor, Hinkley Point is “the most expensive power station in the world (excluding hydro schemes) on a per megawatt basis,” said Mr Atherton.

He said the French and Chinese state owned firms would earn between £65bn and £80bn in dividends from British consumers over the project’s lifetime.

“The UK government was taking a massive bet that fossil fuel prices will be extremely high in the future. If that bet proves wrong then this contract will look economically insane when HPC (Hinkley Point C) commissions” added Mr Atherton.

Tim Yeo said the budget was so high “because they have factored in a much bigger contingency in to this project”.

But he added: “I do believe it is in Britain’s interests to have part of its electricity generated by nuclear power.

“It is a secure, safe, clean, low- carbon source of electricity.”

Animated Science News!

Hello and Welcome to all Users.

I was looking at our use stats and over the past 12 months and they are really amazing. Since August last year we have…

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I have to say thanks for visiting and come back as we aim to please with lots of helpful things for your Science education. A word of warning some items are protected due to copyright but I am trying to add more copyright free content as time moves on!


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How to treat your brain during revision time

How to treat your brain during revision time


Gulf of Mexico can ‘self-deep-clean’

Gulf of Mexico can ‘self-deep-clean’ 

New details have emerged about “self-cleaning” effects in the Gulf of Mexico witnessed in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Researchers reporting at the American Chemical Society conference revealed details of a cascade of micro-organisms that spring into action to degrade oil. Research has also outlined how chemical “dispersants” used in clean-up efforts actually frustrate these processes.

However, the long-term effects of the weeks of oil exposure remain unknown. Concern was expressed about the ultimate resilience of the Gulf. Terry Hazen of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, has been studying oil-degrading microbes in greater and greater detail since the disaster, even discovering some that had never been seen before.

They can break down the long-chain carbon-based “alkane” molecules present in oil – and in isolated conditions will even move towards oil. “They’re really oil-seeking missiles,” he told the meeting. In a sense, it is no surprise that the seas should host oil-hungry microbes; natural seeps from the ocean floor have been releasing oil into the world’s waters for millions of years.


Jan 18 2015

2015 Animated Science News

Dear Users,

It has been a busy year with many developments on the elearning front. I have been waiting in some ways for the software to catch up with what I want to produce quickly and effectively for all of you, free to use of course. Things are starting to move forwards so this I hope is the year to really get some quality content produced and shared. Also I will be reworking and unlocking some content for all to use from my private materials.

I thought I would share our usage stats this year and it looks like the totals this year are…

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So there it is, how cool, thanks for coming and please come back. We also have channels on Twitter and you tube with content which are all unlocked so please visit there as well…




So happy new year to all….

Daniel Powell

Animated Science

Permanent link to this article: http://www.animatedscience.co.uk/2015/2014-animated-science-news

Sep 12 2014

Progress for giant laser instrument

Progress for giant laser instrument http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-29168676

Permanent link to this article: http://www.animatedscience.co.uk/2014/progress-for-giant-laser-instrument

Jun 24 2014

Insecticides put world food supplies at risk, say scientists

Insecticides put world food supplies at risk, say scientists


Regulations on pest sprays have failed to prevent poisoning of almost all habitats, international team of scientists concludes Damian Carrington.
The world’s most widely used insecticides have contaminated the environment across the planet so pervasively that global food production is at risk, according to a comprehensive scientific assessment of the chemicals’ impacts. The researchers compare their impact with that reported in Silent Spring, the landmark 1962 book by Rachel Carson that revealed the decimation of birds and insects by the blanket use of DDT and other pesticides and led to the modern environmental movement. Billions of dollars’ worth of the potent and long-lasting neurotoxins are sold every year but regulations have failed to prevent the poisoning of almost all habitats, the international team of scientists concluded in the most detailed study yet. As a result, they say, creatures essential to global food production – from bees to earthworms – are likely to be suffering grave harm and the chemicals must be phased out. The new assessment analysed the risks associated with neonicotinoids, a class of insecticides on which farmers spend $2.6bn (£1.53bn) a year. Neonicotinoids are applied routinely rather than in response to pest attacks but the scientists highlight the “striking” lack of evidence that this leads to increased crop yields.

“The evidence is very clear. We are witnessing a threat to the productivity of our natural and farmed environment equivalent to that posed by organophosphates or DDT,” said Jean-Marc Bonmatin, of the National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) in France, one of the 29 international researchers who conducted the four-year assessment. “Far from protecting food production, the use of neonicotinoid insecticides is threatening the very infrastructure which enables it.” He said the chemicals imperilled food supplies by harming bees and other pollinators, which fertilise about three-quarters of the world’s crops, and the organisms that create the healthy soils which the world’s food requires in order to grow. Professor Dave Goulson, at the University of Sussex, another member of the team, said: “It is astonishing we have learned so little. After Silent Spring revealed the unfortunate side-effects of those chemicals, there was a big backlash. But we seem to have gone back to exactly what we were doing in the 1950s. It is just history repeating itself. The pervasive nature of these chemicals mean they are found everywhere now. “If all our soils are toxic, that should really worry us, as soil is crucial to food production.”

The assessment, published on Tuesday, cites the chemicals as a key factor in the decline of bees, alongside the loss of flower-rich habitats meadows and disease. The insecticides harm bees’ ability to navigate and learn, damage their immune systems and cut colony growth. In worms, which provide a critical role in aerating soil, exposure to the chemicals affects their ability to tunnel. Dragonflies, which eat mosquitoes, and other creatures that live in water are also suffering, with some studies showing that ditchwater has become so contaminated it could be used directly as a lice-control pesticide. The report warned that loss of insects may be linked to major declines in the birds that feed on them, though it also notes that eating just a few insecticide-treated seeds would kill birds directly. The report is being published as a special issue of the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Science and Pollution Research and was funded by a charitable foundation run by the ethical bank Triodos.

The EU, opposed by the British government and the National Farmers Union, has already imposed a temporary three-year moratorium on the use of some neonicotinoids on some crops. This month US president Barack Obama ordered an urgent assessment of the impact of neonicotinoids on bees. But the insecticides are used all over the world on crops, as well as flea treatments in cats and dogs and to protect timber from termites. However, the Crop Protection Association, which represents pesticide manufacturers, criticised the report. Nick von Westenholz, chief executive of the CPA, said: “It is a selective review of existing studies which highlighted worst-case scenarios, largely produced under laboratory conditions. As such, the publication does not represent a robust assessment of the safety of systemic pesticides under realistic conditions of use.” Von Westenholz added: “Importantly, they have failed or neglected to look at the broad benefits provided by this technology and the fact that by maximising yields from land already under cultivation, more wild spaces are preserved for biodiversity. The crop protection industry takes its responsibility towards pollinators seriously. We recognise the vital role pollinators play in global food production.”

A Bulgarian beekeeper grabs dead bees during a demonstration in Sofia to call for a moratorium on the use of neonicotinoid pesticides in April. The new report, called the Worldwide Integrated Assessment on Systemic Pesticides, analysed every peer-reviewed scientific paper on neonicotinoids and another insecticide called fipronil since they were first used in the mid-1990s. These chemicals are different from other pesticides because, instead of being sprayed over crops, they are usually used to treat seeds. This means they are taken up by every part of the growing plant, including roots, leaves, pollen and nectar, providing multiple ways for other creatures to be exposed. The scientists found that the use of the insecticides shows a “rapid increase” over the past decade and that the slow breakdown of the compounds and their ability to be washed off fields in water has led to “large-scale contamination”. The team states that current rules on use have failed to prevent dangerous levels building up in the environment. Almost as concerning as what is known about neonicotinoids is what is not known, the researchers said. Most countries have no public data on the quantities or locations of the systemic pesticides being applied. The testing demanded by regulators to date has not determined the long-term effect of sub-lethal doses, nor has it assessed the impact of the combined impact of the cocktail of many pesticides encountered in most fields. The toxicity of neonicotinoids has only been established for very few of the species known to be exposed. For example, just four of the 25,000 known species of bee have been assessed. There is virtually no data on effects on reptiles.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.animatedscience.co.uk/2014/insecticides-put-world-food-supplies-at-risk-say-scientists

Jun 21 2014

Mountain blasted to build telescope

Mountain blasted to build telescope http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-27902611

Permanent link to this article: http://www.animatedscience.co.uk/2014/mountain-blasted-to-build-telescope

Jun 21 2014

Smoking during pregnancy at new low

Smoking during pregnancy at new low http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-27919578

Permanent link to this article: http://www.animatedscience.co.uk/2014/smoking-during-pregnancy-at-new-low

Jun 14 2014

The metal that can store power for a small town

The metal that can store power for a small town http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-27829874

The metal that can store power for a small town

Pile of Vanadium oxide
Hawaii has a problem, one that the whole world is likely to face in the next 10 years. And the solution could be a metal that you’ve probably never heard of – vanadium.

Hawaii’s problem is too much sunshine – or rather, too much solar power feeding into its electricity grid.

Generating electricity in the remote US state has always been painful. With no fossil fuel deposits of its own, it has to get oil and coal shipped half-way across the Pacific.

That makes electricity in Hawaii very, very expensive – more than three times the US average – and it is the reason why 10% and counting of the islands’ residents have decided to stick solar panels on their roof.

The problem is that all this new sun-powered electricity is coming at the wrong place and at the wrong time of day.

Hawaii’s electricity monopoly, Heco, fears parts of the grid could become dangerously swamped by a glut of mid-day power, and so last year it began refusing to hook up the newly-purchased panels of residents in some areas.

And it isn’t just Hawaii.

“California’s got a major problem,” says Bill Radvak, the Canadian head of American Vanadium, America’s only vanadium mining company.

“The amount of solar that’s coming on-stream is just truly remarkable, but it all hits the system between noon and 4pm.”

That does not marry well with peak demand for electricity, which generally comes in the late afternoon and evening, when everyone travels home, turns on the lights, heating or air conditioning, boils the kettle, bungs dinner in the microwave, and so on.

What the Golden State needs is some way of storing the energy for a few hours every afternoon until it is needed.

And Radvak thinks he holds the solution – an electrochemical solution that exploits the special properties of vanadium.

Vanadium mine, Nevada
Back in 2006, when Radvak’s company decided to reopen an old vanadium mine in Nevada, electricity grids were the last thing on their minds.

Back then, vanadium was all about steel. That’s because adding in as little as 0.15% vanadium creates an exceptionally strong steel alloy.

“Steel mills love it,” says Radvak. “They take a bar of vanadium, throw it in the mix. At the end of the day they can keep the same strength of the metal, but use 30% less.”

It also makes steel tools more resilient. If the name vanadium is vaguely familiar to you, it is probably because you have seen it embossed on the side of a spanner.

And because vanadium steel retains its hardness at high temperatures, it is used in drill bits, circular saws, engine turbines and other moving parts that generate a lot of heat.

So steel accounts for perhaps 90% of demand for the metal.

Ford production in the early 1900s
Vanadium’s alloying properties have been known about for well over a century. Henry Ford used it in 1908 to make the body of his Model T stronger and lighter.

For the same reasons – and also for its heat resistance – it was used to make portable artillery pieces and body armour in the First World War.

But vanadium’s history seemingly goes back even further. Indeed, mankind may have been unwittingly exploiting the metal as far back as the 3rd Century BC.

That is when “Damascus steel” first began to be manufactured.

Swords made of the steel were said to be so sharp that a hair would split if it were dropped on to the blade.

Damascus steel scimitars were credited with enabling Muslim warriors to fight off the Crusades.

Circa 1250, A crusader and Muslim warrior in hand-to-hand combat.
Samples taken from a handful of antiques were found to contain tiny amounts of impurities, including – crucially – vanadium.

Bizarrely, this two-millennium-old steel-making tradition vanished in the mid-18th Century. The vanadium-rich iron deposits in southern India from which the steel was fashioned must finally have become exhausted, or so the theory goes.

Today, vanadium mainly goes into structural steel, such as in bridges and the “rebar” used to reinforce concrete.

It is a small and sometimes volatile market. Supply is dominated by China, Russia and South Africa, where the metal is extracted mostly as a useful by-product from iron ore slag and other mining processes.

China – which is midway through the longest and biggest construction boom in history – also dominates demand.

A recent decision by Beijing to stop using low-quality steel rebar has bumped up forecast demand for vanadium by 40%.

Yet the biggest source of future demand may have nothing to do with steel at all, and may instead exploit vanadium’s unusual electro-chemical nature.

Freyja, Freya or Vanadis – Norse goddess of fertility, love and marriage, beauty and light and peace
“Vanadium was actually discovered twice, and one of the discoverers was the Swedish chemist Nils Sefstrom, who named it after the Norse goddess of beauty, Vanadis,” says the Italian chemist, Prof Andrea Sella of University College London.

To explain why, Sella produces a flask of an easily misidentified yellow-coloured liquid.

It is, he says, a solution of “oxidised” vanadium in sulphuric acid – that is, vanadium that has been stripped of all five of its outermost electrons (it inhabits column five of the periodic table).

He then adds a shiny lump of a zinc-mercury amalgam and begins to shake the concoction violently.

“The zinc is going to allow us to put electrons back onto the vanadium – the chemical process we call ‘reduction’,” he explains.

The solution quickly turns green, and then gradually becomes blue. “And if we keep shaking for another few minutes, we will eventually end up with a violet colour.”

Each change of colour represents one further electron being passed on to the vanadium.

“The ease with which you can hand electrons to the vanadium and take them away – this is the basis of a very, very stable battery.”

Vanadium “redox flow” batteries are indeed stable. They can be discharged and recharged 20,000 times without much loss of performance, and are thought to last decades (they have not been around long enough for this to have been demonstrated in practice).

They can also be enormous, and – in large part thanks to their vanadium content – expensive. The smallest of the “Cellcube” batteries that American Vanadium is producing in partnership with German engineering firm Gildemeister has a footprint the size of a parking bay and costs $100,000.

How does a Vanadium Redox Flow Battery work?

Vanadium – yellow, blue, green and violet
Consists of two giant tanks of different solutions of vanadium dissolved in sulphuric acid, separated by a membrane

• The battery produces an electrical current as the fluids are pumped past electrodes on either side of the battery

• In one tank, the vanadium releases electrons, turning from yellow to blue

• In the other tank, the vanadium receives electrons, turning from green to violet

• The electrons pass around a circuit, generating a current, while at the same time a matching number of protons (hydrogen ions) pass across the membrane between the two solutions

The BBC’s headquarters in London – home to 7,000 employees – would need one the size of two 12-metre trailers, Radvak says, perched up on the roof or perhaps buried underground.

His firm is providing the batteries’ key ingredient, the electrolyte (the fluid in the battery).

It is the same chemical solution as in Sella’s demonstration, and – conveniently enough – is also the end-product of the standard process of using sulphuric acid to leach the vanadium out of its ore.

Radvak says that among his target customers are large corporate electricity consumers such as the Metropolitan Transport Authority, which runs New York’s subway, and with whom his firm has just signed a pilot deal to supply Cellcube batteries.

Modular cellcube
Such companies are facing ever higher charges for the electricity they use during the peak hours of the day, and the Canadian claims they can cut their bills by a quarter if they use a battery to draw down the daytime electricity they need during the night, when it is cheapest.

By flattening out demand between the daily peaks and troughs, the batteries also help out the electricity companies.

One of their biggest expenses is investing in the extra power station capacity that is only ever called upon for a few hours each year when the weather, holidays and the time of day all conspire to produce the biggest peak in electricity demand.

That challenge of balancing electricity supply and demand is set to get a whole lot more difficult as ever more solar and wind energy is added to the grid.

Solar panel emergency call box in Hawaii
Which brings us back to Hawaii.

Rooftop solar panels don’t just produce electricity at the “wrong” time of day, they also produce it at a low voltage, which, according to the German renewable energy entrepreneur Alexander Voigt, means it is effectively trapped at the level of the local community.

“Our traditional electricity grid is built in a way that the energy flows from the high voltage to the low voltage, and not the other way round,” he says.

That means the solar energy can only be shared among the few households – typically just a village or a town neighbourhood – that happen to share the same transformer station that plugs them into the high-voltage national grid.

Voigt helped set up the vanadium battery company that was later bought up by Gildemeister. He foresees the batteries being built next to transformers, where they can store up each community’s daily solar surplus, before releasing it back again in the evening.

It is a rosy image, but it does prompt two obvious questions.

First, why should vanadium batteries be the technology of choice?

For example, there is a glut of cheap lithium batteries these days, after manufacturers built out their capacity heavily in anticipation of a hybrid and electric cars boom that has yet to arrive.

Lithium batteries can deliver a lot of power very quickly, which is great if you need to balance sudden unexpected fluctuations – as may be caused by passing clouds for solar, or a passing gale for wind.

But a lithium battery cannot be recharged even a tenth as many times as a vanadium battery – it’s likely to die after 1,000 or 2,000 recharges.

Nor can lithium batteries scale up to the size needed to store an entire community’s energy for several hours. By contrast, vanadium batteries can be made to store more energy simply by adding bigger tanks of electrolyte. They can then release it at a sedate pace, unlike conventional batteries, where greater storage generally means greater power.

At the other end of the scale, there are also plenty of large-scale energy storage systems under development, such as those exploiting liquefied air, and the 1,000-fold shrinkage in the volume of the air when it is cooled to -200C.

But these systems take up a lot of space, Mr Voigt says, and are better suited to the very largest-scale facilities that will be needed to serve for instance a large offshore wind farm plugging into the high-voltage national grid.

The second really big question for vanadium is whether the world contains enough of the stuff.

The immediate challenge is that the birth of the vanadium battery business is coming just as China is ramping up its demand for vanadium steel.

But there is also a longer-term problem – the quantities of vanadium added to steel alloys are so tiny that it is not economic to recover it from the steel at the end of its life. So for the battery market, that vanadium is effectively lost forever.

But Mr Voigt remains optimistic.

“Like with all raw materials, it’s always a question of how stable is the need of the market, and how big are the incentives for the industry to set up new mines.”

With demand on an upward trend, American Vanadium is not the only one trying to fill the gap. For example, rival battery-maker Imergy has developed a cheap ways of producing vanadium electrolyte from iron ore slag and the fine ash produced by coal-burning.

Over the longer term, demand for vanadium steel could be met by melting down and recasting old vanadium steel rather than making it afresh, so that freshly mined vanadium could be channelled into the energy market instead.

And in the very long run, perhaps we will harvest vanadium from sea squirts – there are plenty of them in the Pacific.

Sea squirts

Sea squirts
• Vanadium is an essential micronutrient for animals, but toxic in large dosages

• Some sea squirts accumulate vanadium in their bodies, turning their blood green, possibly in order to protect them from predators

• Closely related to vertebrates, in their larval stage sea squirts look like tadpoles and swim around

• But once they find an appropriate rock to attach to, they metamorphose into something resembling a brightly-coloured vegetable

• They never leave their spot, and feed by filtering tasty morsels from the sea water they pump through their bodies

• Having committed themselves to this life of tedium, they also digest their redundant brains

• Some fungi also accumulate vanadium, including the bright red and white poisonous, hallucinogenic mushroom known as the fly agaric

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BBC © 2014

Permanent link to this article: http://www.animatedscience.co.uk/2014/the-metal-that-can-store-power-for-a-small-town

Jun 11 2014

You mean you’re not on holiday yet?

You mean you’re not on holiday yet? http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-27762108

You mean you’re not on holiday yet?
10 June 2014 23:05
By Sean Coughlan

BBC News education correspondent

summer beach
If this article is of any interest to teenagers in Estonia or Latvia, it will only be to give them a chance to feel really smug – because their schools are already shut for the summer holidays.

They might be glancing at this on their mobiles on a beach somewhere, just to get a certain sense of satisfaction that they’re not stuck reading something even duller in English lessons.

Schools in Sweden, Iceland, Finland and Ireland are also empty – and Bulgaria’s primary schools have been closed since the end of May.

And don’t feel too sorry for pupils in Italy and Hungary, because they are almost ready for their end-of-year goodbyes.

Instead reserve your sympathy for another group of European countries with many more weeks to tear off the calendar before escaping into the sun.

Liechtenstein keeps going into the first week of July, while classrooms in England and Wales are running a school-year marathon, staying open until the third week of July.

But they are not the very last students in Europe to be stuck inside in summer. That honour is reserved for the Bavarians.

Germany has a six-week break staggered in different regions – and it means that pupils in Bavaria do not break up until the end of July, beginning a holiday that lasts until mid-September.

Here comes the summer

Unfortunately a late start to the holiday is usually no promise of a late return. Quite the opposite.

Those Latvian teenagers, already basking in their summer sojourn, stay off school for 13 weeks. The Italians are tucking into a big slice of the dolce vita with a 12 to 13 week break.

Those freewheeling Bulgarian primary school pupils are going to be out of the classroom until mid-September.

The Finns have 10 to 11 weeks off in the summer, Iceland, Portugal, Spain and Ireland have 12 weeks, Norway and Poland about eight weeks.

The length of a summer holiday seems to defy any clear geographical or cultural pattern. It’s not a case of the southern European countries taking the academic equivalent of a siesta.

There are even big differences within countries. Parts of Switzerland have the shortest holidays, five weeks, while other parts have 10 weeks.

Within the UK, there are different patterns. While England and Wales keep studying deep into July, schools in Scotland have emptied by late June to return in mid-August and in Northern Ireland they finish at the beginning of July for a two-month break.

Rural myth

It’s more about tradition and what’s come to be expected.

And it’s not all about a legacy of an agricultural past. There have been longstanding challenges to the idea that summer holidays were created to allow children to help with the harvest.

Many 19th Century state school systems were driven by the demands of an urban population, rather than rural. In the United States pressure for a longer summer break came from middle-class families wanting to get out of the unhealthy, overheated cities.

Holiday car
Packing it in: Just putting in a few things for the journey
Another theory is that the school holidays followed the pattern of other institutions, such as universities, law courts and private schools.

But is there any connection between the length of the summer holiday and achievement in school?

The evidence once again is inconsistent. Liechtenstein, with only a modest six-week summer break, has the highest maths results in Europe, according to the international Pisa tests run by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

But the best in Europe at reading are youngsters in Finland and Ireland, who have some of the longest summer holidays. Perhaps they spend the time reading. Finnish schools are away from the beginning of June until mid-August and it’s even longer in Ireland, where they are on holiday until September.

If pupils are meant to forget everything they’ve learned over a long summer, then someone has forgotten to tell that to the Estonians, who combine a very long holiday with being among the most successful in both maths and reading tests.

And if long holidays were such a bad thing, why is it that high-achieving private schools often have more weeks off than their state school neighbours?

Counting the weeks

The OECD has its own rather nuanced conclusion. It says there is “some relationship between the time students spend learning in and after school and their performance”. But looking across a range of countries and education systems there is “no clear pattern”.

A holiday month or still a long way to go?
It means that spending more time in school might help, but again it might not help that much. The quality of teaching and learning is going to be much more important than the quantity.

Of course it’s more complicated than counting the weeks off in the summer. There are other holidays during the school year and the length of the school day can vary.

As a more precise measure, the OECD makes comparisons about the average number of lessons in key subjects each year.

In this global ranking, the countries where pupils get the most lessons are Chile, Canada, the United Arab Emirates, Portugal and Singapore.

Again there is no clear link to how well pupils perform in the Pisa tests. Canada and Singapore have lots of lessons and are high achievers – but Portugal, with the most lessons in Europe, does not make the top 30.

Shanghai, the Chinese city which has topped the Pisa rankings, is in ninth place in terms of the volume of lessons, behind countries such as Tunisia and Peru. But where Shanghai really stands out – far above anyone apart from Singapore – is the amount of homework set by teachers.

The UK is ranked 23rd in terms of the amount of lessons each year – exactly the same place as its ranking in the maths test results.

On this global scale, the UK is above average in terms of the number of lessons per pupil each year, while France, Germany, Spain, Ireland, Finland and Poland are all below average.

Whether it counts as first place or last place – they’re on holiday so they probably won’t care – Bulgaria has the lowest number of lessons each year.

BBC © 2014

Permanent link to this article: http://www.animatedscience.co.uk/2014/you-mean-youre-not-on-holiday-yet

Jun 05 2014

Diffusion in Solids, Liquids, Gases and Jelly


Diffusion in Solids, Liquids, Gases and Jelly

Background information
Diffusion in liquids: 
When substances dissolve in liquids (like salt dissolving in water) the substances spread out. We call this spreading out of dissolved particles diffusion. The end result of this is that the solute particles that have dissolved in water will spread out evenly. This movement or spreading out is due to the fact that in liquids the particles are moving randomly.

Diffusion in gases: When two or more different gases, like oxygen and nitrogen are mixed they will mix themselves evenly. We call this mixing of particles diffusion.  This is due to the random movement of particles.

Diffusion in solids: Diffusion does not happen in solids because the particles are not free to move around and so they cannot inter-mix.

Diffusion in jelly: Jelly is a liquid before it has set and looks like a solid when it has set.  However the truth is a little more interesting. After it has set jelly is not really a solid or a liquid, it is in fact a mixture of both of them. As shown in the diagram below there are long fibres of protein or carbohydrate which form the solid part of the jelly and between these fibres there are spaces where water molecules are free to move around. This is why substances can diffuse through jelly.











Using Jelly in science experiments… Because it allows diffusion through it, jelly is very useful as it allows us to track the movement substances through the jelly for example in Bioassay experiments testing the effectiveness of antibiotics as shown in the photograph below.    In this photo it is easy to see which antibiotic is the best at killing bacteria (the biggest clear area). The antibiotic has diffused through the jelly.














The rate of Diffusion is affected by a number of factors:

  • Temperature
  • Concentration
  • The surface area of the exchange surface
  • The size of the particles


Experiment to determine how temperature affects the rate of diffusion through jelly


  • Cork-borer
  • Petri dishes
  • Agar jelly with Universal indicator mixed into it
  • Hydrochloric acid of the following concentrations: 1.0M, 0.8M, 0.6M, 0.4M 0.2M.
  • Stop clock
  • Ruler with mm graduation


1)    Pour equal volumes of the hot Agar/Indicator mix into a different petri dish, leave to cool and set overnight.

2)   Use the cork borer to cut 5 wells into the jelly making sure all the jelly is removed from the well.

3)   Use a pipette to carefully fill the first well with 1.0 M Hydrochloric acid and start stop-clock.

4)   As the acid diffuses through the agar the indicator will turn red. After 5 minutes use the ruler to measure how far the red colour has moved.

jelly with holes

Permanent link to this article: http://www.animatedscience.co.uk/2014/diffusion-in-solids-liquids-gases-and-jelly

May 29 2014

Cheese Rolling – Gravitational Potential Energy to Kinetic

Cheese Rolling – Gravitational Potential Energy to Kinetic


Funny really as I always think of this as a simple topic. However, my students always find it hard, especially the formulae.

First place to start is the hill near to the village (Brockworth) where I grew up where they still do Cheese Rolling every year… http://www.cheese-rolling.co.uk/index1.htm. Even my primary school teacher wrote a book on the topic. (However, it is not focused on the Physics!)

So now you have the idea think about a man who lifts a cheese and himself up to the top of a hill. His muscles have to do work as he is moving himself and a cheese to a point further away from the surface of the Earth. This is because the man and cheese are in the influence of a “gravitational field” which causes anything with mass to feel weight or acceleration towards the centre of the object.

So the formulae we employ to work out the work done in climbing the hill is the change in height x distance moved against the field x mass. #

We often write this as…

Ep = mgh  or sometimes as mgΔh to show “a change in height”.

So where has the energy come from…. well simple the muscles in the body of the man have contracted and converted chemical energy to movement energy to push the man away from the field.

So what happens to the energy as you release the cheese? Well we think of another idea of “kinetic energy”. As you roll down the hill and gain in velocity you exchange your gained Ep to Ek so then most of the energy is coverted according to the rule ½ mv2 .

Often we write that mgΔh = ½ mv2 so if it was a 100% transfer we could work out the maximum velocity of a cheese falling down the hill!

Try out these animations in flash to help you out…


Permanent link to this article: http://www.animatedscience.co.uk/2014/cheese-rolling-gravitational-potential-energy-to-kinetic

May 29 2014

New Scientist Videos?

 How We Became Human?

Here is a video from MacGregor Campbell who is a Portland-based science/tech journalist, animator, and maker of weird sounds. He has made several video’s on Science and asked me to share with everyone on Animated Science so here one is…

Permanent link to this article: http://www.animatedscience.co.uk/2014/new-scientist-videos

May 18 2014

A true sea shanty: the story behind the Longitude prize

A true sea shanty: the story behind the Longitude prize


Permanent link to this article: http://www.animatedscience.co.uk/2014/a-true-sea-shanty-the-story-behind-the-longitude-prize

May 18 2014

How to treat your brain during revision time

How to treat your brain during revision time


Permanent link to this article: http://www.animatedscience.co.uk/2014/how-to-treat-your-brain-during-revision-time

May 16 2014

Why an octopus’s suckers don’t stick its arms together

Why an octopus’s suckers don’t stick its arms together


Permanent link to this article: http://www.animatedscience.co.uk/2014/why-an-octopuss-suckers-dont-stick-its-arms-together

May 11 2014

What is Newton’s second law of motion?

What is Newton’s second law of motion?


This is a really good post to help you find out!

Permanent link to this article: http://www.animatedscience.co.uk/2014/what-is-newtons-second-law-of-motion

Apr 25 2014

Five secrets to revising that can improve your grades

Five secrets to revising that can improve your grades


Permanent link to this article: http://www.animatedscience.co.uk/2014/five-secrets-to-revising-that-can-improve-your-grades

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