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William Blake’s graphene sensor, boiling an egg inside out, quantum woo and more


By Hamish Johnston

Are you tired of the same old boiled egg staring up at you every morning? Then why not try this simple trick from the Japanese chef Yama Chaahan, who in the video above creates a boiled egg with the yolk on the outside and the white in the middle. There is angular momentum and fluid dynamics involved, and if you don’t understand Japanese, the Huffington Post has a step-by-step guide in English.

Also in this week’s Red Folder is a bit of high-brow culture. In his poem Jerusalem, William Blake famously contrasts “England’s green and pleasant land” with the “dark satanic mills” that were beginning to appear in this country when he put pen to paper in the early 1800s. So I’m not sure what Blake would make of a recent project in Manchester (a city synonymous with the Industrial Revolution) at the Whitworth Gallery (built by a leading industrialist) whereby a flake of graphite from one of his charcoal sketches has been made into a graphene sensor that will turn on a fireworks display tonight.

The extravaganza is being put on by the artist Cornelia Parker and Konstantin Novoselov – who shared the 2010 Nobel Prize for Physics with his University of Manchester colleague Andre Geim for being the first to isolate graphene. The fireworks will herald the re-opening of the Whitworth Gallery, which has been closed for a £15m expansion.

Hugh Osborn is a space-loving PhD student at the University of Warwick who has put together a nice animation showing a time sequence of all the planets that have been discovered since 1750. The latest count is 1873 planets, compared with the six known in 1750, and the animation is a nice illustration of the explosion in the discovery of extrasolar planets (exoplanets) after about 2000. The planets are presented in terms of their mass and orbital period, which shows how much easier it is to detect huge planets that orbit close to their stars.

Finally, there were two physics-related gems on BBC Radio 4 this week. I laughed out loud at the science show The Infinite Monkey Cage as the physicists Brian Cox and Jeff Forshaw ripped into science crackpots in an episode called “When quantum goes woo”. Elsewhere, the Beeb’s resident polymath Melvyn Bragg convened a panel of physicists for more sober but equally entertaining discussion of “The photon”. So put on your headphones and enjoy.

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One comment to William Blake’s graphene sensor, boiling an egg inside out, quantum woo and more

  1. Syhprum

    I do not think W Blake had industrial buildings in mind it is generally thought that his “dark satanic mills” were the doctrines of the established church


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