Tag archives: atmospheric physics
By Tamela Maciel at the APS April Meeting in Baltimore, Maryland
A group of undergraduate students at Drexel University in Philadelphia is ready to click “confirm” on an Amazon order that will include a weather balloon, a memory storage device, a GPS, a Geiger counter and a BeagleBoard computer (described to me as a “beefier version of Raspberry Pi”). For less than $2000, this team of physics, engineering and computer-science students plans to launch a weather-balloon experiment that will measure the effects of cosmic rays on DRAM memory devices at high altitudes.
The team is part of the Drexel University Society of Physics Students and the members presented their experiment design at the April Meeting of the American Physical Society in Baltimore, Maryland, last weekend.
DRAM is a very quick and simple type of electronic memory – each bit takes the form of a capacitor that either has charge or doesn’t, according to whether it’s storing a zero or one. Unfortunately, this simple design can make the bits very sensitive to radioactivity or cosmic rays, which can cause bits to flip values and introduce “soft errors” into the data.
By Hamish Johnston
Students at Camden School for Girls in London have published a lovely book of haiku about science. Called Sciku: The Wonder of Science – in Haiku!, the volume contains 400 poems and is on sale with proceeds going to upgrading the science labs at the school. The students are not the only ones at the school with literary ambitions. Their science teacher Simon Flynn has also written a book called The Science Magpie, which we reviewed two years ago.
Below is a little taste of what is inside the book of haiku and you can also watch several of the students reading their poems in the video above.
An attractive force
Between all objects with mass
Just like you and me
By Hamish Johnston
When I think of superconductivity, applications that could improve the environment don’t usually come to mind. Perhaps that’s because superconductors only work at very low temperatures and lots of energy is needed to cool them. However, a review article just published in the IOP Publishing journal Superconductor Science and Technology points out some interesting environmental applications.
By James Dacey
The planet Venus may be named after the Roman god of love and beauty, but from what we know about our neighbouring planet, it appears to specialize in a particularly fiery sort of romance. It has a surface dominated by volcanism, and an atmosphere roiled by a runaway greenhouse effect, where sulphuric acid rains down amid a blitzkrieg of lightning strikes. It makes me think that the miserable sort of weather we’ve being experiencing in the UK of late is perhaps not so bad after all.