Elf Eldridge

World Space Week podcast — Episode 4: Marius Piso - Just So Science

Oct 07, 2011

With the retirement of the space shuttle and funding cuts across the board at NASA, Hari and I interviewed Marius Piso, a Theoretical physicist and president and CEO of the Romanian Space Agency (ROSA) and a contributor to the European Space Agency (ESA), and asked about the future of humankind’s presence in space. We got a lot more than we bargained for when we asked him why he was drawn to studying space,  especially when he mentioned that after doing in PhD in theoretical physics focusing on the “quantum structure of spacetime, and having to deal with multiple dimensions” that he felt that compared to that, everything else was easy! Also, out of all of this year’s interviews, Marius wins the prize for the most inspiring quote. When asked if there was any message he wanted to send to … Read More

World Space Week podcast — Episode 3: Julien Girard - Just So Science

Oct 06, 2011

Next, Hari and I decided to find out what looking at the stars for a living does to a person. With this in mind we chatted to Julien Girard, an astronomer from the European Southern Observatory, found out a little about what inspired him to become an astronomer and what some of the most magnificent sights in the universe are. Full podcast can be downloaded or listened to here UPDATE: Podcasts are now available via the World Space Week youtube channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/worldspaceweekassn Tomorrow’s episode features the incredible mind of Marius Piso, theoretical physicist and President and CEO of the Romanian Space Agency (ROSA). Read More

World Space Week podcast — Episode 2: Chris McKay - Just So Science

Oct 05, 2011

Our second episode takes us on the hunt for information about what life is likely to exist on alien worlds. We chatted to Dr. Chris McKay from NASA’s Ames research centre, whose research covers extremophiles from across the globe (including even some from right here in New Zealand!). We discuss what and where life might be on mars, when we will know (Dr. McKay thinks next year!) and if there isn’t any present – whether or not it may be humanity’s role to promote the growth of life on mars. You can download and listen to the entire podcast here UPDATE: Podcasts are now available via the World Space Week youtube channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/worldspaceweekassn Tomorrow’s episode takes us to the European Southern Observatory in Chile where we speak with astronomer Julien Girard about the wonders of … Read More

World Space Week podcast – Episode 1: Dennis Stone - Just So Science

Oct 04, 2011

To celebrate world space week 2011, we kicked off by chatting to Dennis Stone, the President of the World Space Week Association, about why we celebrate space week, why space speaks to a longing inside so many of us to understand what is out there lurking in the depths of the universe and why it’s so important for humanity to get there. You can listen to the full podcast or download it here. UPDATE: Podcasts are now available via the World Space Week youtube channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/worldspaceweekassn Again thanks to NZ Science Media Centre, Rhian Sheehan and all the others whom contributed to make this episode possible. Tomorrow’s episode (and my personal favourite!) features Dr. Chris McKay, an astrobiologist from … Read More

Just So Hiatus? - Just So Science

Sep 30, 2011

Some of you may have noticed (although at this point I’m most likely just stroking my own ego!) that Just So Science and Weekend Nanotech have been conspicuously silent over the past two weeks. This has actually been for good reason however as my free time has been taken up by a rather epic little endeavour. Some of you may be aware that next week is World Space Week – which Kiwispace has been promoting it left right and center, but to cap it all off we decided to produce a series of podcasts talking to the most interesting people who work in the space industry from around the globe. Like all plans, we grossly underestimated the amount of work that was involved, but we also underestimated how excited and supportive people are! Since then we … Read More

Inaugural Chancellor’s Lecture – Professor Sir Paul Callaghan - Just So Science

Sep 15, 2011

The first thing you notice about a Paul Callaghan talk, is the variety of people that show up. Packing the town hall almost to capacity are a mix of students, business-people, old folks, high school kids, academics and……..me. You can almost feel the weight of tradition here, I could swear that the person I’m sitting next too must have graduated from Victoria over 100 years ago. Slides of Victoria university’s grandiose history flicker slowly overhead – stretching from black and white still of the campus to images of Sir Paul Callaghan from his graduation address at the end of 2010. The low background murmur of voices dips as chancellor Ian McKinnon steps to the podium to begin his address. I must confess to a little unease at this point, as McKinnon’s voice begins intoning Sir Paul’s professional and academic history, … Read More

‘Weekend Nanotech’ – They’re making graphene out of WHAT?! - Just So Science

Sep 15, 2011

Just a quick post to point out some of the really amazing stuff going on right under our noses. Many of you will be familiar with graphene – the so-called ‘wonder material’ discovered originally in the leads of pencils (using sellotape – which gained the Nobel prize in Physics last year) with strange electrical and physical properties worthy of several blog posts on it’s own. However, current graphene synthesis techniques only make very small amount of graphene and consequently it’s now one of the most expensive materials available on our planet – largely because of the cost of the high-quality precursor material. During the heating process the carbon from the carbon source (in this case the cockroach leg) atomises and then re-collects on the underside of the copper as an atomically thin layer of … Read More

‘Just So Science’ – So back to those impossible stars - Just So Science

Sep 13, 2011

A couple of posts ago I mentioned that stars shouldn’t exist – at least not by classical physics standards anyway. I skirted the issue at the time, but it’s high time for a closer look as I cant delve into any more details about nanotech OR the lifecycle of stars without covering some basic quantum mechanical phenomena – turns out quantum mechanics is actually pretty important as I’ve mentioned before. First i need to more accurately describe the problem. Atoms, as you may remember from high school, have two types of particles squashed tight together at their nucleus; the positively charged protons and neutrally charged neutrons. (If you need a refresher and a laugh look here). Those positive charges are the central ‘problem’ in fusion, as they repel other positive charges and … Read More

‘Just So Science’ – Perspective - Just So Science

Sep 12, 2011

Once again life has managed to wiggle itself into the space between my blog posts. It’s particular incarnation last week was our entry for the ‘Festival for the future‘ competition. Having decided that my science communication ‘partners in crime’, Aimee Whitcroft and Elizabeth Connor, deserved some press for the great work that they’re doing in Wellington (although they are certainly not alone! I’m lucky enough to live in a city packed to the brim with creative communicative types!) – I put together this short video for the competition. [vimeo]http://vimeo.com/28783895[/vimeo] Over the next couple of weeks I’ll also be putting together another one extolling the virtues and wonders of the nanoscale (so watch this space) but sadly due to technical difficulties (i.e. the power cord on my laptop melted itself last night) it doesn’t look like … Read More

“Just So Science” – The Fusion Conundrum - Just So Science

Sep 04, 2011

After an altogether far-too-long hiatus due to Kiwipycon, the upcoming ‘Official Sciblogs Podcast’, a series of videoprofiles of MacDiarmid Institute Alumni, the 2011 NZ Datamixandmash competition, the Tell Us a Story Competition at Victoria University and gorgeous clear skies last night – I’ll get back to the story of stellar evolution! (You can find part 1 here) When we last left our forming stars, their parent nebulae had just collapsed under gravity providing enough energy to ‘ignite’ the process of nuclear fusion that will fuel the stars for the rest of their lives. We could feasibly skip the details of this process by saying “the heat generated by this gravitational collapse allows the individual Hydrogen atoms to smash into each other with enough energy to fuse, … Read More