Sanctuary’s science, spin and songs
Bryan Sanctuary

June 6, 2011

The Chemical Kinetics of Sobering Up

The time to reduce 4 beers to 2 is two hours. The time to go from 2 beers to 1 is one hour, and the time to go from 1 beer to the legal limit is 30 minutes. It therefore takes a whooping 3.5 hours to reach the legal limit: 4 beers take seven times longer to metabolize than 1 beer.
June 2, 2011

The Thermodynamics of Weight Loss.

Another way to ask the same question: suppose you have eaten all the food you need to keep your metabolism and daily activity going, but then you have one cookie too many. How much fat will that put on you?
May 30, 2011

A Moon Struck Awakening in India.

As I looked over the Bay of Bengal, I saw what I initially thought was the sun setting. It was large and gold and full, half hidden by the sea’s horizon. I was struck for a few seconds by its beauty and felt a surge of good energy flow through me. I suddenly realized that it was not the setting sun, but the full moon rising.
May 26, 2011

Connecting with Felix Bloch and the Golden age of Physics

“We were not under a lot of pressure. We did not work weekends nor late at night and took our coffee breaks.” None-the-less, they were successful in seeing the first absorption of energy between the two levels of the spin of ½ magnitude which are split in the presence of a magnetic field—the Zeeman Effect.
May 23, 2011

Life after NMR : My Journey to Quantum Weirdness

Well maybe I am being stubborn and accept that non-locality is a property of Nature. However it is the most worrying aspect of quantum mechanics, an otherwise fantastically successful theory of the microscopic. It has got to the point that since no answer has yet been found, the vast majority of physicists (I believe grudgingly) accept the statistical nature of the microscopic and believe indeed that God does play dice.
May 18, 2011

The Success of NMR — Good Science

Two dimensional Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (2D-NMR) quickly followed from the remarkable theoretical musings of Jean Jeener: ideas that were experimentally developed by Richard Ernst and others, and taken to new levels of sensitivity and resolution with the ability to study structure, function and kinetics. This moved NMR from chemistry to biochemistry, into the life sciences and, finally, with the founding work of Raymond Andrews, Paul Lauterbur, and Sir Peter Mansfield culminated in the development of non-invasive Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) (with the word “Nuclear” removed to placate the masses).
May 4, 2011

Cooking Chemistry: Recipe for Right Density Pancakes

Let us suppose that you read somewhere that perfect pancakes should have a density of 0.7 g ml-1. How could you ensure that you cook the pancakes so that they come out with that density?
April 25, 2011

Cataclysmic Tectonic Shifting – Discussing Doomsday

The skin of the Earth rearranges in a cataclysmic event. As the Earth’s crust trusts and turns, tsunamis slosh around the globe and volcanic activity obliterates the sun causing rapid cooling. Such an event can happen over the period of a few days, as evidenced by the fast freezing of animals found with their tropical diet still intact in their bellies. Many species become extinct, and those pockets of human’s that do survive are thrown back to the Stone Age.
April 18, 2011

Panting Hot Chickens, Carbon Dioxide and Carbonic Acid

What do hot chickens, pH of blood, bubbly drinks, coral reefs, and thermostating the Earth have in common? They all make use of one of the most basic processes in the Physical Chemistry: the equilibrium between carbon dioxide and carbonic acid.
April 16, 2011

Thermodynamics and Physical Chemistry Song by Flanders and Swann

A song by Flanders and Swan recorded many years ago that explains the laws of thermodynamics very clearly
March 30, 2011

Nuclear Radiation (3): Biological Effects of Radiation

In this third part on nuclear radiation I want to mention some of the biological effects. Although many agree that no level of radiation is safe, it really comes down to a matter of chance. Since negative effects of radiation increase with increased exposure, we should do what we can to keep radiation around us to a minimum.
March 26, 2011

Nuclear Radiation (2): How a Nuclear Reactor Works

The fission reactor uses a controlled nuclear fission process to produce thermal energy, which is then converted into electricity by boiling water. With the exception of the reactor core, a nuclear power plant is similar to any other power plant that relies on thermal energy. The difference is the means by which the thermal energy is produced. Nuclear fuel is most commonly composed of compounds containing Uranium 235 which makes up less than 1% or uranium ore in natural abundance. Most Uranium is U -238 and we have seen in part 1 that this is radioactive and decays primarily by alpha emission.

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