Science this week – “Oh be a fine girl, kiss me!”

Well, you probably weren’t expecting that as the title of my “Science this week” post, were you?!  As those of you who are astronomically minded will realize, this is actually a mnemonic: “Oh be a fine girl, kiss me” is a way of remembering the correct order of stellar spectral classes, from hottest to coldest.  Whilst looking up some information about the Hertzprung-Russel diagram, I started to wonder if anyone had written a song about it, as those lyrics would make a pretty good chorus… so I went looking, and found this song by Dr. H. Paul Shuch from the SETI Institute [lyrics and music here].  Can anyone think of any more songs about the spectral classes? Would anyone like to write one? If so, let me know!

Stars as grains of sand

It’s often said that there are as many stars in the galaxy as there are grains of sand on Earth.  A couple of weeks ago, physicist and author of the XKCD comic series, Randall Munroe tackled a bit of an extension to this analogy in his “What if” series – answering the question

“If you made a beach using grains the proportionate size of the stars in the Milky Way, what would that beach look like?”

Click the question above to find out his answer!

Radioactivity Workshop

A picture of a Nerf gun
What does this have to do with radioactivity?!

Most of the kit has now arrived (even if some of it might look a little bizarre!), so we’re all good to go on Saturday!  The session times are confirmed as:

11.15 for 11.30 GENERAL INTEREST
13.00 for 13.30 GCSE / IGCSE (1 hour) / A LEVEL (1.5 hours)

If you still want to come, and haven’t yet signed up, email me at as soon as you can!

Institute of Physics events

You’ve only got two weeks to sign up if you want to go to Cragside, or to the Chair’s Dinner, where I will be giving a talk entitled “Scientists can’t communicate”.  More information at the links above.

And finally…

If you’ve been watching the Winter Olympics in the last couple of weeks, you might be interested in catching up with a series of short web videos made by Youtube team ASAPScience (along with CBC) covering a lot of aspects of Science related to the games.  This one looks at the interesting effects of teamwork.