Science Sunday – Nuclear Energy Explained: How does it work?

Have you ever been in an argument about nuclear power? We’re not sure that we have but it is an interesting subject to look at. Nuclear power has changed the world around us in a number of enormous ways. But, as interesting as it is that’s not to say it’s not controversial. With one side of the argument saying it’s a viable cleaner alternative to coal. The other side tells us about radioactive waste adds to the damage we do to the planet (with no mention of superpowers).

But how does Nuclear Energy actually work?

That is the simple aim of this video to make things a little bit clearer. When 10% of all our electricity (and 0% of super powers) comes from this type of energy it’s good to know at least a little bit about how it functions.

So from Light water reactors to Uranium 235 you’re bound to learn something new



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Ted Talk Tuesday – Hooked by an octopus

The Octopus is one of the most amazing creatures on our planet. With 8 limbs and multiple brains they sound like something out of a science fiction movie.

In this talk Underwater filmmaker Mike deGruy takes us on a journey beneath the sea. He’s been involved with ocean based research for decades.  He is deeply passionate about cephalopods. deGruy and his team were the first to film two rarely seen cephalopods, the nautilus and the vampire squid.

“Mike deGruy filmed in and on the ocean for more than three decades”

He talks with a passion about ocean conservation and the effects that humans have on all sea animals.



Science Sunday – What happened before human history

Human history seems like it’s been recorded forever but really it’s only a small part of our story. There’s a huge amount of our history that has gone completely unrecorded . Its the job of archaeologists to piece together what we know and create a picture from before we had the written word.


A very different world

This video tries to explain this strange time before humans could even imagine the trappings of modern life. Some of which we all now take for granted. Before we all had devices with all the worlds information in a easily searchable format in our pockets life was very different indeed. Much shorter life expectancies , constant threat from predators and exposure to the elements. These are just a few of the things that modern man never really consider any more. This video shows us a very different world from which we live in now.



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Science Sunday – Aging What happens when we get older§?

Aging it’s something we can’t avoid. No matter what we do time keeps moving on. But is there anything we can do to limit its effects? Why does it even happen anyway?

This video tells us what happens to our bodies as we age. It even goes down to the genetic level and explains what happens to out DNA. Getting older is something that none of us can avoid. But the more we know the more we can do to offset its effects.




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Ted Talk Tuesday – What I learned from going blind in space


Space the final frontier

( Sorry we couldn’t resist ) The international space station is one of humanities greatest achievements and a dream trip for many of us here. You may remember Chris Hadfield from his amazing Bowie cover from the station and his famous twitter account. While he was on the station he would start each day by tweeting hello earth. In this talk he vividly describes how easily bad situations can happen. The talk shows us how to deal with events that are totally out of our control.



Ted Talk Tuesday – How we unearthed the Spinosaurus

Who doesn’t love dinosaurs? And the Spinosaurus may be one of the best and biggest to have ever lived.

Whether it’s a museum or on the big screen. Dinosaurs always manage to capture the imagination. In this talk Nizar Ibrahim details the painstaking work it takes to discover one of these beasts. The Spinosaurus is a 50 foot long predator from 97 million years ago. The dig takes place in the Sahara desert, and paints a incredible picture of this extinct giant.

the Spinosaurus is a “dragon from deep time.”

Nizar Ibrahim is a Paleontologist from Chicago who specialises in the Cretaceous period. He’s discovered some amazing things about the creature. Its crocodile-like head, dense bones and wide, paddle feet suggest it was a water dweller unlike any other.

It may even be the largest predatory dinosaur to have ever existed!


You CAN teach an old dog new tricks! How learning can literally rewire your brain.

How many people do you know who’ve said (or how many times have you said yourself)…

“I wish I’d learnt a language/sport when I was younger instead of trying to start later in life”?

I’m guessing quite a few. Conventional wisdom tells us that it’s so much easier to learn things when you’re a kid, after all, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.

But the fantastic news is that this isn’t strictly true. There isn’t a critical period where you have to learn things by a certain age and the brain certainly doesn’t become fixed at any point. The brain’s ability to adapt and change is known as Brain Plasticity and research from as early as the 1960s have shown that change continues throughout our lives.

So why is it harder to learn things as you get older?

It isn’t a direct result of ageing, learning is simply harder when we’re out of the practice of learning. Children are constantly learning, and so it’s a quick and easy process for them, but as we get older, we already know quite a lot, so we learn less frequently, and the learning muscles in our brain get stiff. Just like any muscle in your body, if you don’t use the learning part of your brain, it gets weaker and then learning new things feels more difficult.

The fantastic news is that there’s still hope for us oldies adults. It is possible to literally rewire your brain, changing its physical structure and function, even as you get older. You can actually train your brain to learn more effectively. The even better news is that this has some amazing side effects as well.

What actually happens in the brain when you learn something?

When your brains wants you to do something, it fires off electrical signals that then whizz along pathways of neurons, going from one to another in a chain reaction – a bit like dominoes, but really really fast.

Just like electrical wires need insulation, so do these chains of neurons in your brain, only instead of plastic, our insulation is a fatty, white substance called Myelin. This white matter makes up nearly 50% of your brain and the stronger these myelin pathways are, the faster the electrical signals can travel.

As you’re learning, a process called myelination happens, where you strengthen the myelin insulation around the pathways of neurons in your brain. As these pathways develop, the signal becomes faster and clearer and new, clunky and uncomfortable skills become smooth and more natural.

But that’s not even the best bit…

Learning doesn’t only help you with the skill that you’ve been learning, it also has a remarkable effect on lots of our other brain functions:

Bigger Brains – Learning and using large amounts of information can actually make your brain bigger! Black cab drivers in London, who have to learn an inordinate amount of information in order to navigate the (horribly confusing web of) London streets without the aid of a satnav, have much larger hippocampuses than ‘normal’ people.[1]

Better Memory – In order to learn new activities, you have to overcome a series of challenges, which helps you improve your memory. [2]

Bounce-back-ability (also known as more resilience) – These challenges also mean, you’re quite likely to make mistakes, and this can actually make you more resilient [3], which means you’ll be better able to cope with, and bounce back from, stressful situations [4].

Faster reactions – Learning a new sport that improves your fitness can also help you become more aware of your surroundings, process information faster and react more quickly [5]

Just generally making you a more competent person  – Learning a new language in particular has a whole range of benefits, including making you better at planning, prioritizing, decision making and understanding other people’s point of view, as well as making you less likely to fall for marketing hype (who knew?!) [6]

Slower ageing – It’s even been found to help delay ageing [7], and slow the onset of dementia[8].

Learning a new skill can feel daunting, but…

It will absolutely get easier the more you learn. Even if you’re out of practice now, as you build those myelin pathways, what feels awkward, will soon start to feel more natural. And remember, you don’t have to learn everything straight away, you just have to start.

(And if you don’t know where to start, why not check out our goals page for some inspiration.)