Category Archives: Physics

Why Girls don’t take up Maths or Science

Today I had my GCSE German oral where I discussed why I wanted to do engineering in the future. This got me thinking, why did I want to do it? I love all the subjects that I study at the moment (with the exception of English), especially Physics and Maths and Engineering seems to combine most of them perfectly in to a useful and exciting profession that is needed in almost every aspect of the world. But then I remembered how surprised I was to find that only 11% of engineers are girls and I couldn’t help but think why? I would understand wouldn’t like Physics but wouldn’t expect it to be gender related. So I researched…it seems there has been a lot of speculation on this matter with many articles coming to the conclusion that it was a confidence issue. I still didn’t understand, why would girls not be confident in “hard” subjects. I found it, honestly, quite sexist alluding to the theories that women are somehow “softer” and just don’t have the mental capacity for tough subjects. My experience growing up and attending an all girls school was that you should choose whatever subject you like. There were some “nerd” stereotypes but they were never reinforced because most just didn’t care. I was schooled in an environment that had faith in us, I never even knew that girls were less likely to become scientists because my school refused to let me believe it. When I look at all the reports they often conclude it’s because women somehow feel that they would never do well in male dominated jobs- so in this way it’s actually better to be ignorant, not knowing what your chosen profession will be like socially, especially if it doesn’t boost your confidence. I’m still puzzled as to the cause of this, even if it is confidence- it would be great to get some views. But come on, who wouldn’t want to build a robot that can play tennis?

Coalesce…

Coalesce

Meh it’s an alright word. Nothing special. Simply to grow together or fuse, to amalgamate and unite. Although if we get down to some physics, linguistics and genetics….(I left out chemistry and computer science because they don’t follow the rhyme, not acceptable.)…then this word means a WHOLE lot more.

In Physics, it simply is the process where two or more particles merge after contact and form one single “daughter” particle. So this is most commonly used in meteorology. Let’s take a nice fluffy cloud, which contains thousands of tiny rain droplets. I am guessing that the more rain droplets there are, the more they collide or coalesce to form a larger droplet. When these larger droplets bash in to each other, they form even larger droplets. Eventually the size of the droplets become too heavy for the air currents to sustain and the droplets fall as rain.

In Chemistry, it is the process by which two or more (miscible) substances pull each other together after contact, so basically the same thing as physics- although it probably has different meanings in different fields of chemistry.

In linguistics, fusion or coalescence is when two segments of a word are turned in to one segment. So the most common example of this is in French, where the masculine word for a/one, “un” is pronounced without the “n”. So the u and n segments have merged together to form one sound. If you compare “un” in French to its counterpart in Spanish, “un (poco)” or “uno”, it shows that this new sound, quite nasal, has only developed in French! 

I hope that was un poco interesante!

I GOT AN ELECTRIC GUITAR

Ever since  Fleetwood Mac, Queen and good ol’ Eric Clapton roaming the Earth or more so on my Dad’s record player, I have always air guitared it out- yes we are talking since I was about 5 (there are many embarrassing videos of me hopping about to some Johnny Clegg and Savuka). Yeah well they call me the “headbanger”, what can I say..

For the past few years, I have been eager to try out either the drums or guitar- because I found that beating the stool to a pulp using some cocktail sticks from Italy or pretending my violin was a Fender just wasn’t working! And after a few years of ponderment (?), I did it. I just went and asked my wonderful parents if I could get a guitar, convincing them in the process that I wouldn’t be a dilletante in the field of electric guitaring. THEY SAID YES, and boy does it feel good. Imagining yourself playing the guitar in the mirror isn’t quite the same as holding the smooth built-in neck of your classic ebony Epiphone Les Paul Standard Plaintop and watching the light reflect of its shiny black surface- ahh the joy. Not to mention its ultra cool sidekick the Fender Mustang 1 V2 (the amp is so important) AND TOGETHER THEY WILL FIGHT OFF THE EVILS OF THE WORLD.

YES I NEED TO EXPRESS MY PURE EXCITEMENT AND LADILADILADSDSDKFKLF;kldjf;lkdjs (excitement, joy and hyperactivity summed up in one long beautiful word).

But what’s the point of playing something, if you don’t know how it works?

So this is obviously just a simple explanation, but hopefully when I go on to study engineering at (Oxford (MY MIND’S TELLING ME NO (because let’s face it, that is WAAy too hopeful) BUT MY BODY, MY BODY’S TELLING ME YEAAAHAHH))(bracketphilia again) I will understand everything like sugar on a pancake (with lemon, don’t ask about the analagy, I write what pops in my head, no more.)

If you play an electric guitar without an amp, it doesn’t make much sound because it doesn’t have a sound hole, like the acoustic guitar has. So the electric guitar, unlike the acoustic guitar, has pick-ups (my gorgeous gitarra has humbucker pick-ups, but you can also get single coil pick-ups as well), the electric guitar normally has a pickup at the neck and near the bridge. When the metal strings are played, the pick-ups beneath the strings create electric sound signals, which are then sent to the volume and tone controls and then to the amplifier.

Pick-ups work by producing a magnetic field (they contain magnets)  around the strings and coil of wire. When the strings vibrate, they cause the fields to vary in strength. Because the field is changing, it creates a varying electric current in the coil of wire, which is then sent off to the volume and tone controls.

The amp, works by amplifying (so punny) the weak signal of the guitar by increasing the voltage, thus increasing its power (power=current x voltage). The amplifier contains lots of transistors to regulate the stronger flow of current from power supplies. The amplifier can use the transistors and other components to change the sound of the guitar as well.

Now I don’t want to bore anyone, so there will be another post all about the amaziinginosity of transistors (awesome new word right there.)

Words of the Week

Dilletante“- a dabbler in a field or skill, someone with an amateur or superficial interest in something.

Derivation– from Italian: present active participle (yes I have being doing Latin for much too long) of “dilletare”, the participle meaning “lover of the arts” and the verb meaning “to delight”. “Dilletare” in turn comes from the Latin “delectare”, which means the same.

Synonyms include “smutterer” and “sciolist” from the Latin (diminuitive) “sciolus” ,which bears the same meaning as sciolist, from “scious” (knowing) from “scire” which is the verb “to know”

This word is my favourite, because it practically sums me up.

Now here is the star of the week for all you science people out there…..(drum roll, if you please)

Differential Equation“-an equation which relates a variable that changes over time to its rate of change. Now I am simply a dilletante (get it?) in the field of all science and maths but I will try to give an example..please do correct me if I am wrong….(I just hope my pure maths, PhD in maths brother never reads this..)(ellipses are gooood aren’t they…)(bracket-mania again sorry folks.)

My example is VELOCITY AND ACCELEERAATTTTTIIIIIOOOONNN (that is quite picturesque, is it not?), so velocity is the variable that is changing over time, and its rate of change is acceleration. The  equation is dv/dt= a. Cool beans. Calculus is cool, I like calculus. I don’t like graphs but I like calculus, thanks Democritus for starting it off.

Hasta el proximo post (yeah I know that it was bad spanish)