Exoplanets, moon moons and the scientists of Lincolnshire

A few years ago, when I was looking around the University of Lincoln for my MA course, the guide, a 2nd year undergraduate, said he hadn’t known Isaac Newton was from Lincolnshire until he’d come to the University. I think he was from Nottinghamshire. Sir Isaac isn’t our only famous scientist however.

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Children’s Book Review: ‘Anna & Evan Meet Charles Darwin’, by Tanya Hutter & Lina Daniel, illustrated by Karin Eklund

Title: Anna & Evan meet Charles Darwin
Author: Tanya Hutter and Lina Daniel
Illustrator: Karin Eklund
Release Date: 28th February 2019
Genre: Picture Book
Page Count: 30
Publisher: Clink Street Publishing
Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/44016125-anna-evan-meet-charles-darwin
Amazon Link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Anna-Evan-Meet-Charles-Darwin-ebook/dp/B07NJGGB5C


Join Anna and Evan on a magical adventure to the Galapagos Islands where they meet Charles Darwin, discover unusual animals and learn some interesting scientific facts.

This engaging and educational book is ideal for young children to encourage curiosity and interest in the natural world and science.

The project was supported by L’Oréal UK and Ireland For Women In Science Fellowship.

The Department of Chemistry at Cambridge tweeted: https://twitter.com/ChemCambridge/status/1095236077911187456

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I have questions…

Specifically, questions about the universe.

Right, so the universe is expanding. Current theory and available data suggests this.

My question, a question I’ve had for about 20 years, is, what is the universe expanding in to?

This is another of my ‘brain won’t shut off’ thoughts.

I was trying to visualise it all last night but I struggled with something. When people refer to ‘the universe’ do they mean the mass and energy created in the Big Bang, that now forms the galaxies of the universe? Or are they referring to everything, all that is?

I tried to come up with a way to visualise what I mean and I’m struggling. The best I’ve got so far is a balloon. At Big Bang, the singularity of energy that ‘exploded’ to produce all the energy and matter in the universe, is represented by a flaccid balloon. It starts to inflate and expands as air is forced into it, representing the expansion of the universe. There’s lots of energy produced, formation of stars, dark energy etc.

Now, what is that balloon expanding into?

Is there a reality outside of the universe, a box the balloon is expanding into? If there is, does the ‘box’ grow to fit the ever expanding balloon, or is there a limit that the balloon will reach? And what is the nature of that box? And, if we continue the analogy, will the balloon burst at some point in time, stretched to breaking point by the mass and energy that makes it?

Say there isn’t a ‘box’, what is there? Does something come into being with the expansion of the universe into that space? What is the nature of that space?

It’s all so confusing!

My confusion was added to when I read an article in New Scientist a few years ago about bubble universes. What’s in the space between?

See, this is why I never got anywhere as a scientist, my brain gets distracted by probably pointless questions that others have probably already answered. In the other hand, it does provide me with inspiration for writing. Got something bubbling away.

Bonus Review: ‘Testosterone Rex’, by Cordelia Fine


Published by: ICON

Publication Date: 24th January 2017 

ISBN: 9781785783180

Format: Paperback

Price: £8.99







Many people believe that, at its core, biological sex is a fundamental, diverging force in human development. According to this overly familiar story, differences between the sexes are shaped by past evolutionary pressures: Women are more cautious and parenting-focused, while men seek status to attract more mates. In each succeeding generation, sex hormones and male and female brains are thought to continue to reinforce these unbreachable distinctions, making for entrenched inequalities in modern society.

In Testosterone Rex, psychologist Cordelia Fine wittily explains why past and present sex roles are only serving suggestions for the future, revealing a much more dynamic situation through an entertaining and well-documented exploration of the latest research that draws on evolutionary science, psychology, neuroscience, endocrinology, and philosophy. She uses stories from daily life, scientific research, and common sense to break through the din of cultural assumptions. Testosterone, for instance, is not the potent hormonal essence of masculinity; the presumed, built-in preferences of each sex, from toys to financial risk taking, are turned on their heads.

Moving beyond the old “nature versus nurture” debates, Testosterone Rex disproves ingrained myths and calls for a more equal society based on both sexes’ full, human potential.

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Bonus Review number two: ‘The Nature Fix’, by Florence Williams

Published by: W.W. Norton and Company

Publication Date: 7th February 2017

Format: Hardcover

I.S.B.N.: 9780393242713

Price: $26.95





For centuries, poets and philosophers extolled the benefits of a walk in the woods: Beethoven drew inspiration from rocks and trees; Wordsworth composed while tromping over the heath; Nikola Tesla conceived the electric motor while visiting a park. Intrigued by our storied renewal in the natural world, Florence Williams sets out to uncover the science behind nature’s positive effects on the brain. From forest trails in Korea, to islands in Finland, to groves of eucalyptus in California, Williams investigates the science at the confluence of environment, mood, health, and creativity. Delving into completely new research, she uncovers the powers of the natural world to improve health, promote reflection and innovation, and ultimately strengthen our relationships. As our modern lives shift dramatically indoors, these ideas—and the answers they yield—are more urgent than ever.

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Review: ‘Earth’, by Jeffrey Jerome Cohen and Linda T. Elkins-Tanton

                                                                 Publication Date: 9th May 2017

Published by: Bloomsbury Academic  

Edition: Paperback

I.S.B.N.: 9781501317910 

Price: $14.95



Object Lessons is a series of short, beautifully designed books about the hidden lives of ordinary things.

In Earth, a planetary scientist and a literary humanist explore what happens when we think of the Earth as an object viewable from space. As a “blue marble,” “a blue pale dot,” or, as Chaucer described it, “this litel spot of erthe,” the solitary orb is a challenge to scale and to human self-importance. Beautiful and self-contained, the Earth turns out to be far less knowable than it at first appears: its vast interior an inferno of incandescent and yet solid rock and a reservoir of water vaster than the ocean, a world within the world. Viewing the Earth from space invites a dive into the abyss of scale: how can humans apprehend the distances, the temperatures, and the time scale on which planets are born, evolve, and die?

Object Lessons is published in partnership with an essay series in The Atlantic.

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Review: ‘Between XX and XY: Intersexuality and the myth of two sexes’ by Gerald N.Callahan

Published by: Chicago Review Press

Publication Date: 1st November 2016

ISBN: 9781613736548

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Review: Origins, by Frank H. T. Rhodes


Published by: Cornell University Press

Publication Date: 6th Septhember 2016

Format: Hardback

Price: £22 (approx.)

I.S.B.N.: 9781501702440

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Reviews, as promised :D

Two book reviews for you today, they’re not very long because it’s way too hot and muggy, and I’m still recovering from Paris.

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Review: Cannibalism: A Perfectly Natural History by Bill Schutt


Published by: Algonquin Books

Publication Date: 14th February 2017

Format: Hardback

ISBN: 9781616204624

Price: £20

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