Sharing my passion of science. One day I will be a physicist , just let me get the qualifications first…


February 2017


Pluto is a dwarf planet that lies in the Kuiper Belt. It’s an area full of icy bodies and other dwarf planets at the edge of our solar system.  Pluto is the biggest object in this region and so some call it King of the Kuiper Belt.”

A dwarf planet is a medium-sized world roughly 2000km wide that orbits a star. In our solar system , 5 known bodies qualify as dwarf planets. They include Pluto. Asteroids are smaller than dwarf planets. These rocky chunks mainly circular between Jupiter and Mars , some do however have elongated orbits near earth.

Comets however are big , dusty snowballs that venture in towards the sun from the chilly reservoirs of icy bodies  , the Kuiper Belt beyond Neptune and the more distant Oort cloud. As they approach the sun and heat up , Comets sprout fuzzy asppriachntmospheres of gas and dust and sometimes a long tail.

The Kuiper Belt

At distances of about 30 and 50 astronomical units from the sun( an astronomical unit is  a unit of measurement equal to 149.6 million kilometers , the mean distance from gbe centre of the earth to the centre of the sun) .


Some interesting facts:

Pluto is only about half the width of the United States. Charon is about half the size of Pluto. Charon is the largest moon compared to the body it orbits (whether planet or dwarf planet) of any moon in the solar system.

Almost all the planets travel around the sun in nearly perfect circles. But Pluto does not. It takes an oval-shaped path with the sun nowhere near its center. What’s more, its path is quite tilted from the nice, orderly plane where all the planets orbit.(Mercury has a slightly lop-sided orbit, although not nearly so much as Pluto’s.)

Compared to most of the planets and their moons, the whole Pluto-Charon system is tipped on its side. Like the planets, Pluto’s spin axis stays pointed in the same direction as it orbits the sun. But unlike all planets except Uranus, Pluto is tipped on its side. The planets’ axes of rotation stand more or less upright from the plane of their orbits.

If you lived on Pluto, you’d have to live 248 Earth years to celebrate your first birthday in Pluto-years.

If you lived on Pluto, you would see Charon from only one side of the planet. Charon’s orbit around Pluto takes about six and one-half Earth days. Pluto’s day (that is, one complete rotation) takes exactly the same amount of time. So, Charon always “hovers” over the same spot on Pluto’s surface, and the same side of Charon always faces Pluto.

At Pluto’s current distance from the sun, the temperature on its surface is about 240 degrees below zero Celsius  (-400° F). It can get even colder as it moves farther from the sun. 

From Pluto, the sun looks like just a bright dot in the sky, the brightest star visible. The light from the sun is as bright on Pluto as the light from the full Moon is on Earth.

If you weigh 100 pounds on Earth, you would weigh only 7 pounds on Pluto!

On January 19, 2006, NASA launched a robot spacecraft on the mission called New Horizons. The spacecraft arrived at Pluto in July 2015, and will continue to study other objects in the Kuiper Belt from about 2018 to 2022.

Pluto is still the largest object in the Kuiper Belt despite being two thirds the size of earth’s moon , it has a thin atmosphere (which can freeze when it is furthest from the sun). It’s surface is covered in methane and water ice and had a reddish colour due to the presence of carbon-based chemicals called tholins. 

It does have a complex system of satellites. Charon , and the far smaller Styx, Nix, Kerberos and Hydra.

Pluto was discovered on this day in 1930! Happy 87th Earth birthday Pluto!


Image credits: NASA & google 

A Renowned  Renaissance Man 

Galileo Galilei 

The man who is best known as the example of the contrast between the science practised by ancient scholars and those who took part in the abundant scientific achievements of the European Renaissance  (literally meaning rebirth in French).

His martyrdom 

Galileo angered the Catholic Church by making claims , rightly so , that the Earth revolves around the sun and not vise Versa. He was forced to recant those views that he demonstrated in his book dialogue concerning the two chief world systems . This contradicted church teachings and some of the clergy accused galileo of heresy.

Galileo was 68 years old and sick. Threatened with torture, he publicly confessed that he had been wrong to have said that the Earth moves around the Sun. Legend then has it that after his confession, Galileo quietly whispered “And yet, it moves.” 

The Church eventually lifted the ban on Galileo’s Dialogue in 1822, when it was common knowledge that the Earth was not the center of the Universe. Still later, there were statements by the Vatican Council in the early 1960’s and in 1979 that implied that Galileo was pardoned, and that he had suffered at the hands of the Church. Finally, in 1992, three years after Galileo Galilei’s namesake spacecraft had been launched on its way to Jupiter, the Vatican formally and publicly cleared Galileo of any wrongdoing.


He spent his final years of life as a martyr to the cause of science.

His science 

Galileo didn’t invent the telescope, that is a common misconception. However , he took advantage of the technology by improving and popularising it in 1609. He had heard of the new instrument invented by Hans Lippershey in the Netherlands. He then went on to build some of the world’s best telescopes for his time.

In 1610 he observed 4 objects surrounding Jupiter that behaved unlike stars; they were Jupiter’s four largest moons.
He also discovered the phases of Venus and the rings of Saturn.

Galileo discovered the secrets of the pendulum swing and using timing methods such as his pulse and the oscillation of a pendulum and  he began performing experiments in motion proving once and for all that bodies of different weights fall at the same speed. The Acceleration due to gravity. 

Following Aristotle the belief was that a heavy object would fall faster than a lighter object. Galileo realised this was an illusion. If you drop a feather and and rock from a skyscraper, indeed the rock will fall faster, but that is primarily because there is another external force acting on the feather : air resistance.

Galileo was considering dropping objects from the famous  leaning tower of Pisa (his home town) but air resistance would have ruined the experiment.
If you have two rounded objects of different mass and if you roll them down a slope , they will roll down at precisely the same speed , assuming friction is negligible.

Galileo realised that the slope would slow the balls down so their speed of decent could be measured.

He also initiated the work behind Newton’s laws. Commonly credited to Newton , Galileo did In fact  realise before Newton that objects will remain stationery or in constant motion unless and external force acts upon the body.

 His life 

Galileo was born in Pisa , Italy in 1564 and he was not limited to one field of study  but much like his father , he took interest in music , painting and he also studied medicine in his youth. 

I dedicate this post to this renowned scientist. Happy Birthday to Galileo . Whose work shaped the modern physics that we come to  know  today. 


Image credits to Google & curiosity on Facebook. 

Research source: phenomenal physics by Isaac Mcphee

I use this table periodically 

Every science classroom you have entered will most likely  have had a periodic table somewhere. It is a  Bible for chemists and it can tell us a lot about the fundamental elements that make us what we are. 

I could not go a week  by without looking at a periodic table (basically all my chemistry homeworks  require it).

Chemical elements are the simplest substances found in nature consisting of individual atoms. 

Each nucleus of the atoms is surrounded by a cloud of negative electrons counteracted by a positive nucleus consisting of neutrons and protons making the overall charge of an atom neutral.

Within the periodic table you get the simplest, smallest  and most fundamental elements such as hydrogen and helium down to very dense elements such as radium with atomic number 92. A lot of the heavier elements are unstable and often undergo radioactive decay. 

The iron in our blood down to the oxygen we breath was fused in the very dense and extreme cores of large stars. The heavier elements after iron were created by supernova explosions which could reach such temperatures. However not all elements are “naturally” occurring. 

Neptunium, einsteinium and nobelium are some of the man-made elements. Any element with an atomic number greater than 92 is considered to be a man-made element

As of February 2015, there are 26 man-made elements listed on the periodic table. The actinide series includes neptunium, polonium, americium, curium and berkelium. Californium, einsteinium, fermium, mendelevium, nobelium and lawrencium are also found in the actinide series. Elements 104 through 118 are located in period 7 of the periodic table. Man-made elements in period 7 include rutherfordium, ununtrium, flerovium and ununoctium.

Scientists have determined that some of them are produced naturally in very small quantities. All of the man-made elements are radioactive and have the ability to undergo nuclear fission. Scientists use nuclear reactors and particle accelerators to produce these elements.

Many of the man-made elements are named after scientists or historical figures. Curium, first identified in 1944, was named after Marie and Pierre Curie. Rutherfordium was named after Ernest Rutherford, the father of nuclear physics. Researchers identified rutherfordium by bombarding plutonium with neon ions. Einsteinium gets its name from theoretical physicist Albert Einstein. Researchers from Berkeley identified einsteinium in the debris created by a thermonuclear explosion.

The inert gases (noble gases) or group 0 atoms don’t react easily as they already have an ideal electron configuration which enables them to have a stable life.

The table is  primarily split between groups and periods. 

Down a group:

  • Atomic radius increases 
  • Nuclear charge increases 
  • Electron repulsion and shielding increases

Across a period  the electronegativity of atoms increases. 

Electronegativity is  a measure of the tendency of an atom to attract a bonding pair of electrons. The Pauling scale is the most commonly used. Fluorine (the most electronegative element) is assigned a value of 4.0, and values range down to caesium and francium which are the least electronegative at 0.7.

The most important event in the history of the periodic table occurred in 1869 when the table was published by Dmitri Mendeleev , a Russian chemist , who built upon earlier discoveries by scientists such as Antoine-Laurent de Lavoisier and John Newlands.

This was a tiny insight into one of the best structures in modern science. 
Happy belated  national periodic table day ! (7th February)


Image credits to Google.

All writing is my own from school notes. 

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