2019 - 20 ISSUE 1
Society Summary by Dan Quinton
he Moncrieff-Jones Society is very dear to my heart, and not being able to be in school this last year has been particularly difficult, missing many of the talks. Those I have managed to attend have been, as always, of exceptional standard. I would like to thank David Keyworth - a dear friend and Acting Head of Science this year - for guiding the Society through this strange year for so many reasons. ‘DK’ has been a loyal and passionate supporter of the Society since his arrival at this school well over a decade ago now. I would also like to thank Mike Land and Ben Brown for being such impressive leaders this year and everything they have done to ensure MJS remains the flagship Society of Caterham School and a centre of excellence. My passion is that Moncrieff-Jones is not a ‘school’ science society, but an oustanding Science Society full stop. Thanks to Science we live in an extraordinary technological age - a world of Twitter and sound bites. A world where ill-informed people give their opinion about anything and everything, without really understanding the facts, or only having a superficial knowledge having read the first article that appears on Google. Science often requires a knowledge of a vast array of facts before you can begin to understand and certainly before you can give a worthwhile opinion. It requires incredible discipline yet is also, at the cutting edge, incredibly creative. We live in a dangerous and
changing world and only through Science might we be able to find solutions to many of them - the ultimate solution to covid 19 will only come through Science. The brave students giving lectures at the Society’s meetings are part of that hope for the future. They receive no help from staff, yet have to present a 30 minute talk and are then cross-questioned by the audience for another 40 minutes. They have to teach themselves a vast array of material outside any A level specification and then understand them if they are to survive a MJS lecture! The trendy buzz phrase ‘Independent Learning’ has crept into education over the last few years. Although as Scientists we loathe trendy jargon, MJS has been doing just this for the last 50+ years - a Moncrieff lecture must be the ultimate in independent learning a skill top universities are for sure looking for in their undergraduates. We live in an age of Science. There has never been a greater time to study Science and I am jealous of all our students leaving to go to University to study Science degrees. How I would love to be in the lectures with them. It a testimony to the input of so many generations of Caterhamians that the society, founded by John Jones over 50 year ago, survives and continues to thrive.
M C J
I N T R O D U C T I O N Dear Reader, What an interesting year it has been both in the society, across the world. I want to welcome you to the annual magazine for the Moncrieff-Jones Society, summarising the past year’s events. We were privileged to be visited by an old Caterhamian, Dr Jansen Zhao who left in 2010. During the annual Christmas lecture, he gave us an insight into his work with quantum computing, not only is this his PhD subject, he is also currently a senior researcher at ETH Zurich. There was an astounding turnout to his evening talk, and he had the sixth form captivated for a detailed talk the day after. This year we have had nine students step up to the challenge of presenting at the society. This is no mean feat, as each student prepares a detailed talk on a topic of their choice, outside of the usual curriculum. After a thoughtprovoking presentation, it opens to the floor, allowing for other students and teachers to ask questions; what might appear as a daunting prospect at first, is what many will say is the most memorable and rewarding aspects of their talk. Not only does it give them a chance to demonstrate their detailed and in-depth knowledge of their specialist topic, it is valuable preparation for moving forward to the next step such as university. This magazine contains summaries written by our speakers, covering topics from the depths of space, to cholesterol in the blood. This year’s talks maintained the usual high standards, and while I won’t be there to see them in the future, I am excited as to what the future holds. I would like to thank Ben Brown, the vice-president and head boy for helping me keep the society organized and the talks running smoothly, I wouldn’t have been able to do it without his help. As Mr Quinton took time to recover, Mr Keyworth helped guide the ship in the right direction, and for that I am very grateful. While many things currently seem uncertain, one thing that we can be sure of is that the society is in safe hands, I wish the succeeding president, Alex Richings, and vice-president Max Fogelman the very best for the following year. I would like to also welcome back Mr Quinton, as he takes the reigns once again to inspire students for many years to come. I’ve greatly enjoyed the experience running the society this year, and I know it will only get better. Enjoy reading! Kind regards, Mike Land
Christmas Lecture Dr Jansen Zhao Quantum Mechanics JansenÂ holds the role of a senior researcher at the computer science department of ETH Zurich. His research explores the emerging promise of quantum information processing and its potential significance across the realm of computer science. Specific domains of recent concern include machine learning, statistical inference, and scientific computation in chemistry and physics. Jansen completed his PhD at Singapore University of Technology and Design in the group of Prof. Joseph Fitzsimons in 2018, specialised in the theory and application of quantum computing. Before that, he did his Master of Physics at Oxford University specialised in theoretical and mathematical physics.
Jansenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s research has resulted in publications at toptier and specialised journals such as Physical Review Letters and Physical Review A, and presentations at top academic conferences in the field. His work has been recognised by the IBM Q as a winner of the annual best paper award. Jansen is currently a Qiskit Advocate for IBM Q. He has also been a nominee of EmTech Asia Innovators Under 35 by MIT Technology Review.
uantum mechanics underpins the most fundamental understanding of reality by modern science. The discovery of quantum mechanics and its development throughout the 20th century have led to an unprecedented technological revolution. In recent years, impressive progress has been made both theoretically and experimentally in further harnessing the quantum nature of reality by directly leveraging fundamental features in quantum systems such as interference and entanglement to perform information processing tasks such as secure communication and computation of hard problems, with the promise of being dramatically advantageous over classically achievable. In this last year’s Christmas lecture, old Caterhamian Jansen presented an intuitive overview of the interdisciplinary research of quantum information science and provide snapshots of the latest progress of our collective endeavour in harnessing the quantum information processing to solve some of the most pressing problems our society has to face today. How are you finding working in Zurich? I like Zurich very much and the work I do there is challenging and very exciting. I am now in the computer science department with a group who works on machine learning and algorithms, I am the only one who is working on quantum computing in the group so I am trying to bridge the gap between the traditional computing and the quantum computing. It’s a fairly challenging role, I find there is a language barrier between two big research fields.
What are the applications of quantum computing? In the near term something that could happen is simulating and studying quantum-chemistry. So, like when you bind many molecules together, the electronic degree of freedom blows up exponentially and you cannot reasonably simulate this with any classical computer. Therefore, with a classical computer simulating reaction mechanisms, you end up implementing very inefficient ways to make chemical compounds, if you can use a more powerful computing device, ie. quantum computer, you get a better understanding of how a chemical reaction works, so you make things much more efficient. There are a couple of other things like optimisation problems, machine learning problems and security enhancement where it can be applied. It won’t ever replace regular computers as they are responsible for solving very different types of problems.
think this is going to happen any time soon as this will require a large number of clean qubits, we have low quality qubits in small quantities at the moment, so this isn’t going to happen for at least a decade. You can’t rule out the possibility there is some organisation somewhere is really on top of things and are not telling anyone about their progress and they are just secretly have produced a great quantum computer and have started breaking codes, you can’t rule that out, but it’s unlikely. Where do you see yourself in the future? I am not bonded to the academic path in research, but it’s a possibility. It looks like maybe the quantum computing industry will provide an abundance of opportunities as it picks up and I am open to take them to make something out of it.
Where do you see quantum computing heading? Ultimately, I don’t know. You saw a massive pickup in the last five years or so, big companies and start-ups begin building up very powerful hardware, ones I wouldn’t even be able to imagine when I was starting my PhD which was only about 5 years ago. So, it’s getting really exciting however there is still a lot of technical challenges. If we get something working in the next 3 years or so, you will see some really interesting applications in 5 to 10 years. It’s looking very promising, but nobody can precisely predict what is going to happen. It is going to break the security encryption methods you currently use, however we don’t 5
UPPER SIXTH Neutrino Oscillations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Page 8 Yuka Okada I chose to talk about neutrino oscillation because it really interested me when the news about its discovery was published 5 years ago. This dragged me into the world of particle physics which I now love. Through out the years, I have been deepening my understanding of particle physics through reading and seminars, and I realised the importance of the research of neutrinos and how encouraging the future seems for this invisible particle. Once I started the research for this presentation, it was very hard to stop as there are so many more fascinating aspects to the particle that I struggled to fit everything in. I hope that people are more interested in the field of particle after my presentation and I wish to go on to learn much more about them at university.
Quantum Entanglement . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Page 12 Leo Yue Having learnt about quantum mechanics in a systematic way, I could not help but notice that there were still widespread misconceptions about this not so new area of physics. I felt that I should do something so I chose one of the most mysterious features of quantum physics – entanglement - as my MoncrieffJones talk topic. I would like to convey the idea that despite being dubbed ‘mysterious’, scientists do have a solid understanding of the phenomenon based on a rigorous theoretical framework and experimental evidences. In preparing for the talk, I gained more thorough knowledge on the topic as I needed to explain a complicated subject in a way that is easy to understand, and also be ready for all kinds of questions (for which the Society is particularly notorious!). I believe that this experience will benefit me as I go on to do further studies and research on physics at university.
Terraforming Mars . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Page 16 Drew McGlashan I am aspiring to be an aerospace engineer. I became fascinated with space and engineering at a young age and have since decided that I want to devote my life to that aspect of human progression. I learnt about the possibility of terraforming mars a few years ago and have been following SpaceX and Elon Musk’s achievements very closely ever since. The future is going to be very exciting.
TALKS Biological & Chemical Warfare . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Page 20 Isabella Tork I hope to read Natural Sciences at university. In my MoncrieffJones talk on Biological and Chemical Warfare, I spoke about weapons of mass destruction which have caused significant harm in history, or are hypothetically able to cause significant harm. After reading upon the chemical properties in highly virulent compounds, and the mechanism of action behind the toxicity of the agents, on a cellular level, I was left both fascinated yet devastated in how scientific discoveries are used in harmful ends. Understanding the science behind warfare can provide remarkable breakthroughs in preventing such harm, but on the other hand could guide a future of the most destructive wars.
How powerful is the brain? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Page 24 Olivia Lindo I based my Moncrieff-Jones talk on the brain and specifically questioned how powerful it is and why human brains are ‘special’. I chose this topic after attending a medical physiology and neuroscience lecture where I was amazed by the topics covered, which led me to question how humans became the intelligent species they are today.
Planet Nine . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Page 26 Zakhar Davydov The Solar System. From the first time I ever read about it, I have turned my eyes to the sky. Even though I saw nothing with the naked eye, I knew there were huge planets orbiting the same sun that Earth orbits around. At every opportunity I want to share that knowledge, pointing out the planets in the night sky to my friends, who may or may not have even been looking at the same thing as me. As time went on, I could only ask more questions: “What if it’s wrong? What if there are more planets out there?” These questions bothered me. I had to get to the answers. As it turned out, I was not alone in asking these things. Others were out there observing and studying the skies, looking for the truth. After conducting some research, I was truly amazed – there is a possibility for the existence, and a real contender for Planet Nine. I had to ensure that I shared these discoveries to other science enthusiasts.
Oscillations Yuka Okada Since the discovery of neutrinos, the importance of its research has been growing ever since. The finding of neutrino oscillation had a very important role in the field of science, for example, it was able to explain the problem of the sun model. There are more mysteries about this particle such as its mass which may be able to explain more about the beginning of the universe, which is why it is such an interesting particle to study.
Particle physics is a study of the behaviour of subatomic particles in order to understand the world. It started about 2000 years ago with people wondering what things are made up of, a model was developed called the Standard Model of Particles, which summarises the knowledge of the most fundamental particles we know now. Standard Model of particles consist of bosons, leptons & quarks. Bosons (right hand side of the model) are what the particles interact with, i.e. they are the force carriers. When particles interact, they interact through the exchange of bosons, or they interact via the bosons. E.g: strong force sticks quarks together, and weak force changes quark types during interactions. Quarks makes the matter that we can see and touch. There are 6 types which come in pairs: up & down, top & bottom, charm & strange. For example, protons are made of 2 up quark and 1 down quark, and neutrons are made of 1 up quark and 2 down quarks.
existence of an invisible particle being emitted with the electron so that it can carry the ‘missing’ momentum. From this, he predicted that this particle must have a tiny mass, have neutral charge (to conserve lepton number), and it only interacts with the weak force (as it is the only boson that can change the type of particle). SO HOW CAN NEUTRINOS BE DETECTED IF IT DOESN’T INTERACT WITH MATTER? The fact that it doesn’t interact with the strong or the electromagnetic force means that it is really hard to be detected. In fact, there are trillions of neutrinos passing through your body without you noticing because it doesn’t interact with matter. So physicists found ways to implicitly detect the particle, and one of the common method of detection is by detecting the Cherenkov radiation.
There are also 6 types of leptons: electron, muon and tau with their corresponding neutrinos, electron neutrino, muon neutrino and tau neutrino.
HOW WAS NEUTRINOS PREDICTED? In 1930, Wolfgang Pauli predicted the existence of neutrinos after observing results of beta decay which seemingly violated the conservation of momentum. Beta decay occurs when a neutron changes to a proton, emitting an electron. When he was analysing the momentum of the emitted electrons, he realised that their momentum varied greatly despite them having ﬁxed theoretical energy. To explain this, he suggested an 10
Cherenkov ring is a ring of photons produced by the passing of a neutrino in water. The radiation occurs when the speed of neutrino exceeds the speed of light in water. (Neutrinos’ speeds are not eﬀected by water but photons are slowed down in liquid because water is denser than air.) The mechanism for this emission is similar to that of a sonic boom when an aircraft exceeds the speed of sound, or waves produced behind a boat travelling on a smooth water surface. The common thing about those three phenomena is that the thing is travelling faster than the wave it created. When a neutrino passes through water, it occasionally knocks an electron oﬀ the water molecule. The electron is a charged particle which now has the potential to create Cherenkov ring which is then detected by the photomultipliers (devices that is really sensitive to photons and is able to amplify the signal).
DISCOVERY OF NEUTRINO OSCILLATION In 2015, Mr Kajita and Mr McDonald received their Noble Prize for discovering Neutrino oscillation. They suggested that the neutrinos are made of superposition of three diﬀerent waves. The type of neutrino is determined by the change in phase of the resultant superposed waves. These change of neutrinos happen at a very small scale which means that quantum features would have to be considered. This gives a probabilistic approach to the phenomenon where we are able to work out the probability of a certain type of neutrino being detected. HOW OSCILLATION WAS DISCOVERED There are two results which hinted the existence of neutrino oscillation. Solar neutrino problem With neutrino detections from the sun, the results showed a lack of neutrinos observed which should have been produced by one of the step in the nuclear fusion of the sun. This was problematic because neutrinos produced by the steps later on in the fusion process were found, which couldn’t have happened if the previous step didn’t occur. The two solutions to this problem were either our understanding of the sun was completely wrong, or neutrino oscillation where the neutrinos were produced but appeared as other types of neutrinos on the way to Earth.
Atmospheric neutrino anomaly A lot of neutrinos are produced in the atmosphere when cosmic rays coming from space interact with the air molecules such as oxygen and nitrogen. As comic rays comes from all direction of space, the number of muon neutrinos detected should be the same wherever on Earth. However, the results showed something diﬀerent. The results showed that the number of muon neutrinos detected decreased as the distance that it had to travel to get to the detector increased. In other words, there weren’t enough muon neutrinos coming from the other side of the earth compared to theoretical value. Hence, the explanation of the neutrinos changed its type by the time it reached the detector makes perfect sense. FUTURE OF NEUTRINO RESEARCH In the universe that we live in, only objects made of matter are detected and nothing is made of antimatter. This is strange because when the Universe was created, matter and antimatter should have had the same chance of survival. However, the question may be answered if neutrinos are their own antiparticle known as Majorana particles, which can be proved by the existence of double beta decay. This is predicted to have a neutrino-less beta decay. This is a big question that many scientists were wondering, and if proven, it would be a huge step closer to knowing how the universe was created, which would be very exciting in the future. 11
Quantu Entangle Leo Yue Quantum entanglement is a phenomenon that occurs when quantum mechanics is applied to certain systems. It is seen as one of the special features of quantum mechanics that distinguish it from classical physics, and make it seem bizarre. Entanglement arises when quantum systems (usually particles) interact with each other and its ubiquity arises simply from the fact that fundamental particles interact with each other all the time.
A Brief History of Quantum Theory
Quantum Composite Systems
It is commonly believed that the study of quantum physics was initiated when Max Planck proposed the quantum hypothesis in tackling the blackbody problem in 1900, which states that energy carried by electromagnetic waves comes in discrete packets rather than continuously. Later, the idea was exploited by Albert Einstein, Niels Bohr, and Louis de Broglie in the studies of photoelectric effect, hydrogen atom model and matter wave theory, respectively. This period of discrete developments of physics using the quantisation hypothesis was known as the old quantum theory.
Considering a quantum system Q consisting of two simple systems A and B, each of which can take values a or a′ and b or b′ respectively, there are two ways we could write the state vector |ΨQ :
From 1925, different theoretical frameworks of quantum mechanics were devised, mainly including matrix mechanics by Werner Heisenberg and Max Born, and wave mechanics by Erwin Schrödinger. These two formulations were then unified by Paul Dirac with the standard postulates of quantum mechanics. According to the postulates, the configuration of a quantum system can be described by what is known as a state vector. For example, the state vector |Ψ taking the form
means that there are two possible states, namely|Ψ1 and |Ψ2 , and the probability of getting them are α2 and β2 respectively. The Copenhagen Interpretation Dirac’s postulates only provided a mathematical framework in which one could do calculations to correctly predict the outcome of the measurements but did not give a metaphysical interpretation of what the state vector physically means. There are multiple theories accounting for this, and amongst all, the Copenhagen interpretation developed by Bohr and Heisenberg is treated as the orthodox view. This interpretation treats quantum physics as being completely probabilistic and upon a measurement, the state vector immediately collapses into one of the possible states according to the probability distribution.
In classical physics, these systems are identical, but in quantum mechanics, to find out whether they are or not, we have to calculate the probabilities of each outcome when measuring these systems. Using the postulates above, we could easily find out a probability distribution for system Q:
However, for system Q′, by measuring A, one immediately collapses the state vector into either the first or the second state. So the outcome of B is determined by the previous measurement of A getting a for A will guarantee b for B. Thus, Q′ generates a different probability distribution:
Therefore, in system Q′, A and B are said to be entangled, because neither separately has a state vector to itself of any kind. We can only write out an overall state vector but not separate ones for each of the constituent systems. Entanglement occurs when particles interact with each other. For instance, the value of one particle’s energy, momentum etc. must be the total amount minus the measured value of the other, according to the conservation laws. EPR Thought Experiment In 1935, Einstein, Podolsky and Rosen published a paper to challenge the correctness and completeness of quantum mechanics. In this paper, a thought experiment was proposed based on the phenomenon of quantum entanglement and demonstrated that quantum physics allowed “spooky action at a distance”. We will have a look at a simplified version of this experiment. Imagine having two particles which are initially close together and interacting, so they get entangled. Then they are separated by 10 light years, with an observer each together with them. The two observers, Alice and Bob, are going to perform a measurement on their particle’s spin, which is entangled with the other, described by the state vector
That is to say, the two particles must have opposite spins, and there is a 50% chance that one will obtain one result if they perform a measurement on one particle. Now Alice measures her particle and gets, say, spin up. Note that this measurement collapses the entire wave function into the first possibility, which means that Alice, simply by measuring her own particle, knows immediately that Bob’s particle must be spin down. Einstein’s theory of relativity precludes any faster-thanlight transmission of information, but entanglement allows Alice to acquire knowledge about a particle 10 light years away at an instant! Based on this speculation, Einstein and his colleagues claimed that quantum theory was not complete. What Is Information? Before declaring failure for quantum mechanics, we must specify what is meant by information, and transmission of information. By definition, information in physics is the data needed to specify the state of a system. The information of a quantum system is encoded in its state vector, and thus includes the possible outcomes of a measurement and their associated probabilities. And when new correlations or dependencies are created between configurations of two systems, information is said to be transmitted, or a signal created. If we examine the EPR experiment set up closely, it is not hard to realise that the correlation is not else but precisely the entanglement. And when Alice performs her measurement, entanglement is broken, so an existing correlation is destroyed rather than new ones created, hence information is not transmitted. If Bob does not measure his particle, the only way to know the spin of his particle is for Alice to send a message across by, for example, a radio signal which travels at the speed of light and takes 10 years to arrive. Moreover, even if Alice would like to design an information transmission mechanism based on entanglement, she cannot send out any useful signal, because she cannot decide what she will get when she measures her side of the system, which is completely random. Consequently, it can be concluded that Einstein was wrong, and that entanglement does not allow faster-than-light signals. In 1964, John Bell introduced the Bell’s Theorem to quantify the level of correlation between two systems, which allowed experimental designs to test the existence of entanglement. Most of the experiments so far turned out in favour of quantum entanglement. Local Realism Unfortunately, or rather fortunately, the conundrum is not fully resolved. Despite obeying locality, that information is transmitted slower than light, entanglement phenomenon violates realism, the statement that physical entities and quantities exist independent of observations or measurements. Locality and Realism combines as local realism which features in all of classical mechanics, including Einstein’s special and general relativity. There are no hidden variables in a quantum system, as the results of the Bell tests suggested. In other words, the spin of the particle does not have a predetermined value before being measured. Therefore, a well-defined value depends on an actual measurement, which clearly contradicts with the assumption of realism. Quantum phenomena still cannot be reconciled with classical physics.
ER=EPR Physicists have made multiple efforts in solving the dilemma. A rather recent one, developed by Leonard Susskind and Juan Maldacena, which attempted to utilise the idea of wormholes to solve the “EPR paradox” was given the name ER=EPR, with “ER” standing for the Einstein-Rosen bridge, a name given to wormholes initially. The theory proposed that a non-traversable wormhole is equivalent to a pair of maximally entangled black holes. The wormhole is a solution to Einstein’s field equation, a prediction of general relativity, and the phenomenon of entanglement, a key characteristic of quantum physics. If the theory succeeds in making a connection between these concepts, it could be the doorstep for the unification of quantum mechanics and general relativity, which are nowadays in notorious conflict with each other. The ER=EPR theory indeed applies an idea first introduced in string theory, a compelling candidate for the unified theory. The idea, called AdS-CFT correspondence, describes a holographic universe, where the quantum field theory in the 4-dimensional CFT (Conformal Field Theory) space is a projection of the string theory in the 5-dimensional AdS (Anti-de Sitter) space.
Quantum Computing The fact that quantum computers are theoretically much more powerful than normal ones at certain tasks is a result of quantum entanglement. instead of using a traditional bit of information, quantum computers use quantum bits, or “qubits”, which can be carried by the spin of particles, with 1 being spin up and 0 being spin down. The potential ability of sustaining and manipulating the exponentially growing number of possibilities due to the formation of entanglements among the qubits gives rise to the power of quantum computing. Qubits are exceptionally prone to errors, as a tiny interference in the magnetic field can cause a “bitflip”, where a 0 becomes a 1 or a 1 becomes a 0. Luckily, the AdS-CFT correspondence could be used as a quantum errorcorrecting code to protect the qubits from going wrong.
Terraform Drew McGlashan Terraforming a planet is the process by which a planet is transformed into a habitable terrestrial body for humans and other plants and animals. Not only planets, but moons too, can be terraformed in order to accommodate mankind. Terraforming Mars, therefore, is simply changing Marsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; harsh environment to be more like Earthâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s.
ars at the moment is uninhabitable for human and plant life. With the average temperature at around -60°C and an atmospheric pressure of just 0.6kPa, compared to earth’s 101kPa, composed of 96% CO2 , a human would not last more than a few seconds on the surface without any protection.
THE LACK OF A MAGNETOSPHERE About 4 billion years ago, Mars might have looked a lot more like Earth is today with a nice thick atmosphere and oceans of water on its surface. At around the same time, the magnetic shield that protected Mars from the solar winds stopped working for unknown reasons. A magnetosphere is a huge magnetic field around a planetary body that deflects the solar winds and stops them from colliding with the atmosphere. Solar winds deplete the atmosphere and on Mars, without a magnetosphere, 1kg of atmosphere is being lost every second. This may sound like a lot but, relatively speaking, it is not very much at all, after all, after being barraged by solar winds for just over 4 billion years Mars still has an atmosphere. However a loss is a loss and humans should, ideally, overcome the problem of not having a magnetosphere. To overcome this, one needs to understand what is a magnetosphere and how they come about naturally. The cause of a magnetosphere is explained nicely by the Dynamo Theory (Fig. 1) which describes through which a rotating, convecting, and electrically conducting fluid acts to maintain a magnetic field. If we look at the Earth we can see that this fluid would be the molten iron core in the centre of the earth. Earth’s core has two parts, the solid inner core made from pure iron (the fact that its pure is important), and a molten iron core (which isn’t pure) that surrounds the inner solid core. The solid core is getting bigger because the core of the planet is slowly cooling down so particles are losing the energy which keeps them liquid under those high temperatures and pressure. Because the liquid core is not pure iron, when the iron solidifies it releases the other elements in the liquid. The molten core is made of iron, nickel and other lighter elements like carbon and sulphur. When these elements are released they form plumes with angular momentum due to the earth's rotation. Because these elements are molten, they are in their ionic state and so have charge. These charged particles are moving in the same direction with similar velocities and so a current is produced. A current is the flow of charged particles. Whenever there is a current there is a magnetic field produced and
because these charged particles are moving in a helical manner, this mimics a solenoid and so an electromagnet is produced. This magnetic field produces more current which produces more magnetic fields and so on. Eventually, the net magnetic field resembles a dipole magnet which is why we have a North Pole and a South Pole. Mars lacks a magnetosphere which is vital to protect the environment from the solar winds. Solar winds are made up of charged particles and magnetospheres can manipulate charged particles which means that they cant collide with the atmosphere which would slowly deplete it. There are ways we can make an artificial magnetosphere for Mars. The first would be placing a latitudinal series of superconducting rings around mars. With today's technology this can be implemented on earth to produce 10% of the magnetic field strength that we have today. This can be done using 12 sets of rings with a maximum current of 6.4MA running through the superconductor. This simulation was done using earth though. Therefore, because this method uses earth's magnetosphere to its advantage, we will need to use more rings and a higher current in order to create a suitable magnetosphere for Mars which has no magnetosphere. There is a second option for creating an artificial magnetosphere on Mars. This involves using a powerful magnetic dipole at the L1 Lagrange point (fig.2). Lagrange points are positions where the displacement between the points and an orbiting body doesn’t change. The L1 position for Mars would be the point where there is gravitational equilibrium between Mars and the sun. The powerful magnetic dipole would shield Mars from the majority of the sun's solar winds. Mars would be in the ‘magnetotail’ which is essentially the slipstream created from the magnetic field. After creating an artificial magnetosphere or equivalent we can then focus on building the atmosphere and warming the planet. BUILDING AN ATMOSPHERE The benefits for having a thicker atmosphere are plentiful. Firstly, atmospheric pressure of 30kPa and upwards is needed for plant life to be sustained through photosynthesis. Anything under 30kPa would mean that barely any exchange of gas would take place and so nothing really would happen. Secondly, a thick atmosphere helps keep the planet warm. Mars’ temperatures at the moment are too cold for a comfortable life, therefore we would harness the greenhouse effect to slowly but surely warm up the planet. Thirdly, a thick atmosphere offers protection against cosmic and solar rays. This means that the radiation on a planet with a thick
atmosphere would be less than the radiation on a planet with a thin atmosphere, assuming they’re in exactly the same area and are made of the same rocks etc. Mars’ atmosphere would need to be 140 times the amount it is now in order to make it thick enough. We’d need around 3.5x1018 kg of more atmosphere in order to accomplish this. This is equivalent to around 70% the mass of Earth's atmosphere. It therefore becomes apparent that thickening Mars’ atmosphere to a sufficient degree would be very challenging, although not impossible. One of the ways to increase atmospheric pressure is by importing ammonia which is likely to exist on minor orbiting bodies in the outer solar system. Redirecting the orbits of these dwarf planets or asteroids to collide with mars would allow an efficient transfer of ammonia (NH3). Ammonia also happens to be a greenhouse gas however it is very unstable on Mars and so breaks down into Nitrogen which remains in the atmosphere for longer because it is much more dense. In the polar regions of the planet and in deep craters there are lakes of dry ice (solid CO2) (fig 3.). Sublimating the dry ice could result in a chain reaction of warming. But the key is to initiate the sublimation. One of the proposed ideas, from none other than Elon Musk, is nuking the ice caps to initialise the sublimation of the CO2. This may sound quite extreme but in reality the nuclear fallout would be minimal compared to the radiation the planet experiences from cosmic rays and solar winds. Furthermore there are lakes of water ice underneath the dry ice, it has been shown, which will be needed for future life. Importing hydrocarbons could also be a way to build the atmosphere and warm the planet. Methane could be made on the surface of the planet using H2 from electrolysed water on the surface of the planet and CO2 from the atmosphere. Methane would primarily be used to help warm the planet rather than build up atmospheric pressure as methane is not as heavy as CO2. CO2 + 4H2 —> CH4 + 2H2O or CO2 + 2H2O —> CH4 + 2O2 Both of the above reactions require a lot of solar energy which can be harnessed from a solar-thermal cell. Methane is a potent greenhouse gas but because it is light, it gets lost to space within 4 years. However, with a magnetosphere this would be different. RAISING THE TEMPERATURE There are two main ways to raise the temperature. One has been mentioned already: greenhouse effect, global warming on purpose.
Some of the most potent greenhouse gases ever made are fluorine compounds (CFCs or PFCs). Chlorofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons and other compounds like sulphur hexafluoride are thousands of times more potent greenhouse gases than CO2 . 39 million tonnes of CFCs would be needed to sublimate the ice caps which is 3 times more than the amount manufactured on earth between 1972 and 1992. One proposed way of getting CFCs to Mars is by compressing the CFCs on a rocket and colliding the rocket into Mars to release the gas into the atmosphere. This is quite risky though because CFCs deplete the ozone layer on earth and so creating 39 million tonnes and having a leak of CFCs would be detrimental. PFCs don’t deplete the ozone layer and so these may be more favourable. The second way to raise the temperature is by using orbital mirrors (fig 4.). These mirrors would reflect the suns heat and energy onto the planet, most likely at the poles in an effort to sublimate the dry ice which would then cause a chain reaction of warming. The mirrors would be made from aluminium covered polyethylene terephthalate which is basically a flexible tin foil which is harder to rip. BREATHABLE ATMOSPHERE With an atmosphere composed of 96% CO2 at an atmospheric pressure of 0.6kPa, this is obviously not breathable. Creating oxygen on the planet could be done in two different ways: biologically or by using electrochemistry. Putting plants that photosynthesise on Mars would generate oxygen. However, plants need 30-50kPa of atmospheric pressure to survive so this would have to happen after we’ve built up the atmosphere a substantial amount. Also regolith, Mars’ soil, contains no nitrogen and so nitrates and nitrites needed for plant growth cannot exist. Regolith does have perchlorate ions in it though which are toxic. Perchlorate can be used for other things though such as production of oxygen, fuels, absorbing water, and are powerful oxidising agents. Perchlorate ions are only bad at high temperatures which Mars doesn’t have. Introducing algae to the planet would break down rocks into gravel at which point moss could be introduced. Moss can break the gravel down into soil and so rays and small shrubs could be introduced and then high altitude pine trees would be introduced. These pine trees live in conditions similar to Mars and so would be the most suited trees for Mars. This could all be done within 5-10 human generations which is quite a long time. Genetic modification of plants in the future could potentially speed up the process. By using solid oxide electrolysis oxygen can be generated from carbon dioxide. A solid oxide fuel cell in reverse mode (generative mode) achieves this by using a solid oxide or ceramic electrolyte to produce CO and O2 . The electrolyte is ceramic to withstand the heat and is dense enough to stop the CO2 and CO diffusing to the anode where O2 is being formed. MOXIE a shoebox-size solid oxide fuel cell will be put on the 2020 mission rover to mars NASA to see how efficient this way of producing oxygen actually is. On earth it made 10g of O2 per hour and if the mission is successful on mars a larger version can be made on mars, according to NASA. However this reaction requires a lot of energy as the temperatures are very high (500-1000 degrees Celsius) and will use up about 300W/hr of power compared to the 100W/hr battery that is used for the rover which means it will be a challenge to get such a powerful battery.
Biological & Chemical Warfare Isabella Tork Weapons of mass destruction are being used more in conflict. These include biological chemical, nuclear or radiological methods that have caused significant harm or are hypothetically able to cause significant harm. Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll be focusing heavily on biological and chemical weapons. Biological warfare includes using biological toxins or infectious agents like bacteria, viruses and fungi with the intention of killing or harming forms of life, like humans, animals and plants, as an act of war. This is also known as germ warfare. Chemical warfare is the use of toxic properties in chemical substances as weapons as an act of war. 20
ZYKLON B Zyklon B, which can be translated to Cyclone B was a pesticide discovered by Nazi Germany in the 1920s. So how does Zyklon B work? Zyklon B is made predominantly from hydrogen cyanide (also known as prussic acid), as well as a cautionary eye irritant. Cyanide (negatively charged carbon triple bond nitrogen) is a toxic molecular ion which prevents cellular aerobic respiration. Cyanide interferes at the electron transport chain by acting as a irreversible enzyme inhibitor, binding to cytochrome c oxidase. Cytochrome c oxidase is the last enzyme in the electron transport chain converting one molecule of oxygen into two molecules of water. Cyanide works by bonding to an Fe ion and forms a strong bond so that Electrons can’t be transported to oxygen, preventing oxygen from being a terminal electron acceptor. This is because protons are not able to go back into the matrix of the mitochondria, thus the concentration of protons build up and the gradient becomes large. There isn’t a proton electrochemical potential for ATP sympathise to work, therefore ATP is not synthesised. The Link Reaction and the Krebs Cycle can’t take place either therefore no NADH is made. Therefore the person is deprived of chemical energy to perform the many processes that sustain life and the person will die. Death will occur within two minutes for a 68kg human who inhales only 70 milligrams.
SARIN Sarin is an extremely toxic synthetic organophosphorous compound. sarin is known as an extreme nerve agent. 26 times more deadly than cyanide, sarin has an LD50 in mice of 172 micrograms per kilogram. Or in human inhalation an LD50 of 0.07 micrograms per kilogram. Chemistry of sarin Sarin is a odourless colourless tasteless liquid that is extremely volatile due to its ability to easily turn from liquid to gas. Inhalation is very easy and vapour can even penetrate the skin. Sarin has tetrahedral geometry and is a chiral molecule which means it has optical isomerism. This is a form of isomerism 22
where two molecules can exist as non-superimposable mirror images of each other. This is due to the four chemical substituents attached to the tetrahedral phosphorous centre. The P-F can be broken by a nucleophile like hydroxide in nucleophilic substitution. The enantiomers are known as (R)Sarin and (S)-Sarin. (S)-Sarin is the more potent enantiomer due to having a greater affinity to acetylcholinesterase. Suggested mechanism for nucleophilic substitution of sarin: Enantiomers of sarin:
Mechanism of action Sarin interferes with the nervous system taking affect at a neuromuscular junction. A neuromuscular junction is a synapse between a motor neurone and a muscle cell. Neuromuscular junctions use the neurotransmitter acetylcholine which get broken down by acetylcholinesterase after leaving the presynaptic membrane in the synaptic cleft. Sarin works as an enzyme inhibitor to acetylcholinesterase as sarin has a greater affinity to it than acetylcholine. There is going to be a build up of acetylcholine in the synaptic cleft as it can’t be broken down. Acetylcholine will continue to bind to receptors and will keep giving it’s message. We are killed by the accumulation of our own neurotransmitter acetylcholine telling our nerves to do the things they normally do but in excess, leading to a loss of muscle control. Within seconds of exposure to sarin we start to notice immediate effects of acetylcholine build-up. Initial symptoms include a runny nose, tightness in the chest, and constriction of the pupils. The person will then experience difficulty breathing, nausea and drooling. As the continued lose of control of bodily functions the person may vomit or urinate. This is followed by twitching and jerking and a series of spasms. Death will occur in 1-10 minutes of exposure due to asphyxia, the inability to control the muscles involved in breathing. VX
VX short for “venomous agent X”, is an extremely toxic synthetic organophosphorous compound. It is a chemical warfare agent classified as a nerve agent. One of the deadliest chemicals created by man. Deaths by VX in humans occur with exposure of tens of milligrams quantities via inhalation or absorption through the skin. VX has an LD50 in rays of 7 micrograms per kilograms. When we compare sarins LD50 in rats of 172 micrograms per kilogram, VX is approximately 25 times more potent than sarin. VX was first discovered by the German chemist Gerhard Schrader in 1936 who was originally researching into making insecticides. Chemistry of VX: VX is an oily non-volatile liquid that has an amber-like colour. Like sarin, VX is a chiral molecule at the phosphorus atom, displaying stereo isomerism. It’s enantiomers are identified as (S)-VX and (R)-VX. The production of VX produces both of the enantiomers. Mechanism of action:
when meeting favourable conditions, becoming anthrax.
It's a similar mechanism to sarin and works in the same way. Symptoms of exposure to vaporised VX include runny nose, tightness in the chest and shortness of breath. Almost the same procedure as sarin. Death in humans occurs within 15 minutes of exposure. ANTHRAX Anthrax is a bacterial infection caused by Bacillus anthracis. These are gram-positive rod-shaped bacteria. A gram-positive bacterium refers to bacteria that give a positive result in the Gram stain test, which is used to classify bacteria based on their cell wall. Gram-positive bacteria turn violet in the Gram stain test, whereas Gram-negative bacteria turn pinkred. Infection can occur in different forms including: skin, lungs, intestinal, and injection. There are less than 2000 cases per year, 20-80% die without treatment with the treatment being antibiotics and antitoxins. People get infected with anthrax when endospores enter the body. These endospores refer to the dormant temporary halt in the bacterial metabolic activity. The endospores is a dehydrated cell with thick walls and additional layers that form inside the cell membrane. They can remain inactive for long periods of time. They can survive without nutrients and are resistant to harsh conditions like ultraviolet radiation, high temperature, extreme freezing and chemical disinfectants. The endospores can then activate in the body
Anthrax as a biological weapon of mass destruction: Anthrax has been used as a biological weapon around the world for nearly a century. Anthrax makes a good weapon because it can be released quickly without anyone knowing. The endospores can be put into powders, sprays, food and water. Due to the microscopic size, people may not be able to see, smell or taste them. A potential anthrax attack can take many forms. The most frightening way is if anthrax endospores were released into the air for inhalation. Inhalation of anthrax is the most serious form with a death rate of 50-80% even with treatment. Gruinard Island: Gruinard Island is a small island in Scotland that was used for UK military experiments with Anthrax in 1942. During the Second World War, a biological warfare test was carried out on Gruinard by bombing the island with anthrax endospores with sheep on the island. The anthrax strain chosen was a highly virulent type called “Vollum 14578” out of the 89 known strains of anthrax bacterium. Within days of exposure the sheep began to die. Scientists concluded that a large release of anthrax endospores would thoroughly pollute Germany, rendering them inhabitable for decades afterwards. This conclusion was supported by the inability to decontaminate the island after the experiments. The endospores proved to be sufficiently durable to resist any efforts at decontamination for a long period of time. Decontamination then took place on the island in 1986. 280 tonnes of formaldehyde (methanal) solution was sprayed over the island.
HOW POWERFUL IS THE BRAIN? Olivia Lindo The brain is an organ that controls all of the functions of our body. It consists of three main parts: the brain stem, the cerebellum and the cortex. The cortex is made up of four different lobes: the frontal lobe responsible for movement; the parietal lobe which receives sensory information; the temporal lobe which receives auditory information; and the occipital lobe which receives visual information. 24
BRAIN VERSUS COMPUTER One way that we can see how powerful the brain is, by comparing it to a supercomputer as they both are similar. The K supercomputer in Japan computes 4 times faster than the brain and has about ten times its storage capacity. Our brain processes around 2.2 billion operations per second whereas the K processes around 8.2 billion operations per second. However the K supercomputer takes around 10000 watts to run and is stored in 864 large cabinets, whereas the brain takes 20 watts to run and is around the size of both your fists. In this aspect the brain is more efficient to run. The computer has exceeded the human brain's performance in terms of information processing and memory and is equally as good as the brain in complex movement, vision, language and structured problem solving. The brain is still dominant when it comes to creativity as computers lack the capability to decide to create something new. The brain is better at planning and executive functions, which allows 26
humans to plan, predict, create scenarios and decide. Due to emotions, we are able to make rational choices that may effect the future. Finally humans have a conscious which sets us apart from computers. Arguably the main downfall of the human brain is the fact that we forget; only with the development of noting things down have we been able to support our memory. The similarities in the way a computer communicates, by binary, and the way the brain communicates, by neural transmission, has opened up the way for the idea of the human Connectome to be formed. The Human Connectome project plans to do to the brain the same thing that the human genome project did for DNA, and map the human brain connections between neural pathways. The goal is to build a network map that will provide information on the anatomical and functional connectivity within the healthy human brain, and theoretically we would be able to upload someone's personality onto the Connectome if we mapped their brain.
IS THE HUMAN BRAIN SPECIAL? Scientists used to think, although based on little evidence, that the brain was made with neurons in proportion to its size, and that this was the fundamental structure of all brains. However this would mean that brains of the same size should have similar numbers of neurons and therefore similar cognitive abilities. This is not the case as we can see when comparing a chimp and a cow, where the chimp is clearly more intelligent. Following this theory a larger brain should have a greater number of neurons than a smaller brain and therefore have a smarter owner, however this contradicts with the fact that the human brain is not the largest, weighing only 1.5kg. It was therefore concluded that our brain is special and is larger than it should be in comparison to our bodies size and that we have a larger cortex in order to do all of our specialised functions. They found this to be true when comparing our brain to a gorilla’s brain; our human brain weighs 1.5 kg and our average body weight is 70kg, whereas a gorilla’s brain weighs 0.5kg and their body weight ranges 140kg-210kg confirming that our brain is larger than what is expected for our body weight. This begs the question why would the rules of evolution apply to everyone else but humans. The oversight was in the original assumption that all brains were made the same way; maybe larger brains don’t have more neurons than smaller brains and maybe the human brain just has the most number of neurons of any brain especially in the cortex. To investigate how many neurons the human brain has, scientists took a human brain and dissolved it in detergent which destroys the cell membranes, but kept the cell nuclei in tact, creating a soup containing a suspension of the free nuclei. When agitated the nuclei became homogeneously distributed in the liquid and then it is possible to count the nuclei number under a microscope. This method found that brains are not all made the same way, notably a difference was found between rodents and primates. As rodent brain size increases the average size of a neuron increases, this causes the brain to inflate rapidly and therefore gain size faster than it gains neurons. The largest rodent brain has ten times as many neurons than the smallest rodent; each neuron is four times larger making the brain forty times larger in comparison. The brain of a primate gains neurons without its average size becoming any larger. The result of this is that a primate brain will always have more neurons then a rodent brain of the same size. If we follow the theory and calculate what the human brain would look like if it were made in
the same way as a rodent brain, a rodent brain that had 86 billion neurons would weigh 32kg which is impossible as the weight of this would crush its structure, this theoretical brain would go into the body of an 89 tonne owner. Quite simply we are not rodents therefore it is unfair to call us special against them. The structure of the brain itself is not special compared to other animals. The human brain is just a large primate brain. Humans have 86 billion neurons, 16 billion being found in the cerebral cortex (responsible for awareness, logic, abstract reasoning)- this is the largest network of neurons that any cortex has which is an accurate reason to why humans have a ‘special brain’. The human brain uses around 25% of our body’s energy a day (which is around 500 calories out of 2000 calories) even though it is only 2% of our body mass. There is then the question of why larger bodied primates don’t have more neurons in the brain then humans. A possibility is that they can’t afford the energy for both a large body and a large number of neurons as the cost for our human brain is already so high. A primate eating raw foods would have to eat for 8 hours a day in order to power 53 billion neurons and its body would not be able to be any bigger than 25kg. To weigh more than this it would need to ‘give up’ neurons. Orangutang’s for example spend around 8 hours a day eating and afford around 30 billion neurons. Humans should theoretically be spending over nine hours a day eating which is not the case. Humans have learnt to get more energy out of foods instead by using fire to ‘predigest’ foods outside of our body. Cooked foods are softer and therefore easier to chew as they turn into mush which allows for them to be completely digested and absorbed in the gut. This method is more efficient as it makes foods yield much more energy in much less time. This explains why the human brain grew to be so large quickly in evolution whilst remaining a primate brain. In conclusion, we have the largest number of neurons in the cerebral cortex than any other animal. And we cook.
Planet Nine Zakhar Davydov This article was inspired and influenced by these talks: Mike Brown The search for our solar system's ninth planet Konstantin Batygin Planet Nine from outer space readers are encouraged to view these links
Over the last couple of decades the number of exoplanets that have been discovered around stars has substantially increased. Meanwhile, in the solar system we went from nine planets to eight, and in 2006 Pluto was classified as a dwarf planet. The recent theory by Konstantin Batygin and Mike Brown suggests that a hypothetical Planet Nine can well explain unusual clustering of orbits for a group of extreme trans-Neptunian objects, bodies far beyond Neptune.
We have not found any planets in the Solar System no matter how hard we tried to search the night sky but what astronomers did discover is Kuiper belt. There are thousands of objects far beyond Neptune and individually each of these objects is not significant, visually they may be on an average size of 100 kilometres, roughly the size of Surrey. None of those are planets, they are technically space debris. Cumulatively, this belt weighs only about 0.1 Earth masses, but if you look at each one of these orbits individually they are quite different. For instance, Pluto exhibits chaotic motion which is fundamentally unpredictable - we can not predict its orbit into the future. The uniting feature of orbits of objects in Kuiper belt is that they are gravitationally pulled to Neptune, in other words, the shape of their orbits is restricted by Neptune. At perihelion, the closest approach to the Sun each of this object is very close to the Neptune. All of this orbits evolve chaotically in time, but they are tied to Neptune.
exhibit is an interesting clustering. Roughly all of them lie in the same plane and all of them point to one direction. If orbits are clustered that way, something is causing it. It is very different from the rest of the Kuiper belt in which the orbits are facing everywhere. And hence what they propose is that something is gravitationally affecting this set of bodies. The number of those orbits is not that big and it could be randomly chosen. The probability that this is the case is 0.007%. Could it be a star that passed near the Solar System? A few billion years ago and kind of perturbed this orbits in the aligned cluster? It is not the case because the star should have done that very recently as it was modelled that if those objects are left they will eventually come out of this confinement is only about 100 million years. So something is keeping the orbits confined right now. So no other hypothesis was found to explain that kind of orbit clustering, so the hypothesis of Planet Nine was proposed.
SEDNA In 2004 Sedna was found by Mike Brown. At aphelion, furthest distance from the Sun, it is thousands of times further from the Sun than Earth is, having very elliptical orbit. The weird thing about it is in the fact as at its closest approach to the Sun it is nowhere near Neptune. Why? Because Neptune never significantly interacted with Sedna and this was proven by computer simulations. In 2014 a team of two astronomers Chatt Trujillo and Scott Shepard announced of Joe Biden orbiting the Sun. It is also a detached object, with the closet approach of 80 astronomical units. Konstantin Batygin and Mike Brown discovered if you zoom out in the Solar System and only concentrate on the most distant orbits which include Sedna and Biden then what they all 30
COMPUTER MODELLING If the planet is introduced to the Solar System it is not very easy to understand where it should be placed or what kind of orbit should it have. So basic calculations similar to the one Leverrieâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s performed can be done. The output is that the mass of the planet is roughly 10 times the size of Earth and the
SUMMARY This is the parameters of the Planet Nine: Time Period - 20 000 years Mass - 5-10 Earth masses Semi-major axis 400-800 AU (60-120 million km) Eccentricity - 0.2-0.5 Inclination - 15-25 degrees This is the major evidence for P lanet Nine: Clustering of long orbits Sedna like orbits (weird object donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t hug Neptune, like Sedna or Joe Biden) Solar obliquity (explains why Sun spins in slight misalignment with the rest of planets)
orbit should be eccentric. In the 21st century, we are capable of running powerful computer simulations. The evolutionary picture was considered - if the Solar System started with the Ninth Planet that has 10 Earth masses and eccentric orbit and with a Kuiper belt, that was initially completely random, if we let it evolve for the lifetime of the Solar System, for 4.5 billion years, this pattern is formed. Many cases were tried. And 2.5 billion years later, orbits start to cluster. Empirically you can just see that simulation produces something similar to what we see in the real Solar System. The statistical test can also be performed on this to support the probability of such a hypothesis. We can see that some orbits have come out of the plane quite a bit. If these are real orbits, they can be used to calculate the orbit of Planet Nine. In recent years, they were discovered with orbits being very similar to predicted ones. The calculated orbit of Planet Nine shows that it is anti-aligned to the cluster of these detached objects, it lies roughly in the same plane as these distant orbits themselves. It is inclined to the rest of the Solar System by 20-30 digress and its mass estimation is about 10 to 15 earth masses.
Evidence is strong, so the search for Planet Nine is open and many groups currently attempt to find it. The method is pretty much the same as in the past - several photos are made in few consistent nights and then compared. Due to its extreme distance from Sun, Planet Nine would reflect little sunlight, potentially evading telescope sightings. It is expected to have an apparent magnitude fainter than 22 making it at least 600 times fainter than Pluto. If Planet Nine exists and is close to perihelion, astronomers could identify it based on existing images. At aphelion, the largest telescopes on Earth would be required. If the planet is currently located in between, many observatories could spot Planet Nine. The primary search is expected to be carried out using the Subaru telescope as the planet is predicted to be visible in the Northern Hemisphere. This kind of telescope has both apertures large enough to see a faint object and a wide field of view to shorten the search. So within the next 10 to 15 years, Planet Nine will either be observable or enough data will have been gathered to rule out its existence. Unless evidence is obtained, all of this is just a conjecture.
SOLAR OBLIQUITY Furthermore, if Planet Nine is inclined by about 30 degrees then it will exert a torque on the rest of the planets - it will act slowly, changing the plane of the known giant planets and other planets from their original orientation. In 1950 it was discovered that the Sun is inclined in respect of the Solar System by six degrees. The planets are inclined less than one degree between each other - the Sun is abnormally misaligned from the rest of the Solar System. The actual modelling showed that during the lifetime of the solar system if you plug numbers that were derived from the Kuiper belt calculation about mass and orbital parameters, the answer is 6 degrees, exactly meeting the observational evidence. 31
LOWER SIXTH TALKS
Heart attacks & Strokes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Page 34 Max Fogelman Strokes and heart attacks are the two biggest killers in the western world. Both are forms of cardiovascular disease and both can be fatal. These are caused by cholesterol and the key to fighting cholesterol lies with statins. I chose this talk as I have a family history of cardiovascular disease and I was fascinated by how it could be so devastating. I hope to go on to study medicine at university.
Erythrocyte Structure . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Page 38 Alex Richings Since their first observation in 1658 by Jan Swammerdam, red blood cells have been the subject of endless scientific fascination and without them we would barely last three minutes. Stored within them are hundreds of millions of haemoglobin proteins which facilitate the transport of oxygen to every cell in the body. The ability of haemoglobin to shift between high and low oxygen affinity states is what has made it such an effective transport molecule and ultimately allowed us to evolve to the point we are at now.
Rocket Engines . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Page 42 Mikhail Tulchinskiy I decided to research on rocket engines and methods of orientation in space. I chose this topic specifically because I find rockets and space very fascinating. I was also very keen to show that it is very easy to understand the basic principles of rocketry. I also found this topic interesting because I believe that interplanetary traveling is the next big step for a mankind.
Heart attacks & Strokes Max Fogelman They are the two biggest killers globally. Both are forms of cardiovascular disease (CVD), caused by a narrowing of the artery due to fatty deposits forming inside the arteries (atheroma) that prevents the flow of blood to vital organs.
CHOLESTEROL. Cholesterol is often labelled badly as it leads to both heart attacks and strokes. However, cholesterol is a vital compound in the human body, it simply needs to be regulated.
Cholesterol is known as a steroid alcohol due to its alcohol group and steroid group. It is used to regulate the fluidity of cell membranes as well as make vitamins and steroids. Cholesterol is also what makes up most of the atheroma found in arteries hence why medicine often targets cholesterol when trying to combat CVD we often fight cholesterol. 36
Cholesterol is synthesised predominantly in the liver by the following mechanism
Cholesterol becomes a problem when it is transported around the body, cholesterol is transported as low-density lipoprotein (LDL) in the blood. LDL cholesterol is a problem as it forms an atheroma when the blood vessel is damaged.
Atheroma forms when the blood vessel is damaged by high blood pressure. High blood pressure creates turbulent blood which results in extra force being exerted on the blood vessel causing damage. The formation of atheroma is due to a normal human inflammatory response where cholesterol is taken into the lesion and is engulfed by macrophages turning them into foam cells. This response in small areas is beneficial to the blood vessel as it can prevent the blood vessel bursting (haemorrhage). However, this becomes a problem when atheroma forms in too large quantities. As we can see form the picture there is a layer of endothelial cells on top of the lipid mess. This holds the atheroma in place, however if this fibrous cap ruptures then a clotting response is triggered leading to a blockage of the blood vessel. HOW DO STATINS WORK?
Statins have a complimentary shape to HMG-CoA reductase. Meaning that it can bind to the enzyme and reduce cholesterol synthesis This prevents the liver from synthesising cholesterol, the liver needs cholesterol to make bile salts and other vital compounds. This means the liver takes cholesterol out of the blood. If a patient has less cholesterol in their blood, then should a lesion form, the atheroma that forms will be much smaller. This also prevents large atheroma from forming which is what could block blood flow. Statins also come in different types. Synthetic means that they are entirely man made; semi-synthetic means they come from plants but are altered by humans; natural means they were completely derived from plants and then not altered afterwards. There is also another way to categorise statins: active and inactive. The active forms are taken as active whereas the inactive forms are hydrolysed by the liver to become active.
Statins are life-saving drugs an estimated 80,000 heart attacks and strokes are prevented in the UK every year, if prescribed more regularly, estimates suggest up to 80% of CVD cases could be prevented. On average LDL cholesterol levels are cut by 30%. Once an atheroma forms it cannot be removed, statins work by preventing the formation of atheroma. They competitively bind to HMG-CoA reductase, an enzyme that converts HMG-CoA to mevalonate in cholesterol synthesis.
• Natural • Semi-synthetic • Synthetic • Active • Inactive
Erythrocy Structure Alex Richings Red blood cells (erythrocytes) are distinctly recognisable due to their biconcave geometry which increases their surface area to volume ratio for the diffusion of oxygen into the cells via the phospholipid bilayer. Through evolution they have further specialised by emitting their organelles during development to increase their haemoglobin capacity, the oxygen carrying protein, to 270 million molecules per cell. Their spectrin cytoskeleton further allows the distortion of the cells when passing through capillaries with diameters less then their own to reduce damage.
yte e 39
FORMATION Erythrocyte synthesis is maintained at a base level to replenish those cells broken down after their average lifespan of 120 days. However under hypoxic conditions the rate of erythrocyte synthesis increases dramatically due to a protein, EPO. EPO is significant in this process of erythrocyte formation as it guides the corresponding stem cells down the right pathway to produce just red blood cells. EPO synthesis is managed by the transcription factor HIF which is typically bound by an enzyme, HIF-PH2. Under normoxic conditions, HIF-PH2 will bind HIF and hydroxylate proline amino acids in its polypeptide chain, therefore marking it for degradation through a process known as ubiquitination, thus rendering the HIF incapable of transcribing EPO. However, in hypoxic conditions, the hydroxylation ceases to occur so HIF is not degraded and it no longer fits within the active site of HIF-PH2, resulting in it binding to the gene for EPO, leading to its synthesis and the production of erythrocytes from haemopoietic stem cells in the red bone marrow. As the immature red blood cells reach the proerythoblast stage, haemoglobin synthesis will begin and the organelles will slowly condense. At the orthochromatic stage, the condensed organelles are emitted from one side of the cell through asymmetric cytokinesis as a pyrenocyte and the remaining haemoglobin-filled membrane or reticulocyte will enter the blood stream to mature where it will eventually transport oxygen. HAEMOGLOBIN STRUCTURE Adult haemoglobin is a globular protein composed of 2 alpha and 2 beta globin chains bound together by ionic and hydrogen bonds. Bound to each of these polypeptides is an individual porphyrin ring known as haem. Haem is composed of 4, 5-sided pyrrole rings covalently bonded by methine bridges. At the centre of each ring is an ion of iron in the +2 oxidation state, which is too large to sit within the porphyrin leading it to be orientated 0.4Å outside of the plane. The ferrous (II) iron is held in place via coordinate (dative) bonds. Each pair of electrons in these 4 coordinate bonds are donated by the nitrogen atoms within the haem ring making haem a polydentate ligand. The iron has a coordination number of 6 so can accept up to 6 ligands with the 5th binding site occupied by a histidine amino acid from the globin chain and the 6th being oxygen. The electron pairs from these ligands are all donated to 6 orbitals or equal energy known as sp3d2 hybridised orbitals, which help to stabilise the whole structure.
OXYGEN ASSOCIATION In the lungs oxygen diffuses into the blood due to the high partial pressure. There it can bind to ferric (II) ion in haem at the 6th coordination site by donating a pair of electrons, but due to its electronegativity, the oxygen oxidises the iron to Fe (III) and a superoxide ion forms. This ferric (III) iron has a smaller ionic radius than ferrous (II) iron and so moves the 0.4Å into the plane of the haem ring. The coordinate bond between the iron and histidine in the globin chain means this proximal histidine also moves towards the haem by 0.4Å, along with the adjacent amino acids. This subtle change in position of all the amino acids ultimately leads to a confrontational change in haemoglobin’s structure: from its T-state (low oxygen affinity) to R-state (high oxygen affinity). This change arises because the movement of amino acids in one globin chain leads to the iron in the haem on the adjacent chain to be pushed into its own plane, therefore increasing the angle between the two sides of the haem and reducing the electron density around it, meaning oxygen has a lower chance of being repelled and so a greater probability of binding. The binding of one oxygen molecule in haemoglobin increasing the chance of another binding is a property known as cooperativity.
OXYGEN DISSOCIATION When erythrocytes reach the tissues, the haemoglobin is in the high oxygen affinity R-state so oxygen will not dissociate from the protein. Therefore, carbon dioxide released in cellular respiration acts as an allosteric effector by binding to amino groups on amino acids in haemoglobin forming carbamate anions and hydrogen ions. These hydrogen ions can then bind to other amino acids such as histidine forming positively charged groups. The negative and positive groups attract each other forming ionic bonds known as salt bridges. The movement of amino acid groups towards each leads to another conformational change in shape, in this case, one that pulls the ferric (III) iron out of the haem plane, therefore reducing the angle between the two sides of the haem and increasing the electron density around it, meaning the repulsion of electrons favours the emission of oxygen from the haem and the formation of ferrous (II) iron. This release of oxygen is proportional to the concentration of carbon dioxide, so the tissues respiring the most will then receive the most oxygen. This reduced affinity of haemoglobin for oxygen in the presence of carbon dioxide is known as the Bohr Effect. During this conformational change in shape, the haemoglobin shifts from the R-state to the T-state and so oxygen dissociation is favoured however the T-state is unstable meaning it is likely to shift back to the R-state. In glycolysis, an intermediate molecule called 2,3 BPG is released which is small enough to fit in the central pocket between the polypeptides only when haemoglobin is in the T-state. The molecule as a result can bind to the central pocket via ionic bonds and stabilise the T-state structure.
CARBON MONOXIDE INHIBITION Carbon monoxide (CO) binds as a ligand to ferrous (II) iron similarly to oxygen but with a 300x greater affinity. CO, a strong ligand from the spectrochemical series, does this because its binding causes a much greater repulsion with the ironâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s 3d subshell, particularly its dz2 and dx2-y2 orbitals, than oxygen does causing them to rise to a higher energy level, with the remaining 3 orbitals reducing in energy by an equal amount. This difference in orbital energy is so large that when CO binds, electrons in ironâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s 3d subshell pair up at the lower t2g energy level instead of each filling an orbital before pairing, which in turn reduces the overall energy of the 3d subshell. This energy change is known as the Crystal Field Stabilisation Energy (CFSE) and means that carbon monoxide binds to iron with a greater affinity than oxygen as a lower energy subshell is more stable.
CARBON DIOXIDE TRANSPORT Carbon dioxide released in respiration not only binds to the haemoglobin, but also dissolves into the blood plasma and forms the bicarbonate buffer system which helps minimise pH changes in the blood. This buffer system forms when carbon dioxide reacts with water in red blood cells via carbonic anhydrase to form carbonic acid. This acid can then dissociate into hydrogen ions and bicarbonate ions. This set of equilibria reactions means that changes in pH can be minimised by changes in the position of equilibrium to increase or decrease hydrogen ion concentration. The binding of oxygen to haem in the lungs also favours the dissociation of hydrogen ions from salt bridges which can shift these reactions in the backwards direction to release carbon dioxide from the blood in a process known as the Haldane Effect. This shifts the haemoglobin from the T-state back to the R-state and 2,3-BPG is forced out of the central pocket allowing the cycle to repeat.
ROCKET ENGINES Mikhail Tulchinskiy
After humans reached the bottom of the oceans, climbed up the highest mountain and flew around the world in a plane, the next goal was to get to space. In order to achieve that we had to develop new studies and come up with the technologies. Today, we have a space station, rockets that land back on earth in one piece, and upcoming colonising of Mars and space tourism projects upcoming. 42
ll rocket engines use Newton’s third law to operate. Newton’s third law states that: for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. This is what is happening in a rocket engine; we act a force (which is in our case thrust) and as a result we get an equal and opposite reaction in the other direction. Considering Newton’s second law, Force is equivalent to the change in momentum. As a result, rocket thrust is equivalent to the mass flow rate times the speed of exhaust. Mass flow rate is a quantity that describes how much mass flows through the system per unit of time. Therefore, in order to make rocket engines more efficient we can either increase the mass flow rate or we can increase exhaust velocity. Increasing the mass flow rate would mean that our system is consuming more fuel. Adding more fuel onboard will decrease our payload capacity. This means that, increasing the exhaust velocity is the preferred way to make the engine efficient. The Converging-Diverging Nozzle is responsible for acceleration of the flow. It converts thermal energy and pressure, created in a combustion chamber by an engine itself into a high exhaust velocity. It works by using some basic principles of fluid dynamics: All the incompressible fluids behave according to the law: Fluid flow rate = fluid’s velocity* cross sectional area. Most incompressible liquids travel at a subsonic speed (v < local speed of sound). As the fluid becomes supersonic (v > local speed of sound) it becomes compressible. Meaning it starts to obey different laws (because its density isn’t constant anymore). CONVERGING-DIVERGING NOZZLE
What happens in the nozzle? Leaving the combusting chamber and entering the converging section the flow has a relatively low velocity, therefore it obeys the laws for the incompressible fluids. Which means that it will accelerate as the nozzle converges, reaching the sonic (v= local speed of sound) speed at the throat (the local speed of sound is rising as the temperature increases, that makes the local speed of sound inside the rocket engine is tremendous). Then the 44
from the highest to lowest), we will need to run a fuel rich cycle. This means, running inefficient fuel/oxidizer ratio, by inserting too much fuel in it. This combustion cycle is inefficient compared to the others because fuel is lost due to spinning the turbine. By connecting your pre burner exhaust to the combustion chamber you will get a closed cycle. But if you do this, the unburnt fuel will block all of the injectors. Therefore, we will need to run an oxygen rich cycle. But it will require much stronger alloys because it operates at much higher pressures and temperatures than the fuel rich cycle. In the closed cycle 100% of your oxidizer goes through your pre-burner and just the right amount of fuel. flow becomes compressible and starts to accelerate even more as the nozzle diverges. In order to be effective, the nozzle must convert all the pressurized energy into thrust. Therefore, when leaving the nozzle the flow has the same pressure as the ambient pressure outside (we cannot have the pressure of the exhaust lower than the pressure of surroundings, because then the air will try to enter the nozzle, and will create very powerful shock waves that would shatter the nozzle). Expansion ratio represents the ratio between a throat area and the final expansion area. As the pressure falls with increased altitude, we would need different nozzles at different altitudes to operate efficiently. That’s why the nozzle of orbital spaceships have much greater expansion ratio than the nozzles on the same engines at the sea level. The main difference between different types of rocket engines are their combustion cycles. The cycles are trying to maximize the pressure and temperature in the combustion chamber in order to convert all of the energy into thrust. The most simplistic cycle but the most inefficient one is the open cycle. During this cycle the pumps are connected to the turbine, that is spun by the flow of the fuel in pre-burner. In order not to melt the pre burner, because it is the point with the highest pressure in the whole system (pressure flows
But we can also run a closed cycle with a fuel rich pre-burner. But in order to do so we will need to use a different rocket fuel. The fuel which works perfectly for this case is hydrogen. Because hydrogen has very low viscosity it is very hard to operate with, it requires complicated system of pumps to provide the right amount of hydrogen in a combustion chamber. From now on we will need two pre burners, so we can run two very different types of pumps. One for the hydrogen and one for the oxygen. This type of rocket engine is still considered as one of the most efficient, with the highest fuel/thrust ratio that exists today. Full flow combustion cycle runs two turbo pumps, that are spinning oxygen rich and fuel rich pre-burners. The advantage of this system is that the fuel and the oxidizer arrive at the combustion chamber as a hot gas; therefore, higher temperatures will be achieved in a combustion chamber. Pumps can also run at lower temperatures and pressures because 100% of the propellant goes through the closed cycle, therefore you can run your pumps super fuel rich and super oxygen rich. As a result, increasing mass flow rate. TYPES OF COMBUSTION All these types of engines are finite, therefore if you would want to orientate in a space for a very long time, you will run out of a fuel one day. This means that, we will need to use a type of engine that can run for a long time where there are almost no external sources of energy available.
You can 'lean on' yourself! A spinning top will stand vertically until it wastes all its kinetic energy. You can use this effect to turn your spaceship. On Hubble and ISS, they have 4 of these 'spinning tops' called control moment gyroscopes, 300kg each. When the gyroscopes start spinning in one direction the telescope starts to turn in the other direction. This happens due to the conservation of angular momentum.
Let’s just state that “space” is defined at an altitude greater than 100km, called the Karman line, everything that is higher than that has a very low density of molecules, therefore you will not be able to push off the air molecules like a plane, so in order to fly in space you will need to reach the orbital speed and become a satellite. One of the easiest ways to move constantly in space is to use the left-over bits of air molecules that still exist all the way up too 1000km altitudes. We can steer using these molecules so our satellite can fly in a straight line. That’s what a USSR apparatus named “Cosmos 149” did. It looked like an arrow, its plumage helped it to stick it's path, by diverting air molecules. But what if we want to go even higher? Where there are no air molecules. What can we 'grab on?' We will be able to utilise gravity. COSMOS-149
But there is another problem occurring, if you want to stop at any point during your manoeuvre you won’t be able to. Because of the conservation of angular momentum, stopping the gyroscopes will bring you back to your initial position. It will require an external torque that does not involve the gyroscopes, to stop the rotation. Engineers decided to use very strong magnets to 'unload' the gyroscopes, while being locked in place. These magnets grab on to the earth’s magnetic fields and by creating an interaction with those, create the required external torque. But what if we flew so far away that there are no planets, or stars whose gravity and magnetic fields we can grab on? We are still able to use the power of light. Photons as they hit the spaceship transfer an impulse to it. According to the wave theory of light electromagnetic waves hitting a reflective surface creates electromagnetic radiation reflected from the surface that pushes the satellite in the opposite direction. What if we dare to enter the darkest places in our universe, where there is no light for thousands of light years? Those regions are called voids. So how do you change direction in the void? BLACK SPACES ARE CALLED VOIDS
If we were to extend a long rod with a large mass on its end from one part of the satellite, then the satellite would naturally rotate so that the axis of the rod is parallel to the force of gravity. This effect is due to the gravitational force of a mass, e.g. the Earth, becoming smaller with increased distance from that mass. But what if you want to turn in all possible directions and do it relatively quickly? One way to accomplish that is to use a jet engine, but it’s use is limited by the amount of fuel that we have, and you can’t take much fuel with you to orbit. The jet engines aren’t very good if you operate with something that requires clear surroundings with no gasses floating around them (Example: telescopes like Hubble, because you can damage the lenses). But what if you want to turn something very massive like ISS?
We will not be able to use a light source because there are none for thousands of light years. Apparatus onboard Pioneer 10 and Pioneer 11, which is carrying the message to other civilizations, are far beyond the solar system. They are flying in complete darkness and the only thing that is powering them are the radioactive isotopic generators. Inside the generators there is a decaying plutonium 238. That ejects radiation in the direction opposing its motion therefore pushing it forward. Decaying plutonium will provide Pioneers 10 and 11 with thrust for a relatively long time because of their long half-life period. 45
COVID-19 Ben Brown 2020 might just have been the roughest start to a decade. Bushfires have scorched large areas on the south coast of Australia, Britain officially withdrew from the EU, Trump happened and was officially impeached, not to mention SARS-CoV-2. This article aims to summarise the model behind how a virus spreads, why SARS-CoV-2 is so efficient at spreading, and the biology of how it infects host cells, particularly why it is related to the respiratory system.
SPREAD OF THE VIRUS When it was discovered, not much was known about how the virus affects us from a medical point of view as it is new to humans, however a lot is known about how viruses spread. Many mathematical models can be produced to estimate the total number of people that will be infected by each person. We were fortunate enough to have Professor Michael Bonsall deliver the 2018 Annual Moncrieff Jones Science Lecture at Caterham. R-VALUE One thing that the government has focused on quite a bit is the R-value. This is a measure of how likely the virus is to be transmitted from one person to another. Hence if the R-value is equal to 1, this would mean each person carrying the virus is expected to pass it on to one other person. Therefore, the reason we want the R-value below 1 is that over time the virus will ‘die out’ as it is not spreading in a way that can sustain it. The closer to 0 the R-value, the quicker it will ‘die out’. MODELLING THE GROWTH OF SARS-COV-2 3Blue1Brown has a fantastic video which clearly explains all the different outcomes to an epidemic and how this becomes a pandemic. The growth of an epidemic can be modelled as exponential growth, shown in fig 1. This is where the growth continuously becomes more and more rapid, as you can see initially it starts of fairly gentle, but around the 4th March the total number of cases starts growing very quickly. Early on, we saw that every day the total number of cases was a multiple of around 1.2 to 1.25 the number of cases of the previous day. The reason for this type of growth is that each new person infected depends on the number of previous people infected. Put simply if N is the number of cases on a given day, A is the average number of people someone comes into contact with each day and
Figure 1 Total number of cases in the US
p is the probability of someone passing the infection on, then the following is true:
This tells us that the change in the number of cases is equal to the product of A, p and N what is interesting to note here is that N is a variable in the function for the change in N this is what causes the growth to become so out of control as if N is large then N will be even larger. However, we can’t just keep following this exponential trend, otherwise that would mean the whole population would be infected and this isn’t that accurate of a model.T ake the extreme case if everyone that gets the virus dies, then over time the population density will fall and so the growth will reduce as the probability of one person infecting another reduces. Clearly this doesn’t accurately represent SARS-CoV-2 as it only has an Infection Fatality Rate of 1.4%. worldometer is a great website to use with well laid out visual graphics and detailed information if you want to research more. It is inevitable that either A or p will go down over time. Therefore, we have to include some factor to account for this, for example a factor of 1 – the ratio of people infected to the total population. This would tend towards 0 as the number of people infected increased and so it would slow the rate as the equation of the change in N becomes:
Where T is the total population size. When we plot this graph we get a Logistic Curve as shown in fig 2. Early on this follows the exponential curve, however as we approach the total population size it levels out, which we would expect.
Figure 2 prediction for outcome of SARS-CoV-2
At this point it is worth addressing the fact that how the virus spreads in our population is far more complex than this, although generally will follow a similar pattern. One complication may come from the fact we don’t all live in a uniformly distributed population but are spread out in semi-isolated communities. However, surprisingly, this doesn’t have a huge effect on the growth as explained in another great video by 3Blue1Brown. BIOLOGY OF THE VIRUS
ironically, used our ribosomes to produce the proteins capable of copying the whole strand of viral RNA, using RNA dependent RNA polymerase. This explains how the virus can reproduce its own genome using the help of our cells, but a virus is made up of more than just RNA, therefore it still needs to produce all of proteins such as the spike proteins. It does this again using translation. The viral RNA is used to make many smaller strands of mRNA using the proteins produced early on. You may recall that mRNA can be translated by ribosomes creating the many viral proteins required, along with the RNA, to form a copy of the virus.
Figure 3 diagram of SARS-CoV-2, and it attaching to the receptor
The term coronavirus comes from the fact it has a ring of spike proteins which surround the rest of the virus in a crown like formation. This is a virus which has RNA as its nucleic acid. HOW THE VIRUS INFECTS ITS HOST CELLS Our lungs have small, highly specialised structures called alveoli. These are made up of two key parts, the Type I and II pneumocytes. The SARS-CoV-2 virus is able to bind to receptors on the Type II pneumocytes due to the similar shape of the spike proteins and the ACE2 receptor (normal function is to help regulate blood pressure and cardiac function). Once bound to the ACE2 membrane an enzyme severs the ‘head’ off the spike protein leaving just the stem. Highlighted in fig 3 by the green line. This stem left is hydrophobic, allowing it to imbed into the membrane of the host cell. This then allows the viral membrane to fuse to the host membrane, allowing the viral RNA to enter the host cell. The coronavirus has RNA which can be read by our own ribosomes, as if it were mRNA which we use to transfer the message coded within our own DNA to the ribosomes. These ribosomes then carry out the function of translation, reading the first part of the viral RNA. Translation is the production of proteins from the RNA. After translating the first part of the viral RNA, proteins capable of replicating the virus genome and helping read the second part are produced. Now the virus has, 49
In the uncertain times of lockdown Caterham School has provided many innovative and engaging ways to keep everyone happy and healthy. One of these innovations are the Academic Shorts put together by Mr Owen. These give pupils, teachers and anyone linked to the school the opportunity to produce a short lecture style video on a chosen topic of interest. These are not only a great way for those filming them to become more engaged in their topic but have also created a great hub for everyone to talk about subjects that they are enthusiastic about. Watching each of the videos put up on both Instagram (Caterham has once again taken a leap into the future, soon all lessons will be carried out via facetime) and YouTube has kept me thoroughly entertained, their quality is up there with the best Moncrieff Jones talks and, even better, they are always accessible.
Black Holes – Part 1, by Dr Scott, teacher Black holes are astronomical objects which straddle the boundary between the realm of well-understood physics and the expansive abyss of our ignorance of the fundamental nature of reality under extreme conditions. In this first of a two-parter, we investigate the nature of black holes themselves and study the strange nature of the event horizon, the one-way boundary that marks the edge of the black hole and the point of no return.
Black Holes – Part 2 by Dr Scott, teacher Following on from part one, we look at the possible mechanisms which are powerful enough to create black holes – the deaths throes of super massive stars. We also look at the variation in scale of black holes discovered to date, from those mere miles across to giants which would dwarf the entire solar system. Finally we look at the method through which black holes eventually die, a process known as Hawking radiation.
Chernobyl by Dr Scott, teacher On April 26th 1986, the world witnessed the worst nuclear accident in the entire nuclear age with vast swathes of Ukrainian countryside having been rendered uninhabitable for the next 20,000 years. In this academic short, we look at the political backstory to the construction of Chernobyl as well as the mechanisms behind the chosen RBMK reactor type and how a series of events over the course of twenty years culminated in two giant explosions which ripped through the core of Reactor 4 at the Vladimir Ilyich Lenin nuclear power plant on that fateful day.
Coronavirus – Part 1 and Part 2 by Mr Quinton, teacher For Biologists viruses are the elephants in the room. We study living things but exactly how do we determine if something is alive? It’s not easy but the life processes (MRS GREN) remain our best test - does something move, respire, sense, grow, reproduce, excrete and gain nutrition? If the answer is yes, then it is alive. Viruses show none of these...unless they have hijacked a living cell. But all living things are infected with all sorts of viruses. They affect all our lives so much we need to understand them. There is such a huge variety and of particular interest is their genetic code. The more we learn about SARS-Cov2 the more interesting it becomes. Its genome is made up of the one of the longest pieces of RNA we know - about 30kb - that’s 30,000 letters. How does it get into our cells and how does it hijack them to make billions of copies of itself are the questions I look at in 2 videos I produced for Mr Owen’s incredible innovation Academic Shorts. Please take a look and dip your toes into the incredible world of these organisms - so simple we do not even classify them as living, yet they are cause of such devastating illness across the globe and damage to the world economy.
Dreams by Anastasia Spuma, Fourth year student Dreams have played an important role in the science we use today, with many great scientific ideas having been discovered in dreams (such as Dmitri Mendeleev’s idea for the periodic table). Scientists have been perplexed by this topic for years and have studied the sleep cycle in hopes of answering their queries. They found that we have five stages of sleep, and that dreaming can only occur in the last stage (REM sleep). During this stage, main muscle groups become completely paralysed, and only smaller muscles (such as facial muscles) can twitch; this is the body’s way of ensuring we don’t act out what is happening in our dream. We are more likely to remember our dreams if we are woken up during this stage (which is why it is a lot easier to remember nightmares, as we tend to wake up from them during this sleep stage). Studying these facts has provided scientists with theories, such as the theory that we dream to rehearse dangerous situations and therefore practice our fight or flight instinct, but they continue to explore this topic in search for definite answers.
Fluid Mechanics by Ben Brown, Upper 6th student When you think about some of the greatest achievements of mankind, you might think about the Wright Brothers achieving flight, Apollo 11 or the Titanic. What connects all of these? Fluid Mechanics. We have always dreamed about flight shown through mythology of Daedalus and Icarus, yet for ages there was a clear division between maths and experiments in the development of flight. The Wright Brothers achieved flight with very limited knowledge of fluid mechanics relying on trial and error to achieve the impossible! Yet fluid mechanics is not just something used for planes and boats, if we look at nature, birds feathers grow in such a way they open and close on the up-stroke and down-stroke respectively to minimise drag when they beat their wings back and maximise thrust when the beat their wings forward, Destin from SmarterEveryDay explains this really well.
Game Theory by Alex Mylet, Fourth year student
The Prisoner’s Dilemma
Game theory is the study of mathematical models of games. Games are interactions between rational decision makers, such as auctions, negotiations and games in the traditional sense such as chess. An example of a game studied by game theorists is the Prisoner’s Dilemma, where two associates are arrested, suspected of committing a significant crime. These associates are offered a deal by the prosecutors, where, after some consideration, the only rational option is to betray each other, even though both could have shorter prison sentences through cooperation. However, if the Prisoner’s Dilemma is played multiple times, it turns out that the players can foster cooperation, with mechanisms to punish each other if their trust is let down.
Magnetism by Piers Bryn, Lower 6th student From the memory in many computers, to the sound from your headphones, and up to the magnetic field of the Earth itself, magnets can be seen almost everywhere in our lives. Despite this, we don’t often hear much about what causes them. In my short I’ll aim to present a picture of how magnetism arises in permanent magnets, describe more specifically a few different types of magnetism and some of their properties and applications. We will see how all materials are, in fact, magnetic in some way. These effects are all seemingly magical, and I hope you enjoy hearing about them as I did when making this short.
ACADEMIC SHORTS continued Solitary Bees by Thomas Land, Old Caterhamian This little project is hopefully the start of a small series uncovering little parts of people’s gardens which you may not have taken notice of before. This idea started as I was watching some solitary bees (the topic of the first short documentary) use the flowerbed, recently watered, as a little mud pit. By looking closer into the places that we think we know, we can discover extraordinary, unexpected stories. I hope to cover other secretive aspects of the garden like the politics of birds, the spiders hunting flies amongst your flowers and what beetles you may hope to find in your compost. For any more information about this film, or any other of my projects, please visit https://thomasland.co.uk/.
Why We Get Ill by Max Fogelman, Lower 6th student Why do we get sick? Almost everyone has asked themselves this question from doctors to philosophers. I decided to make this academic short after reading a book titled ‘Why do we get sick’, this book explains why we get sick by using Darwinian medicine. Darwinian medicine is a tiny field of medicine that uses Darwin’s theory of evolution to explain why we get sick. I found Darwinian medicine useful as it framed disease in a different light than how I had looked at disease before. I began to look deeper into the cause of disease. I found that Darwinian medicine when applied correctly can be used to explain many diseases from gout to infection to ageing.
Xenotransplantation by Michelle Wong, Fifth year student Xenotransplantation is the transplantation of living cells, tissues or organs from one species to another. Such cells, tissues or organs are called xenografts or xenotransplants. Human xenotransplantation offers a potential treatment for endstage organ failure, a significant health problem in parts of the industrialized world. Controversially, this solution has raised many novel medical, legal and ethical issues. Throughout my research, I have laid out the timeline of the development of this new technology that has been introduced into the medical field thus discuss the problems and consequences when this technique is considered into the NHS. The choice of donors has been evolving to fit the human organs whilst the improvement of technology alongside the establishment of the CRISPR gene editing technique reduces the risks of the solution. I concluded by giving critical views of the pros and cons and the change it could create towards the failure of organ donor issue. As this solution is still in research it is not 100% sure whether this would be successful, research has shown that the future of this medical choice is bright and can fine tune to make it suitable to be introduced fully in to hospitals.
he medics society takes place every Thursday lunch, and is run by Mr Bovet-White and Miss Brand. It is open for all aspiring medics/vets and those wishing to study medical related subjects at university. The course starts at the beginning of the spring term during Lower Sixth and ends at Christmas of Upper Sixth.
Each week, up until the Easter Holiday, every pupil will give a presentation on a medical topic of their choice, ideas ranging from DNA replication to animal testing. An ethical discussion will then be initiated by another student. Examples of these discussions can range from whether abortion should be legal to organ donation: should it be an opt-in system or opt-out. During this time, we learn valuable communication skills, as well as learning different approaches to medical ethics questions. Students also get the opportunity, to reach out to currents Doctors/GPs to arrange talks for all aspiring medics in the school. For example, last year, neurosurgeon DR Nick Thomas gave a talk about his repair on a foetus who have Spina Bifida, which is also known as Myelomeningocele (MMC). This is when the spinal cord of the foetus does not develop properly leading to a gap in the spine. The procedure is carried out whilst the child is still in the motherâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s womb. A paediatric
neurosurgeon then removes the myelomeningocele sac and returns the spinal cord to the spinal canal. A procedure that has only been done twice in the UK. The Spring gives the students more independence and also helps them improve their personal statements. After the Easter holidays, the society becomes heavily focused on preparation for personal statements and the UCAT (University Clinical Aptitude Test)/ BMAT (BioMedical Admissions Test). These exams need to be taken by October of your Upper Sixth.
During my time in the medics society, we had the opportunity to visit Royal Marsden Hospital, in the Summer Term, which specialises in cancer treatment. The nurses here gave us a presentation on radical, palliative and prophylactic approaches to cancer treatment. These treatments can be delivered both internally and externally. A common example of internal treatment is seen in prostate cancer, where a small radioactive seed (known as prostate brachytherapy) is placed in the prostate. This is done so tumorous cells receive low doses of radiation over a period of time, and healthy tissue nearby receives minimal radiation as possible. We were then given the task to arrange a number of MRI scans into the correct order to ultimately have one large MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scan of the human body. To finish our trip, we got taken to observe how a CT (computed tomography) scan operates. Throughout enrichment week, a representative of the Medics Portal runs a UCAT day for all potential medics. During this day, they teach us how to approach each of the five sections in the UCAT examination. Finally in the Autumn term, the science department arrange for the medics to have practice MMIs (Multiple Mini Interviews), to replicate the interviews Universities host for medical students. Fortunately, we then get the opportunity to have interviews with teachers from Alleynâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s School. By Mai Wallace
Science Olymp British Physics Olympiad (BPhO)
British Biology Olympiad (BBO)
This year twenty-two students out of our budding A-Level physics cohort put themselves forward to take part in the devilishly difficult British Physics Olympiad Round 1 paper. With questions ranging from the physics of dams and the iridescence of oil on water to the astrophysics of the New Horizons probe’s flyby of the asteroid Ultima Thule, the two sections were certainly very challenging. Nevertheless, our amazing group of A-Level student rose to the challenge, with eight of them securing medalled positions including a ‘Gold’ medal for Selina in upper sixth and a ‘Top Gold’ medal for Leo, also in upper sixth. To achieve a ‘Top Gold’ medal, Leo made it into the top 100 who took part in the BPhO, some 2100 students! With a ticket to the even more demanding second round, Leo tackled the 3 hour paper head on. Answering questions on the formation of ice crystals on electrified metal, the thermodynamics of the atmosphere and quantum models of electrons in metals Leo not only achieved another medalled position but a very strong ‘Silver’. The BPhO papers are notoriously tough and just volunteering to take part should be commended, so a big congratulations to everyone that sat the paper! Think you might be able to have a go? Here are a couple of questions from the 2019 Round 1 paper: 1. A golf ball is struck and begins to move at an initial velocity of 60 m/s at an angle 40 degrees above the horizontal. Determine at time t = 3 s after the strike (i) the velocity of the ball, and (ii) the position of the ball relative to the origin. 2. Estimate the mass of a piece of paper the size of a pinhead (the blunt end of a sewing pin). Show your calculation. 3. A bicycle pump has one end sawn off and a cork fitted into the end. The piston is pushed slowly inwards and the cork is fired out with a popping sound which has a frequency of 512 Hz. The initial distance between the cork and the piston is 25 cm, with atmospheric pressure equal to 100,000 Pa and the speed of sound in air being 330 m/s. Calculate the force required to eject the cork. 2020 also saw the return to Caterham of the BPhO Intermediate Physics Challenge for our GCSE students as well as the BPhO Senior Physics Challenge for those in lower sixth. With 20 taking part in the Intermediate Challenge and 18 taking part in the Senior Challenge, we were once again super impressed by just how many medals our students achieved. Our lower sixth achieved 9 medalled positions with ‘Silvers’ for Kelvin, Sally and Mikhail and a ‘Gold’ for Olivia, and 8 medals were secured among our GCSE students including a ‘Gold’ for William in fourth year!
The Bio department run their Olympiad program differently from all of the other sciences: Bio makes it compulsory for the top 10 students to take the exam and then voluntary for everyone else. Having said this we get far more that 10 students taking it each year due to their own passion for the subject and the chance to prove themselves in a very low stakes but high reward competition. This year we had 7 pupils get medals:
By Dr Scott
By Mr Quinton
piads British Chemistry Olympiad (BCO) The Chemistry Olympiad is a fun bit of chemistry problem solving cunningly disguised as a savagely hard 2 hour written exam. It takes place at the end of January/early February and it is often hard to persuade the U6 to sit yet another exam having just finished their mocks! We had 23 students sit the exam this year, 4 of whom were U6. It was really impressive to see a keen interest from the L6 and even two 5th year students wanted to give it a go. The paper asked questions on the themes of: calcium carbide and the manufacture of ethyne; hydrogen as a potential alternative to fossil fuels; the toxicity of some sun screens to coral reefs; the role of silicon oxides as dehydrating agents; some of the molecules responsible for the colour in blood, skin and leaves; and some interesting molecules known as ladderanes. Quite a broad range of chemistry concepts to tackle in a rather intense two-hour slot. It is a very discriminating exam and very few students are expected to score over 50%. The exam is set up completely differently to how A levels or GCSEs operate – which is most refreshing. This year the students achieved 1 x Gold, 4 x Silver and 11 x Bronze Medals. Polina Ivanova achieved the Gold Medal with a very impressive score putting her in the top 1-2% of the 9,000 students who sat the exam. Polina is going to Oxford to study chemistry. The four Silver Medallists did very well indeed and included: Maddie McMillan, Sally Ho, Kelvin Lee and Gracie Zhou. Sally and Kelvin are L6 students and Gracie is a 5th year student! Even a Bronze medal is a huge achievement in this competition and those 11 students can be very proud of themselves – very well done It was great that so many L6 and 5th year participated this year and it bodes really well for their success next year. I hope that they all enjoyed it and are keen to come back for more next time! By Mr Keyworth 55
Physics Extension By Dr Scott
id you know that your head ages faster than your feet? That you weigh less when travelling west in the northern hemisphere? That in order to speed up an orbiting rocket you have to apply the brakes? That there is so much empty space inside an atom that were you to remove it, all of the human race could fit into a sugar cube? That one turbine blade of a jet engine is strong enough to hang a whole jet engine from without breaking? That the mass of all of the atoms that you’re made up of isn’t responsible for 99.9% of your mass?... Physics holds all of the answers to these strange and counterintuitive facts and is the toolkit with which we further investigate the most fundamental laws and properties of the Universe we find ourselves inhabiting. Science continues to be very strong at Caterham with physics remaining
a popular A-Level choice; 19 of our current 49 physics students in Upper Sixth are going on to read physics or engineering at university next year, including five at Oxbridge colleges. An outlet for those eager to push beyond the confines of the A-Level specification, the Physics Extension sessions, which run weekly over the course of both sixth form years, have attracted a roll-call of 28 names among our Upper Sixth alone, with an equally impressive number of keen physicists and engineers in the year below. The aim of these sessions has been to expose our aspiring physicists
and engineers to university level topics and problems and to indulge their enthusiasm across the veritable multitude of different subject areas. As well as a five-week session on AC and DC circuit analysis given by Old Cat Dima Leyko. With Physics Extension, there is no endgame, no exam to pass, no concrete syllabus; the students come and spend 90 minutes every week (ignoring the frequent times I overrun to two hours!) at Physics Extension for the sole reason that they love the subject, and that, to me, is the greatest thing we could hope for as a physics department!
Over the last two years, our leavers have been taught mini-lecture courses on: • Classical mechanics (rocket physics, gyroscopic motion, orbital motion) • Fluid dynamics (Bernoulli’s equation, viscosity, Reynold’s transport theorem, Navier-Stokes equations) • Thermodynamics (the laws of thermodynamics, heat engines and combustion cycles, information theory and entropy) • Quantum mechanics (interpretation of quantum mechanics, the Schrödinger equation and its solutions to the finite square well, harmonic oscillator and the hydrogen atom) • Chaos theory • Vector calculus (and its mathematical applications to physics and engineering) • Cosmology (the shape of the Universe and the FRW metric, the expanding Universe and the Friedmann equations)
I have been attending Physics E xtension club for two years now and it had definitely pushed me to become a better physicist. The interesting topic choices from various areas of physics introduced me to many brand-new concepts which always helped me expand my knowledge beyond A level physics. Although most sessions were very hard at the beginning, as my further math caught up with the common mathematical skills used in physics, it became more and more satisfying to learn. One of my favorite topics is quantum mechanics as I never really get the chance to understand more than some qualitative understanding of it just by reading around science books, it was very exciting to deepen my understanding of it from a mathematical view. By going through the derivations of Schrodinger’s equation, I was able to see how some vigorous mathematics is used in real life, and attempting to renormalize some functions myself was challenging but also satisfying to be able to do something you’d thought you’ll have to wait until university to do.
The weekly pilgrimage to Dr Scott’s classroom in the quest for enlightenment in the form of mind-boggling physical laws or fear-inducing mathematical derivations (a.k.a Physics Extension) has without a doubt been one of the many highlights of my two (well, slightly less than two – thanks corona) years of the sixth form at Caterham. Over this period, we have been lucky enough to encounter a plethora of fascinating fields of physics beyond the scope of the A-Level curriculum. This has not only armed us, as aspiring physicists and engineers, with a head-start in the syllabi of our respective university courses, but also with the invaluable asset of making A-Level content seem like child’s play in comparison. Vector calculus (including vector fields) is one such example that we have studied during Physics Extension that pervades all areas of undergraduate science and engineering and the entirety of science as a whole. In addition to equipping us with assets of understanding such as vector calculus, physics extension also scratches an itch of scientific curiosity that the, oftentimes surface-level, A-Level courses fail to. Our study of quantum mechanics, for instance, built upon our knowledge of phenomena such as wave-particle duality (whereby a quantum object will exhibit sometimes wave-like and sometimes particlelike characteristics in respectively different physical settings) by looking at explaining them quantitatively utilising the concept of wave functions. The wavefunction is a mathematical description of the quantum state of a quantum system, defining the probability of the system being in a certain state (particle or wave) as a function of position and time. A massive thanks to Dr Scott for giving up his time to teach us about mind-blowing physical phenomena like quantum wave functions and for plunging us on an intellectual rollercoaster each week! By Ralph Hope
I think attending Physics Extension was a truly rewarding and eye-opening experience. By Yuka Okada 57
Science Readiness Course Caterham school put together a course for the upper 6th pupils focused at getting everyone ready for the big step to university. Part of this was focused at furthering our skills and knowledge for the specific course we would be doing at university and as ever the science departments came out on top! Some of the science courses involved lecture style sessions, research projects and Oxford university first year problem sheets (thanks Mr Mansell!) all aimed at furthering not only furthering our knowledge but also developing skills such as essay and project writing which are vital at university.
Biology & Medics Once post A-level revision and tests were out of the way the biology department, rather than relax, stepped up a gear taking 20 Upper 6th Formers into a real university experience. This group includes biologists, medics, vets along with pupils planning to study bio-med, physiology and physiotherapy. The 19th century was the time of the great chemistry discoveries and the 20th century the years physics made its greatest strides. Now it’s biology’s turn. We are living in an age of biology, where advances are happening so rapidly that textbooks are out of date before they are printed. For that reason, undergraduates will rarely use textbooks at University. Instead they will be expected to read and understand the actual papers researchers which researchers publish. Mr Quinton secured access to over 50 cutting edge papers published in 2020 (and some not yet in print) on topics ranging from enzymes involved in cancer to postoperation ACL treatment and from horse acupuncture to help with insulin dysregulation to research into cooperative behaviour in vampire bats. Mr Quinton’s Upper 6th biologists selected particular areas of interest to in biology and studying these cuttingedge papers, as they will have to at university. At the time of writing this they are about to present their findings to the rest of the group - again another skill required for university. Mr Quinton is very passionate about communication in Science. In this age of biotechnology and genetic engineering there has never been a greater need for good communicators to explain to the public and politicians, the discoveries and advances being made. This is the only discipline at school level that seems to address this need. That has been the focus of our amazing voyage into the world of real science these last few weeks. By Mr Quinton 58
Chemistry Initially the chemists took another look back into their chosen courses to remind themselves of what topics they would be studying at university. Having done this, they thought it would be useful to better understand molecular orbital theory. This really starts to bridge the gap between chemistry and physics, as when you delve into the smaller and smaller realms of the Universe down to the scale of subatomic particles we have to start examining and utilising quantum mechanics. Molecular orbital theory was one of the biggest advances in chemistry which completely altered the way bonding was studied. Using advanced maths and statistics, generally known as the Schrödinger equations, we can now apply an approximation to bonded electrons in order to understand bonding in a completely different way. Some of the subtopics which were investigated within underneath the umbrella topic of molecular orbital theory were radial wave functions of different orbitals, molecular orbital energy level diagrams, constructive and destructive interference of the atomic orbitals to produce bonding and anti-bonding molecular orbitals as well as researching about radial and angular nodes. This was then tied together by looking at the specific example of the bonding of benzene. This is why you should take chemistry A-level, not because you need to just pick another subject but because you really want to understand how the world works, this subject has the unique ability to unite both biology and physics. By Ben Brown
Physics & Engineering The physics teachers have produced an amazing programme giving us a unique insight into the world of university level physics which we wouldn’t have otherwise had the chance to see or experience. The teachers gave us a double headed approach to this programme, not only providing us with university style lectures on mechanics and maths, but also providing us with numerous questions to sink our teeth into. I would highly recommend this problem sheet form the first year at Oxford, it really gives you something to get stuck into; Oxford problem sheet. We have been looking at topics such as rotational mechanics; the lectures by Walter Lewin are quite incredible! This for me was one of the most eye-opening parts of the syllabus, as it was quite different from anything we had learnt before, and yet it has many links to some of the most basic A-level topics such as SUVAT. Learning about angular momentum and moments of inertia gave me a new perspective on physics as finally there were ways to describe the further properties of objects which are rotating. Have you ever wondered how a gyroscope can magically help orientate objects? Another example is in mountain biking where it is key to keep the weight down on the wheels. However, it was not until I took this course that I could appreciate the reason for this: objects have a property called the moment of inertia. This is much like a rotational equivalent of mass from ‘traditional’ linear mechanics. The moment of inertia can qualitatively be thought of as how hard it is to get an object rotating. The equation for the moment of inertia differs for each object and they need to be derived from:
where I is the moment of inertia, r is the distance from the axis of rotation of an infinitesimally small mass, dm. For a hollow cylinder, which is a good approximation for a wheel, we find the equation:
where M is the total mass, a is the radius to the inner edge of the cylinder and b is the radius to the outer edge of the cylinder. As you can see the distances to the axis of rotation (the axle) are squared, therefore mass far away from the wheels takes a larger amount of force to get it rotating at the same rate as mass closer to the axle. Hence it is so important to keep the weight of 29’’ wheels low, so that you can get them spinning with the least amount of effort. This is just one example of the many interesting new concepts we have been introduced to by the physics teachers. I must thank both Dr Scott and Mr Mansell for putting so much work into this course, it has allowed everyone taking physics at Caterham to be one step ahead of the game for university! By Ben Brown
Reading list This section provides many great reads for anyone looking to study a STEM subject at university. There is a wide range in level and ability ranging from accessible to 5th year students all the way up to books aimed at undergraduates. I hope you find a book which you can sink your teeth into. Many others and I have tried to write a brief description of why we thought that book was so great. For all science a great way to learn more is by reading the ‘History of Science and Technology’ a Very Short Introduction series by Oxford University Press.
Biology Bad Science – Ben Goldacre We live in an age lead by Science. To gain credibility the media, politicians and other groups make claims in the name of science. Ben Goldacre is a practicing GP who hates ‘bad science’. This is a must read for everyone if you are to really understand what science is and what it really tells you. – Mr Quinton Sapiens – Yuval Harari This is an awesome book about Human Evolution. Biologists are passionate about evolution as it is the theory that underpins every aspect of our wonderful subject. What is really special is that this book is written by a Historian, so is not just another book on evolution by a Biologist. It is beautifully written and if you want to have a look at where you, Homo sapiens, comes from then this is the first book to go to. – Mr Quinton Homo Deus – Yuval Harari The follow on to Sapiens, Harari takes a look into what the future holds for us. This book covers ideas such as how we will overcome death, quite topical at the moment with the global effort to minimise the consequences of COVID-19, as well as looking at our ambitions to create artificial life. – Ben Brown Junk DNA: A Journey Through the Dark Matter of the Genome – Nessa Carey While I was at Oxford I was taught that only 2% of our DNA coded for proteins. The other 98% is junk, doesn’t code for anything. Life was simple, we know how DNA works. In the last 20 years there has been an explosion of understanding in what the 98% of the 3 billion A,T,Cs and Gs do. They might not code for proteins,
but they do a hell of a lot of other things. Nessa Carey will bring you up to date in our understanding of this extraordinary part of our genome. – Mr Quinton The Epigenetics Revolution – Nessa Carey DNA codes for RNA, RNA codes for proteins. A change in the base sequence of DNA is a mutation and can have catastrophic effects on the protein produced and cause diseases including cancer. But with some conditions the base sequence does not alter.... investigating this in the last decade opened up a whole new world we did not know existed. DNA and the proteins it codes for can be affected by other factors even though the base sequence appears to the be same. We are only just at the start of understanding this amazing world we call Epigenetics. – Mr Quinton The Chemistry of Life – Steven Rose To understand life Biologists need to understand organisms at a population, individual, cellular and molecular level. Looking at the molecules that make up living things is both fascinating and crucial to our understanding of how life works. This book by Steven Rose remains a bible in terms of an introduction and overview of the molecules that make up life. This is essential reading for any serious Biologist and Biochemist. – Mr Quinton A Very Short Introduction to biology A Very Short Introduction to neuroscience A Very Short Introduction to psychology
Chemistry Why Chemical Reactions Happen – James Keeler & Peter Wothers a good introduction for top-level GCSE students and for A-Level students. This is a great book for explaining why chemistry is a subject in the first place! – Mr Evans Periodic Tales – Hugh Aldersey-Williams A history of each element told as if their stories were novels. – Mr Evans A Guide to the Elements – Albert Stwertka An updated version of a book that I first read when I was in my Second or Third Year of senior school. This was one of the first books that really cemented my interest in the elements and, therefore, in chemistry as a whole. – Mr Evans A Primer to Mechanism in Organic Chemistry – Peter Sykes A great overview of the basic types of organic reaction mechanism. Essential reading for all scientists of the future, and for all A-Level students who are looking to increase their understanding of core organic reactions. – Mr Evans Oxford Chemistry Primers – Various These books have been excellent reads for me since I started reading for my degree. Any A-Level chemist/scientist who aspires to read the subject (or related disciplines) in the future should have a look through the titles in this series and see which ones take their interest. – Mr Evans Atkins’ Molecules – Peter Atkins Atkins gives a comprehensive account of the fundamental molecules that are abundant in our everyday lives and how they shape our perception of the world around us. This book is very accessible and great for anyone studying chemistry at any level. – Maddie Mcmillan A Very Short Introduction to chemistry
Engineering How to Build a Car – Adrian Newey Written by the greatest F1 engineer of all time, Adrian Newey takes you on one of the greatest adventures through the past of F1 and Indycar up to modern day design. He has a unique ability to describe engineering in an intuitive and enjoyable way. However, this isn’t simply a book about cars, it’s a story which takes you through the process of developing as a professional engineer as well as the heart wrenching tragedy of Ayrton Senna. Out of all the books written on this list that I have read, ‘How to Build a Car’ is by far my favourite! – Ben Brown
Understanding Flight – David Anderson & Scott Eberhardt How does a plane fly? By air hitting the underside of the wing, no, it is far more complicated that that. This book is perfect to give you a fundamental understanding of everything aerodynamics. Every wondered why a golf ball is pitted? This is to reduce the aerodynamic drag, but why does making something less smooth allow it to fly further: read this book to find out the secrets of flight and fluid mechanics. – Ben Brown Fluid Mechanics Demystified – Merle Potter Looking for a challenge, or schoolwork not pushing you hard enough? Then this is the book for you, furthering not only your understanding of fluid mechanics but also introducing many new maths concepts. The maths-based nature of this book has one huge advantage over books which try and use conceptual understanding and intuition, it doesn’t require you to get your head round the idea, only the maths (easy right!) to appreciate the concept. Be warned this is more of a textbook than an easy read. – Ben Brown Backroom Boys: The Secret Return of the British Boffin – Francis Spufford A great night time read, this book covers some of the greatest achievements made by engineers. From how a love for coding created one of the greatest computer games, Elite, on the classic Acorn computer to the most important step in taking phones from unmovable objects to the modern day smartphone. – Ben Brown Aerodynamics: Selected Topics in The Light of Their Historical Development – Theodore Von Kármán Theodore Von Kármán is aerodynamics Albert Einstein. Having the kármán vortex street named after him due to his strong influence on its understanding. This book contains one of the few times Newton was actually wrong – I know shock horror! but this is not to Newtons discredit but testament to the true complexity and abstract nature of aerodynamics. – Ben Brown Alex’s Adventures in Numberland – Alex Bellos (talk about why this is so good) This gave me a completely different view of maths and gave me a new appreciation for the subject. Not your typical maths book, ‘Alex’s Adventures in Numberland’ focuses more on the beauty on maths than the maths itself, anyone of any ability can read this and yet even uni grads can still gain insight from this book. It raises questions about maths which we have taken for granted, I bet you haven’t considered what a society would be like with no numbers greater than 3, and the issues this can have for ‘active’ partners! – Ben Brown
A Very Short Introduction to engineering and technology A Very Short Introduction to mathematics
Physics Six Easy Pieces – Richard Feynman Richard Feynman is perhaps one of the greatest teachers of physics of the 20th century, if not of all time. ‘Six Easy Pieces’ takes six readily accessible introductions to different area of physics (e.g. quantum theory, gravitation and energy) and presents them in Feynman’s usual pedagogical manner. Taken from his three volume ‘Lectures in Physics’ each section is brilliantly informative and extremely concise. Feynman tantalises us to learn more about the world around us and how it is all so interconnected. – Dr Scott Six Not-So-Easy Pieces – Richard Feynman Again taken from his ‘Lectures in Physics’ series (which any aspiring physicist must read!), the sequel ‘Six Not-So-Easy Pieces’ explores the more abstract concepts at heart of modern physics. Feynman manages to inject his cheeky wit and clarity of thought into the most mathematical of subjects, and you’re left wondering why you’re finding a dry mathematical topic such as vectors so enthralling. This book tackles those staples of popular science, special and general relativity, with great alacrity but without undermining the mathematical rigour which is necessary to understand them completely. – Dr Scott The Strangest Man – Graham Farmelo A captivating biography of the British physicist Paul Dirac, the most important physicist no one has heard of. As influential as Einstein or Newton, Dirac was an intellectual powerhouse becoming the youngest theoretician to win the Nobel Prize in physics. Yet, Dirac suffered terribly with a crippling fear of social interaction - a man full of warmth and love for his subject and fellow physicists yet without any means of expressing it. – Dr Scott The Oxford Book of Modern Science Writing – Richard Dawkins A must have book which contains excerpts of the most influential pieces of scientific thought from the 20th century. From Francis Crick on ‘Life Itself’ to ‘Religion and Science’ by Einstein and extracts by Stephen Hawking, Erwin Schrödinger, Carl Sagan, Roger Penrose, Oliver Sacks and Alan Turing, every aspiring scientist must read this! – Dr Scott
Quips, Quotes and Quanta – Anton Capri A fascinating and anecdotal trip through 19th and 20th century physics. This book revels in the strange relationships and idiosyncrasies of the physicists themselves whilst still managing to explain adeptly complex phenomena from quantum mechanics such as electron spin and waveparticle duality. The book also doesn’t shy away from the theories which didn’t cut the theoretical mustard - it really is a great insight into the birth of topics which we today take for granted as Universal truth. – Dr Scott Professor Povey’s Perplexing Problems – Thomas Povey Not so much a reading book but the most essential interview prep possible. Stacked full of interesting and tricky physics problems (which are Oxbridge staples), this book categorises the problems by topic as well as providing in depth and wellexplained solutions. -Dr Scott Mr Tompkins in Paperback – George Gamow George Gamow is a big-name cosmologist and nuclear physicist who gave us the theory behind alpha-decay, of nuclear synthesis within stars and how elements formed after the Big Bang. ‘Mr Tompkins in Paperback’ is Gamow’s outing into popular science and this book follows the eponymous bank clerk into his dreams and adventures where laws of physics are all very slightly different. Using this as a springboard, Gamow introduces us to the world of atomic and nuclear physics, of quantum theory and special relativity. I cannot recommend this read highly enough; if you love biology then ‘Mr Tompkins learns the facts of life’ and ‘Mr Tompkins inside himself: Adventures in the new biology’. – Dr Scott Alex’s Adventures in Numberland – Alex Bellos This gave me a completely different view of maths and gave me a new appreciation for the subject. Not your typical maths book, ‘Alex’s Adventures in Numberland’ focuses more on the beauty on maths than the maths itself, anyone of any ability can read this and yet even uni grads can still gain insight from this book. It raises questions about maths which we have taken for granted, I bet you haven’t considered what a society would be like with no numbers greater than 3, and the issues this can have for ‘active’ partners! – Ben Brown A Very Short Introduction to physics A Very Short Introduction to mathematics
PAST MONCRIEFF PRESIDENTS & VICE-PRESIDENTS 2007-2008 President: Luke Bashford: (University College London) Vice President: Edd Simpson (University of Leeds) 2008-2009 President: Tonya Semyachkova (Balliol College, Oxford) Vice President: Raphael Zimmermann (University East Anglia)
2016-2017 President: Hannah Pook (St John’s College, Oxford) Vice President: Vladimir Kalinovskiy (University College London) 2017-2018 President: Kamen Kyutchukov (University College London) Vice President: Natalie Bishop (University College London) 2018-2019 President: Daniel Farris (University of Exeter) Vice President: Rowan Bradbury (University of York)
2009-2010 President: Alex Hinkson (St Catherine’s College, Oxford) Vice President: Alexander Clark (Robinson College, Cambridge)
2019-2020 President: Michael Land (University of Warwick) Vice President: Ben Brown (Bristol University)
2010-2011 President: Oliver Claydon (Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge) Vice President: Sally Ko (Imperial College London)
PAST AND PRESENT MONCRIEFF-JONES SOCIETY ENDORSERS
2011-2012 President: Glen-Oliver Gowers (University College, Oxford) Vice President: Ross-William Hendron (St Peter’s College, Oxford)
Dr Jan Schnupp, Lecturer in Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics at the University of Oxford
2012-2013 President: Rachel Wright (St Peter’s College, Oxford) Vice President: David Gardner (University of Nottingham) 2013-2014 President: Holly Hendron (St Peter’s College, Oxford) Vice President: Anne-Marie Baston (Magdalen College, Oxford) 2014-2015 President: Ollie Hull (Merton College, Oxford) Vice President: Cesci Adams (University of Durham) 2015-2016 President: Thomas Land (University of Southampton) Vice President: Emily Yates (University of Birmingham)
Dr Bruce Griffin, professor at Surrey University, specialising in lipid metabolism, nutritional biochemistry and cardiovascular disease Dr Simon Singh, popular author and science writer, including the book ‘Trick or Treatment?’ Dr Mark Wormald, Tutor of Biochemistry at the University of Oxford Dr Nick Lane, Reader in Evolutionary Biochemistry, University College London Mike Bonsall, Professor of Mathematical Biology, St Peter's College Oxford Dr Max Bodmer, Marine Biologist and lecturer Lincoln University and Nottingham University