nearly a milestone

Last week while writing about cells for my book – the moon underground guide to human cells and how they work – I jotted down roughly what sections the next part would contain and realised that I’d finally outlined the whole thing. Here is the contents page:

Currently I am on section 7.8 – Making More Mitochondria. Much of the book has been written several times so far, so it’s not remotely close to being done, but some sort of progress is being made.

Part 1: Atoms and Energy is the part that’s been rewritten the most – because it is the first part and because it is the hardest area to understand and describe. When I was rewriting about bonds recently, and puzzling over molecular vibration, I found this excellent educational video from the 1960s:

Continue reading


what from earth is space: what is the moving?


pan distance

The little dot to the right of the sun in the picture above is Alpha Centauri, the closest star to the sun. It is a long way away. The middle stars of the big dipper were all made together and are travelling through space in the same direction. They are the closest “cluster” of stars to Earth. Dubhe and Alkaid (at either end of the dipper) are out on their lonesome, which is not true as there is another star (invisible to our eyes) that orbits Dubhe. Mizar and Alcor look to us like they’re close enough to go around each other but they’re not. Mizar is (however, actually) a system of four stars and Alcor, like Dubhe, is a two star system. Space is therefore a giant merciless collection of optical illusions and silly names.

Continue reading


round things of the solar system part five

part 1

part 2

part 3

part 4

nearly there

Now we’re beyond the planetary solar system and into something else entirely, what is known as trans-Neptunian space, that is anything that is further away than Neptune on average. The main thing of this part of the solar system is the Kuiper Belt, which is a bunch of junk created during the formation of the solar system that Neptune has apparently swept into a neat big doughnut. Some of the objects from the Kuiper Belt and beyond have crazy orbits so listing the miles things are after another thing is even stupider than it was for the planets.

843 million miles after Triton is:

orcusOrcus can be called the anti-Pluto. This is because its orbit is like Pluto’s in a mirror and it also has a cosy moon like Pluto does. Orcus is icy and the ice is in crystals which are probably from past ice volcanoes. Currently it is hard to know very much about the objects in this part of the solar system because they are so far away and no vehicle has yet had a look at them up close (the hubble pictures of these things are just bunches of pixels) and so it is also hard to know whether these things are round enough to even be looking at at all. Orcus probably is though, it’s nice.

Continue reading