torsdag 24. desember 2015

Merry Christmas!

First of all, the most important message to day is: MERRY CHRISTMAS to all my wonderful, fantastic readers - I love you all!


To follow up on the last blog post about stars, here are two more facts about stars that I think suits the theme of this day (my favourite day of the year):

1) There is no “Star of Bethlehem”, or "Christmas star". What the wise men probably saw on their way to meet baby Jesus, was Halley's comet (there are other theories as well, but I like the comet theory :) ), which was visible 11 or 12 years BC.
We told Alexandra this the other day, and she replied by instructing us to change the word "star" into "comet" in the songs :D (For the record: I have no trouble singing "star" - this was her choice...)

2) The most poetic fact is that we are all made of star dust (or we can call it starstuff), and Carl Sagan said it so beautifully and fantastic, I will just finish this holiday blog post with his words:

mandag 21. desember 2015

Friday Facts on a Sunday (at least it's Sunday some places in the world)

It's getting close to Christmas now, and it's darker than ever (oh, how much I hate that - so happy it'll go the other way around in just 2 days), so I though now is a good time for 10 FACTS about stars:

1) Stars are born when huge clouds of gas start to collide because they are attracted to each other, because of gravity (short fact: stars exist because of gravity :P ) <3

- where stars are born -

2) Stars make electromagnetic radiation (like for example visible light) by fusion of hydrogen into helium.

3) Stars are pretty

4) Our nearest star is actually what we normally call the sun - the sun is a star ;)

5) There are more than 200 billion stars just in our own galaxy, the Milky Way (that's huge!)

- our home in the Universe - the Milky Way <3  -

6) When we look at the night sky, we can only see 5000 of all the stars in the Milky Way :/ (However, 5000 is also quite much, even though it's super small compared 200 billion)

7) All those stars that we see in the sky are bigger than our own sun (there are stars with the same size as our sun, and smaller ones too, but they don't shine bright enough so that we can see them)

8) The things we see in the sky that shines the brightest are actually not stars. We see Venus, Mars, and Jupiter, for example, and they are planets ;)

9) The surface temperature of a star ranges from about 2100 degrees Celsius to 40 000 degrees Celsius (our sun has a surface temperature of about 6000 degrees)

10) Our closest star (besides the sun, of course) is called Alpha Centauri, and it is 4 light years away from us. This means that the light we see from this star today was actually emitted four years ago - we are really looking back in time when we are looking at the stars :) If we "translate" this distance into kilometers, Alpha Centauri is about 40 000 000 000 000 km away from us - this is our neighbour...the Universe is simply enormous!

torsdag 17. desember 2015

Energy in an atomic bomb and energy in a nuclear power plant

Hi everyone :)
I got a question the other day about nuclear weapons and nuclear power plants. There was some confusion about something I said on the radio (Abels Tårn) a couple of weeks ago, about nuclear power and nuclear weapons... Let me divide the question into two parts:

1) How much do you have to enrich natural uranium to make a nuclear weapon, and how much do you have to enrich to make nuclear fuel?
To make a weapon you have to enrich natural uranium, that consists of 99.25% uranium-238 and 0.72% uranium-235 (and the rest is uranium-234), to you get something like 95% uranium-235 - since this is the fissile isotope.
To make fuel you only have to enrich up to around 5% uranium-235.
In theory you could have made the 95% enriched uranium into fuel, and even though it costs money to enrich (and much more money the more you enrich), you would more or less get this money back since the higher enrichment, the longer it would last (and also, the less waste you would make - but that's another question ;) )

2) (Which was really the question I got.) Why can't we make energy from a bomb?
First of all: you could take the fissile material from a bomb and make it into fuel - it was actually done for 20 years in the Megatons to Megawatts program, and during that time 10% of all of the electricity in the US came from nuclear power plants that were fuelled with old, Russian, nuclear war heads :)
Second: What I was talking about on the radio was not the normal fission bomb, but a fusion/hydrogen bomb. Actually, I was talking about wether or not we manage to make fusion here on Earth, and my point was/is that we don't (yet, but maybe in the future? ;) ) manage to make energy from fusion the way the sun does it, but it's not correct that we don't manage to make fusion at all; since in a fusion weapon (also a type of nuclear weapon, also called a hydrogen bomb or an H bomb) we do get hydrogen to fuse. But to make the conditions right, so that the hydrogen nuclei get close enough and start to fuse, to form helium nuclei, and release energy, we have to "light it" with a "normal" fission bomb first - this is what I mean by we're putting in more energy than what we're getting out. So, we make hydrogen fuse in an explosion that we start with a nuclear fission bomb - not exactly a way to produce energy ;)

Was this any clarifying at all? Or more confusing? Please let me know, and tell me if there's something I should explain in more detail <3


Today was the third (and last) day of the writing seminar. As I said yesterday, it takes time, a lot of time; and today I've spent most of that time working on a plot...

This stupid colon stole one hour of my #phdlife today... For those who know any programming you know it should be a semi colon there, and not a colon. For me, who's no where near to being an expert in programming, it took me one hour before I said to my self "I've tried everything now, and the error messages I get don't tell me what's wrong - I have to ask someone for help", and I turned to Gry, who was sitting next to me (thank god), and she saw my STUPID mistake in something like 58 seconds. And suddenly, instead of just giving me a completely blank canvas, I got exactly what I wanted - beauty, beauty, beauty:

Can I have it in pink, please? Oh, yes, I can - the magic code is "kPink+7" <3

There will be no plotting or writing tomorrow, 'cause then I actually have to go for some christmas shopping (now it sounds like I don't want, which is not true... I'm going with Anders, and I'm looking forward to it <3 ), but on Monday I'll be back at Blindern for a discussion with Sunniva Supervisor - and maybe Jon (my other supervisor) will get a draft of this paper as a christmas present ;)
But before anything else: SLEEP!

onsdag 16. desember 2015

Pink - part 3: Why can we see pink?

Good morning, Wednesday!
It's cold, not too late, and I'm at the university library with my first latte of the day, and ready for the second day at the last writing seminar before christmas. I'm happy with yesterdays efforts (I finished all my Pomodoros), but I do realise that this takes forever... I'm seriously hoping that during the next months my "output" will grow more or less exponentially, or it'll be very hard to finish my thesis by the beginning of September (OMG!). At least I have to dedicate more days completely to just writing, like I'm doing today and tomorrow (and yesterday!) ;)

- dress: Vila // west: Gina Tricot // tights: HM (200 denier!) -

One thing I don't like about the cold is that it becomes so extremely difficult to find something to wear - I freeze, like, all the time. But on Monday I found this dress at Vila that's comfortable, cheap (199,-) and since it's made by cotton I think it works very nicely with warm winter boots. When I'm outside I put a big sweater on top of it, and it just looks like the perfect skirt. I love that it's quite straight - it's a little loose around the waist (which I think is nice when I'm at work, and will be sitting for hours and hours), but a little tight around the derrière. With my west from Gina Tricot, it's a perfect, comfortable winter work outfit ;)
They had it in several colours (like dark grey, black, dark blue, and others), and I also bought one in orange. Now that I know how much I like it already, maybe I'll even buy another one.


Ok, over to todays title: the last guest blog post from my sister <3
(Read number 1 HERE, and number 2 HERE, to get the entire story about my favourite colour)

But why can we see pink?

Pink is a negative colour, if you will. When we look at a colour spectrum we see that the spectrum goes from gamma- to radiowaves, and visible light goes from red to purple, but nowhere is there pink. If an object absorbs all colours but green you get a sort of anti-green. Your brain interpret this as pink. Thus this is why we can see pink after all.

Lastly, I want to make a case for PINK. Even though pink is really a colour made by our brain, and not a real, visible wavelength, that doesn't make it any less of a colour. There are a lot of things that our brains make. Pictures and sounds are interpreted all of the time - that doesn't make the unreal! It is. however, neat to know how our brain works; if not for other reasons but to know what an amazing job it does every single day, and to understand how incredibly easy it is to trick a brain...

tirsdag 15. desember 2015

15th of December - 9 days to go...

Only nine days left to christmas. No christmas shopping for me yet; I'm spending all of today and tomorrow and Thursday writing writing and writing - I. WANT. TO. GET. A. REAL. DRAFT. OF. MY. PAPER. BEFORE. CHRISTMAS. - but maybe there'll be time for some christmas preparations on Friday...:)
Some of you probably still have an exam (or two?!?) left, and to all of you: A big good luck! I'm at the University Library right now, and from the number of people here, there are obviously a lot of students that are not finished with their exams just yet.

Since it's the 15th today, there are two things from nuclear history I want to share:

1) On this day, in 2000, the reactor number 3 of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant was shut down for good. Yes, you got it right; Chernobyl wasn't closed after the accident in 1986 - the reactor number 4, where the accident happened, was of course shut down (it was completely destroyed), but the other reactors continued to operate. Reactor number 1 ran until 1997, number 2 until 1991, and number 3 until 15th of December 2000. (Read more about the shutdown of the Chernobyl NPP HERE)

2) Today is also the birthday of Henri Bequerel - the discoverer (together with Marie and Pierre Curie) of radioactivity. He got the Nobel Prize in physics for this discovery, in 1903, just five years before he died. It was just an accident that he, in 1897, actually discovered that uranium salts emit some kind of radiation - a penetrating type of radiation that could be registered on a photographic plate. Bequerel wanted to, and first thought that he was studying a type of X-rays, but the radiation that came from the uranium salts turned out to be the new phenomenon called radioactivity :) (If was actually spontanious radioactivity that he discovered; radioactivity can also be induced - if a material is bombarded with for example neutrons it can become radioactive, and this discovery was done by Irène Curie and Frédéric Joliot-Cuire.

mandag 14. desember 2015

10 days to go - 14th of December

Monday again, and this week I promise to (try to :P) be better at blogging than last week! My excuse is mostly Anders' exam, which affected me quite a lot too... It's just so much better when you're sort of working on a team with someone - but that's almost impossible when one person has an exam and works constantly except for the 8 hours he needs for sleeping, and the other one has a child ;) Now he's finished with exams for quite a long time, and we're back to being a team again - working together in the evenings in our living room, going to bed early, and getting up early in the morning <3

Anyway, I'm super happy to have my team mate "back" from quantum field theory, it's the last whole week before christmas (for many, maybe the last week before vacation?), and it's the 14th of December, meaning there are only 10 days left to christmas. So I thought I should give you the 14th element today :)

Element number 14 in the periodic table of elements is silicon (short: Si). The reason why it's the 14th element is because it has 14 protons in its nucleus. There are 24 different isotopes ("types") of silicon that we know of, and the stable ones (the non-radioactive) are silicon-28, silicon-29, and silicon-30.
If you want to make stable silicon, the recipe is 14 protons, and either 14, 15, or 16 neutrons. If you use 14 neutrons, you'll make silicon-28 (14+14=28), and this is the most abundant type in the universe - actually 92.23% of all silicon is silicon-28. If you use 15 neutrons, you'll make silicon-29 (4.67% of all silicon), and if you use 16 neutrons, you'll make silicon-30 (3.1% of all silicon). If you mix your protons with less than 14, or more than 16 neutrons, you'll end up making radioactive silicon.

Silicon is the eight most common element found in the universe, if you sort by mass (before silicon, there's hydrogen, helium, oxygen, carbon, neon, iron, and nitrogen). Even if there is a lot of it here on Earth, it's not common to find it as pure silicon - meaning not as part part of some chemical compound (which is a substance that consists of two or more different types of atoms, like for example water, which consists of both hydrogen and oxygen). Pure silicon is actually quite important for us today, since we use it in all kinds of modern technology, and we like <3 technology...

fredag 11. desember 2015

Facts on a Friday - Beta radiation

Hi everyone, sorry I've been quiet since Sunday! I was planning to share my plan of the week on Monday, but then the day just sort of disappeared, and I really don't know what happened to the rest of the week either (I know that yesterday disappeared since I was in charge of the nuclear physics group's christmas party, and this weekend, including today, I'm at Trysil, but Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday I really don't know...:/)

Anyway, here are 10 facts about Beta radiation, since today is Friday and it's rime for facts (read about Alpha radiation HERE):
  1. beta radiation consists of particles - you can call it betas, beta particles or beta radiation.
  2. beta particles (or betas or beta radiation) is just exactly the same as electrons - beta particles are free electrons.
  3. you can have either beta plus or beta minus radiation (so it's actually not exactly true that beta particles are electrons, because if they're beta plus particles, then they're positrons, and if they're beta minus, then they're electrons).
  4. I think beta decay (the process where a nucleus emits a beta particle) is really weird: I mean, a neutron actually changes into a proton (or a proton changes into a neutron, if it's a beta plus).
  5. beta minus decay is also called electron emission, and beta plus decay is called positron emission.
  6. when a nucleus emits (sends out) a beta particle, it transforms into a nucleus that has a higher proton number (hydrogen would for example turn into a helium nucleus, since helium has one more proton than hydrogen) - this also means, that, yes, you can make gold from platinum, that has one less proton than gold.
  7. beta particle a are sometimes relativistic - that means that they move with a speed that's close to the speed of light, and that makes them seriously difficult to deal with (for instance theoretical calculations).
  8. if the beta particle is emitted in air, it usually moves a few meters before it is stopped (it has a range of a couple of meters in air). In water it moves only a few centimeters. This means they're quite easy to shield yourself from...
  9. most fission products emit beta (minus) radiation.
  10. beta radiation can cause actual "burns" on your skin; you can see (and feel) that your skin turns red, if you're very close to an intense source of beat radiation.

søndag 6. desember 2015

I didn't make it (#phdlife no. 284610798)

I'm a little bit upset and angry at my self right now, since I didn't even get close to my milestone/goal of these last 14 days :/ I was supposed to finish the analysis part of my paper, but then it turns out I haven't even touched it, since I've been busy giving talks. Going on "tour" around Norway to give talks just takes more time than I like to think that it does - I guess it's time for me to realize this now...
I have to become better at planning (not that I'm horrible at it, but I'm definetely not perfect either...). 

Tomorrow I think I have to start the day by making a DETAILED plan for the next week - to get through what I should have done the last 2 weeks. I understand that I have to change my next 14 days milestone a little bit, but I don't want to make the biggest changes either; I want to try to get very close to my original plan, which means three things: 

Come on, Sunniva, you can do it! Don't let yourself down ;)

love this new notebook from IKEA - perfect size, and perfect amount of coolness and pink <3 

Hope you all had a great weekend, and sorry that I'm not happy and inspiring just now - at least I'm honest... I'll keep you posted on snap (sunnivarose), with #teamsunnivarose <3 <3 <3

fredag 4. desember 2015

Friday Facts - Alpha radiation

We just finished this week's experiment, where we used alphas to learn more about zirkonium, and therefore I thought that today I have to give you 10 Friday Facts about ALPHA RADIATION (a couple of weeks ago I wrote about radiation in general, you can read that blogpost HERE):

2 proton (p) + 2 neutrons (n) = alpha particle = helium nucleus

  1. Alpha radiation is one of the types of particle radiation - alpha radiation is like a stream of alpha particles (I change all the time between calling it just alphas, alpha particles, or alpha radiation - they're all the same :) )
  2. An alpha particle is exactly the same as a helium nucleus (so, a helium atom stripped of its electrons)
  3. A helium nucleus consists of 2 protons and 2 neutrons - meaning that an alpha particle consists of two protons and two neutrons
  4. Alpha particles/radiation have a very short range - meaning they can't move very far; for example they only get a couple of centimetres in air
  5. Since the alpha particles have such a short range, it means that they are very easy to shield yourself, or protect yourself, from 
  6. If you get something (a source) in your body that emits alpha particles, this can be quite bad, since basically none of the alphas will get out of your body, and all their energy will be deposited inside your body
  7. Radon is an example of a radioactive gas that emits alpha radiation
  8. As long as whatever material that emits alphas is on the outside of your body, it can't hurt you (if the only problem with this material is that it emits alphas, of course)
  9. If I hold some material that emits alpha radiation in my hand, I won't get any dose (from radiation) to my hand (except from the part of my skin which is already dead, but I don't really care about whether or not my dead skin cells are exposed to a radiation dose ;))
  10. Heavy, unstable nuclei can emit an alpha particle to become a little bit lighter, and therefore more stable - ie, it's a little bit like "chopping" off a small part of the nucleus (like you have an apple, and you take a knife and you chop off a small part, then you have a little smaller apple and a piece of the apple)

helium atom: alpha particle + 2 electrons <3

onsdag 2. desember 2015

Happy Birthday!

I almost forgot, but today, the 2nd December, marks the 73 year anniversary of the world's first man-made nuclear reactor :) (Yes, you read that right; there have been nature-made nuclear reactors here on earth <3).
In 1942, man achieved the first self-sustaining chain reaction, and thereby initiated the controlled release of nuclear energy.

On the picture below, you even see the ax man - or the Safety Control Rod Axe Man (SCRAM), and even today it's called scramming the reactor when you shut it down:

Good luck with all your exams!

I know many of you have already had your first exam, so I guess I should have wished you luck a little bit earlier, but I also know (from all the great #teamsunnivarose snaps you send me - some of you are really working hard; GREAT JOB! ) that many of you have one or more exams left so I just want to say:
Good Luck to all students who are having exams these days! 

I also want to give you one tip, in addition to telling you to remember it's all going to be worth it, of course (and also remember that if it goes to h**l, that's actually not the end of the world either; worst case you have to do it over again, there are far much worse things in the world than that ;) ): try the Pomodoro Technique if you're one of those who are having problems with concentration and procastination... In short it goes like this:
  1. Decide on some task to be done (doing exercises, reading, writing a summary, answering e-mails or whatever)
  2. Set a timer to 25 minutes (this is one Pomodoro
  3. Work until the timer rings (and don't do anything else than the task you decided on in those 25 minutes)
  4. Take a break for 5 minutes (go and get a coffee, check Facebook, go to the toilet or whatever)
  5. Do another Pomodoro, and after 4 you have to take a longer break - at least 15 minutes, but it can be longer :D
I guess this is sort of the academics answer to interval training :P

And remember: when you're working hard, be proud and show it at #teamsunnivarose <3
I'm rooting for you!

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