søndag 31. januar 2016

10 facts about neutrons

Hi sweeties <3 Alexandra's been sick since Wednesday, poor girl, so I've spent most of the time taking care of her and comfort her. Therefore, again (!), this week's Friday Facts blogpost comes on a Sunday. Hope you understand...
This time I feel the need of giving you ten facts about my favourite particle - the neutron:

  1. neutrons are radioactive if they are "free" (alone, and not part of the nucleus of an atom)
  2. neutrons have no charge - they are neutral, and can therefore "sneak" into another nucleus, and for example make it fission :D
  3. the recipe for a neutron is: 2 down quarks and 1 up quark (opposite to the proton that is made up of 2 ups and 1 down)
  4. the half-life of a (free) neutron is about 10.2 minutes, and then it turns into a proton, and electron, and an anti neutrino. Meaning it beta decays :D
  5. the neutron was discovered by James Chadwick in 1932
  6. neutrons have a mass, which is almost equal to the proton, but the neutron is a little bit heavier. Actually the mass of the neutron is 1.674927471×10−27 kg (or 0.00000000000000000000000000164927471 kg), and that's the same as 2.5 electron masses (electrons weigh really little) more than a proton
  7. neutrons can make stuff radioactive - which is called neutron activation; so a normal, stable gold nucleus can for example be activated by a neutron and go from gold-197 (stable) into gold-198 (un stable) and then decay into mercury-198, which is stable
  8. you can't make a nucleus entirely out of neutrons - you have to have at least one proton too, and then you have deuteron, or heavy hydrogen
  9. number 8 is actually just sort of true; you can go to an extreme, and calculate how many neutrons you need to make a "nucleus" entirely out of neutrons (since neutrons have no charge, they don't repel each other, like protons do, but they don't stick together either - a little bit like two pieces of paper; if you put them together they will just fall apart), and since they do have a mass they will attract each other because of gravity between them. This means that if you have enough neutrons, you will make something that won't just fall apart; and that number is . Not exactly nuclear size...:P (Read more about that HERE)
  10. when neutrons hit you, they will give you a dose that is dependant on their energy. The highest dose from a neutron comes when it has an energy of 1 million electron volts. If the neutron has lower or higher energy, the dose from it will be lower. 


For some reason I imagine neutrons to be white :P How do you imagine the neutron to look?

onsdag 27. januar 2016

I fear...

...a world without antibiotics. 

Just before the weekend, Anders started feeling some pain around one of his wisdom teeth. It wasn't too bad to begin with, but it gradually became more painful, and on Friday he was popping painkillers continuously. On Saturday morning, it was still bearable with the painkillers, but he realised he  had gotten an infection around this stupid wisdom tooth that didn't seem to go away by itself, and that he had to make an appointment with the dentist - so he did, but it still didn't feel that urgent, and he got an appointment on Monday morning. By Saturday night it was starting to be really bad, and during the night he called an emergency dentist, that would take him in on Sunday morning.
The dentist found that the infection was starting to go down Anders' throat, and that the he needed antibiotics immediately, and the tooth had to be removed. 

After this episode, which hasn't been any dramatic (except, of course, for Anders' pain, and I feel very bad for him and all that), I have been thinking about what could have happened if this was 150 years ago; where maybe the infection would have continued to grow down his throat, and a stupid wisdom tooth would have ended up killing a 28 year old, completely healthy man...

Thank goodness for modern medicine and dentists and antibiotics!

But, oh, how I fear a world where we don't have antibiotics anymore; or, more precisely, a world where we don't have any effective antibiotics left. A world where all bacteria are immune to all kinds of antibiotics. What if that's where we're heading, and that we don't manage to change the  direction we're going? What if one of the biggest achievements in the history of medicine will be lost?
I'm not an expert on the issue, but one thing I do know we can do as patients is to follow the doctor's orders on how to take our antibiotics: especially when it comes to the issue of NEVER stopping the treatment just because you feel fine, and also we need to respect those times when the doctor isn't giving us antibiotics, because it isn't 100% necessary :)



PS: I think Anders would also have said thank goodness for real painkillers, if I'd asked him before posting this ;)


tirsdag 26. januar 2016

First talk of 2016

Good morning fantastic people!
I just found my seat at the train towards Trondheim. I'm not going all the way, but getting off at Hamar - where I'm going to visit Hamar Katedralskole, which happen to be Anders' old high school :) There I'll be giving my first talk this year, to a bunch of 16/17 year olds, about "nuclear physics and research and stuff - the story about a pink nerd". As you might guess, it will be a personal talk about ups and downs from when I switched from ballet in high school until now, when I'm about to start wrapping up my PhD work... Hopefully some of them will be inspired, and maybe some of them will change their view on science and the scientist.



It's been exactly one year since I visited Hamar Katedralskole and gave the same kind of talk I'm giving today - so I guess I can take it as a compliment that they've asked me to come again this year ❤️❤️❤️


mandag 25. januar 2016

Submission successful!

Monday again! I've started this week by sending away an abstract for a conference i Belgium in the middle of September (if all goes according to my plan, this conference will be just the week after I have submitted my PhD thesis, and if I actually get to give a talk at there I will probably hate myself for submitting this abstract today :P ). The title of what I want to present ended up as:

Prompt fission gamma ray emission from the (d,p)-induced fission of 233U 

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After I had successfully submitted my abstract, the rest of the day was spent on working on my data analysis program, and looking at different plots, and try to understand details of the experiments we do, and stuff.
Then I got home, prepared for a talk I'll be giving in Hamar tomorrow, and then I made dinner for Anders and me - an easy, Indian thing this time. I'm working on another Working your ass off dinner, and when I have perfected the recipe I will share it with you guys - if you want me to, of course ;)

Now it's time to go to bed, since I'm getting up super early tomorrow... Kiss and hugs, and sleep tight <3


fredag 22. januar 2016

Friday Facts - gamma radiation



Friday again, darlings, and we know by now what day (normally) means: Friday Facts! This week I want to tell you about gamma radiation, since most of my (professional) life orbits around this kind of radiation these days.

  1. gamma rays, or gamma radiation, is the same kind of radiation as light (both are "just" electromagnetic radiation) - it's just really really intense, and comes from the atomic nucleus. A gamma ray carries at least 10 000 times more energy than "normal" visible light ray
  2. it doesn't have any mass or charge - as opposed to for example alpha or beta radiation
  3. gamma radiation travels with the speed of light - maybe not a big surprise, since I say in number 1 that it's really the same kind of radiation as light ;)
  4. gamma rays can be used to kill cancer cells, but it's not the standard for radiation treatment in Norway - where we use X-rays (when it comes to killing cells there's really no big difference between using gamma or X-rays )
  5. gamma rays are kind of waves, with very high energy, and very short wavelength - of less than ten trillionths of a meter
  6. gamma radiation goes through "everything" - at least compared to alpha and beat radiation, which are easily stopped. If you want to shield something from gamma radiation (and I often want to do just that), you (or I) use something very dense, like lead or actually depleted uranium is even better 
  7. a nucleus will very often emit a gamma ray at the same time as it emits an alpha or beta particle; this happens because after emitting the alpha/beta, the nucleus has a lot of extra energy, which is called being excited, and to get rid of this extra energy (called "de-excite") it emits gamma radiation
  8. measuring the gamma rays can be used to identify all kinds of different nuclei, since the different energies of the gamma rays sort of works like an id, or fingerprint, for one specific nucleus. For example we know for sure that oxygen-17 emits a gamma ray with an energy of 870 kilo-electron volts, and if we measure this we know that we have measured that exact oxygen isotope
  9. we (people) emit gamma radiation: A person that weighs 70 kg emits 500 gamma rays that come from potassium-40 every second. Potassium is the main reason why humans are radioactive, and that's completely normal :)
  10. I think it's so funny that we call a nucleus that has extra energy excited...I mean, this is me when I'm excited :D When I'm excited I don't emit more gamma rays than normal :P


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    Now I have to run for our nuclear physics group meeting - but maybe I'll talk to you later today. Have a great Friday and soon weekend sweeties!





    onsdag 20. januar 2016

    Late birthday present for my self

    On Friday I decided enough is enough: I'm sick and tired of being cold all the time, and that what I needed was a real warm jacket. I've been thinking about getting a real winter jacket for a long time, but I always end up thinking everything is either too expensive, or it's ugly. But the combination of feeling cold all the time, plus my birthday was recently, made me go online to Nelly.no and search for warm winter coats and jackets, and after not very long I found the perfect fit for me - a PINK down parkas <3 It was even 30% off, but that was not the reason why I chose this, it was just an extra bonus ;)
    I tested it outside for the first time today, and so far I'm super happy with this late birthday present from me to me!

    Did I mention it's PINK?!? ;)



    Since I was online, I also checked out the new year's sale, and two dresses and a black shirt was clicked home to Rose Castle. 







    Now I'm putting on my new pink favourite jacket, and I'm going out with Anders. We're going to get something to eat, and maybe a glass of wine (or two) - and I won't be cold :D

    This week's work

    As I told you on Monday, we have visitors this week. What we're actually doing is that we are studying fission - or to be more precise; gamma radiation from fission. 
    As you might know, or remember from earlier blog posts, fission is when a heavy atomic nucleus splits in two (this can happen to for example uranium-235). When this happen, you will get these fission fragments (this is what the two parts of the original nucleus are called) that have A LOT of extra energy, and some of this energy will be sent away as gamma radiation. A little bit like when we're really hot we start to sweat, and when a nucleus is really hot it emits gamma radiation ;)

    We want know everything about this type of radiation! For example it can have a lot of different energies, and we don't know how many gammas the fission fragments will emit and so on. Basically we want to know how and why and just all there is to know <3

    my look yesterday: a white men's shirt (HM) and the statement necklace I got from my mother for Christmas (Aldo) <3



    mandag 18. januar 2016

    Visit

    This week we have visitors from France (my great supervisor, Jon), Belgium, and Sweden. We're working on gamma radiation from fission (of uranium-233 and plutonium-239). It's a lot of hard, and EXTREMELY INTERESTING, work, and hopefully we'll get a very nice article out of this. If so, I'll very soon have the articles I need for writing up my thesis...wiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii!!!!!!!!1



    Now I need to get some sleep, so that I can get up early tomorrow, and finish preparing a talk I'm giving for a workshop and discussion we'll all have tomorrow.
    Sleep tight darlings <3

    onsdag 13. januar 2016

    Goal of the day

    Today I've been at the library, writing all day. It takes forever, but I'm starting to get used to it - and therefore better at making goals and to do-list. My goals today were:
    • finish (for now) the part about the so-called "Oslo Method" in my next paper
    • fix/make a figure (that f****g Fig. 4)
    • delete all the comments and thoughts (from my self) in the paper, so that it's actually possible to show it someone else without them saying WAT
    • send a draft of the paper to Jon supervisor in Paris
    • start making the talk I'm giving for our workshop on fission and gamma rays and stuff next week

    By the end of the day I managed all but the one about the figure... "Figure 4"continues to look like a very bad drawing or something, and it will probably not be fixed tomorrow either, since then I have to work on thoughts for my actual thesis, since Jon plus more are coming next week. But the important thing is that I did send my draft to my supervisor even thought the figure isn't any good, and that was really the most important goal of the day :D :D :D

    ----------------------------------------------------------

    Here's a picture of a typical staying at the library all day, writing and therefore trying to wear something comfortable, but isn't all that keen on wearing a sweat suit out in public-outfit: tight but stretchy jeans, a simple grey sweater, and my big Russian scarf that I got as a gift from Sunniva supervisor after I finished my master degree - and I love it <3



    tirsdag 12. januar 2016

    Working your ass off-dinner #phdlife

    I love thai food! Often we order take-out (and I always have some kind of curry), but our "new year's resolutions" are about spending more money on actually going out, and then less money on just stupid take-out (not that it's always stupid, but we end up ordering take-out that isn't particularly tasty, and even though it's fast, it isn't that fast, and even though it isn't that expensive it adds up to being money that would have been more fun to spend on going to a restaurant, or the movies, or whatever). The "problem" is that both Anders and I work a lot these days, and we are often dead tired when we're finally home - that's when it's too easy to just grab the phone and order something to our door :P

    Yesterday was one of those days when I wanted to make something for us, but didn't really have the time, so I decided my new thing for 2016 is working your ass off-dinner :D Something that's super easy to make (so that we don't end up ordering take-out instead), and at least as tasty as the take-out we would have eaten instead - for people who are "working their ass off" ;) A real working your ass off-dinner (either you're working hard because you're trying to do a phd, or you're a student or whatever) has to be:
    1) easy 
    2) no planning needed - it has to be possible to make the moment you think I'm hungry, I want dinner 
    3) cheap (if you're not a student it doesn't have to, but it's nice to save money on everyday stuff even if you're not a student :D ) 
    4) fast - it has to be ready almost the moment you think I'm hungry, I want dinner
    The goal is that you can use stuff that's in your freezer, or canned, or dry - stuff you can buy long before you're actually going to use it. I have now filled my freezer with frozen vegetables: broccoli, green beans, spinach, and a "thai wok vegetable"-mix thingy. Also I buy a big bag of mushroom that I chop and put in plastic bags in my freezer, and I do the same thing with chicken. I also have canned stuff, like coconut milk and tomatoes - they last forever <3

    Yesterday I made working your ass off-thai curry, and here's my recipe:


    You need:

    • curry paste (on the picture is a green curry paste, but I could just as easily have used a red one)
    • tomyum paste
    • mushroom - I use champingnon (prechopped, from the freezer)
    • coconut milk - I normally prefer the normal, not light version, but this was what they had this time, and it was ok (buy many at a time, since they're canned, they last forever :D)
    • vegetables - yesterday I used one small bowl of broccoli and one small bowl of green beans (both frozen)
    • meat - I use mostly chicken, but all kinds of meat works
    You can also add: lime/lemon, fish sauce (Nam Plah), some cream - these are ingredients I always have, and I added. Yesterday I happened to have some spring onions that needed to be eaten, and they are perfect for more or less everything so 4 of them went into the curry.



    both pastes (curry and tomyum) lasts "forever" after they're opened - just shut the lid tightly, and put them in the fridge 

    the IKEA zip lock bags are just perfect for freezing food - I have them in six different sizes <3




     Do:
    Put some flavorless oil, like rapeseed oil, in a pot. Heat it and put in a tablespoon of the curry paste. (You can use more if you want a hotter version, and less if you want a milder version.)

    Stir, and put a tablespoon or two of the tomyum paste in the pot. Turn down the heat, and mix the two pastes together.

    Put the mushrooms in the pot. Stir. Put the coconut milk in the pot. Stir.

    If you have, you can add some cream - I love cream, so for me it's (almost) no question about this one :)

    Add the meat (chicken or other type) and the vegetables. When the meat is cooked through, it's more or less ready.

    Taste it. Add pepper and a little bit of fish sauce (or salt), squeeze a lime/lemon if you have. Ready!

    I like to eat it just as it is, but Anders prefer some rice at the side. You can choose whatever you like :)

    This is of course not my "very best perfect fantastic gourmet"-recipe for thai food, but the very easiest way (I can think of) to do it. It's easy, it's quick, it's simple, and it's quite tasty - what you need when you're busy working your ass off <3

    You can of course also change all the frozen ingredients into fresh ones, and suddenly you have an even tastier more "fancy" curry version. And if I had more time, I would have chopped a chilli and some garlic and added them at the beginning, before the mushroom.
    The actual cooking part doesn't take any more time, but you have to cut the vegetables, the mushroom and the meat, and you have to buy everything fresh...:)

    Bon appétit, and good luck with working your ass off <3




    mandag 11. januar 2016

    Looking back. Part 1

    I started 2015 with a hope that that year wouldn't be so much of a roller coater ride as 2014 was - and luckily, it wasn't <3
    In 2015 I've spent more time on my research in a long time, and it has felt really good. And on Saturday I was out, celebrating maybe the best and "biggest" thing of 2015 - my one year anniversary with Anders <3 We even made some "new year's resolutions":
    1. go more to bars (a nice cocktail is, well, very nice)

    one of my favourite places in Oslo for cocktails: Étoile

    2. go more to the theatre
    3. go more (once a month?) to the movies
    4. go more out to dinner
    (5. spend less on everyday "stupid" stuff, like buy lunch instead of making it yourself, buy coffee instead of making it yourself, buy take-away instead of making it yourself - I rather want to spend the money on point 1-4 ;) )

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    So I've been looking back at 2015 - a very good year - and here are some of the highlights from the first 6 months:

    January
    What can I say? 2015 started with me getting the best boyfriend...


    I wrote about heavy water, since I was inspired by the fantastic series at NRK ("Kampen om tungtvannet"). 


    I thought about which scientific paper I like more - Chadwick's paper about the neutron, or Einstein's paper about E=mc2.




    February
    Alexandra turned 5! And I was excited. I was also super excited since Sushi and Nuclear got nominated to American Documentary Film Festival 2015 :D

    #phdlife was important.




    I went to Paris for the first experiment of 2015, and I had to admit I'd made an embarrassing mistake on the radio...(I guess we all make mistakes from time to time, right?)



    March

    We started filming Big Bang.




    I gave several talks about thorium...

    We celebrated pie day - of course :P

    I went on my first vacation with anders, to Barcelona, and missed the solar eclipse. Totally worth it, though <3


    While we were in Barcelona, both Sushi and Nuclear and Big Bang premiered!

    April



    I did science, and asked (myself and others) "silly" questions.


    It was finally spring, and the university was beautiful!


    May
    We went on a trip to the forest - around Sognsvann, with Lise and Joackim :) This was a preparation to see if we thought Alexandra would manage a "real" trip into the forest, where would spend the night and everything... It was a great day, and we concluded she was ready.


    scienced some more, and finally I was starting to figure things out :D

    Then I started to get some actual real results, and it was 17th of May and sunny and hot, and a happy time:


    We (the nuclear physics group) arranged a workshop in Oslo, where I talked about my preliminary results, and I gave a talk to the INSEAD Alumni group about thorium and nuclear power - and I met some very interesting people.

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    Hope you enjoyed this little throwback on my first 6 months of a very good year - I can only hope (I do!) that 2016 will be just as good.
    Part 2 of looking back will come soon ;)





    fredag 8. januar 2016

    Friday Facts is back!

    After this week, when North Korea decided to do what they did, what else could be the theme for Friday facts than the hydrogen bomb?
    1. the hydrogen bomb is also called the H-bomb, a fusion weapon/bomb, or a thermonuclear weapon
    2. the point of a "real" hydrogen bomb is to get hydrogen to fuse, and to get a large portion of energy released from this reaction
    3. to get the hydrogen to fuse you have to make it hot enough (you try to recreate what happens in the sun) so that light nuclei will fuse and release even more energy than in a "normal" atomic bomb/nuclear weapon - the word thermonuclear means that the fusion takes place when the temperature is extremely high
    4. a hydrogen bomb is also an atomic bomb/nuclear weapon, but it was developed some years after the fission bombs ("normal" atomic bombs) that were used in 1945, on Hiroshima and Nagasaki - the only time nuclear weapons have been used (a hydrogen bomb has never been used - only tested)
    5. the first step of a hydrogen bomb is a fission bomb, which makes the temperature so extreme that fusion may start
    6. I don't understand this mushroom cloud from the North Korean bomb test on Wednesday, since they did it under ground... I think they've either had fun with photo shop, or they just "borrowed" the pictures of the cloud from somewhere else (maybe Kim Jong Un really loves mushroom clouds?)
    7. in addition to a real fusion bomb (where most of the energy released comes from fusion reactions), you could make a fission bomb that is boosted with hydrogen - this means that there will be some hydrogen in the weapon that fuses, and from these fusion reactions you get more neutrons so that even more of the fissile material will fission. Almost of all the energy released in such a weapon comes from fission, so therefore it's called a boosted fission bomb
    8. there is in theory no limits for how big a hydrogen bomb can be; you can just put more and more fusion material in it - I state that the real hydrogen bomb is the deadliest weapon ever made, and the biggest ever bomb test was the Tsar Bomba, which had an explosive power of 50 million tons of TNT (around 1500 times the total explosive power of both Hiroshima and Nagasaki combined)
    9. the first hydrogen bomb was tested in 1952, by the USA - today there are at least five countries that have these types of weapons (USA, Russia, UK, France, and China)
    10. this book is about the hydrogen bomb, and I got it from my sweet colleague, Gry, and now I'm going to read it <3

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    Happy weekend from Rose castle - we are going to watch West Wing and share a bottle of wine now :)


    video
    (I'm a frog :D)

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