Science News Round up – February 2016.

Even with the extra day the month has flown by. The year is off to a flying start … here are some of the big stories from the world of science that surfaced this month:

1. This big, BIG story of this month was the confirmed detection of gravitational waves.

If you are still unsure of what gravitational waves are and how LIGO detected them, this is a very helpful video:


2. In the last week we heard that viable sperm was grown in-vitro; A team of scientists in China say that they successfully grew mouse sperm  from embryonic stem cells and that the resulting sperm cells have been used to successfully fertilise an egg, producing healthy, fertile young.


3. We all know about the effect of global warming on our planet, but, just in case you were in any doubt… newly reported data shows that … “the modern rate of sea level rise in the 20th century is faster than anything we’ve seen in the previous two millennia“.


Image Credit: Geoffrey Whiteway; Image Source: Freerange Stock;


4. 3D printing took another step forward with this bioengineering transplant. A team of bioengineers in North Carolina revealed that they successfully printed an organic human ear and then transplanted it onto the back of a mouse, where it not only survived, but grew.  


5. And finally… not exactly international news, but a nice little first for Science Wows; you may have noticed that I published a mini science magazine here (and here for a mobile version) all about the science of pancakes! I have had the idea for a children’s science magazine for a very, very long time; this mini magazine was my first realisation of that idea; With a lot of determination, hard work and luck, a full blown magazine may become a reality. So, if you checked it out, I’d really, really love your feedback; Please let me know in the comments below, or get in contact in other ways.


These are only some of the science events from February, have you any more to add?

Viewing Jupiter

Viewing Jupiter

Have you spotted Jupiter in our lovely clear skies this week? It is very bright and visible to the naked eye. We got the kids out of bed at nine O’ clock last night just to have a look (they may have been more interested in running around in the dark than in actually looking up at the sky!).

This was our view from our front door, a lovely full moon and Jupiter up above it (I obviously don’t have the steadiest hand as Jupiter looks more like a squiggle line than a round object, but you get the idea)…

Jupiter is one of the brightest objects in our night skies (after the Moon and Venus), and is particularly bright at the moment as the (almost full) moon swings near it.

Easy to see with the naked eye, some of its moons are also visible when viewed through a binoculars. We couldn’t view them this way (more shaky hands) but, luckily Mr. Science Wows had the telescope all set up and ready and then we got a real treat.


We were able to see three of Jupiter’s moons, as well as the striped appearance of this giant planet. Quite a spectacle.


Here are some more facts about this amazing planet…

  1. Jupiter is the largest planet in our solar system, it could fit more than 1,300 Earths inside it!
  2. It is the fifth planet from the Sun.
  3. Jupiter is thought to have 67 moons (50 confirmed moons and 17 yet to be confirmed), three that are visible at the moment are part of the Galilean moons, so called after the man who first discovered them, in 1610. There are four Galilean moons orbiting Jupiter, in total, and these are the largest of Jupiter’s satellites; Ganymede, the largest of these moons is larger than the planet Mercury, and is the only moon known to have its own magnetic field. Europa, another Galilean moon orbiting Jupiter, is of great interest as it contains water, up to twice as much water on Earth in fact, making it a possible habitable zone.
  4. Jupiter has three, faint, outer rings.
  5. Jupiter is a gaseous planet. At its outer point temperatures are thought to be about -145 degrees celsius. Deeper within the planet, hydrogen and helium becomes the dominant gas and temperatures rise. Deeper still and the hydrogen gas turns to liquid and it is thought that, at its core, temperatures of up to 35,000 degrees celsius result in metallic hydrogen that generates electricity, creating a magnetic field.
  6. Jupiter’s surface appears to be covered in stripes and swirls, these are raging storms. One of them, the Great Red Spot, is larger than Earth and has been raging for hundreds of years.
  7. The first visits to Jupiter was made by the Pioneer 10 spacecraft, as it flew by in 1973. Since then there have been eight more missions, the latest by the Juno spacecraft which is on course to arrive at the giant planet on July 4th 2016.


Netflix Stream Team – our top Science and Nature viewing

Netflix Stream Team – our top Science and Nature viewing

Sometimes it is hard to agree on what to watch when we finally sit down and someone gets hold of the controls. I love that Netflix gives everyone their own profile, a glimpse into what we are each watching, and a look at how different each family member is! So, there is often a bit of conflict about who gets to pick their favourite.

When we reach an impasse we always have a solution, everyone loves a good science or nature programme, and there are always plenty to choose from. Here are five that we recommend:

1. Cooked:

This one is top of my ‘must watch’ list, and brand new to Netflix UK; it combines cooking and science, two of my favourite things;

Each of the series’ four episodes examines one of the physical elements used throughout the ages to transform raw ingredients into delicious dishes: fire, water, air, and earth. Cooked takes viewers on a visually stunning journey to meet, among others: an Aboriginal tribe in Western Australia that fire-roasts Australian monitor lizards, a Connecticut Benedictine nun and microbiologist who makes traditional French cheese, Peruvian brewers who use human saliva to ferment a traditional beverage, and an ancient Moroccan granary powered by rivers. Each episode also returns to Pollan cooking in his Berkeley, California, kitchen, appetizingly delivering his core message that, surrounded as we are by fast food culture and processed foods, cooking our own meals is the single best thing we can do to take charge of our health and well-being.


2. TED Talks: Let your mind wonder

I love TED talks and there are plenty to watch on Netflix but this one, in particular, has caught my eye, it seems to have STEM covered with this lovely visual and animated series. Each episode is short and consise and covers diverse topics from “is there really aliens?” to “should we eat bugs?”. It is great for dipping into for five minutes, or sharing with the children, often answering a question they may have already asked!

TEDEd-let your mind wonder


3.Maiden Trip

To sail around the world is quite a feat, to do it solo is even more impressive, but to be just 14 years old is an amazing achievement. Maiden Trip is an inspiring documentary charting the two-year voyage of Laura Dekker as she followed her dream and became the youngest person to sail around the world.


4. Blackfish

If you haven’t seen this one yet it is definitely worth watching. This documentary follows the real life drama of an orca in captivity in Sea life and the devestating effect captivity has on his life and the lives of others.


5. AntarticEdge – 70 degrees South

A sobering but interesting documentary charting the research carried out at the Antartic by a varied group of scientists, shedding a realistic light on the real levels od global warming!


Disclosure: As a member of the Netflix Stream Team I have received a years subscription to Netflix, free of charge, and an Apple TV, for streaming purposes. As part of Netflix Stream Team I will be posting monthly updates on what we are watching and what is on offer.  All opinions expressed will be my own.

Free on-line Pancake Science Magazine for children

Free on-line Pancake Science Magazine for children

I am very excited to share this latest project with you; this is an idea I have had for a while so I am delighted to have finally finished and published. I really hope you like it and that your junior scientists get plenty of entertainment from this Pancake Science Magazine.

Science Wows Pancake Science Magazine

Have a look through and see what you think, there are experiment ideas and a video link to show you how. It is crammed full of interesting facts… from who made the first pancake to the mathematical formula for the perfect pancake flip.

You’ll also find puzzles and quizzes and a free printable download if you prefer to print them off and let the children test their pancake knowledge. There are also some pancake jokes to entertain you all and Dr. Simple can be found throughout the magazine, a familiar face with a few costume changes!

There is a little colour coding for all the subjects covered, from chemistry to astronomy, to maths. So your kids can just dip in and choose their favourites, if they prefer.

I would really love to hear what you think and how your children find this magazine, if you have a minute to give me any feedback I’d be delighted.

I haven’t shown this to my own kids yet, but I think I have this rainy afternoon’s entertainment sorted now.


Hope you Enjoy!


Need a mobile friendly version? just click here! And this is a separate link to the free printable.