Another great bit of the Irish coastline, this time in Waterford. It gets its name from a mining industry that is long gone, but with cliffs that colour I can see why they kept the name.
Hong Kong’s Victoria harbour has a fantastic combination of bold skyscrapers and hazy mountain back-drops like nowhere else I’ve seen. It’s all the better when viewed at sunset from the roof of a boat. This was just one of the highlights of a great trip thanks to the IOM3 World Lecture Competition. Any young materials researchers should get involved in this competition immediately; anyone else might want to consider becoming a young materials researcher.
Apatite is the mineral found in our teeth and bones, but it also comes in hundreds of other forms and is found in many types of rock. It gets its name from the Greek for “deceive”, because it is sometimes so difficult to tell what type of apatite you are looking at, or even if it is apatite at all. For example, what you are looking at right now is part of an x-ray diffraction pattern for fluorapatite, but it looks more like some mountains and trees.
This week I couldn’t decide whether to do a landscape or continue the diffraction theme, so I did both! Any time a wave meets an object about the same length as it, it gets diffracted and changes direction, and more objects means more diffraction. So in theory**, if you have a big farm and set your fields up carefully, you can do some serious messing with your neighbours radio reception. That particular example might not seem very helpful, but the same idea is used in all kinds of measurement systems, such as the electron diffraction in crystals from last week.
**Science tip: never trust a sentence that starts with “In theory”.
This time last month I was in Limoges, in central France, for the 13th conference of the European Ceramic Society. The conference includes a presentation competition for young researchers, and I was lucky enough to represent Ireland in it. As well as meeting some clever people and learning a few things, I had a chance to explore the town a bit. Gare Benedictins is the central train station, a beautiful building at any time but all the better when the sky gets dramatic behind it.