Nick at the Orkney International Science Festival – ‘He lit the lamp for Chemistry’

By Nick Morrison

He lit the lamp for Chemistry

Humphry DavyHayley Russell, reading Environmental Chemistry at Edinburgh described some of Sir Humphry Davy’s discoveries and inventions. He himself one of the scientific giants of his time  said his greatest discovery was Faraday!  He is mostly known for his lamp which for the first time gave a reliable safe light source in mines.  He also invented nitrous oxide which is still in use today as a safe anesthetic. Of the elements he first isolated mainly by the new technique of electrolysis Sodium, Potassium, Calcium , Barium, Strontium and Boron.

Dr Edvard Kobal, president of the Slovenian Science Foundation went on to describe Davy’s travels in southeastern Europe and in particular the Karst caves of Slovenia and a small creature uniquely found there which resembles a small dragon.

Black hole at the Galaxy’s Heart.

Prof Ian RobsonProf Ian Robson of the Royal Observatory Edinburgh described our galaxies center and those of other  galaxies.

The center of our galaxy is a black hole.  A black hole is a region of space/ time with gravity so strong that nothing, not even light escapes. Their existence is predicted by Einstein’s theory of relativity. They are truly massive being millions times more massive than our sun.

There is another type of galactic center called quasars which are extremely luminous and indeed outshine the stars. These were first deduced in 1963. The Professor then introduced the concept of curved space, first deduced in 1919. He then discussed pulsars and said that many astronomical phenomena can only be deduced by their gravitational effects.The Professor was an amazing speaker certainly one of the best in the Festival.

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