As I write this in my office in the garden, it’s cold. Outside there’s snow on the ground and an icy wind is blowing. But what is ‘cold’ and how do we define it? The important thing to remember is that whether something is cold or not depends on your point of view. Here’s an experiment to try:
You will need three bowls filled with water, lined up in the order of bowl one, bowl two and bowl three. Bowl one should have bathwater-temperature water, not too hot though. Bowl two (in the middle) should have warm water, and bowl three should have icy cold water. You might also like to add ice cubes for extra cold!
Here’s what you do – put a hand in the hot and cold bowls and leave them there for 30 seconds. Then take them out and put them in the middle bowl, the one with the warm water. But wait – is the water in that bowl hot, warm or cold? Your brain will find it hard to work out! Compared to the hand in the hot water, the warm water feels cold...but compared to the hand that was in the cold water, the warm water feels hot!
So...how cold IS cold?
To find out, let’s start with something REALLY hot – the white dwarf star in the constellation of Draco, its temperature is about 170,000°C. That makes our own sun’s 5,500°C seem positively brisk!
Temperatures don’t get anywhere near that high on Earth. At the moment, the temperature outside is 0°C. There is still snow everywhere on the ground. So what’s the coldest thing that we know of? Well, let’s start at 0°C degrees Celcius (°C) and go down from there - snow is pretty cold, but that’s frozen water. Dry ice is colder at -78°C. Dry ice is carbon dioxide gas that has been cooled until it turns solid. As it turns back into a gas (it skips the liquid phase) it produce a pleasant, smoke-like cloud on the floor. The coldest natural temperature ever recorded on planet Earth was an incredible -89°C, at Vostok Station, Antarctica. Want colder still? Try liquid Oxygen at -183°C...or how about liquid Nitrogen -196°C? This is so cold that if you were unfortunate to leave your hand in for a while, it would freeze solid and probably drop off!
But what about the very coldest thing that we know of? Well, it isn’t a ‘thing’ as such, but most scientists agree that there is a temperature that is the lowest that we know of. It is called Absolute Zero.
Heat is a form of energy. When something is hot the atoms and molecules whizz around, taking up lots of space with their whizzing. As they slow their whizzing down, they take up less space, which is why hot things expand and get bigger and cold things contract and get smaller. So as something cools, it loses its heat energy and the molecules do a lot less whizzing...so what happens when they stop their whizzing altogether? Absolute Zero – the coldest temperature we reckon there is. No energy, no movement, no heat.
Our own star, the Sun, will eventually burn out, using up all of its Hydrogen fuel that it has released as heat and light. When this happens, life in our galaxy will no longer be possible – unless of course, by this point we have already left our galaxy to find a new planet.
Whatever happens, we’ve about 4,500,000,000 years to find a way to do it.
Rob Wix is Creative Director of Corwen-based Sustainable Science: www.sustainablescience.org.uk.
You know you're getting old when you catch yourself tutting at the sight of Easter eggs in Asda, two days after you’ve taken down the Christmas tree and lobbed it gratefully in the loft.
The fact that you can now purchase cut-price cranberry sauce, Paxo and reindeer socks at the same time as hollow bunnies, hot cross buns and Justin Bieber eggs always strikes me as terribly cynical and an insult to my savvy consumer intelligence. (As much as I admire the major supermarkets that cannot wait to celebrate Christ's resurrection, I do feel they should finish celebrating his birth first.) I show my disgruntlement by rolling my eyeballs at similarly aghast shoppers, shrugging in a world-weary type of way and making rather lame joke about there being Halloween masks in the next aisle too, ha, ha, ha!
The problem is that if you don’t get in there early, (before New Year) you are left with the Easter dregs – you know, the ones with the caved-in fronts, peeling foil and suspiciously nibbled bits, or the horribly inappropriate ones which cause your darling children long-lasting trauma and tarnish Easter Sunday for ever more:
‘But that’s Hello Kitty – that’s for girls! I want Ben 10.’
‘They taste the same hun, honest.’
‘Nooo! Hello Kitty tastes pink! Bleurrrgh! I hate pink flavour!’… etc.
I love Easter actually, despite its spectacularly commercial side. This, the oldest and most important festival in the Christian calendar, diluted by gluttony and rubbish films on the television, is a time when most of us get together with our families, share a meal and, of course, eat one’s weight in chocolate. (Although this is neither compulsory nor advisable!) Even though Easter is one of the more child-oriented events on the calendar, my significant other knows better than to leave me out of the egg-fest and never fails to furnish me with a shiny ovoid of gargantuan proportions. I always feel a touch nauseous after scoffing a whole one (and its accompanying calorie-laden accessories) but take this as a sign of value for money and par for the course at this time of year.
Calories aside for minute, (16 in one Cadbury’s Mini Egg!), I’ve just read that supermarkets are raising the price of Easter eggs this year even though cocoa prices are falling. Wow! They really do love to capitalise on our excitement and generosity, don’t they? Expecting us to shell out (pardon the pun) for what is essentially a chocolate cover for an egg-shaped vacuum ensconced in vast amounts of cardboard, foil and plastic is maddening. An estimated 3,000 tonnes of waste is produced in the UK every year, solely from Easter packaging. And don’t get me started on the nightmare which is recycling after the event...
Happy Easter, one and all, and don’t forget, Easter is the only time when it’s safe to put all your eggs in one basket!
Stuck for ideas for funky Easter decorations? Try this beautiful Easter tree or floral wreath using the delicate pastel hues of early spring flowers as your inspiration.
You will Need
Spring branches in bud
Coloured pens/paints and glitter
A galvanised bucket/terracotta pot
1 Wash each egg then, using a sharp needle, prick a hole carefully at least 3mm in diameter at the top and bottom. Blow through one hole to force the raw egg out through the other – you’ll find this easier if you break the yolk with the needle first.
2 Rinse eggs inside and out then place in microwave oven for about 20 seconds to harden the shells. Leave them overnight to dry out completely.
3 Carefully decorate your eggs and attach looped ribbon to the pointed end.
4 Cut branches such as forsythia or pussy willow and, using the oasis, arrange them firmly in your bucket or pot.
5 Hang your pretty creations from your tree.
Easter trees can be made more personal by attaching family photographs to the eggs.
Nothing says spring quite like flowers! Brighten up your front door with a homemade floral wreath to welcome your family and friends this Easter.
Stud a circular wreath base of florists’ oasis with a glorious array of spring flowers. Working centrally round the inner edge of the ring, start with the largest blooms, and then fill in with smaller ones, covering the inner and outer edges to conceal the base. Ready-made wired mossy bases are really effective as well but do tend to be rather expensive.
Add a final touch of colour by tying a length of bright ribbon into a large bow, fold a stub wire over the bow centre and twist ends together. Wrap the ribbon around the bow centre for a neater finish. Insert the bow into your wreath and await the envious ‘oohs’ and ‘ahhs’ from your guests!
This versatile wreath could also make a stunning flower arrangement for your Easter table.
Take your wreath down on alternate days and immerse the base in water. Drain thoroughly before re-hanging.
Dragonsong is an inclusive community choir for young people from across the County of Wrexham aged between 12 and 18. There are no auditions, so the choir is open to anyone who wants to sing and be part of something new.
The choir’s repertoire focuses on new arrangements of modern music and rehearsals take place at Yale’s on Hill Street, Wrexham. Anyone aged 11 to 18 is welcome.
Dragonsong is led by the very talented Charlotte Jones. Charlotte has a depth of experience as a Musical Director, a musical performer and working with young people. A former secondary school teacher, she is now a full time music professional and part of the successful vocal trio, The Harmonettes who performed at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2012. Charlotte also leads the Resonate Singers and the Rare Choir in Liverpool.
Dragonsong rounded off a very exciting 2012 with a concert at Central Station, Wrexham, with the support of Three Mile Smile (a four piece rock and roll band). Dragonsong are now finalising a calendar of performances for 2013.
The two primary objectives of the Dragonsong committee for 2013 are to encourage more young people to join the choir and to raise funds to support the activities of the choir.
Rehearsals are every Tuesday during term time 6.30pm—8.00pm Yale’s, Hill Street, Wrexham.
Few instruments are as versatile as a piano, so if you’re considering sending a child for lessons, or even learning yourself, it is certainly a good option. That said, buying a piano of your own can be a big commitment and a fairly large investment – even a basic upright acoustic piano can cost thousands of pounds.
When buying an acoustic piano, there are some very important points to consider; There are several styles of piano to choose from, with upright and grand being the most common, though grand pianos can come in several different sizes. You should make sure you know how much space you can give to a piano before buying one – the last thing you want is to find that it doesn’t fit on delivery day!
When choosing a piano, you should try as many different makes, styles and sizes as you can. There are often small differences between pianos that can make all the difference when you are playing regularly.
Once you have bought your acoustic piano, you will often need to arrange delivery – this usually carries an extra fee and the price will vary depending on the size of the piano and where it needs to go. Many moving companies will charge more for taking a piano upstairs, for example.
Over the course of your acoustic piano’s lifetime (which can often be well over 60 years), it will need to be tuned every six months or so. This prevents the pitch becoming flat as the strings inside stretch over time. If a piano is well maintained, it will usually keep a fairly high resale value should you wish to upgrade to a newer model.
A digital piano is an often cheaper alternative. With these instruments, sound is created digitally, rather than with strings and hammers as in acoustic pianos. Digital pianos are usually smaller than their acoustic counterparts, and are often lighter so are easier to move from room to room. Another advantage is that headphones can be plugged into a digital piano, so the learner can practice without disturbing the entire household! Unlike acoustic pianos, digital instruments never need tuning, which will save money in maintenance over the years.
However, digital pianos can be difficult to resell when it’s time to upgrade to a newer model. New models of digital pianos are brought out every two years or so. By the time you want to sell your digital piano, it will likely have been surpassed by newer models.
For advice about buying a piano or to find out about caring for a piano you already have, contact Pianos Cymru on 01766 515292 or Jones Pianos of Chester on 01244 675999.
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