The moon landing: 50 years

It’s been 50 years since Apollo 11. The mission? To put the first man on the moon. Those men were Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, and they spent years preparing for the moon landing. 

When the astronauts reached the moon, they collected 20 kg of rocks to discover what it is made of. Mostly, scientists have discovered that the moon is 45% oxygen and 21% silicon, combined with metals like aluminium and iron. They also used isotopic dating to discover that the moon’s surface began to harden 4.5 billion years ago! 

However, there are still many things about the moon that we don’t understand.

This story is related to the Inorganic Chemistry section of the Chemistry A Level course

For more on this story, check out this article.

The mineral composition and geology of the surface of the moon (it isn't made of cheese).
The mineral composition and geology of the surface of the moon (it isn’t made of cheese). Prof Sara Russell, NHM.

Is There Anybody Out There?

There are no aliens on an interstellar rock flying around the solar system. This interstellar rock, called Oumuamua, is a very unusual cigar shape and caused a lot of speculation. Scientists from Harvard University thought it might be an artificial spaceship, because it accelerated as it was leaving the solar system. 

A new paper in Nature Astronomy has analysed Oumuamua and provided reasons for why it is such a weird shape and passed through our solar system. Scientists now think that it is the start of a new planet being formed!

This story is related to the Cosmology section in the Physics A Level course.

For more on this story, check out this article. You can find the published paper here.

An artist's impression of Oumuamua. [EPA].
An artist’s impression of Oumuamua. [EPA]

LEARNING HACK #7: The big picture is as important as the details

This post is part of a series challenging our assumptions about learning techniques. We’re asking you True or False questions to see what you do and don’t know about how to learn effectively, as well as giving you up to date information from current research into learning. Check out the previous post in this series and read the most recent one below.

You should always understand the context of why you’re learning something and how it fits into everything else before diving into the details.

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You should always understand the context of why you’re learning something and how it fits into everything else before diving into the details.

THIS IS TRUE.

It’s like when you’re little and your Mum or Dad tries to make you wear your coat outside even though you really don’t want to. You question them on this and all they reply is ‘because I said so’. Explaining that you need to wear your coat because it’s cold outside and your coat will help keep you warm gives the situation a context, making the instruction easier to understand.

Just as wearing a coat requires an explanation, so to do the topics you are learning. Jumping to the content before understanding why that content is important and how it connects to the world around it is a mistake. It has also been proven that people learn better when they understand why first. When you know ‘why’ you naturally prime your brain to receive the ‘how’ and the ‘what’.

(Image Credit)

Want to read more on this topic? Check out these links:

  1. Start with Why – Simon Sinek (TED)
  2. Inverting the Curriculum: Ariel Diaz

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