Smoking supercapacitors!

August 6th, 2014 by ajb
scientists from South Korea have converted cigarette butts into a high-performing material that could be used to coat the electrodes of supercapacitors [1].

The material is produces via the heat treatment of used cigarette butts in a nitrogen rich environment.

The article states that the processed cigarette filter material stored a higher amount of electrical energy than commercially available carbon. Also the material stored more energy than the more experimental materials graphene and carbon nanotubes.

If the process can be made economically viable then this process could be used to ecologically recycle cigarette butts.

[1] Minzae Lee, Gil-Pyo Kim, Hyeon Don Song, Soomin Park and Jongheop Yi, Preparation of energy storage material derived from a used cigarette filter for a supercapacitor electrode, 2014 Nanotechnology 25 345601.

Cigarette butts offer energy storage solution IOP News

I am sure this was known about for donkey’s years

August 5th, 2014 by ajb
Researchers at the University of Sussex have published their research on how horses communicate [1]. It seems that they use their swiveling ears to aid in communication.

Talking to someone who is not a scientist, but has lots of experience of working with horses, said that the horse riding community knew this already. However, a scientific study was needed as anecdotal evidence is not enough.

That said, this was known about for donkey’s years*!

*Non-native speakers may find this link useful.

Horses’ mobile ears are ‘communication tool’ BBC News

Jennifer Wathan & Karen McComb, The eyes and ears are visual indicators of attention in domestic horses, Current Biology , Volume 24, Issue 15, 4 August 2014, Pages R677–R679.

Happiness is a long equation

August 5th, 2014 by ajb

As you can imagine as a mathematician, the bigger and harder the equations the happier I am. Not really, we look for pattens and elegance rather than just difficult equations, though of course difficult equations can be elegant and contain a lot of interesting structure.

Anyway, scientists now have an equation for happiness and here it is

Taken from [1].

Now we just need to apply some calculus to find the maxima (local or global I’m not fussy) and find out just how happy a mathematician can be!

[1] Robb B. Rutledge, Nikolina Skandali, Peter Dayan, and Raymond J. Dolan, A computational and neural model of momentary subjective well-being, PNAS 2014 : 1407535111v1-201407535.

Equation ‘can predict momentary happiness’ BBC News

More experiments with random walks

August 3rd, 2014 by ajb

I have again been playing with some random walks, using the same method as here. This time I used 1000000 iterations and added some colour.

Below are random walks, on the plane (not a lattice) for which step size gets (on average) smaller and smaller with each step. I pick the step size using the Maxwell-Boltzman distribution (with a =1) and a suitable scaling which depends on the iteration parameter. I the add a opacity depending on how many times the points are visited: bright white means a lot, while grey means not many and black never.





Once again, these images are rather for artistic purposes than scientific purposes.

First Clostridium difficile and then all humans…

July 30th, 2014 by ajb

Dalek-like robots are being employed to clean the wards of a North Wales hospital.

Robomen being lead by a Dalek. Image by the BBC.

One of my friends (who shall remain nameless) was worried about robots taking over the world. His nightmares will only get worse!

A member of the cleaning staff at Glan Clwyd hospital in Bodelwyddan. Image by the BBC.

Robot cleaners used cut hospital infection in north Wales

This is like so random…

July 27th, 2014 by ajb

Below are random walks on the plane (not a lattice) for which step size gets (on average) smaller and smaller with each step. I pick the step size using the Maxwell-Boltzman distribution (with a =1) and a suitable scaling which depends on the iteration parameter. I the add a opacity depending on how many times the points are visited: bright white means a lot, while grey means not many and black never.

I may play with these further, but they make some interesting pattens. We have approximate self-similarity and so these patterns have fractal-like properties. Anyway, enjoy….





These images were created for artistic rather than scientific reasons. That said, random walks are have been applied to many fields including ecology, economics, psychology, computer science, physics, chemistry, and biology.

Probably the most famous application of a random walk is to Brownian motion, which describes the trajectory of a tiny particle diffusing in a fluid. I have no idea if there is anything scientific in these images, but I would not be surprised if for small step sizes we have approximately Brownian motion. However, I would need to think a lot more about this before making concrete statements.

Even more fun with IFS

July 4th, 2014 by ajb


Another IFS that my wife and I created. Not sure what to call this one!

A fractal fern

June 30th, 2014 by ajb


The above is an IFS fractal that resembles a fern. Maybe not as good as Barnsley’s fern , but mine was generated using two affine transformations and not the four as used by Barnsley. It is a nice image and I am happy with it.

America has Roswell, Great Britan has Rendlesham Forst, Poland has Emilcin

June 28th, 2014 by ajb

On the 10th of May 1978 Jan Wolski, a local farmer, reportedly hand a close encounter of the Polish kind.

The claim is that Pan Wolski, who was 71 at the time, while out driving his horse-drawn cart near the small village of Emilcin, Poland was jumped on by two aliens. The description of these aliens is similar to the well-known grey alien, but a little greener.

They took him to their craft which is depicted below;


Once on board he was de-robed and thoroughly probed!

The story at the time did not course much of a stir. The only other witness was a six year-old boy and of course Polish farmers like vodka!

To commemorate the strange events of that day, in 2005 a memorial was constructed in Emilcin. The plaque reads “On 10 May 1978 in Emilcin a UFO object landed. The truth will astonish us in the future”.

ufo statue

I tried to convince my wife that we should see this monument, I think it is cool and a bit wacky!

You can find out more about the Polish abduction by following the link below.

Emilcin Abduction Wikipedia

Turing’s Birthday

June 23rd, 2014 by ajb
Turing Everybody reading this post should be aware that today is Alan Turning’s birthday. He was born on the 23th June 1912.

I say everyone reading this should be aware of this fact as Turing is considered the farther of theoretical computer science.

Memorial at Manchester
Turing was involved in the development of the Manchester computers, which were the first series of stored-program electronic computers. They were developed during the 30-year period between 1947 and 1977 by a small team at the University of Manchester.

Near the Sackville street buildings of the University of Manchester there is a memorial. The plaque reads as follows;


I won’t say much about the way he was treated, different times and so different ways of thinking. You can find out more via the link below.

Alan Turing: the enigma