Computers: The Past

Hi, everyone! I’m a time-traveller and the new writer for Passion For STEM. I hope you don’t hate my writings too much. To understand the future of Computing, we must first know at least a little about the past. Let’s do some time travelling together, then.

blur close up code computer
Photo by luis gomes on


It’s 1000 BCE and we’re in a moneylender’s place in China. We see someone asking for a loan of what is apparently a big amount (We know this because Susan is with us and translates it for us.) (Thanks, Susan.). What do we see the moneylender doing his mathematical calculations on?

It’s a weird rectangular device with lots of little beads in it. Familiar, huh?
This is currently known as The Abacus.

multicolored abacus photography
Photo by Skitterphoto on


We’re back here. So, the Abacus was invented by the Chinese a long time (we’ll see how long when we take our next trip) before anyone even came close to inventing a device that helped humans in solving their math problems. It was a simple device with very basic operations but still could help a lot when big numbers were into consideration (like we saw at that moneylender’s).

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The De Broglie Hypothesis – Physics Research Project #1

Hello, it’s been a while!

News:  Jiangmin has decided to settle as a freelance writer and will be publishing only on an occasional basis from now on.

If you can still remember me from my long absence, then great! I can happily say that my Advanced Higher exams are done and dusted, and I very recently graduated from high school. This Autumn I’ll be starting an Integrated Masters degree in Theoretical Physics…somewhere, I’ll update you on that one in August.

As you may know, I took Advanced Higher Physics this year and around 30% of the qualification is made up of a research project which must be based on a topic of the course. For the previous qualifications, it was required to do your project on a pre-selected topic, which consequently took away the fun, because the topics selected were either classical mechanics or electricity, I.e. not modern physics. But with this? I thought, QUANTUM IT IS.

One of the most amazing things in the course is the de Broglie hypothesis of Quantum mechanics which I very quickly made my project title.

Some background on the de Broglie Hypothesis

In the 20s, the early stages of the construction of quantum theory, a physicist Louis de Broglie postulated the wave particle duality of nature suggesting that all matter had both wave and particle properties.


Particles and waves are very different things. Particles are localised – they are in one place at one time and therefore can have a precise position. Particles have mass, they can bounce off one another and transfer energy through collision. Waves, on the other hand, are delocalised – to assign a “position” to a wave doesn’t really make much sense, waves can carry energy without the net transfer of mass, capable of interference, diffraction, reflection and so on.

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Recent Fascination with a Non-Orientable Mathematical Surface – Mobius Strips

I have realised the last time I published a post was way back in November and that maintaining a blog is, in fact, tremendously difficult during preliminary exams period, which very fortunately just ended. It is not guaranteed that the general schedule for updates will be followed due to final year school workload at the moment but, I’ll no doubt try my best.

I have always enjoyed mathematics in school, whether it was the logic behind exam problems or solving tricky little mathematical puzzles. I had first become aware of the field of topology research after the announcement of the 2016 Nobel Prize in Physics, where pretzels, doughnuts and mugs were used to demonstrate topological properties considering the different number of holes each contains. In a sense, if two objects have the same number of holes, they are topologically equivalent, because they can be deformed into the same object without tearing or glueing or taping.

Image result for klein bottle
Klein Bottle

Now, I do not claim that I understand topology at the slightest, yes, the subject is way beyond me currently, but it’s always nice to read around some of its core ideas.

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Shell MakeTheFuture Even 2017 – Blogpost

Make the Future took place again this year to showcase the science and engineering feats of the UK and world, and to generally get people excited about science. The festival is focussed on energy production, employing new techniques and idealising low-carbon techniques (with our ever-increasing current energy usage) to reduce our burning of fossil fuels. With great minds and even greater inventions, it was impossible to not think up potentially-world changing ideas.

All of the staff were extremely enthusiastic staff with bubbly personalities which complimented the beautifully sunny day. They did great jobs in assisting children from Primary and Secondary schools, which came in the thousands, to learn, explore and be inspired in the buzzing atmosphere.

Amongst the main attractions was the ‘Make The Future’ live performances, where kids flocked to as they were shot with water vapour and directly observed the magical-seeming phenomena of electromagnetism.

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Kilonova: Colliding Neutron Stars

A little update on where I am with everything at the moment. Again I am incredibly apologetic for updating less frequently recently due to a lot going on. As you might already know, I entered the Breakthrough Junior Challenge, been notified as a semifinalist, and recently crowned Regional Champion of Europe – the popular vote process definitely was more time consuming than I had imagined, but now (I hope) I can share with you some of the exciting things I’ve been wanting to write about for a while.


Firstly this post is on what I consider as THE BIGGEST DISCOVERY IN PHYSICS this year – the neutron star collision. You might already know that the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded to the three leading physicists who were involved in a worldwide collaboration in the search for gravitational waves. The “kilonova” on August 17th was not only a detection of another gravity wave but it also unveiled so many more utterly amazing things about the cosmos we were yet to discover.

Neutron Stars


To start off let’s jump straight into the science behind the event of colliding Neutron stars. Neutron stars can be thought of as the less extreme versions of black holes – which are a result of very massive stars collapsing under their own gravitational pull and forming a point of infinite space-time curvature. These stars are the remnants of the supernovae of stars that are roughly 10 to 29 solar masses, too big to form a white dwarf (like how our own Sun will after its death) and too small to form a black hole. When a star this size explodes, its gravity is so strong that it literally forces electrons and protons to combine into neutrons, and the neutron star is stopped from further collapse by neutron degeneracy pressure. Neutron stars are extremely small and dense, their diameters are the size of cities but a teaspoon can be the weight of Mount Everest. Thus, there is no wonder how they produce immensely strong gravitational fields and not only cause gravitational lensing but also gravitational waves.

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Breakthrough Junior Challenge – Black Hole Information Paradox

Dear all,

I have decided to submit an entry to this year’s Breakthrough Junior Challenge, which is a competition in which you have to make a 3-minute video explaining a scientific concept/idea to a general target audience. I chose the Black Hole Information Paradox as my topic because I was reading into the Holographic Principle over the summer and fell in deep haha.

The following is my video – I hope you like it and could give it a thumbs up on Youtube if that’s a possibility.

And..check out the Breakthrough Junior challenge website!

Leave some thoughts below!


Carl Sagan

My life is a little hectic at the moment due to UCAS (University Application) deadlines and so on. While in the middle of composing my personal statement, I found a small tribute text I had written about Carl Sagan last year as a response to the following question for an application.

If you could have dinner with anyone alive or dead, who would it be and why?

And I followed up with this:

I would love to have dinner with Carl Sagan.


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Short Rant about Entropy and the Universe

1entropy.gifOne of the most important laws of Physics is perhaps one we have all heard once in a while – the second law of thermodynamics.

This law states that the entropy – in a closed system – in which we can infer as the Universe, will always increase.

A common misconception with the term entropy is that it is a measure of disorder. A “disordered” state does not necessarily mean that it has high entropy and vice versa. Entropy is rather the number of ways particles can be arranged. We can take tea and milk as an example, as many people do. Looking at the tea and milk system, at the instantaneous moment when you pour milk into tea, it is perceived to have low entropy, this is because the milk molecules are virtually sitting on top of the tea molecules. When you wait for a second or two until the milk starts to blend and dissolve into the tea, the system begins to increase in entropy, because there are so many more ways for the milk and tea molecules to arrange themselves in this sense, rather than being stacked on top of each other. Continue reading

Black Holes #1 – Singularities and Hawking Radiation

The Black Hole from Interstellar

Black Holes seem like something that only exists in Science fiction, like Dark Matter and Energy, however, these astronomical objects are in fact at the heart of theoretical research within Cosmology. Research involving Black Holes may likely help us uncover more about the mysteries of Quantum Gravity, something Physicists believe to be the Theory of Everything.


In simple terms, a Black Holes is a region in which the gravitational influence is so strong that nothing, not even light, can escape its pull beyond the Event Horizon, which means that the Escape velocity is essentially greater than the speed of light. Escape velocity is the speed in which an object needs to travel at to escape a gravitational field, e.g. the Earth’s.

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My Scottish Space School Experience

SSSLOGO_SMBonjour fellow bloggers and blog viewers, I just came back from a fantastic residential week at Scottish Space School and I just thought it would be great to share this great experience with you all.

The Scottish Space School, as I mentioned several months before in a “thoughts” post, is a residential week aimed at students in their second last year of high school who are interested in pursuing a career in Engineering, Space Exploration or something along these lines, and is situated in the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow. This year I was one of the lucky 100 students to be selected from over 500 applicants based around Scotland to attend the week running from 11th to 16th June 2017.

The week-long programme included different engineering workshops, lectures from senior NASA guests, talks from people who worked in the Space industry, fun social events and many more.

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