Whether you are an adult learner or a teenager who is juggling multiple subjects, working efficiently and effectively can be challenging.
But it doesn’t have to be. The solution lies in being organised – specifically with your time.
Whether you prefer a handwritten calendar or an electronic one, think about colour coding it.
Perhaps you could assign a different colour for each subject. Or maybe a different colour for different aspects of your life.
This is a great visual method to ascertain whether you are spending enough time on your learning, and helps you dedicate a solid part of your day to it rather than thinking ‘I’ll do that later’ and never quite getting around to it.
Effective learning doesn’t depend on how many hours you put in. It depends on what you do in that time.
So when organising your learning time, don’t simply slot study periods into your diary. List what you will specifically work on during that time. This will not only help you stay on-track but also ensure that you are making steady progress in all areas that need attention.
Don’t forget to schedule in some relaxation too!
Look ahead at your learning schedule and think about what you need to do now, and what can wait until tomorrow (so to speak).
It can be overwhelming when you have a long list of tasks – especially if you feel like all of them had to be completed yesterday. But when you zoom in, you will see that you can divide your list into manageable chunks.
This will help you actually complete your list and is a great strategy if you have a tendency to procrastinate.
We all like the feeling of being successful. So when we find something difficult, we can often be tempted to avoid it. This is the opposite of what you need to do. Think about it: if you spend more time on things you find hard, they will soon become easier.
Tips 1 to 3 feed into this – if you dedicate specific time to the harder topics, and prioritise them over ones you have already mastered, your learning will be more effective.
Some of us work better in the mornings, others at night. Still others find it is easier to work in the afternoon. Find out what your own peak learning time is. It will be when you make the most progress, feel freshest and absorb learning best.
Cramming before an exam is tempting and in principle, it can be effective. But only as long as you choose your study time wisely.
On 25th January 2019, the Doomsday Clock was moved closer to midnight, from three to two and a half minutes to twelve.
Created by the board of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists in 1947, the Doomsday Clock began as a visual representation of the world’s response to nuclear threats. In contrast to the perils it represents, the idea of the clock is very simple. The nearer to midnight the minute hand is placed, the closer the board of Atomic Scientists believes the world is to disaster. Midnight being a representation of the moment of a worldwide apocalypse.
The aim of this shock tactic is to raise awareness of how close human beings are getting to destroying the planet they inhabit. Speaking to USA Today, a representative from the Atomic Scientists explained that the clock “conveys how close we are to destroying our civilisation with dangerous technologies of our own making.”
When the Doomsday Clock was first invented, the scientists involved were also working on the Manhattan Project; a programme responsible for the construction of the first nuclear weapons. Very aware of the consequences of what they were doing, they introduced the clock to warn of the weapons’ power. In this first instance, the hands were set at 7 minutes to midnight.
Since its birth, the clock hands have been moved backwards and forwards. At its ‘safest,’ it was set at seventeen minutes to midnight in 1991. In 1953, at the height of the Cold War, the clock hands were moved to two minutes to midnight, when the USA invented the hydrogen bomb.
The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists gives the reason behind the current placement of the hands at two and a half minutes to minute in 2019, as “the failure of President Trump and other world leaders to deal with looming threats of nuclear war and climate change”.
There is no doubt that the reasoning behind the Doomsday Clock is both serious and worrying, but what factors are used to conclude its position?
Eugene Rabinowitch, from the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, explains that several factors are taken into consideration when deciding the placement of the hands. These include nuclear threats, climate change, bioterrorism, biosecurity and side threats, such as cyber warfare. “The Bulletin’s clock is not a gauge to register the ups and downs of the international power struggle; it is intended to reflect basic changes in the level of continuous danger in which mankind lives in the nuclear age.”
Just how accurate is the Doomsday Clock, then? Well, the sad truth is that we won’t know until it’s too late. It can’t be denied however, that it does make you stop and think.
In 2018 the BBC reported that over the last three years the number of children who are being homeschooled in the UK has risen by around 40%. It’s not hard to see why; for parents, ensuring their child’s schooling is top quality is vital, and home schooling is definitely worth consideration as the new school year starts. Whether you’re considering homeschooling for your little ones or terrible teens, choosing to self-teach offers the perfect method for many parents who seek a more hands-on approach in their children’s education. In the UK, as a parent you must ensure your child receives a full-time education from the age of 5, moving through Key Stages 1-3 and on to GCSE and potentially A-Level education.
So is homeschooling right for you? Whatever the age or abilities of your child(ren), learning from home presents many benefits. Let’s look at a few of these advantages, which may help you decide.
Two of the main reasons influencing UK parents’ decision to choose homeschooling include protecting their children’s mental health and the ability to avoid exclusion. Being in a large classroom environment can present a number of challenges for children, including exposure to bullies, feelings of inadequacy from being around superior-performing peers and being singled out for being ‘different’ from other children. Many children may feel as if they simply don’t ‘fit in’. Home schooling offers a solution to avoid these situations and protect your children’s mental health and wellbeing.
The chance to learn one-to-one rather than one-to-many offers many children the chance to feel fully involved and immersed in their own learning. This increases their chances of remaining engaged and interested in their studies. This also allows you, as a parent, to build a stronger bond with your child; to be able to identify their strengths and weaknesses and work with them on these. It is attention that they may not get in a large classroom environment.
Homeschooling allows your child to proceed through their education at their own pace rather than that of scheduled class. Every child is unique, with their own abilities, and these abilities may vary from subject to subject. If your child needs more help with Mathematics and less so with English, you can adjust their learning schedule accordingly.
This means more healthy sleeping patterns and time to study – you have the time to flex your child’s learning timetable around your lifestyle and circumstances. You can take holidays when you want, too. A definite win-win.
Homeschooling offers many benefits over more traditional school classroom study. It’s worth weighing up the pros and cons of both options before making a decision to homeschool of course, and there are plenty of resources to do this, including the UK Government’s website, which can provide further advice.
A week ago, the InSight spacecraft was successfully landed on the surface of Mars by NASA scientists. It was the culmination of a seven month mission to get InSight safely in place before it begins a two year mission, to explore the crust of Mars. Talking to USA Today, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said the atmosphere at NASA was “… intense, and you could feel the emotion…” as InSight finally found its target after what is being called “seven minutes of terror.”
These last few moments of the landing mission were make or break for NASA. As the spacecraft took its final plunge to the planet’s surface, its heat shield had to cope with temperatures that rose to 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit. Then, as the parachute designed to slow InSight’s decent at supersonic speed was released, a dozen retro-rockets deployed three shock-absorbing legs so that InSight could settle onto Mars’ surface. At any time in these final stages, one or more of the mechanisms could have failed, ending what was a billion dollar mission there and then. As the Popular Science website explains, “Mars has just enough atmosphere to set an incoming object on fire, and not enough to really slow it down. Landing anything there requires the utmost precision, planning, and an understanding of that pesky thing called physics. But the years of planning paid off.”
InSight will be the first spacecraft to concentrate on investigating what goes on beneath the surface of Mars. Despite previous investigations into the planet, scientists don’t yet know how big Mars’ core is, what it is made of, or if even if the planet is still active. NASA hopes that InSight will provide information to explain all of these things. To keep itself powered up, InSight, once the dust it disturbed on landing has settled, will need to deploy solar arrays to collect Martian sunlight, and so keep itself charged for the duration of the project. Once it has acquired sufficient power, the craft’s robotic arm will be activated and used to operate a number of scientific instruments. Amongst many tasks, these instruments will take the planet’s temperature and measure the extent of Mars’ slight wobble as it orbits.
InSight is also equipped with a seismometer, which will use the waves created by Mars-quakes and meteorite strikes to build a 3-D picture of the planet’s interior. Bruce Banerdt, the mission’s lead scientist, told USA Today, “That is the goal of the InSight mission, to actually map out the inside of Mars in three dimensions so that we understand the inside of Mars as well as we have come to understand the surface of Mars.”
The ultimate aim of InSight’s adventure is to provide an understanding of how planets such as Mars and Earth first evolved within our solar system. As Banerdt explains, “When we look at the crust of Mars, that’s a snapshot into the past, of what the crust of the Earth might have looked like 4.5 billion years ago…”
In 1957, Russia sent Sputnik, the first artificial satellite, into space. America’s response was a promise to send a man to the moon. It was the then President Kennedy who made this risky claim, but it was met in 1969 when, on 20th July, Neil Armstrong and pilot Buzz Aldrin landed the Eagle lunar module on the Moon.
Eventually the Cold War ended, and the USA and USSR decided to work together. Since then, although space exploration has continued remotely, the race for physical discovery in Outer Space appears to have subsided. Or has it? In recent weeks, a film celebrating the life of Buzz Aldrin, First Man, hit the big screen. Its reflection on an original ‘Man on the Moon’ comes as a new space race is gathering pace. Rather than government bodies such as NASA running the race however, it is the billionaires of America who have their hands on the controls.
The Falcon Heavy car, made by one such billionaire Elon Musk’s (above, right) Tesla company, was produced so that he could start exploring the possibility of carrying tourists on “slingshot” trips around the moon. As The Economist reports, ‘Mr Musk’s ambition is to propel humanity beyond its home planet…. In the days of the space race between America and the Soviet Union, the heavens were a front in the cold war between two competing ideologies. Since then, power has not merely shifted between countries. It has also shifted between governments and individuals.’ For his part, when speaking to The Guardian, Musk underlined the assertion with enthusiasm: “We want a new space race,” he said, “Races are exciting.”
Musk is not the only one to have taken over from space agencies like NASA and their main contractors, Lockheed Martin and Boeing. Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos beat Musk to landing a reusable rocket through his own company, Blue Origin, and the UK billionaire Richard Branson and a slew of other entrepreneurs have followed with lighter-lift rockets.
Phil Larson, a senior science adviser in Barack Obama’s White House and a former SpaceX official, explains, “There are many new rockets being developed, some light, some super-heavy, some in between.” There are some inevitable concerns. NASA has strict safety requirements for human spaceflight, but there are fears the new breed of explorers won’t always adhere to them in their race to be the first to reach the next popular goal.
NASA is preparing for a return of American astronauts to the moon, and last year China deemed an expanse of desert in the country’s north-west to be sufficiently Martian to be reserved as a training ground for Mars-bound “taikonauts”. China is not working alone in this, though. For the first time, Pakistan appears to be entering a space race, this time with rivals India. Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry has said that, “Pakistan will send a human to space for the first time in 2022, with China’s help.”
Meanwhile, India is promoting itself as a low-cost provider of rocket launch services for overseas satellite projects. The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) is no stranger to space exploration. The ISRO has already sent remote exploratory missions to Mars and intends to be the first to reach the Moon’s south pole in 2019. They also plan, in 2022, to send a crew of three astronauts on a seven-day orbit of Earth. As The Economist reports, “If the mission is successful, India will become only the fourth country in the world to independently develop a manned space flight, following in the footsteps of the former Soviet Union, US and China.”
While the race to reach the Moon has already been won, there is much still to learn. Mars features high on the wish list of the space explorers of the modern age. But who’ll win the next race? The established space agencies or a rich billionaire who has always dreamt of walking amongst the stars?
Many of you who are doing exams this year will be revising or starting to think about revising. As a tutor, I am often asked, “What should I revise?” The answer is, unfortunately, everything that you have covered in the course. No one except the exam writers know what is going to be in the exams in any single year, so always make sure that you cover everything.
Barnaby Lenon, an ex-headmaster at Harrow, has recently written in a blog that GCSE students should revise their course at least three times. The same applies for A level students, but officially there is no magic number given as to how many times you should do so. Usually, however, it will be more than once. Some lucky people, the exceptions, can read something once and it will “go in”, but more will have to go through the course over and over again for it to sink it. We are all different, and this is the main point with revising – what works for one person will not work for another.
With all this in mind, there are some tips below. Remember, some will work for you, some won’t.
• Find a good place to work. Some of you will like quiet, others will like some noise. We all work best in certain places. Some students may like to work in a library, others in their room, others in a coffee shop. Find a place that works well for you and stick to it.
• What time works best for you? Some people work better early in the morning, others in the afternoon, others late at night. Again, stick to what works for you. If you are a night owl, it’s pointless to try and force yourself to get up early and study – it just won’t work as well. Use your strengths and find the best time to suit you.
• Avoid distractions. There are so many distractions today: mobile phones, television, emails and so on. It can make it hard to study. If you are reading this now but also looking at your social media feed on your phone, for example, it’s doubtful all you are reading will go in. So avoid such distractions if you can. Turn off your phone. Turn off your emails. If you find it hard to do this, give yourself a time limit, “I will revise for one hour, then spend five minutes looking at my phone.”
• With the above point also in mind, some students find it hard to sit down and study for long periods. Others prefer it. Again, you should do what suits you best. If you do find it hard to sit for long periods, give yourself a reward. One student I worked with played volleyball at national level. He found it very hard to sit down for long periods and study. Consequently he was doing hardly any revision. We came up with a plan. He would revise for 50 minutes, then go outside and play with a ball or go for a jog for ten minutes. Then he would revise for 50 minutes again and so on. This worked well for him. You may find a similar reward works for you, looking at your phone, going for a walk, making a cup of tea, watching TV, phoning a friend and so on. Decide on your time limit and give yourself a reward.
• Aim to study for no more than two and a half hours without taking a break. You are probably not revising as well as you would if you carry on revising after that time.
• Making and reading notes and using flashcards can all work well for some students. Others can make recordings of their notes and listen back to them when they are going for a walk or even when they are sleeping at night – Mind maps and memory palaces can also be useful when revising. Again, find a method that works well for you and stick to it.
• If you are reading something and it isn’t sinking in or you don’t understand it. Try a few of the following techniques…
o Read it out loud. When you do this, sometimes it seems to make more sense.
o Try and explain it to someone else – You may find that you know far more than you think you do when you explain it to another person.
o Read it in another way. There are a lot of resources online today, so if you don’t understand your notes or textbook, look online and find another explanation.
• Making a revision timetable for when you intend to revise your subject is also useful. You may be revising for more than one subject, so work out when you are going to study and make a plan for each subject.
• Practice exam papers and old TMAs under “exam conditions.”
• Try to take off a day a week. You decide which day. Take some time off from all that studying.
• Try to start revising as soon as you can. The earlier you start to revise, the more revision you will do.
Remember, you have revised before. You know what has worked well for you and what didn’t. So if you have a good way of revising, stick to it. But if your way hasn’t worked so well, why not try another option from those listed above? There is also of course a lot of advice out there online and in books. The best way to revise is the way that works for YOU! So find your best method and stick to it.
Finally, though success in them is all about your hard work and revision, I am still going to wish you this – Good luck with your exams!
On the 15th September 2017, a twenty year long mission by the NASA Cassini space probe came to an end when it plunged into Saturn’s upper atmosphere.
Launching in 1997, and planned for years beforehand, Cassini was intended to study as many moons as possible, in particular, those surrounding Jupiter and Saturn. One of the objects of the mission was also to learn more about the possible existence and availability of water in on the astral bodies it passed. In this regard alone, the many pictures taken by Cassini produced much revealing and exciting information.
Thanks to Cassini’s observations of Saturn’s largest moon, Titan, scientists have discovered that it possesses lakes, rivers, channels, dunes, rain, clouds, mountains and possibly volcanoes, just like Earth. Another of Saturn’s moons, Enceladus, revealed sprays of icy particles erupting from its surface; jets of ice-water three times taller than the width of Enceladus itself. Further, Cassini was able to get as close as 15 miles from this moon’s surface and determine that there was a global subsurface ocean, which might have the conditions suitable for sustaining life.
One of Jupiter’s moons, Europa, also shows extensive evidence of water. Its surface is covered with a layer of frozen ice, which scientists again believe hides an ocean beneath. As a consequence, Europa is often touted as a possible abode for life. Cynthia Phillips, a Europa project scientist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, believes there is a lot of indirect evidence for a liquid ocean, “We’re almost certain one is there…” she told Space.com “… the mass of Europa, combined with its density… gives a figure close to one [gram per cubic centimetre] …water is the only material like that.”
The question of the amount (or existence) of water in space has long been debated, often with a view to it sustaining mankind in the future. Mars in particular has attracted a lot of speculation of this nature. Images from the so-called Red Planet have shown dried up riverbeds, lakes, and coastlines across its surface. Recent satellite images from the Aeolis Dorsa region of Mars have uncovered new evidence of the densest river deposits recorded to date. These deposits are believed to date from water that flowed on the surface over 3.5 billion years ago. The channels and ridges formed by these ancient rivers are being studied in the hope that we can better understand the two evolutionary cycles of Mars and Earth, to see if links can be made.
With Cassini’s mission generating a colossal amount of data, scientists now have the opportunity to learn more about the environment of space, the evolution of numerous planetary moons, and the amount of water those moons and their commanding planets could hold now, or may have done in the past.
Will this information lead to mankind ultimately growing food- or even living- in Space? Only time will tell.
Albert Einstein was born on March 14th, 1879 in Ulm, Württemberg, Germany. He was to go on to become the most celebrated physicists of all time.
Of a secular Jewish family, Einstein attended elementary school at the Luitpold Gymnasium in Munich. Einstein never settled at school and towards the end of the 1880s, Max Talmud, a Polish medical student became Albert’s informal tutor. It was Talmud who introduced Einstein to science.
Before he could finish his schooling, Einstein’s parents moved to Italy for better jobs. However, he chose to remain in Germany to finish his studies. This despite the fact that whilst he was good at maths and science, his teachers didn’t agree he was a worthy pupil. His Munich schoolmaster said “he will never amount to anything”. Hope for us all, perhaps.
Einstein went on to Zurich technical college. He graduated with only average marks, and two years later he was employed at a patent office in Bern. He found the work easy here, and was able to spend a good deal of his time thinking more about physics!
It was during this time that he wrote a paper entitled “On the electrodynamics of moving bodies”, which would later become known as Einstein’s Special Theory of Relativity. This showed that measurements of space and time were relative to motion, and this subsequently forced physicists to re-evaluate some of their most basic concepts.
As time passed, so Einstein’s fame and influence continued to grow. In 1915, he announced his most famous work, the General Theory of Relativity, which was the final culmination of an eight-year obsession with gravity. With its astonishing implications about the nature of time and space, it displaced Newtonian mechanics and shook the physics world. It suggested that space and time were one and the same and that gravity was not a force as Newton described, but rather the effect of objects bending space-time. His theory was given the weight of observational evidence when it was used to correctly predict anomalies in the orbit of Mercury; a problem that Newton’s theory of gravitation had been unable to resolve.
In 1919 the British physicist Arthur Eddington went to a small African island to observe the total eclipse of the Sun so that he could test Einstein’s theory; Einstein had predicted that gravity should bend light. The eclipse proved he was right, and our view of the Universe was changed forever. As a result of this and all his other work, Einstein was subsequently awarded the 1921 Nobel Prize.
Einstein continued to make substantial contributions to physics, including his desire to find a more complete and less complex theory for Quantum Physics. He sought to make sense of sub-atomic behaviour in a way that his general relativity theory could not.
Einstein died at the age of 76 on 18th April 1955, after suffering an abdominal internal bleed, which he refused to have treated. For all his successes, Einstein never was able to find a theory for Quantum Physics, though. He made a huge contribution to the way in which we understand the Universe, but with this failing, Perhaps some things are meant to evade the greatest of minds, though – it is a theory which still eludes physicists’ today.
Scientist and mathematician Galileo Galilei was born on February 15th, 1564, in Pisa, Italy. A pioneer of maths, physics and astronomy, Galileo’s career had long-lasting implications for the study of science.
In 1583, Galileo was first introduced to the Aristotelian view of the universe, which was a religion-based view of how the world worked. A strong Catholic, Galileo supported this view until 1604, when he developed theories on motion, falling objects, and the universal law of acceleration. He began to openly express his support of the controversial Copernican theory, which stated that the Earth and planets revolved around the sun, in direct contrast to the doctrine of Aristotle and the Church.
In July 1609, Galileo learned about a telescope which had been built by Dutch eyeglass makers. Soon he developed a telescope of his own, which he sold to Venetian merchants for spotting ships when at sea. Later that year, Galileo turned his telescope toward the heavens. In 1610 he wrote The Starry Messenger, where he revealed that the moon was not flat and smooth, but a sphere with mountains and craters. He discovered that Venus had phases like the moon, and that Jupiter had revolving moons, which didn’t go around the Earth at all.
With a mounting body of evidence that supported the Copernican theory, Galileo pushed his arguments against church beliefs further in 1613, when he published his observations of sunspots, which refuted the Aristotelian doctrine that the sun was perfect. That same year, Galileo wrote a letter to a student to explain how Copernican theory did not contradict Biblical passages, but that scripture was written from an earthly perspective, and that this implied that science provided a different, more accurate perspective.
In February 1616, a Church inquisition pronounced Galileo as heretical. He was ordered not to “hold, teach, or defend in any manner” the Copernican theory regarding the motion of the Earth. Galileo obeyed the order until 1623, when a friend, Cardinal Maffeo Barberini, was selected as Pope Urban VIII. He allowed Galileo to pursue his work on astronomy on condition it did not advocate Copernican theory.
In 1632, Galileo published the Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems, a discussion among three people: one supporting Copernicus’ heliocentric theory of the universe, one arguing against it, and one who was impartial. Though Galileo claimed Dialogues was neutral, the Church disagreed. Galileo was summoned to Rome to face another inquisition, which lasted from September 1632 to July 1633. During most of this time, Galileo wasn’t imprisoned, but, in a final attempt to break him, he was threatened with torture, and he finally admitted he had supported Copernican theory. Privately, though, he continued to say he was correct. This ultimately led to his conviction for heresy and as a result he spent his remaining years under house arrest.
Despite the fact he was forbidden to do so, Galileo still went on to write Two New Sciences, a summary of his life’s work on the science of motion and strength of materials. It was another work that has helped cement his place in history as the world’s most pioneering scientist, even if he was not fully appreciated in his own time. Galileo Galilei died on January 8th, 1642.
The basic spin shots in tennis are topspin, backspin, and slice or side-spin on the serve.
The spinning of tennis balls is defined by Bernoulli’s principle which states that when the velocity of a fluid increases the pressure decreases. Air behaves as a fluid and so when a tennis ball is spinning the air flows faster on one side of the ball and slower on the other. This creates a pressure difference on the two sides of the ball which in turn creates a force on the ball towards the area of low pressure causing the ball to move through a curve.
When a ball rotates, the air in contact with the ball’s surface rotates with the ball. The hairy, fuzzy nature of a tennis ball means it has the ability to drag a lot of air relative to a smooth ball, and therefore spin is enhanced.
A topspin shot is made by sliding the racquet strings up and over the ball. The friction between the racquet strings and the ball makes the ball spin forward, towards the opponent. The shot dips down after impact and also bounces at a lower angle to the ground than a shot hit with no topspin. This is the normal direction of spin when a ball bounces due to friction from contact with the ground, but additional spin is applied by the strings. This additional forward spin makes the ball come off the ground at speed.
A backspin shot is hit by sliding the racquet strings underneath the ball as it is struck. This causes the ball to spin towards the player who just hit it. This stroke requires about half the racket head speed of a topspin shot because the player is not required to change the direction of spin. When the ball bounces it comes off the ground at a slower speed to a topspin shot.
In the case of topspin, the top of the ball spins into the oncoming air and the front of the ball moves downwards dragging air down with it. More air gets pulled under the ball than goes above it. Since more air has to pass under the ball it has to move faster. This means there needs to be a higher velocity on the lower side of the ball, and subsequently a lower velocity on the top of the ball.
On the top side of the ball this lower velocity creates a higher pressure, and at the bottom the higher velocity creates a lower pressure as in Bernoulli’s Law. With high pressure on top and low pressure on the bottom, there is an imbalance in the forces on the ball which curves it downward from its straight line path. In backspin, the same principles are in action, except in this case the bottom of the ball has the lower velocity so the pressure is higher. The same principle also applies to side-spin.
To see all these types of spin being put to good use, simply turn tune in to the Championships in the next few days.