Monday, 18 December 2006

S103: Block 5 - Energy

Block 5 - and the subject and title is Energy.

Its all the stuff you might expect. What is energy, what is power, work. What units do they use, and how do you calculate it.
It covers most basic forms of energy such as the Sun, gravitational potential energy, and stuff like the latent heat of vaporisation.

There are quite a few equations in this book, but the good news is its only 67 pages long! I managed to do most of this book while lying in bed with a thick cold. I know a number of people found this book a little harder than the rest of the course so far. Its perhaps the maths and the scary looking equations, although really they are not that bad.
The course is often described as starting nice and easily, and then the content starts to ramp up, and this is perhaps the first indication things are getting quicker and deeper.

The associated TMA, TMA-4 is split between block 4 and this block. There are 3 questions on block 4.
A question about k and r species.
Another question about food webs, net productivity and so on where you have to calculate biomass increases.
Then a 250 word paragraph about species on the Galapagos islands.

Then a question on specific heat capacities with a few calculations.
Finally a question about kinetic and gravitational energy.

Saturday, 9 December 2006

S103: Block 4 - Unit within Diversity

Block 4 and its time to get into some biology.

Book 4 is called Unit within Diversity and covers a fair bit of biology in not much depth, but goes into a fair depth in the ecology and evolutionary aspects.

It starts out discussing what is life, and some of the historic moments in the science of biology. There is a brief chapter about cells and genetic material, then its into the main topic which is the diversity of life.

There is quite a lot of DVD work in this book, several hours in total, where you get to explore the Galapagos islands and make inferences about adaption and speciation. The dvd ahs a lot of question and answers coupled with film clips from various experts discussing the finch population and the marine iguanas. I can still here the learned doctor on the DVD saying "Correct" and "No" even after the course has finished, he has quite a distinctive style.

There is also a big section on ecology, building up food chains, and looking at the energy used in a food web, what depends on what etc. We get to find out how many oak trees are required to raise one bird of prey, through caterpillar and blue tit intermediaries.

There is no TMA specifically about this block, but the next block will be included. So its onwards and upwards.