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Extreme Science Nerd: educator, writer and general foodie.

Who I am, and what I like to write about

Photo by Adam van den Brink on Unsplash

Ah, I see you have stumbled upon my profile page — lovely to meet you!

I am not (as the picture above might suggest) a miniature woman with plastic hair.

I am, in fact, a real human (see my profile picture if you’d like proof).

I do have freckles and need glasses to see anything more than about a metre away, so the Lego lady and I have much in common in that respect.

I also love to peer into the science of how things work and write about it. …

Stave off the tumbleweed and reignite your creativity

Photo by Rhett Wesley on Unsplash

It’s ‘project time’.

Schools are out and young people are taking a much-deserved break from their books. As an educator, this spells a natural break for me too — not (just) to frolic in the sunshine, but to get creative, to try new things and, if all goes well, be productive.

I look forward to ‘project time’ all year — a chance to let my creative juices flow and use a different part of my brain.

Yet, the same thing seems to keep happening: I sit at my newly tided desk, a sudden recipient of time, my hands hover over…

What is it, and can it be learned?

Photo by Jason Rosewell on Unsplash

I’m not the world’s best singer, despite being in multiple choirs during my student days (I’m not the best dancer either, but that hasn’t ever stopped me from busting out ‘the moves’).

Despite my questionable musical talent, I’ve always loved the feeling of ‘oneness’ that singing in unison brings, and, as an alto, I love trying to fathom out which notes I should be singing to harmonise with the angelic-sounding sopranos.

You see, I never learnt to read music — I’ve always worked out what I should be singing ‘by ear’. …

A lot of amazing science happens to that little sample tube

Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash

There’s nothing quite like the feeling of a swab deep inside your nostril, is there? That nose wrinkling brain-tickle has been just one of many new things we’ve had to adjust to in this pandemic.

I’ve swabbed my noggin so many times I’m almost immune to the feeling (almost).

So you’ve carefully swabbed your throat and nose, following the instructions to the letter. You carefully package your swab and send it off for testing at the lab. You’ve been told that this type of test is a ‘PCR’ test for SARS-CoV-2. But what does that mean? …

One small molecule has a lot to answer for

Photo by William Warby on Unsplash

Whilst getting ready for school, my seven-year-old self always had a problem: breakfast never tasted quite right. In fact, my orange juice, normally so zesty and sweet tasted disgusting.

Finally, I spotted the pattern: if I brushed my teeth after my breakfast, everything tasted fine. But when I brushed my teeth before, that’s when everything tasted, well … icky.

Was my toothpaste just too minty? Perhaps the cold water had ‘frozen’ my tastebuds?

No, definitely not, young Rosie.

Here’s the science behind that strange taste…

It’s not magic, it’s just a scoop of sorbet science

Photo by Donna G on Unsplash

If you’ve read any of my recent articles, you’ll know that it’s a wee bit ‘tropical’ in the UK currently. You’ll also know that when I’m not moaning about the weather, or fleeing ferocious wasps, I can be found eating (or at least thinking about) ice cream…

‘But, Rosie’, I hear you cry, ‘This article is supposed to be about sorbet!’

Yes indeed. I love ice cream, I really do. But I visited a friends house recently, and whilst we all sweltered, she brought out the most delicious lime and mango sorbet that she had made herself.

Cool points to…

Erm, yes, actually.

Photo by USGS on Unsplash

It’s warm in the UK at the moment, I checked my weather app, and to my surprise, my little town is about the same temperature as exotic places such as Havana in Cuba, Lagos in Nigeria and Delhi in India.

Unaccustomed to the heat, we (along with our cat) are regularly seeking the shade underneath our apple tree — lolling about and, like any self-respecting Brit, regularly complaining about the weather.

We like to have lunch out there, taking moments to enjoy the tickle of a light breeze …


Excuse me?

‘Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz, Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz, Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz’

I look up from my…

Take a sniff of these delicious knowledge-beans

Photo by Laureen Missaire on Unsplash

I have a tempestuous relationship with coffee. With just one cup and you get me at my best: bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, ready to face the day.

Too much of the java? Welcome to Jitter Town folks.

It’s likely to be less about grip, and more about sensitivity

Photo by Bernard Hermant on Unsplash

Have you ever taken a really good look at your fingerprints? The landscape of intricate bumps and valleys is unique to you, even if you are an identical twin.

What is the point of these swirly patterns? I had always assumed (and doing some research online tells me many others have too) that having textured finger pads helps increase friction — particularly useful when sliding off a cliff, or, you know, when trying to eat a toffee apple.

Do fingerprints increase friction?

According to researchers, who carried out experiments to compare the friction of different fingerprints at different forces, fingerprints actually reduce friction, as…

Rosie Alderson, PhD

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