Exploring Autumn

Exploring Autumn

Check out the beauty and science of the season

Written by Abi Coleman

As the air starts to cool, it’s time to hook out the jackets and maybe a light scarf when going outside for an autumn walk. But as we start to cover up, there is much more to uncover in the natural world around us, and there are also some scientific stunners to be found…
Raving Rocks Autumn is associated with a spectrum of warm colour and light, but even the most ‘dull’ of nature’s attributes are actually dancing with colour. Rocks may not look much in the daylight, but shine them under an ultraviolet light, and you could discover a rainbow. Some minerals within a rock can reflect light back which is unseen by the human eye. Either a single mineral can be found, or multiple minerals - but scientists have identified over 3000 different types within these surprising stones. So if you fancy taking a black light with you on your coastal or country walk this autumn, you could find a whole new display of fluorescent red, pink, green and blue! There is always a hidden beauty to behold in creation, even in those things we may not perceive to be much, especially ourselves! So why not bring out your inner geologist and marvel at some raving rocks, remembering the inner surprises and beauty you hold too!

In A Twist : Pinecones Pinecones are a great dinner party 'centre piece’ classic. They can be used for a variety of craft projects, or can make a roaring fire crackle and pop. But they also contain some deep mathematical equations. A pinecone, a sunflower and a sea shell all contain a spiral at their structural core, but this isn’t just a random twist. Scientists have discovered that all of these swirls use a mathematical sequence of numbers which result in forming the perfect ratio for a spiral. If you turn your maths brain on, you will find, inside the humble pinecone, the Fibonacci sequence, which goes like this: 0, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55… (find the next number by adding the two before it!) If each of these numbers are then drawn as a square, and are joined together, they can be used to draw the perfect spiral. (Can’t wrap your head around it? Give it a search online!). If God created the swirl of a galaxy and a hurricane to include this kind of perfection, when you next pick up a pinecone, remember you were created with the very same perfect intentions.

Social Network : Funghi If you look carefully amongst any fallen trees this autumn, you’ll probably spot a mushroom or two. But did you know that the most exciting part of our fungi friends is underground? A vast expanse of web called mycelium grows down from the mushroom and stretches out in long branches throughout the ground. Scientists are only just beginning to recognise how the fungi connect the world below. Just like we are all joined to one another through networks and being plugged in to one common ground, this network of fungus helps to join groups of trees together. The trees use the fungi as pipelines to suck nutrients from the ground, and in turn the trees give the fungi the sugar they need to survive. These fun-guys are a great reminder that it’s not just what’s on the surface that counts, but what lies beneath that joins us all together!

Light up: Stars With the evenings getting dark earlier, we can start to enjoy the starry night sky once more. But do you think you would be able to spot the 18th brightest star in the sky? Well Autumn Fomalhaut comes into view during Autumn, and can be spotted by its reddish hue caused by the Earth’s atmosphere. It is twice the size of the sun and 19 times more luminous, but at 25 light years away, we don’t get to see its brilliance. If you do however manage to find the star in the sky, you will be looking at light that left the star in 1992. You may not even have been born in that year - and yet you are looking directly at a piece of history.

Photo credit: Nataly Jennings

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