All at sea: a history of maritime communications

Titanic's Marconi apparatus

Titanic’s Marconi apparatus

Communication is something that has been around since the dawn of life. Animals and plants use many different methods of communicating with each other, using sounds, smells and other signals.

Before the discovery of electromagnetic fields and electricity, humans communicated using direct speech, semaphore or hand signals. Semaphore signalling, devised by Lord George Murray, uses six shutters, two vertical rows of three – on a white background. By changing the pattern of the black and white stripes of the shutters, words and sentences could be spelled out to communicate between ships. Continue reading

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Living in a material world

Energy can never be created or destroyed. Instead, we convert it from one form to another. We convert electrical energy to heat energy in our toasters and we convert wind energy to electrical energy using wind turbines. But what about the energy that our own bodies produce, is there an efficient way of harvesting it?

We eat our dinners, which are digested into their basic components (sugars, carbohydrates, proteins etc.) to produce chemical energy. We then convert this chemical energy into useful energy to go about our everyday lives. Continue reading