• Question: what is a fosil fule and what inspired u 2 b a scientist

    Asked by hannahtayla12 to Akram, David, Gill, Jack, laurenceharwood on 16 Mar 2012.
    • Photo: Akram Alomainy

      Akram Alomainy answered on 16 Mar 2012:

      Not totally my field so I guess the others will be best to answer it 🙂

    • Photo: Jack Snape

      Jack Snape answered on 16 Mar 2012:

      A fossil fuel is a chemical like oil, coal or gas that comes from dead plants and animal that were buried under the ground millions of years ago. It took millions of years to make the fossil fuels but we’ve been using them up in only a couple of hundred years… that’s not sustainable

      I was inspired to be a scientist because I enjoyed science at school and it seemed like you could do useful stuff with science

    • Photo: Laurence Harwood

      Laurence Harwood answered on 18 Mar 2012:

      Fossil fuels are coal, oil and gas. They are the remains of trees and plants (in the case of coal) or algae (oil and gas) that died hundreds of millions of years ago and gradually sank under the weight of more things being laid down on top of them. Over the millions of years the heat and pressure that developed, and the fact that there was no oxygen present, gradually transformed this once living tissue into material consisting mainly of carbon and hydrogen – hence the term “hydrocarbon” often used to describe oil. Sometimes in lumps of coal you can find imprints of leaves or bark of primitive trees from teh “carboniferous” period of archaelogy that look amazingly like tree ferns that still grow in New Zealand today. So they really are “fossil” fuels

      Coal oil and gas are an amazing resource that is a result of tens of millions of years of life followed by hundreds of millions of years to be formed and we will rapidly use up most of the oil in just a few centuries. This cannot be allowed to continue for all sorts of reasons – pollution and global warming being two importat ones but simply because we will soon have no choice when it is all used up. Far better to change our ways of generating energy while we still have a choice.

      I became inspired to be a scientist – or rather a chemist – by my chemistry teacher at secondary school – Mr Good. He made an agreement with my class that, as long as we wrote up all our work as homework, we would do nothing but experiments in school – and that is what we did. The first time I set fire to a piece of magnesium ribbon I was hooked.

    • Photo: Gill Menzies

      Gill Menzies answered on 18 Mar 2012:

      Fossil fuels? – exactly what Jack and Laurence describe below – we haven’t always burned them – we discovered their power and potential in the mid 18th Century and developed more innovative ways to use them and exploit them more efficiently as the Industrial Revolution expanded. The problem is that we are now reliant on them to support our ways of life …… this is what inspired me to become a scientist. It concerned me enough when I was at school to seek a career to try and reduce this dependence…. and I really enjoy what I do – its satisfying!!