I once had confidence in my chemistry abilities but now I am only familiar with the element of sadness. After my penultimate chemistry test, I reflected on every agonizing measure I made to seat before the multiple choice booklet in a room remote from happiness which maddened me with its taciturn silence. I can look back upon the years of my boyhood, the better parts of it spent in school, and I am overwhelmed by regret, failure and portents of a miserable future. I remember the day my scholastic ardor left me, mere minutes before school ended I was taken away from class for the space of months, left to my own devices in isolation. I did not return to school the same student since, after my sentence, I held school and by extension my own education in bitter contempt. Now I am nearly eighteen and I have not a single way out nor any notable successes thus far. It seems that with no agency of my own, I was brought here by my parents, my society and by cruel fate to live by a will that I cannot call my own. However more's the pity, one's future is one's own making, I must deserve this. Now I must bid a saddening farewell to all the people I have grown up with, the people I have done wrong.
Hey, do you know whose birthday it is? It is the one, the only, Johann Carl Friedrich Gauss! He was born 241years ago today! Since Gauss' Law helps us solve problems with cylindrical, spherical, and planar symmetry, I thought it would only be right to wish him a happy birthday! Thanks Gauss!
Computers are good at math, right? So it follows that video games should be able to do plenty of physics calculations while you run around shooting zombies and stuff, right? Well, the thing is, they have to do a lot of calculations - and they have to do them really, really fast. Take, for example, some game based on a large map, with somewhere around a hundred players, all trying to shoot each other to death. Handled naively, every time a player shoots, the game would have to continuously test if the bullet is intersecting any player on the whole map at any given point along its path. And even handling one single player isn't easy! It's gotta check if it hit the player's foot, leg, other leg, hip, abdomen, shoulder, arm, other shoulder, other arm, neck, head... And then it gets even more confusing when you suddenly have an impenetrable pan on your back blocking some bullets. Now, check for all of these intersections somewhere between twenty and a hundred and twenty times per second, for every single bullet, for every single player. Basically, it's kinda hard for even fast computers to keep up, while remaining accurate.
But that's where humans and their fandangled logic comes in! Now, how could a bullet possibly hit someone, if it's practically in a different time zone from them? Short answer: it can't! (Unless you have teleporting bullets, in which case you should be selling the technology for billions, not shooting people with it). So, take this giant map, and split it up into anywhere from a few to a bunch (so specific, I know) of little bitty squares. Now, as players move around, you've gotta keep track of which square they're in, which takes a bit more work. But now, when you have a bullet (or a few thousand) flying through the air, there's no way it's going to hit someone that's not within either its own zone, or maybe one of the adjacent zones. Now you've gone from checking every player in the game, to between zero and a handful! Much easier!
These same sorts of logical assumptions can be made for all sorts of locality-based applications, like virtual lighting (really, do you want to simulate a billion photons shooting around a room?), more advanced collision detection (we've done point-like bullets hitting round-ish parts of bodies, but what about really complex, non-convex things hitting each other?), as well as odd things like splitting up a group of points into non-spiky triangles (or tetrahedra). That actually has applications in fluid dynamics, modelling the density of stars in galaxies, and a bunch of other things way over my head.
Many of us know the Aurora Borealis as the 'Northern Lights'. This natural phenomenon is, of course, thanks to the physics of our Earth and its atmosphere!
(Photo credit: NASA)
The Aurora Borealis is an extremely beautiful event that occurs most often close to the magnetic poles of Earth. It occurs due to charged particles coming from the Sun of which collide with other molecules found in the Earth's atmosphere. Solar winds from the Sun carry these charged particles and when the wind passes by Earth, particles may be trapped in the atmosphere from the Earth's magnetic fields! The charged particles ionize molecules in the atmosphere, which give off light. This creates the Aurora Borealis!
I had previously thought that the Northern Lights were from light reflecting somehow, but it awesome to see that it is caused by magnetism, which fits into our past few units very nicely.
Have you ever wondered how systems around you function? Like a passing glance at the thermostat and wonder how it maintains the temperature in your house. Well, just like any other system dealing with variables, there has to be logic to tell how other systems should work. In electrical systems, one of the most basic forms of logic comes through chips known as logic gates.
These gates appear on chips, like the one below, where each prong serves a certain purpose. These chips can vary in size, holding a number of gates, but for our purposes, we will look at one with only four.
VDD represents a pin needing to be connected to a voltage source, usually five volts, and Gnd means the pin needs to be connected to ground. The input pins follow the two paths leading into the same end of a gate, while the outputs are represented through single paths. This specific chip is made up of NAND gates which is shown by the shape the pathways lead into and out of.
The main types of gates are referred to as “and”, “or”, and “not”. These gates then have multiple variations I'll discuss below, but these are the basics. Now, how does a circuit relate to logic, I hear you ask. Well, for simplicity, let's assume a circuit either has a voltage of zero or five volts. The zero volts is represented with a 0 and the five volts is represented with a 1. These signals go into a gate, converting it into a designated signal (also a 0 or a 1), used to cause another action.
Below is a table showing the input and corresponding outputs of each gate.
An example would be if I had two inputs, one in the form of a switch and another in the form of a light sensor. I want my cabin to turn it's lights if I hit my switch and it is night time out. When I turn my switch on it sends out a 1. When the sun goes down the light sensor sends out a 1. When both these signals reach an and gate it sends out a 1 to the light inside my house to turn on.
Needless to say, there are systems with hundreds, even thousands, of variables and programmable logic controllers can store strings of gates onto one single chip, but that's a story for another time.
As always thanks for reading! - ThePeculiarParticle
I'd like to dedicate this blog post to the person who has gotten me through this year. You know who you are. Do you annoy me sometimes? Absolutely. Do I annoy you sometimes? I sure hope so. All jokes aside, we do make a good team. We work well together because neither one of us is a follower. We are both independent, which is helpful when one of us is missing something. If you miss something, there's a good chance I caught it, and I'll point it out. If I miss something, there's a good chance you caught it and you'll point it out. We don't leave each other in the dark. If one of us doesn't understand something, we explain it to each other until it makes sense. If one of us is having a rough day or week, the other steps it up and does what they can to help make something more manageable. Do we get of topic? Let's not lie to ourselves, of course we do. However, we also know when we really need to crack down and get a lot done. It may have taken us awhile to get there, but we did. We are close enough that we aren't afraid to tell each other to shut up and work when we need to. We also aren't afraid to be wrong. We know that no one is perfect, especially in this class. We don't judge each other for making a mistake, we know we'll make more and more, and that's okay. Overall, you make things more enjoyable, even when I say you don't. It was great to take on such a challenge with you and support each other along the way, while of course making lots of jokes. I couldn't have asked for a better lab partner. We're partners in crime (I mean physics). Thanks for a great year.
I think I've done enough violin blogs, so how about my other instrument? That's right, ukulele. And yes, I actually play it, I don't carry it around like an accessory and pretend like I know how to play. Like the violin, the ukulele is a string instrument, so the sound comes from vibrating strings. Unlike a guitar or violin, the strings of a ukulele are made of nylon, which gives it that distinct ukulele sound. Both the length and the tension of the string determine what note it plays. When tuning, if the string is flat, you tighten it to tune it. This increases the tension and frequency. If it's sharp, loosen the string. How loud the ukulele is depends on how hard you strum. The harder you strum, the higher the amplitude of the vibrating strings, resulting in higher volume. The noise also comes from the sound of the vibrating strings echoing in the hollow chamber in the body of the ukulele. If there were no chamber, the ukulele would not produce much sound.
Enjoy this picture of my ukulele with my violins on top of a piano. I'm bad at piano by the way.
This year, I really pushed myself with new challenges that were difficult, but also very rewarding. I took on the challenge of a flipped classroom and learned a new way to be a student that will help prepare me for college. While at times it was a struggle to keep up, this course kept helped me prepare for college by forcing me to work on my time management skills. I think that I have a lot more of improvement to do on this, but I have come a long way from the beginning of the year. I think before I go to college, it might be a good idea to review Dr. Chew's videos and brush up on some of the proper learning techniques that he taught. Another new thing that I took on this year was completing blog posts for this class. This activity taught me a lot of new things about how what we are learning in physics applies to the real world and I really appreciate all that I have learned. Going forward, I will have to apply the math and physics of the classroom to the real world, and doing the blog posts gave me a little bit of insight into the connections between the two. Although it may have been a challenge at times to complete the necessary blog post on time, I enjoyed learning new things about the world around me.
At this point, we have finished mechanics, and we are starting to finish up electricity and magnetism. Each of these courses had it's own set of challenges. However, with mechanics, even when I didn't fully understand something, I could still sort of visualize it and try to make sense out of it. Mechanics definitely felt more straight forward and understandable than electricity and magnetism, except dealing with drag forces is still very difficult. With electricity and magnetism, my main struggle has been not being able to just see how everything works. Things don't really click with me like they often did in mechanics. This is why I would say I've had more trouble with this course than mechanics. I can't see things the same way. When it comes time to review for both exams, I'll have to keep this in mind, and maybe dedicate a little more time to electricity and magnetism just to make sure I understand what I need to in order to be successful.
This spring break, I traveled to London with some other students. Over the week, I took tons of beautiful pictures of the city and surrounding area. However, that's not what I'm going to share with you. Sorry. (Not really)
Here's a story instead. I went into a bookstore with a few of my friends while visiting Windsor. I was looking for something specific, and once I found it, I wandered around the store waiting for the others to finish up. I should have known that I couldn't even escape physics while on vacation in another country. I looked at this one shelf of books, and a bunch of them were physics books! No, I did not buy any of them. However, sometimes I do feel like reading something like this would not be a bad idea. I felt like it was a sign like "hey Erika! It's physics, remember me? Yeah you still need to finish your blog posts, so you should probably do that soon. K bye."
This year has been a wild ride, and the AP weeks are approaching fast. With the third quarter ending, and soon most AP classes to have not much work to do, I need to take the time to look back on this year. Physics was a struggle, but that made it a lot of fun. I have learned a lot, and have learned new was of how to learn based on the style and difficulty of a class. It was a great choice to make and it has really helped me to learn what is in store for the future at college. Calc didn't catch up to physics until it was toward the end of the second quarter, which made the math fun, but that was a good learning opportunity as well. As the year slowly comes to an end I am happy but sad as this year has been rough, but I couldn't have asked for a better year to end on.
Pokemon is weird and so, even the simplist things in the games must also be complicated. The pokeball is how you capture and transport pokemon. However, it cannot simply store a pokemons mass as it would cause serious problems outside of weight. For example, the pokeball seems to be about 9.52 cm in diamter giving it a volume (3/4(3.14)(4.76^3)) of 452.11 cm^3 so that the most massive pokemon, Groudon with a mass of 950kg would result in a mass density of 2101 kg/m^3 which is denser than the sun. That's a problem if I've ever heard of one. So this is how I came to Quantum Entanglement, after reading an article that gave a very simple explanation to it on reddit. So when two particles interact in the exact perfect way, they become entangled. This means that whatever happens to one happens to the other, and weirdest part is that the distance between the two particles doesn't matter. Research has been able to do this with particles as large as a grain of sand at a distance of up to 10 miles apart. So, pokeball's are then just quantum computers which turn a pokemon into data somewhere in the universe on how to reconstruct a pokemon. The worst part of this comes with the no-cloning theorem, so that in order for the copy to be made, the original must be destroyed. So every time a pokemon enters a pokeball, the original would be destroyed. If the pokemon breaks free, it is not the original that was encountered, and were it to be caught, when it came time to battle, it wouldn't be the same as when it were caught. This makes the whole pokemon world a lot more grusome.
The pokemon games are full of weird situations and ideas, especially those relating to the all knowing pokedex. This post will highlight how weird the game is about first generation pokemon, Ponyta. One pokedex entry states that it can clear ayers rock in one leap. This rock in central Austrailia, standing at 348 meters tall and its average width across is about 1500 meters. This then becomes a projectile motion problem. The pokedex also states that its evolution can run at 67 m/s and so this is Ponyta's intial horizontal velocity. Ignoring air resistance, ponyta will keep this horizontal velocity through out its jump. To calculate the air time (x/v = t) giving that it takes ponyta 22.4s to clear the rock and 11.2s to reach maximum height. Then solving for the initial vertical velocity give 137 m/s and thus by Pythagorean theorem, p963onyta launches itself at an angle of 64 degree with a velocity of 153 m/s. Then, how high does Ponyta jump? Solving -V^2/2a for height gives 963 meters. That's taller than the worlds tallest building. This universe is just weird.
While doing some exploring on the internet, I stumbled across this video that does a pretty decent job of explaining a crazy pool vortex that forms when you push a plate through pool water. The woman in the video lists some examples of vortexes which include water going down a drain, hurricanes, tornadoes, and air going over a plane. In the example with the plate, the difference in velocity between the water moving with the plate and the stationary water next to it causes a shear force and makes the water spin. The vortexes keep spinning because of angular momentum and minor friction. She also examines what happens when a vortex line is curved or a complete circle like in a smoke ring, bubble ring, or even the plume rising up from an explosion. This seemed interesting to me so I decided to explore more behind what creates a plume after an explosion.
The plume formed after an explosion, often called a mushroom cloud, is best known for occurring after nuclear explosions. Below is a picture from WWII of the atomic bomb explosion over Nagasaki, Japan. Some simple physics can explain the phenomenon behind the forming of this cloud. When the explosion occurs, the hot burning gases which are less dense than the surrounding air, rises up fast, creating a vacuum affect that pulls cool air up into the cloud. This is called the Raleigh-Taylor instability which occurs when two different substances of different densities interact. I've included an additional video that better explains this stunning affect. Enjoy!
Mario Kart was (and still is) the greatest game of all time, and there is a surprising amount of physics involved – not the part about falling off the edge of rainbow road and then magically reappearing back on the track though.
Mario Kart uses Newton’s laws. The use of Newton’s first law proves why in order to get moving you have to press a button to accelerate, and when you let your finger off the button, you don’t just automatically stop, you just slow down. Newton’s second law shows how if you use a cart with a greater mass, you need a greater force to get the kart moving with the same acceleration.
Mario Kart also uses elastic and inelastic collisions. An elastic collision occurs when two karts run into each other. They both don’t stick together following the collision, but they bounce away from each other. An inelastic collision occurs when two karts collide and the one with the thunder colt transfers to the other kart and now the thunder cloud is stuck to the other kart.
While Mario Kart is mostly fictional – with flying blue shells, mystery boxes, and magically coming back to life after falling off into vast darkness – there is still a lot of subtle physics involved.
Physics is all around us, and sometimes it is so visually awesome that it can make for great album covers.
Pink Floyd: The Dark Side of the Moon
One of the highest selling albums of all time, and having one of the most identifiable covers of all time, Pink Floyd should rightfully start up this list.
The phenomenon shown is called dispersion of light. This occurs when white light hits an optically permeable surface. In this case, white light is hitting a prism. As white light passes through the prism, all the different components of white light separate by wavelength. This occurs due to each wavelength having a different angle of deviation. Shorter wavelengths, such as violet, have greater angles of refraction than longer wavelength colors, such as red. The result is a splay of colors each aligned in a rainbow to their corresponding wavelengths.
Joy Division: Unknown Pleasures
Another cover which can be easily recognized, or at least will be noticed, is Joy Division’s debut album. What you are actually seeing is a visualization of radio waves from a pulsar, in fact the first pulsar ever discovered. A radio pulsar is a neutron star which is spinning at incredibly high speeds. So this star, with a density ten trillion times denser than lead, is also generating a strong magnetic field from moving electrons. Due to this spin, electrical charges, and magnetic field, a radio signal was received at 1.337 second intervals. The picture above depicts eighty successive periods stacked on top of one another, and was taken straight from The Cambridge Encyclopaedia of Astronomy published in 1977. Despite being in earlier publications, the true creator of the design is not know, but if one thing is for sure, the image can still be found everywhere and this usage in 1979 was only the beginning of its use in pop culture.
The Strokes: Is This It
The cover to The Strokes Is This It was chosen for release of the 2001 album due to its beautiful psychedelic appearance. But what is it? Well, it is a picture taken from inside a bubble chamber. A bubble chamber is used to study electrically charged particles. How it works is that large bubble chambers are filled with incredibly hot liquid hydrogen. As the particles enter the chamber, a piston opens decreasing the pressure in the chamber. Charge particles created an ionized track which vaporizes the hydrogen creating visible bubble trails. Since the hydrogen is transparent, pictures can be taken in all three dimensions, mapping out the movements of the particles. So why is a different bubble chamber photo my profile picture?
Well it has nothing to do with The Strokes. It's just a beautiful image, and that's what made most of these artists choose their own covers. Nature is beautiful in many ways, and being able to explain it with physics makes it just that much more enjoyable.
As always thanks for reading! - ThePeculiarParticle
No doubt the course has gotten much harder in the transition to electricity and magnetism. The result is that I've needed to adapt a new approach to the course. I have tried watching videos then filling in my notes with information from the book and vice versa. For me watching the videos first worked much better. So, if anyone finds this blog, I'll certainly recommend that. But one of the most important things I can do is look back at the course and experience as a whole, despite having induction left, and say I wouldn't have it any other way. It's like climbing a mountain and, while it seems like a heavy task at first, the top is now in sight, with a bit of work left. The most exciting part of this year, besides writing these blogs, had to be finally finding where all these formulas came from, such as how work and forces are so interconnected now that we understand integrals and derivatives.
The good news is that it only builds on from here. Well, my group agreed we would do a blog post sharing our future endeavors, and I'm happy to say that I will be attending the University of Rochester to pursue Optical Engineering. It specifically interests me in the area of integrating electrical and digital circuits but, since optics is such a wide field, that can only be compared to dipping my toe in the deep end of an Olympic sized swimming pool. This course has probably prepared me the most, compared to any other course, for what to expect in college, and for that I'm immensely grateful. Thank you FizziksGuy. The road isn't over yet but this year has been a large stepping off point into the next and I can't thank you enough for the help.
This is kinda sad, being one of the last assigned blog posts I do, but it is not the end. There will be one more after this, which I am really excited for, and I will post a couple in fourth quarter.
I legitimately love writing these and need to thank all of my readers and those who gave support, and even criticism, as this was one of the most fun projects I have had this year.
As always thanks for reading! - ThePeculiarParticle
Have you ever seen a Galileo Thermometer? They are a pretty cool way of telling what the temperature is and it also serves as a cool decoration for your home. The thermometer has little glass bubbles with different color liquid inside of them. Each little bubble has a tag on them with a different reading of the temperature. You read a Galileo thermometer by reading the tag on the lowest bubble that is still floating. The way the thermometer works to change to different temperatures involves a bit of physics.
An object immersed in fluid experiences two forces, the downward force of gravity and the upward force of buoyancy. In the Galileo thermometer, its the downward force of gravity that makes it work. Each of the tags on the different bubbles has a different calibrated weight, making each one a slightly different weight from the others. The liquid inside the each of the bubbles has the same density, so that when the weighted tags are added, each bubble has a slightly different density then the others due to the ratio of mass to volume. The density of all of the bubbles is very close to the density of the surrounding water. Therefore, as the temperature outside the thermometer changes, the temperature of the water the bubbles are immersed in also changes. When the temperature of the water changes, it either expands or contracts which changes its density. So at any given density, some of the bubbles will float and others will sink. So for example, if the temperature is increasing, the waters density decreases. So the bubble with a tag that says 72 degrees, for example, will have now have a weight per unit volume that is greater than that of the surrounding water rather than lighter, and it will sink to the bottom. Very neat!
Mechanical waves move through matter as a medium and as such many of the natural laws that pertain to motion and dynamics have special places in the study of mechanical waves. One type of wave is sound which most easily propagates through air however because of the laws of momentum one could expect that a mechanical wave is maintained through any matter. A solid barrier for example would be so rigid that it would absorb the impact of a wave and impede passage slightly beyond the barrier. This would produce a sound shadow where the sound loses its momentum in passage through the solid.
Anyways this is the last blog post. Thanks FizziksGuy, even in the darkest of nights, you were by my side all along, my true mentor,
Electricity is cool. Electricity travelling through air is cooler. Well, it looks cooler at least. It's actually really hot.
Jacob's Ladders are neat little devices that send a roughly-horizontal electrical arc travelling upward between two electrodes.
This is a long exposure picture of a Jacob's Ladder - there's actually only one arc at any given time.
The mechanism behind the ladder effect is actually pretty simple. When the arc initially forms, it heats the air up quite a bit, as is evident from the glow it produces. This hot air has more energy, so it expands, which decreases its density relative to the air around it. Since it's less dense, it experiences a buoyant force upward, and since the electrons can more freely travel through already-ionized air, the arc follows the hot air upwards. Once the arc reaches a length at which it can't keep the air hot enough to remain ionized, the arc breaks apart and the path of least resistance returns to being the very base of the ladder, so the process repeats.
The technology for maglev has existed since the 1960's, the first trains weren't really developed and used till the 1980's and only since the 2000's has humanity had high speed maglev trains. The principle for a maglev train is fairly simple, as it runs using the knowledge that like magnetic poles with repel each other. Maglev trains use magnetic poles to oppose the magnetic field enduced by the train. Then the train is propelled forward by another opposing magnetic field.
This is an example of how magnets can be used for levitation, or hovering if you will. All this is, is simply the force of the magnet overcoming the force of gravity of the magnet and the liquid. In this way, a "hover board" would be nothing other than a force keeping something off the ground, which is just what a normal force is when you have an object sitting on the floor. However, using magnets for levitation is cool because you cannot see the force acting on the object, and the force can also be transferred through things, putting your hand between something being levitated by a magnet would not stop the magnetic repulsion, which is pretty cool to think about and even cooler to see.
Pole vaulting is a very good example of the transfer of momentum. You are transferring energy from running down the runway into bend in the pole, and then that pole rotates after you jump, making the pole push you vertically.
As a pole vaulter myself, I can say it is not all that complicated, it does not require you to be a physics student to get over the bar. However, it is super fun! It must be flying in the air and feeling the push of the pole behind you as you kick your legs up, hoping to get over that height you set for yourself.
Common things people will say about pole vaulting:
"isn't it scary?" - It's more exhilarating than scary
"What if the pole breaks?" - All poles have weight requirements, so a pole rated 150 would only be safe for someone who weighs under 150 lbs. Also these poles are extremely elastic, being made of carbon fiber or fiber glass, and it is very rare that one would break.
"I'm afraid of heights" - It's not that high.. well that's subjective
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