The Space Race between both the USSR and the United States is by far one of my favorite eras of history to study. They say competition is the perfect motivation, and I truly believe, from a technological standpoint, this is era is a prime example of that motto in its purest form. Some of the biggest strides in human history were made in a time where computers were still the size of rooms all due to fear, curiosity, and drive. Public Service Broadcasting’s album, “The Race For Space”, tries to capture all of these emotions, during a handful of critical points, along this journey in order to show how important this period was for Humanity as a whole. (I will cover the tracks in event order not track order)
Track 2: Sputnik
The year is 1957, and, as tensions of the Cold War are ever increasing with no end in sight, humanity has its eyes on the one place neither power has even traveled: space. The Soviets, ever fearful of the United States launching into orbit, rushed through their plans to launch a 3,000 pound satellite equipped with various scientific instruments. They ended up downsizing dramatically to a 184 pound payload with a 58 centimeter diameter without any instruments. On October 4th of that year it was launched on a R-7 rocket with four stages. It nearly suffered a catastrophic launch failure, but the a combination of engine thrust and wing movement saved it last second. Well what did it do? It beeped. And that beep was the beep heard all around the world. Well at least for 22 days… its batteries actually exceeded the expectation of 14 days. For the first time in all of human history something was able to orbit the earth. It wasn’t the first man-made object in space, but it was the first which was in continual free fall around the earth. So, yes, the Soviets to prove themselves put a beeping piece of metal into orbit because that is all they needed to do to stir so much amazement and fear. The device whose name directly translates to “travelling companion”, would be the spark which set the both countries ablaze and straight into the most heated technological race in all of human history.
Track 3: Gagarin
It is now April 12th, 1961. Multiple years have passed since Sputnik, but no shortage of tests and animals had been launched into space, including the famous cosmonaut dog Laika on Sputnik 2. Now it was time to push the barrier forward onto man's reach into space. Enter Yuri Alexeyevich Gagarin. A 27 year old Senior Lieutenant Gagarin was chosen out of over 200 Russian Air Force fighter pilots by peers and project heads due to his exceptionally quick thinking and attention to detail. At 9:07 A.M. Vostok 1 took off carrying Gagarin on board. Due to the feared consequences of free fall, the Russian mission control was totally in control of the craft the entire time. Yuri was the first human ever in space, a true high water mark achieved by humanity. His trip lasted one obit, a total of 108 minutes. While the United States press showed fear of losing the space race, he was seen in many places as a hero for humanity, going on a global world tour to be paraded around countries including England, Canada, and, of course, across the USSR. This stance of him being a pioneer, regardless of national affiliation, is what PBSB was aiming for in their upbeat track. Looking back now it is easy to say he was a true pioneer for all of humanity and his efforts will forever go down in history as that of a hero.
Track 1: “The Race for Space”
The date is now September 12th 1962. President Kennedy is making a speech to 40,000 people in Rice Stadium. At this point, the United States is far behind in the space race launching the first American, John Glenn, nearly a year after Gagarin. Kennedy knew he needed to rouse the American spirit, and, in effect, his speech became a defining speech in American history. A link to the full speech can be found here: https://er.jsc.nasa.gov/seh/ricetalk.html.
Perhaps one of the most ambitious technological proposals made by a president, Kennedy promised that by the end of the decade America would put a man on the moon. Keep in mind no spacewalks had been taken, lunar modules had been made, no docking sequences had even been practiced, and here was the nation’s leader saying we could make it in 8 years or less. The National Defense Education Act had been passed due to Sputnik and had been in effect since October 4th 1957. Now its efforts of acting as a booster for the mathematics and science related fields was beginning to see results. Young engineers and scientists began coming out of Universities in order to rapidly increase the nation’s technological investments to bound ahead. This key moment not only left the nation space crazed, but made getting to space a budgeted objective at the front of the nation's interest. This vow and critical commitment is what would pave the way for the American Space program to come, as now Americans all over had their eyes on the skies.
Track 7: “Valentina”
Fast forward to June 16th, 1963, Vostok 6 is launched. It is the last in the man orbital missions launched by the USSR starting with Gagarin. Well what made this so different? This time the passenger was Valentina Tereshkova. Yes, the first woman in space. Her mission lasted 3 days and she kept two way radio communications with Voltok 5 which was orbiting with her. In this time she made 48 orbits, which was quite a large feat at the time. Her personal background was that of an avid skydiver and textile factory worker making her the first civilian in space as well. The space suit she wore was the MK-2 which was very similar to the MK-1 that Gagarin wore. These suits were only meant to be pressurized in an emergency, such as if the cabin was punctured. It would take a better space suit in order to do an EVA which is the coming up milestone. Up until this point, humans have remained within their pressurized cabin in order to take a safe trip, but now we move onward and upward by finally getting out of the restrictive hull.
Track 5: “E.V.A”
On the 18th of March 1965, the Voskhod 2 mission was launched. Two cosmonauts were abroad: Pavel I. Belyayev and Alexey A. Leonov. Belyayev was the primary pilot while Leonov was the secondary, but he had a far more important mission. He was to perform the first E.V.A trialing the first space suit with a life support system in the backpack. The flight lasted 26 hours and made 16 orbits. During this time the first spacewalk lasted approximately 20 minutes with Leonov claiming the experience gave him a sense of complete euphoria and tension at the same time. The mission, being reported as a major success, acted as a dramatic blow to the United States government. At the same time, many catastrophic failures occurred while in space, but were never reported on the ground. A few moments after Leonov stepped out of the shuttle he realized his suit had inflated to the point he could not get back in. He needed to decompress, and as he let out oxygen he began feeling the initial symptoms of decompression sickness. He began pulling rapidly on the cord thrusting himself in with a moment to spare, but at his current temp he was at risk of heat stroke. His perspiration blocked his view so he had to maneuver around the airlock blind. He eventually did it and made it back in to the safety of the shuttle. This was only the start of the problems though. Due to this maneuver the oxygen content of the shuttle soared, meaning any single spark would have it blow up as quick as a flash. They managed to lower the oxygen concentration back to a safe levels. The ultimate test occured when they had to manually re-enter the atmosphere due to engine problems. They were exposed to high G forces along with high temperatures only to land off course in Siberia. They were eventually recovered and hailed as heroes. This was yet another large step to making it to the moon with the United States still lagging behind. And they were soon to have one of their largest hardships to date.
Track 4: “Fire in the Cockpit”
On the 27th of January 1967, an event which would live in national infamy occurred. The Apollo 1 space crew, comprised of Virgil Grissom, Edward White, and Roger Chaffee, all entered their command module to undergo a simulation for their up and coming launch. The first problem arose when Grissom complained of a “sour smell” in the spacesuit loop, but decided to continue the test. This was followed by high oxygen flows triggering on and off the alarm. This wasn't resolved as the communications were experiencing problems resulting in the line being only between pilot Grissom and mission control. At 6:31, oxygen levels quickly rose as Chaffee casually says he smells fire, but within two seconds, White proclaims, “Fire in the cockpit.” Escape procedure was supposed to take ninety seconds, but ultimately that time frame was too long. In the highly oxygenated environment, the fire spread too quickly, followed by the command module rupturing forcing black smoke across the landing pad. An eventual investigation found that the fire was started by a faulty bundle of wires located behind their heads. It took firemen three minutes to quell the fire and to open the doors, but it was too late all three perished. It was a day of national remembrance and an overall low in the American Space program up until that point. Their sacrifices were distinguished with the highest regard as the nation mourned and tremendous loss.
Track 8: “Go!”
Apollo 11 is by far the most known aspect of the space race. It is the moment where scholars say the United States sealed their place as the winners of the space race. It inspired kids for years to come to become astronauts. The Apollo 11 mission’s ultimate goal was to land the first man on the moon fulfilling Kennedy's earlier promise and legacy. Apollo 11 launched on July 16th, 1969 with astronauts Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins, and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin. It took 75 hours to reach lunar orbit. This is where the focus of the song is. It includes a systems check as the lander makes it's landing maneuver and lands on the surface. The utter tension at mission control was palpable. This was the most critical part of the mission, and when they landed, from the utter joy heard over the radio, the public knew they had finally done it. Tee descent began at 102:33 with the ultimate touchdown resulting at 102:45. After a period of set up and a postponed rest period, Armstrong made his exit onto the surface at 109:24:19 to utter those famous words. Aldrin soon followed behind with the whole thing being broadcasted to the American Public. This moment, the moment where America gathered around their television screens to watch them be the farthest away from anyone else that any human has ever been, was the height of the space race. They made their return launch starting at 124:22 and plunged back into the Pacific Ocean on July 24th. These pioneers set the standard of human exploration in the space age and acted as role models for new explorers for years to come.
Track 9: “Tomorrow”
The last track of the album is of course the most inspirational. It focuses around Apollo 17, which was the last manned mission to the moon. it was launched on December 7th, 1972 with crew members Eugene Cernan, Ronald Evans, and Harrison Schmitt. It's main objectives were to put a Rover on the moon, conduct testing, and take samples such as moon rocks and photographs. In total over 16 hours of EVA were conducted, 30.5 kilometers we're traversed by the rover, and 243 pounds of samples were collected. The mission was a success but extremely bitter sweet being the last mission in the Apollo chapter. It ultimately completed the era of the Space Race. It has much more sentimental value in this aspect, as the track takes the time to reflect on the previous decade and a half of progress and how far the human race has come.
Ultimately the space race was a period of history where nations gathered behind the scientific progress they conducted. Yes, there was always the fear of mutual destruction, but the sense of shared awe at what humanity achieved far overshadows that factor when looking back at history. There are not many periods of history where technology progressed at such breakneck speeds, and may not be for a long time. There is plenty more to read about the period, and I encourage you to do so if this interested you at all.
As always it had been a pleasure! This is ThePeculiarParticle, signing out.
Esa. “The Flight of Vostok 1.” European Space Agency, European Space Agency, www.esa.int/About_Us/Welcome_to_ESA/ESA_history/50_years_of_humans_in_space/The_flight_of_Vostok_1.
“The First Spacewalk.” BBC, BBC, 2014, www.bbc.co.uk/news/special/2014/newsspec_9035/index.html.
Larimer, Sarah. “'We Have a Fire in the Cockpit!' The Apollo 1 Disaster 50 Years Later.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 26 Jan. 2017, www.washingtonpost.com/news/speaking-of-science/wp/2017/01/26/50-years-ago-three-astronauts-died-in-the-apollo-1-fire/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.7d4feb08cec3.
“NASA.” NASA, NASA, www.nasa.gov/.
“National Air and Space Museum.” The Wright Brothers | The Wright Company, airandspace.si.edu/.
RFE/RL. “Kennedy's Famous 'Moon' Speech Still Stirs.” RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty, RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty, 13 Sept. 2012, www.rferl.org/a/kennedy-moon-speech-rice-university-50th-anniversary/24706222.html.
“Space.com.” Space.com, Space.com, www.space.com/.
“Sputnik Spurs Passage of the National Defense Education Act.” U.S. Senate: Select Committee on Presidential Campaign Activities, 9 Mar. 2018, www.senate.gov/artandhistory/history/minute/Sputnik_Spurs_Passage_of_National_Defense_Education_Act.htm.
(Disclaimer the websites were used many times for different articles)
The most profound idea that can occur to any mind is that of the cyclic nature of time, fate and regeneration. Even though it is evident in scientific things like the first law of thermodynamics and the ultimate and imminent destiny of a cyclic universe, one needs only recognize that their apparent existence implies the intrinsic possibility that their existence, as it is in that instant, is able to recur again and has occurred infinitely many times before as it does in that moment. The permutations of thermodynamic microstates must eventually repeat themselves, creating identical states or systems. This recurrence and successive permutations also suggest a multiverse-like phenomenon where everything is comically “the same but different” trope to a T. It evokes that bit of wisdom, “The world is indeed comic, but the joke is on mankind” from H.P. Lovecraft, a figure of honor, which is the grand summation of fate and return. Every struggle against the human soul is doomed to repeat for all time, a conclusion so spectacular and significant that I believe it is truly capable of making men thoroughly mad.
Personally, I wonder how this wisdom weighs on my humanity. My life and what is essentially myself will recur in an infinite permutation of recursive universes each of an unremitting nightmare-future. I found not many people who understand this or are ready to accept it which makes me feel dry amused at the notion I am profoundly wrong.
In my previous blog post, I discussed the overall interface you'll be using in Kerbal Space Program. If you don't know what you're doing, I recommend reading that first before continuing on with this post.
Before I even start with actual designs of rockets, I'm going to teach you how to build quickly and efficiently.
To start, you'll need to place down a part. Keep in mind that the first part you place down is the part you're going to have to build off of. Whenever you pick up this part, you will pick up your entire rocket. Whenever you pick up a part connected to this part, it will pick up every part placed on that part, excluding the first part. Now that you understand that, you're going to need to know how to move around effectively.
By holding right-click, you can rotate around a certain point on the center axis of your rocket. By using the scroll wheel, you can move vertically up and down. By holding Shift and using the scroll wheel, you will move closer to and farther from the center axis of your rocket (Alternatively, you could do this by holding down the middle-mouse button and moving your mouse up/down).
When building a ship,
Now we can get into some design basics.
There's a lot of things to take into account when designing a rocket, even in a video game.
Always remember to take aerodynamics into account. You can't just launch anything through the atmosphere at well over the speed of sound and expect it to be fine. Take the following, for example.
This is a simple landing can with some batteries, retractable solar panels, RCS fuel tanks, and an antenna. If you launched this through the atmosphere, something could very easily break, especially if you used the unprotected versions of the solar panels, or, lord forbid, you extended them. But then how would you get this into space? Well, there's many solutions, such as trying to fit it all inside of a cargo container, or you could make a column of octagonal struts and strap the bits onto that.
There is also one other thing in the game you can use, and it's quite stylish. First, you'd have to disconnect the entire top piece from the landing capsule, and place an "Airstream Protective Shell" on top of the capsule. When you first place it, it'll start dragging a frame with your cursor, but just right-click to temporarily remove it. Then, re-place the top piece on top of the Protective Shell part. Here's where things get interesting. Right click on the Protective Shell part, and click "Build Fairing" as shown below, then drag the frame up along your top piece, and click when you want to start to drag it in. You can use the other picture below as reference.
This fairing can be ejected as part of a stage when you leave the atmosphere, so the craft on the left will look like the craft on the right. Just be careful with your design for when you do eject it, because it shoots sideways.
Here's another aerodynamics example:
This rocket will fly. But after a little bit, it will start to flip out of control, and plummet into the ground. But why? If you build a ship like this and deviate from being normal to the ground by even the slightest amount, air resistance kicks in, and your rocket will flip upside-down. So how do you avoid this? Simple: Add some wings. Two could work, but you should add more, just to be safe.
Another thing commonly done in KSP is when people add tons of fuel to their spacecraft, and then is surprised when they can barely get into orbit. Keep in mind that adding more fuel does let you burn longer, but also increases the weight of your rocket. Your thrusters will always put out a certain amount of force, and if you just add more fuel to your craft, you might end up with less delta-v than you started out with. We all took Mechanics, so you should know that net force is equal to mass times acceleration, so if mass goes up but force stays constant, acceleration must go down.
Some other things to think about include:
- Do you need extra power?
- Do you need power generation?
- Do you need heat reduction?
- Do you need a ladder for your Kerbal?
- Do you have a heat shield?
- Does it look nice?
- Is it powerful enough to get you where you need to go?
- Does it weigh too much?
- Do you have enough parachutes?
- Should you add high-altitude parachutes?
And, most importantly, something forgotten in the following picture.
Yes, there are no wings, and it is hideous, but those aren't the biggest faults with the spacecraft.
If you look on the bottom left, it shows the staging. Every time you press the spacebar, you begin the next stage. In this case, the first stage would start the first thruster, but would also trigger the decoupler, disconnecting the main booster from the rest of the rocket. Now look at the final stage. When triggering the last decoupler to expose the heat shield for re-entry, it would also trigger the parachute, rendering it useless, and dooming poor Jebediah to crash into the planet.
Even if your design is perfect, one simple mistake in the staging could ruin everything when you least expect it, so always remember to check it before you wreck it.
In my next blog post, I'm going to discuss simple flight controls and methods.
I wasn't here at all last week during APs, so I have no idea how well prepared everyone is.
The next few blog posts I'm going to make will be some simple lessons on how to play Kerbal Space Program, since I have had... some experience.
That's a clip from my steam profile, and although I haven't really played in about a year or so (Ignore the fact that it says "Last Played: Today", I was getting some pictures to use in this post), I still remember how everything works. Mostly.
So let's start with just the very basics: the interface. When you first start, it can be pretty overwhelming, since it just throws you into the space center without much direction. The picture below shows the buildings you might have to use during our class competition.
The labeled buildings are the buildings we're going to be using in class.
Building 1 is the Astronaut Complex, where you'll hire new astronauts.
Building 2 is the Spaceplane Hangar, where you'll build planes, and maybe even spaceplanes.
Building 3 is the Vehicle Assembly Building, where you'll build your rockets.
Building 4 is the Tracking Station, where you can track and take control of active missions.
The other buildings that you won't be using are for the other gamemodes in Kerbal Space Program, where you'll need to manage your funds and research parts. For now, let's just get into each building.
The Astronaut Complex is fairly simple, and I'm sure you can figure out if you ever need it.
The Spaceplane Hangar is identical to the Vehicle Assembly Building (which I'm going to go into detail next), except sideways, because it's meant to build spaceplanes instead of rockets.
The Vehicle Assembly Building can also be overwhelming at first, but the more you get into it, the easier it is. The next picture highlights the interface.
1: There are a large amount of icons going down along the left side of the screen, each of which open a different category of parts that are used to build your rocket. There is even a search bar on the top if you can't remember what category the part you're looking for is in.
2: On the bottom left of your screen, it shows how much money your current design will cost to build. This doesn't take into account any special reduced costs that our group might have, so it's just an estimate. There are also 3 small icons to the right of the money display. Clicking each of them will toggle a marker on your rocket to help you design better, such as showing the center of mass and center of thrust. The 2 icons below that help build your rocket. The larger icon will toggle symmetry, and when in the VAB (Vehicle Assembly Building), equally space 8 parts around your rocket. When in the Spaceplane hangar, this will mirror it along a plane rather than revolve it around an axis. The smaller icon will toggle snapping, which locks your parts to a grid and help evenly space things out.
3: On the top left of your screen, there are 4 icons. 3 are grayed out until you start building your rocket. The first tab is the "Build" tab, which is automatically selected, and shows the parts list on the left side of the screen. The second tab is the "Actions" tab, where you can bind certain actions, such as extending/retracting solar panels to a key on the keyboard. The third tab is the "Crew" tab, where you can select your crew that is going to use the rocker. The fourth and last tab is the "Switch Editor" tab, which will move you from the VAB to the Spaceplane Hangar, and vice versa.
4: On the very top of the screen is a text box where you can name your rocket, and select a mission flag.
5: On the top right of your screen, there are 5 buttons. The first button scraps your current rocket, and will make you start from scratch. The second button will load a saved rocket. The third button will save the rocket you are currently working on. The fourth button will launch a mission with the rocket you are currently working on. The fifth and last button will make you exit the VAB.
6: On the bottom right of your screen, there are 3 tabs and a reset button. Honestly, I have no idea what the reset button is for. The first tab will open the KSPedia, an in-game manual. The second tab will open the Engineer's Report, which is a small window that gives some more details about your rocket, such as weight, height, and number of parts. The third tab will open the messages window, which you don't need to worry about.
The Tracking Station might look intimidating, but, like many other things in KSP, is actually fairly simple.
It starts by opening to the normal map you'll use when flying your spacecraft, and navigates the same. You can double-click on a planet, moon, or any object (including your spacecraft) to center your camera on it.
1: On the bottom left of your screen, there are 3 buttons. When you have one of your spacecrafts selected, these will become available. The first button is to recover the spacecraft, which can only be used when it is not moving, and landed anywhere on Kerbin. The second button is to destroy the spacecraft and any crew that's on it. You cannot destroy a spacecraft that is recoverable. The third button is to take control of the spacecraft, which you'll need to use if you ever need to go back to the space center temporarily in the middle of a mission.
2: Along the left side of your screen will be all of your current spacecraft. The top left of your screen shows the in-game date and time, and the current level of time-acceleration. Along the top of the screen are a variety of filters to enable and disable to help sort through all of your active spacecraft.
3: On the top right of your screen is the exit button, as usual.
This is the basic interface of KSP that you'll need to use during our class competition. In my next blog post, I'm going to go more in-depth on what to think about when designing a rocket.
If you haven't read my last 2 blog posts, you should. They both directly relate to what I'm talking about in this one.
Alternatively, if you have even the slightest understanding of fluid dynamics, you don't need to read my last 2 posts.
In reality, if you've never even thought about fluids, you don't need to read my last 2 posts, because this is actually pretty simple, especially when compared to what we've done in class this year.
Right now, our goal is to get fluid from one cup into another. We could just pick up one cup and pour it into the other, but that's boring, and not very easy to do with large amounts of liquid. We could just scoop it out of one cup and dump it into another over and over, but that's boring and time-consuming. We could just pray to the old gods, but that also comes with its own drawbacks. So what are we going to do? We're going to siphon it through a tube.
Now take a look at the following gif.
The fluid from the left cup is transferring into the right cup, until they equalize to one height. If we wanted to transfer all of the liquid, we could just put the right cup at a lower level.
The issue with siphoning like this is that we can't just drop one end of a tube in each cup and expect it to work. If the tubes were connected from the bottoms, this wouldn't be an issue.
In this case, the transfer had to be jump-started, so the fluid travels up-hill into the tube, before it falls back down, and begins dragging more fluid with it.
One way to jump-start the transfer is to submerge one end of the tube into the left cup, then suck on the right end a little bit so the fluid starts to flow into the tube, and passes the highest point in the tube. Then, stop sucking, and put the end of the tube into the other cup, and as the fluid falls, it will drag more with it.
Another way is a little more tricky, but also more clean. It starts the same, with one end of the tube submerged in the left cup. Then, bend the tube so that it goes down out of the left cup, then back uphill, like a "u". Then, pour a decent amount of liquid into the "u". After, while making sure the part of the tube in the left cup stays submerged, put the other end of the tube facing down into the right cup, so the liquid starts pouring out. When the liquid starts pouring out, it'll drag more behind it, and eventually out of the left cup.
The system above shows a cylinder with a small diameter (Gutter) connected to a cylinder with a larger diameter (Barrel). The force due to gravity by the liquid in the small cylinder is less than the force due to gravity by the liquid in the larger cylinder, since there's much more liquid in the larger cylinder. Shouldn't this make the liquid in the small cylinder rise, until the forces equal each other out?
In reality, no. The fluids in a system always like being at the same height. This made absolutely no sense to me until I decided to look it up, and found out that it actually isn't that complicated, and I should feel ashamed.
The reason that the fluids are at the same height isn't because they apply the same force, it's because they apply the same pressure.
And since pressure is equal to force divided by area, it makes sense that in order to have a small amount of liquid be at the same height in a system with a larger amount of liquid, it would need to be put in a container with a smaller cross-sectional area. Alternatively, it could be put at a different elevation, but that's just cheating.
Everybody on the planet probably knows this simple trick. All you do is take a straw, submerge part of it inside of a liquid, cover the top hole of it with your finger, then take it out, and voila! The liquid stays inside of the straw rather than draining out, as gravity intended.
But how does it work?
It's actually pretty simple, but most people don't really think about it. If you just stop reading for a minute and really just think, you'll figure it out.
I didn't just make this post to tell you to think. This is for a grade, so I need to put at least some effort into it.
It's all a matter of pressure. By plugging the top of the straw, you isolate the air on the inside from the atmosphere. If the liquid were to start draining from the straw, that would increase the volume that the air would have to take up, without increasing the amount of air in the straw. If you were to turn it upside-down, the liquid won't move, it'll stay hovering in the straw, because if it were to start falling down, that would decrease the volume that the air would have to take up, without decreasing the amount of air in the straw.
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
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