On a slightly-longer-than-necessary-immediate-family-only-two-week trip to the Adirondack Mountains over the summer past, I learned how to waterski on one ski. Once up on two skis, the forward velocity of the boat makes the water 'act' as it would if you had fallen on it from a very high position: it 'hardens' beneath you, making it possible for you to basically stand on your skis, on the water. Once you get going and find yourself advancing in a relatively straight line, you slowly add pressure to one foot, and begin to slide your other ski off by lifting your heel. More often than not, you will fall once your weight leaves the ski you are trying to get rid of. But eventually I succeeded in keeping upright after dropping a ski! Next summer's task: getting up on only one ski to begin with!
After school earlier today, my friends and I were walking alone in the hall, and I realized that my friend (who I already thought was pretty cool) is actually quite amazing. He is a black belt in karate as a junior in high school. He was explaining to us that there is a way to make yourself tense enough so that you will not feel a direct punch to the abdomen. He demonstrated how to move your entire body in time with breathing in and out, and sliding your feet and flexing and relaxing your muscles to eventually get yourself into the perfect position. He actually looked really like an Earthbender... but I digress. Being able to not at all feel a direct hit to the abs is really strange, and something I would like to learn how to do! Having your muscles tense enough to minimize the effects of the strike while not so tense that it cannot be sustained requires keen physical and mental awareness. The velocity of any punch (seeing as it must be a considerable hit to be labeled a punch) would usually be enough to make the receiver/victim cringe and pull away or even fall. But not my awesome black belt friend. You know who you are.
My French pen pal is here! Ma correspondent Eulalie! When we speak to each other (mostly in English... they start about 5 years before we do), it is sometimes a little difficult to understand each other. However, the fact that we can hear each other is up to physics. When we speak, we trigger vibrations that travel through the air in longitudinal waves, meaning there are a series of pulses that form compressions and rarafractions in the particles of the air. The sound energy that is carried by the pulses reaches my ears or hers, depending on who is speaking.
Heh. It is really called the Drowsy Chaperone but you know. Details. It is often misread as this way plus words that don't actually exist tend to get people's attention more often, so yeah. Got your attention now.
The Drowsy Chaperone is an awesome and hysterical musical within a comedy and in case you are out of the loop, it is the musical for IHS this year! (distance cheering: yayy!) COME SEE THE MUSICAL MARCH 26 AND 27 AND 28 AND 29.
Okay anyway, without spoiling the show, there is one scene when all the lights in the protagonist's apartment go out, and he is left in darkness. The superintendent of his building shows up and tells him that they were resetting the breaker in the basement, and when it came back on, the lights tripped and the whole building went dark. So it happens. It's normal. The lights went out because the electrical circuit was opened, or broken. Because the loop was not closed, the current could not reach the lights, and the entire circuit was basically rendered useless.
We all remember when 'Boo' 'died' in the 'trash compactor' in Monsters Inc. None of us admit it, but all of us reacted similarly to Sully. That was just... nightmarish.
It just doesn't make that much sense, though. First of all, the fall down the chute would have killed her. Secondly, during the process of being crushed and such, so many little pieces of garbage fly off of the conveyer belt. Yet at the end, the same amount is still there. The second to last process for the garbage is to be flattened by a massive stone grind. Much like in Temple of Doom... bleh... that scene. Anyway, next a single blade is dropped mechanical-gullitine-style onto the now flattened garbage. And presto. Perfect little cubes of garbage. Hmm. Interesting. Also, of all the blocks of garbage that we see, only one is imperfect. Boo's. With her little eyeball piece being the only thing out of place.
Yes, I know. Who am I to hate on a Disney film? It is a fantastic film. Just, maybe not in terms of physics.
This is a life goal of mine. Get a cool job, get a cool house, go bungy jumping from a helicopter over New Zealand. Among other things.
Some people's first reaction is to say with confidence that I would bounce and then sling right up into the blades of the chopper. This is not so. I would bounce for sure, but not into the blades. Heli-bungy jumping is a real thing! I did not make this up! People have done it and survived in one piece! The helicopter would be moving at all times, of course, cruising forward at about 130kph. A bungy cord is essentially a spring, so how much it would stretch would depend on the spring constant of my particular bungy. That would be a really good thing to look into before jumping from the skid.
Heh, no. This is not a clever new form of pasta. Unless you are a cannibal. A space cannibal.
Spagettification is the verb given to the act of being stretched out by the force of a Black Hole. If you were to cross the event horizon of a black hole, and thus enter said black hole, then the part of your body closer to the black hole would begin to accelerate toward it faster than the part of your body further away. You would get stretched out. You would get SPAGETTIFIED!! As intriguing as this may sound, you would not be alive for this. For most of it, at least. You would be dead, and you would miss your own spagettification, rendering the entire situation boring (for you) and a tad unfortunate.
Yes, I do love black holes. Yes, this is my third entry about black holes. Yes, they are amazing.
This blog post inspired by Blogging By Nathaniel and his crew of science nerds (Justin, Brendon, Ty).
I have already written a blog entry about black holes. Now here is one about something else equally as fascinating and awesome and unexplained: dark matter and dark energy.
They say the universe is forever expanding and moving and sliding and shifting. According to a timeline representing the Big Bang theory provided by National Geographic, the initial bang happened 13.8 billion years ago, and within milliseconds, it inflated enormously, and within seconds, dark matter emerges and begins to pull normal matter around. Stars began to pop up about 100 million years after the big bang. About 1 billion years after the eruption, the rapid expansion slows due to the unimaginable gravitational pull of the dark matter. 3.8 billion years later, however, dark energies appears, and the expansion speeds up again. At present, the universe is hurtling outward ceaselessly. So when they say the universe is now expanding, it is because of dark energy. In short, dark matter pulls things together, and dark energy pushes things apart. And when they say everything within the universe is constantly moving around - including our negligible little home the Milky Way - we automatically imagine a mass of stars and planets drifting aimlessly through a black void. And if we could look at this from the outside, yeah, that is what it would look like. But that is not what is happening.
Dark matter is everywhere, though it is completely invisible. The only way we could possibly see dark matter is by using a massive and complex machine with liquid argon in the center, and hoping that when dark matter hits the argon, it will trigger tiny flashes of light. Note: hoping, and even if it works, this will be detecting, not seeing. Despite this disability, epic nerd geniuses (so, scientists) have constructed a simulation of what the dark matter may look like in a massive area that includes a small, dim yellow dot labeled Milky Way. The image depicts the majority of 'space' as a grey webbing and filmy substance, which is dark matter: the scaffolding of the universe. There are black lines criss-crossing it. Those are 'free space' through which galaxies can flow. Dark matter is so powerful that it directs the flow of the universe.
Dark matter reveals itself in another way, as well. It bends lights. For example, often when we see a distant galaxy, we are actually seeing distorted images that appear to be multiple galaxies. This is because the light 'carrying' the image of a galaxy gets bent around a mass of dark matter and becomes deformed when it reaches what we can see from Earth. When we can detect the perverted images of galaxies and realize that they are in fact distorted, it indicates the presence of dark matter.
On as personal a note as the universe can possibly get, a high concentration of gamma rays have been detected near the core of our very own Milky Way. This could indicate highly active dark matter particles smashing into and annihilating one another. This is the first time we have seen dark matter annihilation, most likely because the dark matter detectors that we have created all look for interaction between dark matter and normal matter, rather than interactions dark matter and dark matter.
I hope those of you that actually read this find it just as fascinating as I do.
Until next time.
If you are a Sherlockian, you know this one ain't gonna be easy.
The Reichenbach Fall is the name of the BBC Sherlock epiosde in which Sherlock Holmes *SPOILERS* jumps from the roof of St Bartholomew's Hospital to save those he cares about - chiefly John Watson - from the wrath of Jim Moriarty. Dr. Watson rushes to Sherlock's lifeless body, collapses in disbelief and grief and fear, but has the sense to take the consulting detective's pulse before they are torn apart. Sherlock Holmes was dead. John watched him jump, heard his voice on the phone right before he did, he saw the body, and he felt the lack of a pulse. And yet, after a frankly rather depressing scene with John talking to Sherlock's grave, the classic theme returns as the camera pans to follow John, and suddenly there stands Sherlock, watching from the trees. Alive.
The hospital was four stories, each with tall ceilings. There is no way that man could have survived, no matter how large his Mind Palace (*cough* or his ego *cough*). From such a height, he would not have reached full speed, but he would be going with high enough a velocity to break bones on the ground. High enough a velocity to die.
The fandom - as well as characters from the show itself - created numerous explanations as to how Sherlock could have survived. A trampoline? A bungy cord? A manican? A serious of improbable kisses (sorry, fangirls... no)? The creators of the show never actually let on how he survived his fall (curse you, Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat!), leaving fans to ponder and wonder and awe. And await the next season. It snowed in Egypt. Before the next season of Sherlock. You don't understand. It snows in Egypt just about... never. This random yet true fact brought to you by Fiona. Enjoy. And wait for Sherlock.
So basically, Star Trek vs. Star Wars. Okay, we all know which is better. Star Wars is better. I mean, come on. But believe me, I'm still a Trekkie. Don't worry.
Even though Star Wars is better, and even though scientists are indeed working on developing a lightsaber-like thingy, George Lucas created the story because he knew it would be awesome, and because he wanted to make a Western but there were so many out at the time (A New Hope came out in 1977) that he basically made a Western in space. He created his own science to make it real in the story. Gene Roddenberry, on the other hand, wanted his space story to be scientifically possible, even if not for many years. Nate has already enlightened us to the physics of tractor beams. I would like to shed light on a different part of the ships: steering.
The Millennium Falcon is one of the coolest ships ever. Lucas created the iconic shape while enjoying a hamburger, so I suppose that is where it got it's shape. Then he added the forward cannons to distinguish the front from the back. But how does it do all it's sideways flying and flips and turns? Answer: Star Wars. If we look at the USS Enterprise, on the other hand, it carries our similar maneuvers, but there is an explanation. It has thrusters all over it's body, making it possible for it to turn or even just stabilize. Answer: science.
Star Wars is superb. Star Trek is science.
Sectional Prelims for the girls' 2014 Swim Team was this afternoon! Shoutout to everybody on the Sectional for being awesome and to all those that came and cheered!!
Swimming. Physics. Breaststroke. Physics. I am a breaststroker, and I have been since I started swimming for the school in 8th grade. Breaststroke, in my opinion, is 10% luck, 15% skill, 9% concentrated power of will. 5% pleasure, 15% pain, and 100% reason to remember the name. Ha ha. But really, breaststroke is the most technical stroke, takes the most coordination, and is the most intense in both the mental and physical realms (other strokers may argue against it being the most physically demanding, but nobody says it is easy). Newton's Third Law kindly states for us that every action has an equal and opposite reaction. So when my breaststroke kick snaps together, I am pushing the water backwards, and the water is simultaneously pushing me forward. So I like to think that my kick is quite powerful. But could it be that the water pushing against my kick is what is powerful? Neither. Or rather, both. As much force as I push the water back with, it pushes me forward with a force of identical magnitude. And when we practice our starts over and over again in practice, we are working on the most effective way to push the block backward with both our fingers and our toes (basically whatever is touching the block). The more we push the block backward, the more we go forward. A good flat-start (a start from the buzzer, not a relay take-off) is below 0.70 second. In fact, anything above about 0.65 second is considered a slow start. So in the half-second-or-less that we are on the block after the buzzer sounds, we are giving everything we've got into pushing the block as far behind us as we can, thus pushing ourselves forward at an incredible speed. As hard as we shove the block back, it shoves us forward.
Sectional Finals is on Friday at 5pm at the WAC!! (Webster Aquatics Center). Come support swimmers and experience this truly unique and exciting sport. That would be awesome!
Something that has fascinated me for as long as I have known about them: BLACK HOLES. I don't get it. How can space-time be... nothing? How can something that was there suddenly no longer be there (and I don't mean Apparating, I mean the real deal). The fundamental explanation of a black hole is that an area of space-time that is trapped by gravity. Nothing can escape. Not even light. The "event horizon" is the region from which escape is impossible. Meaning, once you have entered the event horizon, you have passed the point of no return (cue Phantom of the Opera music). Black holes are supposedly created - according to the theory of general relativity - when a mass is compact enough to actually become a black hole by deforming space-time. It is trippy thinking about space-time.... Now add deformed space-time into the mix? Not only that, but also space-time that defies so many other laws and theories about the universe? It's as though space-time really isn't a linear progression of cause to effect, but rather - when viewed from a non-linear, non-progressive standpoint - a... big ball of... wibbly wobbly... timey wimey... stuff.
Don't even get me started on space-time wormholes.
Yes, yes, I am a Potterhead. I own and have read all the books (numerous times), I own and have watched all the movies (numerous times), I have been to Universal's The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, and I own the House scarves and a wand or two. However, bias aside, I would love to point out the real-world possibilities of Harry Potter being real.
Well, I mean, of course Harry Potter could be real. In fact, that is quite a common name, across the pond. Besides, why can't a black-haired boy of that name have tragically lost his parents in a freak double-murder (or, to muggles, an in-home explosion; or, to Mrs. Dursley, a car crash) and then been visited by a strange fellow while living with his unfortunate kin and then carted off to an extraordinary boarding school where he unlocked his own supreme potential? But you don't want to hear about all that. You want to hear about magic.
Believe me, I have done everything in my power to make my light turn on and off on its own. Or to summon my textbook without getting out of my chair. I have finally come to the conclusion that I am unable to perform magic, as was basically confirmed when I did not receive my invitation to Hogwarts on my 11th birthday .
But let us say that magic is real. Let's say that a 'swish and flick' and "Leviosa" not "Leviosaw" could make magic. Then we can ponder how a small puff of light could send somebody hurtling backwards through the air. Ever seen an explosion? You can seriously see a shockwave running away from the explosion, with the really powerful ones. Perhaps the force that knocks the victims back is an amplified shock wave, made greater than normal for the size of the puff by the emotion and effort that the wielder had put into the spell. Maybe (as Master Yoda has taught us) size matters not, and perhaps what we can see of the spell is not all there is to it. There is a chance that the light that we see is only what the human eye and mind can comprehend, and that really there is power from the spell directly striking the victim, or perhaps shooting off in all directions and it is the thoughts of the wielder that direct a bolt of the spell to the victim. Perhaps that is why some spells go wrong and hit the wrong person or people; maybe the wielder is not focused or not skilled enough.
If you do not see the connection to physics, then you are not reading hard enough. Besides, physics is everything, right?
I believe in learning on the job.
If you are a fan of How to Train your Dragon, then you read that line in a Scottish accent. Ah, Gobber. Gotta love Gobber.
As flawless as How to Train your Dragon is (even the second oneâ€¦ they made a perfect sequel to a perfect movie), the actual physics behind dragons is, well, not there. Having flying creatures the size of dragons is impossible. The reason birds can fly is because they have very lightweight skeletons and they have feathers that help them to glide and fly. Prehistoric fossils of birds follow this pattern. Dragons are commonly depicted as large, powerful, scaled beasts. Gobber even describes one species of dragon - The Gronckle - as having jaws powerful enough to crush boulders. The Green Death at the end of the movie fought my stomping with its huge legs and smashing with its massive tail and crushing with its deadly jaws. Although there is debate over whether this beast falls more into the "dinosaur" category than the "dragon" category, seeing as it has wings and is in a movie with Dragon in the title, we shall treat it as a dragon. We don't want it to feel left out. The skeleton of a beast that could smash and crush as many dragons are seen doing would have to be thick and strong and sturdy. The weight of such a skeleton would bring them down if they tried to fly. Also, most dragons are depicted as being scaled, not feathered. The wingÃ¨d creatures in How to Train your Dragon, Game of Thrones, Harry Potter, The Lord of the Rings, Skyrim - the list goes on - all have scales instead of feathers. Yes, leathery or scaly wings could allow for long-distance gliding. However, any attempt at flapping said wings would lead to undesirable results. Namely plummeting toward the scenic but rapidly enlarging landscape below.
Don't get me wrong. I am a huge supporter of the impossible. Because without the impossible, all we are left with is... physics. Which is pretty cool, but made a lot cooler when you get to write about how it applies to dragons versus a block on an inclined plane, as so many physics people have apparently fallen into the habit of doing.
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