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  1. Rachael- I also thought the idea behind the changing of G was very interesting and how by mastering the impact of the 5th dimension on them they could influence it, also how when they did it the earth itself probably would have fallen apart like the crust and inner core from the change in gravitation.   Nate- Wormholes really blow my mind just imagine what we could do with them if we had them mastered, obviously the hole negative energy thing is a problem though, I wonder if we will be able to learn enough about dark matter or energy to solve this conundrum 
  2. Yet another interesting point from Interstellar was the ending, which many of us have avoided because of the fact that a 5th dimension is very confusing indeed. Now obviously the movie took some creative freedom in this scene but the physics behind the 5th dimension was plausible even though it was a stretch. The idea was that Cooper was sent into the blackhole to be saved by the 5th dimensional beings using a tesseract of sorts. A tesseract is a 5th dimensional object, just as a cube is 3 dimensional or a square is 2 dimensional and so forth. The explanation for the object is that you "add" another dimension by adding on lines at 90 degrees. So from a point you add a line to get a line, then more to get a square, then again to get a tesseract. The only catch is that we cannot actually see a tesseract in its truest form in our 3, technically 4, dimensions, we can only see reflection of it. Just like if we draw a cube in 2 dimensions we can only see it's reflection, and you can't tell that the lines are added on perpendicularly. So in this 5th dimensional object they create a way to transport Cooper from his position inside Gargantua back to our galaxy while at the same time giving him the ability to view the 4th dimension (time) to save the earth. This point is also interesting since the idea used in the movie for the 5th dimension, is that the "bulk" as it is called is wrapped around our universe, this means that the 5th dimensional beings can then travel into ours using the tesseract, even a blackhole, and save Cooper, transporting him back to safety in our own solar system. There is ofcourse much more to this idea but this gives a good idea on the idea behind the 5th dimension in Interstellar. Included below is a picture of a tesseract (in our dimension).
  3. One thing that i found interesting in Interstellar was the point made by Anne Hathaway's character that Mann's planet had less a chance at harboring life because the black hole it closely orbited it prevented too many accidents to happen that would start life. In reading Kip Thorne's Physics of Interstellar he goes through the physics of why this statement is very wrong. The main point made by Thorne is that for something to be sucked into the black hole it has to be going right almost at it, otherwise the centrifugal force of say a passing comet would be strong enough to prevent it from being sucked in and instead would be placed in an orbit, just like Mann's planet, around the blackhole. The strong pull by the blackhole would pull many of such objects into the strange orbits like it did. These orbits are far from normal to our standards and are also more 3D in nature as they make almost spherical orbits such as shown below. This also leads to the point that when they are in orbit around Mann's planet, which they had to travel a long way to get to, an explosion sends them directly into the blackhole so much that they are in danger of being pulled all the way into it. This is because of the nature of black hole orbits, Dr. Thorne made an orbit for Mann's planet which at one point is far away from gargantua and then later travels very close to the blackhole so that an explosion could plausibly send them into the grasp of the black hole. A depiction is shown below.
  4. A Lunar Event you can't Miss!

    The moon does some strange things if you haven't noticed! And something very strange is happening this Saturday, April 4th! A so called, "Blood Moon", is to occur that will be the shortest of the century, these are very rare occurrences that are very interesting to examine. The blood moon occurs only when the sun, moon and earth are lined up perfectly with the earth in the middle. The earth as it lines up with the sun casts a large shadow which then envelopes the moon as it passes into the earths shadow. As it does this the moon becomes darker and eventually a reddish hue. The moon is turning red for a certain reason because the atmosphere of the earth filters out the blue light of the sun leaving only the red light to shine on the moon giving it it's signature red moon color. This blood moon occurrence happens to be a special one though, that is because usually a blood moon occurs twice a year, but when it occurs four times, like it will this year, it is known as a tetrad. So if a blood moon is when the moon is blood red, a blue moon is when the moon is blue right? Surprisingly no! A blue moon has nothing to do with the color of the moon unlike the blood moon. So what is a blue moon? Well it is a confusing tail. Originally the idea was traced to the "Maine Farmers's Almanac", which stated a blue moon was the third full moon in a season that contains four full moons instead of three which is a rare occurrence. But the idea was misinterpreted by another author who stated a blue moon is the second full moon in a month with two full moons, this was published and adopted as common knowledge. Now when you're friends start talking about the lunar cycles at the lunch table you can contribute useful information into the conversation. Enjoy your Saturday night which I'm sure you'll spend doing something other than watching the moon! Blue moon information from space.com Picture from toonpool.com
  5. Every night at 11 o'clock that not-so-trusted weather man or lady steps onto your screen wearing some type of unappealing weather motif article of clothing trying to convince you about just what is going to happen tomorrow in our little portion of the atmosphere. Now they could be using a crystal ball as far as we know until they bring up that BIG screen full of moving green blobs that mesmerizes us into believing whatever they say. What exactly is this weather map showing us though? For all we know it is showing the movement of buffalo herds over the plains of America. And also if it does show us "rain" as they say, how exactly does it do so? Well the buffalo herd idea was completely false, the radar detection actually is showing the precipitation as most people already know, the radar picks up the dense cloud forms that make up storms, and it can also show how dense these clouds are which often shows up as different colors on the green screen. But again how does this magical radar system work??? Well the answer is actually a simple idea. Radar stands for Radio Detection and Ranging, it was developed starting back in the 1940's and was originally used to detect enemy planes as well as submarines. Back then they used sound waves which were bounced into the air or water and if there was an object present then the waves would bounce back and show the plane or submarine. Weather radar is a tad more advanced than that now though, they use microwaves sent down from satellites to detect the cloud formations and show where and when the precipitation will go next. What is also very special about modern radar can scan up and down, called elevation scanning, as well as in a circle in all directions, known as azimuthal scanning. Combining these two types of advanced scanning can give a 3D picture of the giant green blobs which threaten outdoor birthday parties and picnics alike. So the next time you watch the weather-person goes across your screen at 11 pm, know that they are using highly advanced million dollar technology, to give you a forecast that will be right about 60% of the time. Picture from csindy.com
  6. Physics of being a Brace-Face

    The epitome of the awkward teen years is of course braces. Almost everyone in the world could use braces, my orthodontist assures me of this, since basically no one in the world has perfectly aligned teeth. The science of orthodontics though requires lots of applications of physics to get the job done! I myself went through the torture of braces for the last four years, beginning with a devilish instrument called a pendulum. Now a pendulum is not anything like a pendulum in a clock that swings back and forth other than the fact that if a pendulum was in your mouth it would probably hurt just as much. Besides that point though a pendulum is very unique in its form of torture. The pendulum is secured to the back teeth which are stationary so that it can slowwwwly push the other teeth and make the correct space to perfectly align the teeth. This is directly using physics principals as a net force is applied to the teeth so they are pushed into the correct position. The power of the pendulum is found in the metal structure itself which being secured to the back teeth cannot move meaning that it is a sort of spring applying force to the teeth. As if this torture was not enough, the pendulum is only the first of many long steps in the process of braces. The next step is the actual braces themselves. The metal braces consist of long metal wires which are affixed to the teeth, these wires are tightened VERY much so that they too have energy to apply forces on the teeth. They are continually tightened throughout the process on every visit so that they continue to straighten and realign the teeth. Picture from pixshark.com The best and probably FUNNEST (sarcasm) part of braces is most definitely the rubber bands that you are forced to wear 24/7. The rubber bands basically do the same thing that the others do applying force to the teeth so that they can be made looking perfect. This time though the energy that fixes the teeth is stored a tad differently with rubber bands being stretched obviously holding the energy. The bands have to be continually changed so that the energy is kept as high as possible and the most force applied at all times. This means moving teeth and an unhappy brace wearer. So next time you see someone with braces, say a short prayer for them that physics doesn't hurt them too much.
  7. When lighting strikes where do you run??? To the building with the giant metal pole shooting into the sky right? The answer is yes as counter-intuitive as it sounds, lightning rods have been around for hundreds of years to protect buildings that could otherwise be quickly destroyed by a severe strike. But just how does a all object we'd think to run away from protect us? The answer lies with one of the founding fathers. Ben Franklin, the genius inventor, ambassador and lover of so-called, "air baths" (sitting around naked), also developed the modern lightning rod. He developed the rods knowing two things: one, that his rod would prevent the buildup of energy in a structure preventing a lighting bolt from damaging it and two, that if lightning did somehow strike that the energy would be grounded before it could destroy whatever structure it was attached to. The first claim of Franklin's is proven today by real fact. That is that lightning bolts are prevented from damaging the structure because of the geometry of the rod. This happens because a pointed object cannot store much energy since it is long and pointed. This then "bleeds off" the energy stored in your house that is naturally present. it equalizes the energy present and prevents any energy buildup at all so that none of the ill-effects of lightning can take affect. But the other part of Franklins plan made sure that even if this first theory failed that crisis could still be avoided! His second idea was that in the case of a lightning strike the lightning would hit the tallest structure, which would be the large rod, the rods are connected to ground so that any buildup of charge can be immediately diverted into the ground instead of the structure. So the magic of lighting rods continues and protects the likes of churches, schools and homes alike! Thanks again Benny! Picture from uncyclopedia.wikia.com
  8. Stiletto's may seem like a strange shoe to examine after running athletic style shoes like running shoes or spikes, but the physics behind stiletto's is also very interesting. Stiletto's are so interesting because they put all the force of a standing person into a tiny area meaning an enormous amount of pressure! For example the average area of two stiletto's heel is about .01 meter squared, if you say the girl wearing the shoe is 120 pounds, (54.4 kg), she has a force of 533 Newton's on the ground. But since pressure is force divided by area she would have an average pressure of 53,000 Pascal's. This might seem like a lot but in comparison the same person wearing shoes with an area of .05 meters squared has an average pressure of 10,660 Pascal's. That is almost five times less than the stiletto heels! This shows that these shoes have immense pressure all going through just a tiny heel. Any shoe engineer would have to keep in mind the immense pressure that stiletto's are put through while designing their shoes. If they make the shoe out a material not strong enough they will have a lot of broken heels on their hands along with a lot of unhappy customers! So next time you put on your stiletto's remember the massive amount of pressure you have under the soles of your feet! Picture from shoe-tease.com
  9. Slip on a pair of running spikes and just like that you're running sub-four-minute-miles! Or so you wish. In reality though spikes can help a lot with runners who want to cut down on their time, spikes you physics to give an advantage to runners! That is why in this blog we will be examining the physics of running spikes. Everyone knows the simple idea of friction, and that the more of it the less you slip! So having rubber socks you would slide much less than if you were in just some cotton ones because the cotton ones will slip! The same thing goes for running shoes! When you apply force to the ground with your foot you propel yourself forward, but what can happen is that instead of propelling yourself forward if the friction isn't good enough your shoe can actually slip backwards! This means that some of your energy you were using to propel yourself forward is lost as you slip backwards! That is were spikes come in. Spikes, instead of relying on friction to propel you forward, use bearing to do so! This means that that they are instead pushing off of a very narrow point instead of large area such as the bottom of a shoe would provide. This in turn is much more effective since less surface area means less slipping is apt to occur. When less slipping occurs all the energy can be focused into simply propelling you forward, making you a much more efficient and quicker runner!!! So before attempting the one mile Olympic record, (3:46.91), make sure you get a great pair of spikes to propel you to the finish line! Image from dailymail.com.uk
  10. Nowadays people throw out HUGE amounts of money for running shoes, spikes and many other types of shoes, and they all have unique purposes for whatever it is you are doing! I decided to take a look at a number of shoes in a series of blog posts and examine just how these sports companies use physics to make their shoes the best technical shoes in the market! In this blog we will examine just the generic running shoe and what must be considered in making it. Any sort of running shoe you have to expect will be going through miles and miles wear and tear as the shoe wearer goes down roads, trails, treadmills and much much more. The biggest thing the shoe designers are thinking about is actually the impulse (PHYSICS TERM) that the shoe goes through when it strikes the ground each stride. So lets examine this more closely. Impulse by definition is the change in momentum of an object such as the impulse delivered by a bat to a baseball. The impulse delivered in each stride is very great for a shoe because every time a shoe strikes the ground it becomes motionless for a very small amount of time meaning the entire body wearing the shoes also does. Therefore when designing the shoes engineers have to create a shoe that will absorb this massive impulse over and over again. The padding that is added into the shoe provides just this so that not only the shoe survives constant use but also the foot that is wearing the shoe. Another thing to consider though with such a shoe is the weight. If you add too much padding then you risk creating a heavy shoe that might feel like landing on a pillow but also feels like lifting an anchor off the ground. This relates to the Newton's simple second law which says net force equals mass times acceleration, meaning a larger mass implies a larger required net force. Of course a larger net force makes for a slower runner which presents the problem to designers of padding versus weight. Hope you enjoyed this post next up spikes, speedy footwear or pointy sneaker of death?!
  11. Recently I was down at my grandfathers house and while I was there I helped my grandfather change out some lights, but these were halogen lights! After hearing my grandfather complain for some time about how there are too many different light bulbs now a days I got to thinking what makes halogen lights so darn special? I got to looking in on it to see how exactly halogen lights worked and found some interesting things. I found that both a regular light bulb and halogen light bulbs have a tungsten filament that burns at an extremely high temperature. The difference in the halogen lights though is that the tungsten burns at a much higher temperature that would melt the glass of a regular bulb. So the filament in a halogen light is encased in a quartz envelope, therefore it can continue to burn at extremely high temperatures. The other big difference in the halogen lights though is the gas inside the bulb, while a regular bulb usually has some kind of gas like argon or nitrogen, halogens have a gas from the halogen group, hence the name. The halogen gasses contain a special property that makes it so at very high temperatures they combine with the vaporized tungsten atoms and redeposit on the tungsten filament. This means they create an almost regenerating process that makes it so bulbs can last much longer and be much brighter. This comes at a cost since the bulb must be much hotter but overall the longevity of the bulb makes up for the heat loss. The simple light bulb has gotten more and more efficient over the years and even if my grandfather's not happy about it, engineers sure are. Picture from thehigheredcio.com
  12. I know that was a horrible pun, but in truth besides all those 3rd grade science experiments you did in elementary school static electricity can be extremely useful. I think the most interesting application of static electricity was its use in reducing carbon emission. You see large factories would use the basic idea of static electricity in their smokestacks to reduce pollution into the atmosphere. They do this in a pretty ingenious way, first they have an electrically charged metal grid that all the smoke and pollutants pass through. As they pass through the grid many of the small particles become electronically charged. When these particles go higher up the smokestack they then pass by charged collecting plates. The charged particles stick to the oppositely charged collecting plates and are then able to be gathered together and disposed of separately instead of having them be shot into the sky where they will wreak havoc on the environment. Another interesting application of static electricity is found in painting cars! What many painters will do is after preparing there car for painting they will charge their paint up with an electrical charge. Then when they spray the paint on the car it sticks better and also is more evenly distributed as the charges want to separate themselves in an even manner. In doing so the painter gives a finer, smoother finish on the car they are painting. So it seems that 3rd grade lesson is actually pretty important especially if you want to reduce carbon emission or paint a car! With that I will leave you off with a picture of a peer of mine who's cat went through static electricity.
  13. Physics Toaster

    You wake up in a haze in the morning and drowsily walk down the stairs take out some whole wheat bread and pop it into the toaster to be pleased by the sight of evenly browned toast in 45 to 90 seconds. What you didn't realize was physics was the reason your toast was made so well! It may sound silly but any normal toaster uses physics to make your morning snack. A toaster usually is made up of a simple circuit constituting of a power source, the plug in the wall, a giant resistor and a simple timer to make sure your bread isn't burnt! The resistor in your toaster is made up of an alloy because it provides a high resistance, the most commonly used is Nichrome, or Nickel combined with chromium. The Nichrome is wound in tight coils to increase its length and therefore resistance so that when a current is run through it the coils give off extreme heat which warms up your toast for you to consume with your favorite jam, jelly or simple butter. The idea is quite simple as we know the resistance of a length of wire is equal to the resistivity for metal (very high for chromium) times the length of the wire, which is made longer by coiling, divided by the cross sectional area, which is usually very thick for the chromium coils to create maximum heat. So next time you make your toast remember to thank your local physicist, you'd just be eating cold bread without them! Picture from picture.webspier.com
  14. That's a Gator!

    Day dreaming in class lead me to thinking about one day how I wanted to visit Australia, this logically led me to thinking of Crocodile Dundee, which then ofcourse led to crocodiles. And then with my physics mind I asked myself... just how bad is a gator bite??? Then I got to researching. I found some very impressive statistics on the subject, the first being that the force of a crocodile bite is as much as 22,000 Newtons!!! This compared to other biting animals such as a shark (3,600 N) gives you a picture of just how impressive this bite is. If you have absolutely no knowledge of sharks though maybe I can paint a better picture for you. A standard piano weighs about 800 lbs or 363 kg, so they would have a force of about 3,557 Newtons. SO the picture looks like this you can either have about 6 full size piano's fall on your leg or one gigantic crocodile just bite down once, the choice is yours my friends. This explains why those gator wrastlers have to use rubber bands from cars inner tubes to keep these gators under control. So basically folks avoid both piano's falling from the sky but even more so avoid alligators, unless of course there is seven piano's, then you're really in trouble. Picture from thecelebritypix.com
  15. I talked about in a previous blog post about the physics that goes into getting an effective and violent take down, but I realized I could apply even more of my physics knowledge to this specific case. Because I know I can find the momentum of a system of two wrestlers during a takedown!!!!!! How awesome. Lets start. The equation for momentum is of course p = mv, p being momentum, m being mass and v being velocity. I know mass pretty easily since we wrestle in weight classes, I am 170 pounds (77 kg) and so is my opponent! Now velocity is a little bit tricky, we can assume that my opponent is at 0 m/s since I have caught him completely off guard. For me I know that my shot takes about 6 feet (1.829 meters) and it takes about .79 seconds based on my official testing. Plugging in to some kinematic equations se know x = (1/2) (v final + v initial) t so solving for v final (v initial is 0) we get my final velocity as 4.63 m/s. So lets CALCULATE!!!! We start with our equation, m1v1 + m2v2 = v (m1+m2) We find my initial momentum to be 356.5 kg/(m/s), then solving for v final using conservation of momentum we find our final velocity with both bodies moving as 2.31 m/s. That is pretty fast for two big guys on a mat I think! I thought it was atleast pretty cool to use my physics skillz to figure out just exactly how fast and how much momentum is in a system of wrestlers! Hope you did too!