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  1. Pre-Launch Design Brief: Team Name: Ornefler LLP Available Funds: 36,875 Vehicle Name: Moon Man Vehicle Parts List and Cost: MK1 Command Pod - 600 MK16 Parachute - 422 S1 Kickback Solid Fuel Boosters (4) - 5,400 FL T800 Fuel Tanks (15) - 12,000 Aerodynamic Nose Cone (4) - 960 TT-38K Radial Decouplers (4) - 2,400 TR-18A Stack Decoupler - 400 FTX-2 External Fuel Ducts (4) - 600 LV-T45 Swivel - 600 Total: 23,282 Design Goals: This ship was meant to travel from Kerbin to Mun in a mainly straight path. With this in mind we placed lots of fuel in asparagus staging and the largest solid fuel boosters possible to exit the atmosphere. We also kept our rocket very light to increase the thrust to weight ratio. Launch Goal: We hope to achieve the Mun orbit achievement or at the very least figure out how far we have to angle in order to successfully intercept the Mun. Pilot Plan: The pilot must activate the solid fuel boosters and travel straight up until they run out. He will then use the liquid fuel boosters to stay at about 200 m/s within 70,000 m, then allow it to raise steadily to about 400 m/s during the space mission, then angle slowly and ride steady until he reaches Mun. Then microadjust to reach orbit, and return to Kerbin, all the while detaching all used fuel tanks. Post-Launch Report: Launch Time: 6 min 23 sec Team Members Present: Daniel O Play-by-Play: The rocket begins to ascend as the solid fuel boosters activate. It flies straight upwards until about 40,000. The solid fuel boosters detach and the liquid fuel activates. The liquid is kept minimal until the velocity slows to about 200 m/s, then keeps it constant at this value. It continues to fly straight up until about 70,000 when it angles slightly West and raises its liquid output. The rocket begins to slowly gain velocity until about 550 m/s when the liquid fuel ends. At this point we realized we would be reverting the flight due to its failure to reach Mun, so we detached the rest of the rocket and used the liquid fuel to propel ourselves into orbit around the star. Time-of-Flight: 10:38 Summary: We proved that we can reach Mun with our rocket, so long as we perform better on the actual flying. We also learned that the angle to reach Mun is greater than the one provided by Kerbin’s rotation. Thus we have to angle it farther West for next time. Opportunities / Learnings: The angle we needed for the launch and that our fuel tanks were enough to get us to Mun and hopefully back safely. Strategies / Project Timeline: On our next launch we intend to use the same rocket to actually reach Mun and orbit and return. All we have to do is perfect our flying. Milestone Awards Presented: N/A Available Funds: 36,875.
  2. Preflight Launch: Team Name: Ornefler LLP Available Funds: 30,350 Vehicle Name: Orbiter 1 Vehicle Parts List and Cost: Air Brake (2) - 2000 MK1 Inline - 800 MK16 Parachute - 850 Aerodynamic Nose Cone (3) - 720 TR-18A Decoupler - 1200 FL-T400 Fuel (5) - 2500 CR-7 Rapier Engine - 3000 Radial Decoupler (3) - 1800 Thumper Solid Fuel Engine (3) - 1275 Small Delta Wing (3) - 600 Thud Engines (3) - 1230 Total: 15,975 Design Goals: Our spacecraft was designed in order to reach stable orbit with one Kerbal inside, and then return to Earth in the Ocean. Thus, we had multiple stages of booster rockets and solid and liquid fuel engines to reach orbit. Then, we added small boosters to perfect the orbit, and a parachute and air brakes for landing. Launch Goal: We wanted to reach orbit, both manned and stable milestones. We demonstrated that with the correct arrangement of liquid and solid fuel, Kerbals can orbit their home planet for two days. Pilot Plan: The pilot has to keep the rocket straight with the solid fuel up until about 1,000 km. Then, he will angle the ship slightly, at maybe a 25 degree angle about, and head east to match the planet Kerbin's rotation. He will then shift to about 45 degree angle after the solid fuel has been used up, or close to. He will keep at this angle on the first liquid fuel engine, then switch to a steeper angle with the second liquid fuel engine, almost 90 degrees. Next he will use the mini thrusters to perfect the orbit and leave it, finally deploying the parachute as he lands. Illustrations: Post Flight Launch: Launch Time: 15 minutes Team Members Present: Daniel O, Leighton T Play-by-Play: The solid fuel boosters activate and the rocket is propelled in the sky near immediately. The craft begins to tilt as it leaves the heaviest part of the atmosphere, heading due east. It continues to angle as it reaches farther and farther into the sky. Eventually the solid fuel boosters detach and fall back to Kerbin, meanwhile the liquid fuel boosters activate and begin to maintain the craft's momentum at low output. As it runs to half fuel the output level is increased, and eventually the Rapier engine detaches as well. Now the ship pauses, aligning itself and waiting to fire. The second liquid fuel engines begin a slow burn, maintaining a medium output. As the ship angles more and more, the flight crew monitors the orbital path to ensure that they stay on track. Soon the liquid fuel engines are nearly used up, and the crew is well above the atmosphere at about 80,000 km. The liquid fuel detaches, and the ship is angled a perfect 90 degrees due east. The small external rocket boosters on the cockpit are all that's left to aim the ship, making minute puffs to create a stable orbit. After a few days in space without food or water, the pilot angles west and uses the last of the remaining fuel to counteract the ship's velocity and allow gravity to begin their descent. As they fall, they activate the air brakes to slow their velocity, and eventually end with the parachute safely landing them dead center in the ocean. may god help that pilot. Photographs: Time-of-Flight: 1:51:00 Summary: We achieved a stable, manned orbit. We struggled a bit with overheating as the rocket reentered the atmosphere, but we believe having more rockets to slow descent will greatly help reduce this threat. We also took a while to figure out how the airbrakes worked, so next time we'll actually use those to maximum efficiency. Opportunities / Learnings: Having lots of liquid fuel to angle and move in space is most important. Solid fuel is only good for sending a ship out of the atmosphere, after that, liquid fuel is most important by far. Small rockets for angling is also very important for space missions. Strategies / Project Timeline: Next we need to measure how much fuel it will take to reach Mun or Minmus. Then, the milestone of landing and orbiting those two bodies are our next goals in mind. Milestone Awards Presented: Achieving stable orbit - $10,000 Achieving stable manned orbit - $12,500 Available Funds: 30,350 + 10,000 + 12,500 - (cost of rocket) 15,975 - (penalties) 0 = 36,875
  3. Electrical Super Powers

    Lots of people have heard the word “superconductor.” But, not too many people really know what they are or how they’re made. A superconductor is an occurrence of exactly 0 internal resistance to electrical charges and the removal of interior magnetic fields, known as the Meissner Effect. During this change, all magnetic flux within the material is transferred to the outside, greatly multiplying the outside field. Super conductance was discovered in 1911 by Dutch physicist Heike Kamerlingh Onnes. And, it’s actually a phenomenon of quantum mechanics. Superconductors are made when a material is cooled to below that material’s critical temperature. And, they can break down once the magnetic field around them grows too great as well. There are currently two classes of superconductor based on how they break down. Type I superconductors abruptly stop conducting in this way if the field breaches a certain threshold value. Type II superconductors begin to accept magnetic flux back into the material above the threshold point, but retain their 0 resistivity. It is because of these quirky effects that superconductors cannot simply be seen as perfect, or ideal, conductors, but rather entirely separate phenomena. Scientists still study superconductors and their applications in depth today. In 1986 ceramic materials were shown to have very high critical temperatures, ones that were theoretically impossible, and were dubbed high-temperature superconductors. Nowadays superconductors are used in particle accelerators and mass spectrometers due to their incredible power as electromagnets. However, they have all kinds of fascinating circuitry and quantum mechanics applications. Feel free to investigate yourself, but for now, enjoy a video of a superconductor floating above a magnet, known as quantum levitation.
  4. Electricity in the Air

    We all know that insulators carry charges much better than conductors. This is because conductors have much freer electrons than insulators, allowing electrical currents to form. However, these two types of materials aren’t exclusive. In fact, one can rather easily turn an insulator into a conductor. This process is known as dielectric breakdown, and concerns a variable known as the dielectric strength of a material. The dielectric strength of a material is the constant maximum electric field that a pure form of that material can withstand before it breaks down. When a material breaks down, it now becomes a conductor. In today’s circuitry, engineers have to be careful they don’t exceed the dielectric strength of the insulators they are using, or else the circuit may be in serious danger of overheating or simply functioning incorrectly. Dielectric strength can also be altered. The factors which affect the strength are the thickness of the material sample, the temperature of the material, the humidity (for gases), and the frequency. For insulators, one can imagine, this strength is very high. However, it can be exceeded. Air has a strength of 3.0 MV/m, or 3,000,000 V/m. When an object’s strength is exceeded, it can often be seen with electrical sparks trailing off of it. Below I’ve included an example of power lines exceeding air’s dielectric strength. Very visible electricity can be seen arcing through the air. That’s definitely something you don’t want to mess with!
  5. Inductance

    Along with capacitors, inductors still make up a very important part of modern day circuitry. Often, the two are used in conjunction to great effect. Inductors usually consist of an electric current passing through a coil of wire. The coil may be in a circular or straight shape itself. The purpose of an inductor is to store voltage via a magnetic field in the coil, according to Faraday's Law of electromagnetic induction. Nowadays, inductors are often used to remove the mains hum of an AC current. This hum can vibrate the circuit, obstructing power lines, and can usually be easily heard, so the inductor coupled with a capacitor reduces the hum. Similarly, they can be used to reduce electromagnetic interference. EMI is the interference outside sources of electromagnetic power exert on a circuit, and can ruin a good circuit rather easily. Inductors help to negate this interference so that the electricity can pass normally and the circuit will function Inductors can also convert AC current to DC. Sadly, inductors are now being phased out due to their various side effects over extended use. However, one can't deny their important contribution to modern circuitry!
  6. AP Spheres

    In my last blog I talked about the three (up to five) types of civilization as labelled by the Kardashev Scale. I also said that type II civilizations can harness the full power of their star, with something called a Dyson Sphere. The Dyson Sphere is a theorized invention by Olaf Stapledon. The basic goal of the project is to someday completely harness the Sun’s energy output. This includes every single Joule of especially heat and light energy the fusion within the Sun’s core creates. Naturally, this concept would require a lot of hard work to complete. There are a few different versions of his idea though, so I’ll mention each one and explain. One idea is the Dyson Swarm. So, one plan is to make an enormous amount of solar powered satellites which would encircle the Sun in a large ring, like a circumference. They would circle the Sun, collecting energy and even slightly altering the light that reaches Earth. The energy collected by the satellites would then be wirelessly sent back to Earth for use. Another idea is the Dyson Bubble. This idea basically consists of several Dyson Swarm circumferences that sit in place around the Sun instead of orbiting. They would prevent the Sun from sucking them into its core with the outward pushing radiation pressure, or the force of small particles hitting the satellites. The final concept is an actual sphere all around the Sun, totally taking in all its energy. However, this idea has several theoretical problems, and Dyson himself denounced it as unfeasible. Maybe someday we’ll finally harness all that fusion energy, but most likely not for many centuries. Until then, I guess we’ll just have to rely on renewable energy and eventually our own fusion reactions.
  7. Not Relating to the Kardashians at All

    My last blog post mentioned the Fermi Paradox, that no evidence for extraterrestrial life exists despite plentiful chances. I talked about one proposed solution being a race of super aliens which control their galaxy. According to Nikolai Kardashev, Russian astrophysicist, this civilization would be classified as a Type III, the final form of existence. In 1964 he invented his Kardashev Scale for measuring a civilization's progress towards perfection. It currently has three different classifications, types one through three. The three types are organized based on how well they control their available energy sources. Type I civilizations can utilize and store the readily available energy from their nearby star. Humans are currently approaching a type I civilization, and are about a .724 on the scale. The main reason for this is that humans have only begun to access renewable energy in the past century, and we have yet to efficiently use fusion and antimatter towards energy production. Some suggest humans may reach type I statues in the next few centuries. Type II civilizations can harness the total potential energy of their nearby star, and even other solar systems' stars. One of the most popular current theories for reaching type II is the Dyson Sphere. This idea consists of many satellites which orbit a star nearby its surface, forming a shell totally encapsulating the star, which absorb and transmit back to Earth the entire energy output of the star. Its inventor Olaf Stapledon considered this idea a necessary and probable approach to the ever increasing energy demands of an expanding race of beings. Type III civilizations can harness the energy of their entire galaxy. To our current age, any type III aliens would seem like gods, or at least like Galactus. Type III species would use mainly the same processes as type II's, but on a much wider scale. And, theoretically, they would also be able to access the power of the supermassive black holes thought to exist at the center of all galaxies, as well as gamma ray bursts, quasars, and white holes. Since his initial proposal, other scientists have added on to Kardashev's idea, even adding types IV and V. Others have creates subtypes based on how well the aliens can use the power, or what they can accomplish genetically. As for, type IV's, they can harness their entire universe's energy, and even the mysterious dark energy. Type V's can even harness the power of multiple universes, stretching into the multiverse. It seems the sky's the limit for this idea, and personally I don't mind it either. What if there is some super-race of aliens out there somewhere, bending the laws of space time? I think it'd be pretty sweet. Maybe I'll invent my own types. Type VI: the aliens can control the multiverse even after the universes die out or Big Crunch to death. Type VII: the aliens are the corporate bosses of other type VI's. I could go on!
  8. Big, Empty Space

    Something that baffles scientists today is a strange situation called the Fermi Paradox, named after Italian physicist Enrico Fermi. The basic conundrum is that there's an incredibly high probability that alien life forms not only exist in the universe, but nearby Earth. The reason for this statement is the radically large number of solar systems in our galaxy alone. With so many stars in the observable universe, billions are similar to our Sun. The likelihood that many of these stars have Earth-like planets is therefore quite high. Assuming Earth is a typical planet, intelligent life must have developed on many of these planets. Our planet has existed for about 4.5 billion years in a 14 billion year old universe, so there should have been plenty of time for countless organic lifeforms to develop space travel and begin exploring our galaxy, since humans have come thus far in only 200,000 years. Finally, with rough estimates based on current hypothesis for interstellar travel (which may in fact be very slow and inefficient) the Milky Way Galaxy could be traversed in only about a million years, and totally colonized in about two million. So, scientists wonder, where are all the aliens? Why, if life in our galaxy has had so many chances to exist, do we have such little evidence of extraterrestrials? Well, there are several different hypotheses. One idea concerns filters. This idea states that life has many difficult to pass barriers which make its existence incredibly difficult. We've passed some already, such as the still undiscovered process through which life originates, mutually assured destruction, and extinction events. Perhaps the universe was actually incredibly hostile and dangerous for any life until only recently, making humans some of the first ever. And, there are great filters in our future as well, such as irreversible climate change. Maybe there's some impassible filter we don't know of, and won't for a long time, that no life form has yet to defeat. Plenty of people have already assumed that nuclear bombs and the Large Hadron Collider would destroy the Earth, maybe someday they'll be right. There's also the idea that other life forms are preventing this interaction. Maybe some incredibly advanced life form from far away has advanced enough that they can control the entire galaxy, and they don't want other life forms to advance to the point where they pose a threat. Maybe they physically prevent interaction in order to stop the spread of ideas, and prevent any further development. Or, perhaps they act as a filter themselves, and annihilate and race that begins to get too far. Or, maybe we're actually just alone. We could be the first life ever to exist, the only, and the last once we eventually kick the bucket. Any way it works out, scientists still don't really have an answer to the Fermi Paradox, and with good reason. This question is a very confusing, scary, and difficult one to answer. So, for now, all we know is that either there's no evidence of life on Earth, or the government took it.
  9. The Capacity of Capacitors

    In my high school physics class, we've been talking a lot about circuits of late. And, in such a discussion who can forget capacitors? Most people know that capacitors are usually created by separating to conducting plates by a small dielectric. They store electrical charges and in doing so store electrical energy through a temporary electric field. That's all fine and good, but where is this invention used in the real world and for what purpose? Well, one basic use is the storage of energy. Some devices are much easier to use if they can keep charged while their battery is replaced or fixed. Usually this appears when devices need to keep their memory files when no longer connected to a power source. Or, capacitors can be used to make UPS's, or Uninterruptible Power Supplies. These devices maintain voltage to a device when the normal electricity source is obstructed, usually so that nothing is lost or damaged before a backup generator turns on. Capacitors can also be used to smooth out DC currents. This can include signals traveling to audio devices, in which the capacitor resists any extra electrical power. They can even separate AC and DC currents, since AC passes through unchanged while DC current is absorbed to charge the capacitor. They are also often used to start up motors. Since starting an electrical motor is always much harder than running one, sometimes capacitors can be used to deliver a kick start. This can often be seen in hair dryers and vacuum cleaners. There are plenty of uses for your friendly neighborhood capacitor! Thank Farad they were invented and perfected over the years! --Notice: do NOT mess with capacitors. Because they release large amounts of charge in small amounts of time they are VERY DANGEROUS. Vacuum cleaners often feature capacitors which are more than large enough to kill a human being. Stay away and respect the power of electricity--
  10. The Weirdest Wave You Know P.3

    So, an interferometer is the instrument used to measure gravitational waves. But, how do they do it? Well, the interferometer is an ingenious invention created by Albert Michelson back in the 1880s. The concept is actually quite simple too. The design starts with a concentrated laser beam, like any good invention. Next, the laser beam hits a beam-splitting mirror at a 45 degree angle. Thus, half the beam travels straight through the mirror, and the other half is deflected at a 90 degree angle. Each beam separately travels down several mile long corridors to hit a solid mirror, and bounce directly back. Once the beams again meet up at the beam-splitting mirror they collide in perfectly opposite tandem, crests meet troughs, and the two laser halves destroy each other. Wait... so then how does it measure a gravitational wave? Well, don't forget, these waves actually bend space-time. And, they do it cyclically, with one direction stretching while the other shrinks, and then swapping. So, when they meet the interferometer, they actually elongate one of the corridors, while shrinking the other. This shifts the laser out of phase, and the two halves no longer cancel perfectly. Thus, the now undistorted laser recombines in the beam-splitting mirror and continue on to hit a photosensitive device. However, gravitational waves oscillate, so the end result actually comes up as a strobe light. Scientists then take this flashing light in as data with a computer, and transfer it into sound waves to be more easily understood. After all that work, one of the most powerful events in the universe is finally reduced to a small beep. It is exactly this beep which scientists at the Advanced LIGO observatory heard on September 14, 2015 at 5:51 am. Now, even more observatories are being put up all over the world in order to gain more accurate readings of these outlandish events. The soonest completed may be a new LIGO in India, and with this new observatory there will certainly be more gravitational wave sightings to come. With any luck, this outstanding discovery will lead to some excellent quantum mechanics and origin of the universe realizations.
  11. The Weirdest Wave You Know P.2

    So, now that you know what gravitational waves are, where do they come from? Well, they are generated from some of the most energetic processes in the known universe. This includes supernovas (like the Big Bang), neutron star collisions, Black Hole mergers, etc. In actuality, gravitational waves can occur any time masses accelerate in non-symmetrical motion. However, the only detectible sources are the ones listed above. Even these events are often incredibly difficult to detect, since the waves diminish to near unnoticeable levels by the time they reach Earth (thank goodness too, remember that head and arms thing from the last post? uugh). Though, gravitational waves themselves can actually have amplitudes larger than the universe. Gravitational waves were first proposed by Albert Einstein in 1916 as part of his theory of relativity. So, I guess it only took us a century to match his intellect, high five! Anyway, they also refute one of Newton's assertions in the Newtonian theory of gravitation, since Newton postulated that physical interactions propagate at infinite speeds. In reality, gravitational waves only travel at the speed of light, which isn't even as fast as some kids drive to school in the morning. But, what's really interesting about gravitational waves is that they actually tell a lot about the events from which they occurred. For example, the waves first detected were from the merging of two black holes. With multiple interferometers - the instruments used to measure gravitational waves - you can even triangulate the position the waves originated from. Scientists are currently hoping to use information gleaned from the study of gravitational waves in order to gain insight into the Big Bang and the ever elusive dark matter. Though, like i mentioned earlier, they're incredibly small by the time they reach Earth. So minute in fact, that Einstein thought that humanity would never be able to measure one. Einstein: 1, U.S.: 1. Thankfully, we have a really cool instrument for measuring them. Check in for part 3 to get the full scoop!
  12. The Weirdest Wave You Know P.1

    There's been a good deal of hype surrounding gravitational waves recently. It's been all over the news, and has something to do with Einstein as far as we know. Wondering what it all means? Well wonder no more, I'm here to deliver the abridged version of what you need to know! For dummies. So, what is a gravitational wave? Well, it's a wave that propagates through space-time itself. Remember how space and time are actually one thing, like a quilt over the universe? Well, gravitational waves travel along that plane, stretching and shrinking space itself. And, it acts upon space-time in perpendicular directions, kind of like an electromagnetic wave. In short, it's a transverse wave (think of a sine wave) that acts in two different directions, the horizontal and the vertical. Now, that may still be confusing, so imagine this. You're standing at the end of a long square hallway with lights all along it. A gravitational wave starts at the other end, traveling toward you, and means business. As it approaches you, you would see the walls and ceiling of the hallway bending in and then puffing out rhythmically. As the walls puff out like they're being pushed in the center, the ceiling and floor get sucked in towards the center of the cross sectional hallway like someone pulled in the middle. Then, the two pairs of sides switch, and the ceiling/floor puffs out while the walls get sucked in. It travels closer and closer towards you, pushing and pulling in time, until it reaches you. At this point it crushes your arms into your torso, rips your head and legs off, then switches and stuffs the top and bottom back on like a hastily saved muffin and pulls your fingers off. Rude. But, that doesn't mean gravitational waves aren't cool! Check out part two for some more in-depth understanding now that you know what gravitational waves look and feel like!
  13. All physics students ought to know about the photoelectric effect. In fact, heck, all people should know about the photoelectric effect. It's incredibly important to our world. Here's a short summary. Scientists discovered that many metals actually release electrons when light is shone upon them. Some thought that this meant that the light was simply accelerating or energizing the electrons until they jumped out of the metal. However, upon further testing and changing of the intensity of the light, this was proven untrue. This is incredibly important because it means that light is actually made up of little particles called photons that are striking the electrons in the metal and knocking them out. This idea forms half of the basis for the wave-particle duality of light which has opened up so many quantum mechanics questions. So, we know that. But, do you know how we use this effect today? Let's see! Night vision goggles use this technology. Photons hitting the goggles strike a metal screen, emitting electrons which then can be accelerated by an electric field. They are then sent to a phosphorous screen where their increased speed shows up brightly. Thus, weak light and radiation outside the visible spectrum can be enhanced to be used for seeing in the dark. This process is used for photomultipliers, though they don't emit any radiation initially. The original video capturing devices used it to dissect images. Light hits the photocathode inside the device, sending electrons which are detected and whittled down to only the desired section of the image, which is then deflected to a display device like a cathode ray tube to be viewed. These following aren't uses, but they're still cool! The dust on the moon is actually electrically charged by the sun's light, and levitates above the surface. Spacecrafts facing the sun develop unbalanced charges from its light, which can threaten delicate instruments. Electroscopes can't be used to test for static electricity if exposed to too intense light. In the end, the photoelectric effect is a really cool way to transform light data into electrical, which can then be controlled magnetically as well, opening up the possibilities for the study and usage of light. How cool is that!
  14. The Shortest One There Is

    Did you know there's actually a shortest possible length in the universe? At least there is supposedly, scientists believe we'll never be able to create any sort of measuring or analyzing device short enough to view it. It's called a Planck length and it equals 1.61619997E-35 m. It's derived from Planck's constant (you know, E=hf), the gravitational constant, and the speed of light. One cool way to think about it is this: imagine a .1 mm dot, about the smallest length the naked human eye can see. Now, turn that dot into a universe of its own. Inside that universe, a Planck length would be another .1 mm dot. Pretty cool right? This means that a .1 mm dot is almost exactly half way between the observable universe and a Planck length. Some scientists believe that a Planck length is the exact length at which spacetime becomes dominated by the laws of quantum mechanics, and thus any length less than it would be impossible to determine. Others also believe that it's related to the size a black hole enlarges each time it takes in matter. Though currently scientists can't really do anything at all with this information, it's still pretty cool to know that there is a rock bottom to feeling small. :'C
  15. E and M and Everything Else

    The electromagnetic spectrum is the range of electromagnetic radiation frequencies in the universe, which includes radio waves, x-rays, all kinds of light, gamma rays, etc. The reason the Em spectrum is segregated as such is because of its common interaction with matter. For example: gamma rays tend to create particle, anti-particle pairs when interacting with other matter, infrared rays tend to vibrate molecules in matter. This radiation is known to occur any time charged particles are accelerated, and create both electric and magnetic fields perpendicular to each other, hence the name. For a long time scientists believed there was no limit on this range, only a limit on what we could detect. So, is there a limit? Actually, yes. Scientists now surmise that the upper limit on the wavelength of EM radiation is the width of the universe itself. The lower limit, however, is a constant called a Planck length. This is the theoretic smallest length of anything possible in the universe, and is1.61619997 E -35 m. Most importantly, this radiation allows scientists to look where visible light could never go. X-rays are frequently used to scan patients for damage, and every scan the universe for new discoveries. We'd be pretty far behind in astronomy without this powerful stuff.