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  1. Pictures, as promised from the post above. We have shots of the ship in hangar, midflight, achieving the milestone, and safely landing.
  2. In working through the Magnetism unit, one really good question came to surface; Is it possible to have a magnet with only one pole? What would it mean to have a monopole after all? Monopoles are essentially a theoretical particle, an isolated magnet with only one magnetic pole. This would mean that the particle would have a net magnetic charge. What would that mean in simple terms? The notion that the magnetic field has zero divergence would be proven wrong; in fact, magnetic particles would most likely behave even more similarly to electric particles, in that not only would magnetic particles have two opposing charges, but, in the same manner negatively and positively charged particles exist, north and south pole magnetic particles would also exist; the "south pole magnets" and "north pole magnets" would not have to cancel out, a rule already accepted in physics today. What do you guys think? What would the discovery of a monopole (if one exists) mean for what we already understand about electromagnetism?
  3. Most of us have seen the impressive moves, martial arts techniques translated into exceptionally executed dance routines, testing the possibilities of the anatomy and mind. What is it exactly that impresses us so much about Breakdancing? How exactly is it humanly possible to maintain spins or perform moves like these? Well Physics of course. More specifically, the use of rotational inertia and careful precision to maintain a constant velocity for a time. The physics of breakdancing moves, such as the whirlwind, coffee grinder, 2000 handspin, and flare, is very similar to the physics in maintaining a hula-hoop. The hooper, or in our case the b-boy, before getting into technical procedures must first be able to initiate enough force to create rotational inertia, giving them time to complicate the moves and impress the crowd. With the flare, for example, a move in which the dancer rotates the legs and waist around while holding his or her own weight with the arms, the dancer must be able to balance his center of mass with his arms and torso while rotating his body to perform the trick, lifting each arm as the lower body sweeps around. Once the dancer masters initiating rotational inertia and balancing the center of mass, they can perform a wide variety of tricks and moves.
  4. Researchers at The University of Buffalo and Harvard University are now studying the movements of Stingrays, and how their movements can be replicated to produce more fuel efficient and agile unmanned underwater vehicles. Innovations of this magnitude would allow marine biologists and other scientists a chance to better study the depths of the ocean, and creatures living the depths we haven't explored thus far. Unmanned underwater vehicles of this nature could also assist crews in cleaning as well as rescue efforts beyond the shore. Why the stingray? While other fish have a typical system of swimming, in that most wag their tails to swim forward and guide underwater, stingrays have a unique way of swimming, "like a flag in the wind," as quoted in the Phys.org article, "Stingray Movement Could Inspire the Next Generation of Submarines". The researchers used fluid dynamics to map the flow of water and vortices around live stingrays while in motion. It is believed this is the first time the leading-edge vortex, the vortex at the front of a moving object, has been studied in underwater movement. It has been observed in the flight of birds and insects, and remains an important component of thrust in insect flight. The observed vortices on the waves of the stingray's body cause favorable pressure fields which push the ray forward (low pressure in the front and high pressure on the back act as thrust for the stingray). Understanding vortices and their effect on movement in air and water can potentially lead to greater innovations down the road for cars, planes, and submarines.
  5. Every 11 Years, the Sun's magnetic field reverses polarity, an event whose effects reach throughout the solar system, and is closely being monitored by solar physicists. While the internal mechanisms that drive the polarity shift are not entirely understood, scientists at Stanford's Solar Observatory have observed the Sun's magnetic field closely since the 1970's and can identify the initiation of the shift as it occurs on the surface of the Sun. This will be the fourth polarity shift the observatory has monitored. Where does it come from? Well, new polarity, or the development of magnetic charge, builds up throughout the 11 year cycle as sunspots, cooler areas of the surface in which there is intense magnetic activity. These sunspots appear as dark spots near the equator of the Sun's surface; over the course of a month, the sunspot spreads and causes the magnetic field to migrate from the equator to one of the poles of the sun. As the magnetic field moves towards the pole, it erodes the existing opposite polarity, until the field reduces towards zero and rebounds with the opposite polarity. The process repetitively occurs with the sunspots until a full shift of polarity happens. Not only is the activity noticeable by the increase in sunspots, but also a surge in solar activity, such as solar flares and emissions. These changes can interact with Earth's magnetic field, as well as extend beyond NASA's Voyager probes which remain near the edge of interstellar space. So we'll be watching closely as the poles switch.
  6. For years, physicists and scientists have worked at this problem, a solution to the limited resources of energy we have; So just how close have we come to bringing fusion to Earth? Well, researchers at the National Ignition Facility (NIF) have been collaborating with the Department of Energy's Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory on the project, and believe that while there is at least one (if not potentially a few) significant obstacle to achieving controlled fusion, they have overcome many of the challenges since experimentation began in 2010, bringing their efforts evermore closer to achieving their goal. To reach ignition, or the point at which the fusion reaction produces more energy than is used to initiate the reaction, the Facility focuses 192 laser beams, pulsating every billionth of a second, simultaneously inside a cryogenically cooled hohlraum (German word for "Hollow Room") a hollow cylinder the size of a pencil, which carries a capsule containing two hydrogen isotopes. The lasers deliver 1.8 megajoules (MJ) of energy and 500 terawatts (TW) of power, which is, according to phys.org, "1000 more times than the United States uses at any one moment." This energy and power then implodes the capsule to temperatures and pressures similar to those at the core of the sun (hence the experiment has been likened to 'generating a miniature star on Earth') How long do you think it will take to stabilize fusion here on Earth? Comments and questions below!
  7. Back in 2011, there was much debate over test results that placed Neutrinos as the only particle to pass the speed of light, something thought impossible by scientists and researchers. In September of 2011, a team of particle physicists detected neutrinos moving faster than the speed of light as they traveled from CERN to the Gran Sasso Lab. The particles were said to have beaten the speed of light by 60 nanoseconds, a result that held true even with thousands of repetitions of the process. The findings contradict a century's worth of physics and, as said in Wired UK's article, "It's Official: Neutrinos Can't Beat Speed of Light": "The results... would overturn Einstein's special Theory of Relativity if true." The CERN laboratory wanted to ensure this was true, and called for more tests and experiments to assess the findings. In all four experiments held to evaluate the assessments, the Neutrino placed below the speed of light, confirming the less exciting, but more believable truth that the technology used to measure them originally was faulty to begin with. It was announced that the error was "attributed to a faulty element of the experiment's fiber-optic timing system." What do you guys think? Could there possibly be a particle to surpass the speed of light, or will the dubbed "cosmic speed limit" hold? Comments and questions below.
  8. So I've covered most of the general dynamics of the SR-71, from the engines and hybrid combustion systems to the air frame itself, and exterior structure. What more is there to cover? The potential development of an even more potent plane, the SR-72, announced as the latest project by Lockheed. This conceptualized aircraft is an unmanned aircraft, capable of reaching Mach 6.0 speeds from standstill. The Airforce has envisioned using a similar air-breathing hypersonic propulsion system to the SR-71, with improvements to double it's speed. Aerojet Rocketdyne, the company merger between Aerojet and the SR-71 engine designer, Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne, is working on developing the system from the scramjet powered HTV-3X, an aircraft concept that was cancelled in 2008. The scramjet engine diagram (c.) in comparison to the ramjet (b.) and turbojet (a.) diagrams Scramjets, much like the ramjet system I detailed in Part I, rely on a high initial speed to compress and slow down the incoming air before entering the fuel combustion chamber. Unlike the ramjet system, which maintains internal air speeds at subsonic velocities, the Scramjet operates with supersonic internal air speeds, significantly increasing the performance. Theoretically, scramjets can reach top speeds between Mach 12 and Mach 24. A full-scale, optionally manned demonstrator is expected to be built in 2018. Tests for the design are expected to begin no later than 2023, with the final SR-72 model to arrive around the year 2030.
  9. So in my last post on the SR-71, I gave a general presentation on the dynamics of the engine, but what about the motherload herself? How could the frame sustain such high speeds? As it turns out, air resistance on the plane caused the exterior to reach very high temperatures, something, that if structured improperly, could mean the plane would burn up before it reached it's max speed. The plane was made of 85% titanium, and given the expense to build such specialized parts in this metal, Lockheed developed an alloy of titanium which softened at a lower temperature. Another obstacle Lockheed met in development was regarding the structure of the airplane. The planes made were each their own "individual model" so to speak, for the reason that the parts were so individually specific and difficult to make. The skin of the wings were corrugated (patterned linearly) instead of smooth, a feature which allowed the skin to expand vertically and horizontally. While one would think smooth skin would be better, perhaps lessening the effect of air resistance, the heat of flight would cause the aircraft's skin to split or curl. The fuselage (core frame) panels were designed to fit loosely while the plane was immobile. In order to align properly, the frame would have to be heated and expanded several inches. At the beginning of each mission, the plane would take a short lap after takeoff to heat the airframe, then refuel before heading off to the destination. As far as the design of the plane, later designs of the original aircraft included Chines, sharp edges leading aft from either side of the nose along the fuselage. They create additional lift and surprisingly improved the aerodynamic performance of the plane. The angle of incidence for the the delta wings could be reduced for greater stability and less air resistance at higher speeds. This allowed the plane to carry more weight, such as fuel. The only problem was in reaching high angles of attack: the chines created turbulent flow over the wings at high angles of attack, meaning the plane could not stall; what would happen instead is the plane, reaching it's maximum angle of attack, would invert and dive straight towards the ground, a reaction that could not be recovered. This is all I have on the SR-71, please feel free to comment on either post and ask questions or give some feedback on the information!
  10. Hi Guys, this is one of a few blog posts I will be doing on the physics of the Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird, one of the greatest aircraft designed in the world. The SR-71, fashioned in different types during it's commissioning, was a spy plane which succeeded the Lockheed U-2, and by all standards, it's capabilities as well. The SR-71 holds altitude and speed records, flying a max 85,069 feet above the earth's surface, and reaching speeds of Mach 3.3 (2,193.2 mph). It achieved these altitudes and speeds without the use of a rocket engine, quite unparalleled at the time. The engine, a Pratt & Whitney J58, was a jet engine considerably more powerful than others of the time, able to produce a static thrust of 32,500 lbf (pound force), equal to 144,567.2 N (newtons). It was a hybrid between the turbojet and a ramjet, incorporating a much more potent version of the common fanjet (widely used by different kinds of planes, from small jets to commercial aircraft) and the ramjet, an engine which compressed air without a rotary compressor but otherwise operated similarly. The combination of the two allowed the engine to fly at speeds up to Mach 3.3, starting at slower speeds by compressing the air into a chamber where the fuel combustion would take place and power the engine mostly. Once the plane hit higher speeds, the turbojet provided less and less thrust. The power would instead come from compressed air entering the shock cones and put in fuel combustion chamber, where additional fuel would be injected into the chamber, a mechanism also known as afterburner. This system was inefficient for most planes, and therefore used for only short periods of time; however, the SR-71 sustained most of it's high altitude, high speed operations in afterburner, simply because of the unique hybrid system the engine operated under. Obviously, I haven't mentioned one key component: how was the engine able to sustain itself at such high levels of fuel combustion, speeds? As seen in the diagram, the shock cones used to power the ramjet-style system was also used as a mechanism of cooling the engine; essentially, the cones channeled the air through the engine at subsonic speeds (below Mach 1) allowing the engine to operate as if it were below the speed of sound. This prevented shockwaves from entering the engine and causing the engine to malfunction, overheat, or break down do to the excess of pressure in the system. The same air used to power the plane was also used to "trick" the engine into working, so to speak!
  11. Given the technology of the time and the lack of funding, attempts at re-adapting or recreating this model were abandoned; I wouldn't be surprised, however, if a new idea presented came out to be a success, because we most certainly have the know-how to make one of these work more efficiently.
  12. Try to picture this: We've began a war in Vietnam, and our top Weapons experts and engineers are working around the clock to create faster, stronger, more lightweight weapons that worked efficiently at accomplishing it's task. In the midst of this, the Gyrojet, a pistol named for its method of gyroscopically stabilizing it's projectiles, as opposed to the standard method of aerodynamics guns and pistols use to stabilize the bullet. This weapon was specifically unique because, instead of inert bullets, the Gyrojet fired 13mm rockets or explosive rounds, called Microjets. The velocity of the projectiles leaving the weapon were very low; however, the rocket could reach maximum speeds of up to 1,250 feet per second (380 m/s). The idea of such a powerful weapon intrigued experts at first, but there were a number of flaws with this design. Because the projectile began trajectory at an extremely low velocity, accuracy proved to be very poor, having a group measuring on the target board of 12", at only a distance of 26 yards from the target board. Originally the rounds had a pointer design (Bottom), but were redesigned with the wadcutter design (Top) in an attempt to decrease spiraling. This did little, however, in resolving the problem; because these rounds were designed differently, they were made with exhaust openings in the back of the cartridge to decrease the recoil on the pistol. Due to the poor manufacturing of the rounds, the exhausts were inaccurately measured, causing the bullets to lose their accuracy. The manufacturers attempted to solve this problem by sealing one of the exhausts, but this caused the bullet to whirl upon exiting the weapon. Even as the figures were projected to be poor, users of the weapon found even worse statistics, accuracy and efficiency.
  13. Might I say, a work of art! How long did it take to finalize the systems of the Carrier, allowing it to land planes and launch them at such a short distance for takeoff?
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