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Blog Entries posted by gdaunton

  1. gdaunton
    What's this? New AP-C students?

    Welp a new dawn has... dawned and I have made the short stroll of 18 miles to RIT. So what has changed? Not much.

    Right now you AP-C'ers are taking, I assume, mostly college level courses and believe it or not they are actual college level classes, like no joke. With Calculus, Physics and other classes I was (and you are) taking the equivalent of a Freshman year in college. If it sounds intimidating its because it is, taking that big of a step a year early is very tough and will, at points, seem like the worst decision of your life.

    Don't get me wrong senior year is lots of fun, but remember, if a class like Calc or Physics is getting you down, hold on. At some point or another you will have to realize that not all knowledge is easy to learn and high school is the best place for that. Mr. Fullerton is amazing and he, unlike a college professor, will help you through every step if he needs to.

    Enjoy yourself and
    make it a great year!

    Oh yeah, READ THE TEXTBOOK (I have to pay for mine, use it while it's free)

    Have fun and stay classy,
  2. gdaunton
    That strange light on the martian surface that the curiosity rover captured and I talked about here has been explained.
    The supposed UFO, martian confirming, NASA is hiding things from us, light has been dismissed by NASA in a recent statement as a cosmic-ray. "These [lights] can be caused by cosmic-ray hits or sunlight glinting from rock surfaces, as the most likely explanations." explained the government pawns at NASA.
    Cosmic-ray or not why did this make so much news? Why did I write about this? Hell even National Geographic took to the conspiracy (nobody wrote about it). Slow news day I guess.
  3. gdaunton
    A new study suggests that procrastination may not be behavioral, and perhaps be determined by genes.
    The Study ties impulsiveness to procrastination as procrastination, in most cases, is the impulse to put off mundane tasks in favor of more pleasurable ones. I could think of someone that fits that description.
    I can't say that I'm not a procrastinator, however I tend not to be that impulsive, however I do like to put off mundane tasks for better ones. But can you blame me, who wouldn't rather be reading my blog post instead of doing work?
    No one.
  4. gdaunton
    NASA's next mission might be their coolest yet.
    What could top landing on the moon, curiosity and voyager?
    Landing on an asteroid.
    NASA's next mission is to survey and map 1999 RQ36 or Bennu, collect samples, and then return to earth in 2018. They want to collect said samples to analyze the content of the asteroid to see if asteroids could have had a hand in creating life on Earth. The mission should kick off in September of 2016 and will be the first to involve landing on an asteroid.
  5. gdaunton
    So as you all know by the head lines and angry tree huggers, our use of fossil fuels is going to cause climate change and we are all going to die in a grand and spectacular apocalypse. A recent study only cements our impending doom, the study analyzed the effect of the melting permafrost up in the great north and the news is not good. It seems that as the permafrost melts it releases a lot of methane which is much worse of a greenhouse gas than carbon-dioxide. Because of the melting the ratio of carbon dioxide (CO2) to methane (CH4) could change from 10:1 to up to 1:1 which could accelerate climate change a butt load (get it methane and butts). So stock up on your guns, gas, water and food, the apocalypse is nearly on our door step.

  6. gdaunton
    Our solar system is very well cataloged. We know all the planets, their moons and almost all the meteors that reside in our solar system. However, once you get out side of our solar system we have a few planets, but no moons...until now. Recently the first Exomoon (exo meaning outside our solar system) has been found. The host Exoplanet in question is called MOA-2011-BLG-262 and is about the size of 4 Jupiter's with its supposed moon smaller than the Earth.

    All this "supposed" stuff is because the moon hasn't actually been seen, the only reason we think it is there is because of how the light from that region bends and distorts due to the gravitational pull of the planet. The process is called gravitational lensing and is what we use to find most exoplanets as most telescopes aren't powerful enough to actually see the planet.
  7. gdaunton
    The next processor is going to be very, very powerful.
    Current processors use a series of very very small electrical "switches" to dictate one of two possible states: closed or open, or in computer speak, a 1 or 0. The computer collects these various 1s and 0s puts them in order and interprets them. This basic raw computer language is called binary and is the driving process behind all computer functions. So the more switches in a processor, the more powerful it is.

    So why is the next processor going to be so much more powerful? Well just recently scientists have figured out how to make the transition from tiny wires to using single photons and atoms. That's right scientists have figured out how to use atoms to alter the state of a photon and vise-versa. So instead of nano meter sized switches we will have switches the size of an atom. Crazy.
  8. gdaunton
    Cars are complex machines. The run off of the oxidation and ignition of gasoline which drives several pistons attached to a drive shaft which spins the wheels. However a certain car made by a certain company named Tesla runs entirely differently. It runs off of batteries which power an electric motor which sends power to the wheels. However if this process doesn't involve violent explosions like a gas car does, how come a few Tesla's still catch fire?

    Well its all about what the batteries have inside of them. Consider this, you are driving you brand new Tesla down a country lane. Of course, with it being a Tesla, you are doing a steady 50-60 mph down that lovely country lane. Now imagine that you lose control of the car and smash into the curb on the side of the road. If you were in a gas car, no problem, you might have a ruined bumper, but you would soon be on your way. However in a Tesla, since the batteries are near the bottom of the car your tale might proceed a bit differently. When you hit the curb if something manages to get through the thick battery shield, (we are talking worse case scenario here) and punctures one of the large lithium-ion cell batteries and the fluid spills out of which contains pure lithium you might be in trouble. Because lithium is part of the alkaline metal family, if it becomes exposed to the water vapor in the air or on the road a violent reaction could occur which might include many small explosions and eventually a fire.

    Lithium-ion batteries are great and can hold immense amounts of charge, however it is also a small bomb if it overheats and ruptures. Fun Stuff.

    P. S. your phone uses a lithium-ion battery, food for thought

  9. gdaunton
    I saw a video recently that you all might enjoy. It shows what the moon would look like if it were a disco ball and orbiting at the height of the international space station. Check it out:

  10. gdaunton
    The future of intergalactic travel may be closer than you think. Although the process may be a few hundred years down the road, some scientists believe that the starship of the future could be powered by a black hole.

    As Newton's famous equation states all matter has a energy according to e = mc2. Currently the process in which we launch our rockets (burning tons of liquid and solid fuel to produce thrust) only yields under 1% of the energy that matter is capable of. This is where the black hole comes in.

    Black hole dissipate all the energy from the matter they consume as radiation. A very small black hole could be created and fed small bits of matter of which would create immense amounts of energy that could propel a ship to near light speeds.

    The future of space travel maybe a bit darker than we thought.
  11. gdaunton
    An image from the nav cam on the Curiosity rover on April 3rd reveals a bright light in the distance. A sign from extraterrestrials? a bright rock? people prepare your foil caps.

  12. gdaunton
    While a group of undergrads were learning to use a telescope from there professor at the University of London they spotted something amazing: a super nova. On Jan 21 the students' 10 minute lesson about telescopes turned into a rush to document this amazing occasion before the weather turned. The super nova happened in the sector M82 and is one of the closest of the super novas to our solar system.

  13. gdaunton
    Just recently on the dwarf planet called Ceres a atmosphere full of water vapor has been observed. This is the first planet in our solar system besides our own to have traces of water found on it. Ceres used to be the largest asteroid in our solar system but because of its size has been named as a dwarf planet. But before you make plans for your expedition to Ceres there's one problem, its in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter and its very very cold. Ceres' surface is covered in ice which, when heated, releases loads of water vapor into the planets atmosphere. If melted the ice could yield more fresh water than what we have on earth.
  14. gdaunton
    So as my last post on black holes has seemed to gain some traction I decided to do a follow up. After a bit of research I have found out that we are all living in a lie, as it turns out, (according to Hawking) black holes don't exist.

    So maybe that's not entirely true, Hawking goes on to site that the properties that have been associated with black holes may not be true. He says the fact that nothing can escape a black hole is not entirely true and that the event horizon might not actually exist. Until recently all black holes have been inescapable matter suckers, however, according to Hawking recent discoveries in quantum physics suggest that information can escape a black hole which destroys the existence of a black hole as we know it.

    This is great news for physicists as now black holes don't necessarily have a singularity at the center making the giant vacuum within the realm of our current understanding. Basically now black holes make mathematical sense and thus physics doesn't break when you go into one. Good news for physics bad news for anyone that likes the idea of an inescapable death.

    Want to learn a little more about the now classical approach to black holes? Take a look at my other post here
  15. gdaunton
    In keeping with the mars theme I found myself on the homepage of Mars One. Mars One is a privately funded expedition to mars that will transport 4 people to mars with no way back. The 15 year endeavor is currently looking for applicants from the general public to train until 2024 for the trip to mars. Anyone can apply and they are still accepting applications so if you ever wanted to be stranded on mars, now's the time. The launch of the first crew is set for 2024 along with a second crew in 2026.

    Want to apply? https://applicants.mars-one.com/
    More info: http://www.mars-one.com/

  16. gdaunton
    All this talk about mars is great but how are we going to get people to mars in a timely and efficient manor? Enter the plasma propelled rocket. Developed during the past 4 decades by Franklin Chang-Diaz, a former NASA astronaut and CEO of Ad Astra, the rocket could make it to mars in a blistering 39 days. The engine works by using radio waves to heat gasses to create plasma which then, using magnetic fields, is propelled out the back to create thrust. Because the large amount of thrust that this engine creates its fuel consumption is drastically smaller than a conventional booster.

    The company is also looking into ways to use this to create renewable energy.
    For more visit http://www.adastrarocket.com/
  17. gdaunton
    So I have recently been playing the original Bioshock. For those of you that don't know Bioshock is a game set in the underwater city of rapture. Set in the 1960's you play the main character Jack who has just been in a plane crash in the Atlantic just off of Iceland. After the crash you find a strange lighthouse in the middle of the ocean and swim to it. Then after getting into a pod inside the lighthouse you are brought to rapture.

    So how can a city exist on the bottom of the ocean?
    Well it turns out that there is some truth to the physics of this city. The many glass walkways in rapture could be made of Pyrex a type of glass that is used in subs and glass casserole dishes. So because of the shape and material of the glass walkways this part of rapture could be plausible, but what about the rest of the city? Well the stone and concrete that makes up the actual buildings in rapture would erode away very quickly causing the buildings to crumble. So although part of the city could be plausible.

    As it turns out other people have caught onto the thought of underwater living

    Dubai is set to have the worlds first full size underwater hotel and some other people in Fiji are not far behind...

  18. gdaunton
    Snow, like it or hate it snow is a big part of the current landscape here in upstate New York. Although snow may seem like a luxury to others in warmer climates, the reality is that snow, a part from its appearance, makes everyday tasks 10 times harder and driving is one of the most common examples. A normal 20 minute journey can be made into an hour long ordeal with just an inch of snow. During these winter months 225,000 car crashes happen because of snow, so how can I be safe while driving in the snow?

    Follow the signs. On every single exit there is a recommended speed for that turn which is determined by the radius of the turn.

    Its simple physics which can be manipulated to be with
    r = radius of the curve
    a = angle of the bank of the curve

    So stay safe and follow those road signs.
  19. gdaunton
    Next Car Game is an early access game that is in very early alpha, so what makes it so unique? The Physics Engine.
    This game is the first game to feature a soft body physics engine which makes it one of the best games to destroy things in.

    So what is a soft body physics engine?
    Most physics engines today don't deal too well with materials and how objects interact. Games like GTA do a relatively good job of recreating the effect of a car breaking down, but aren't able to reach a full soft body feel. The cars (as a reference) in games right now are modeled to fall apart in specific ways and most of the time don't accurately depict how the car would bend or break in the real world. But with a soft body physics engine each part has defined object properties like how resilient it is and whether it bends or breaks on impact. Then each object is put together so instead of having the car be the object the car is a group of objects just like it is in real life. This means that if the car is hit head on it bends in a different way if it was rear ended.

    Well all of this may be a bit confusing so instead of me explaining it, take a look at the engine in action.

  20. gdaunton
    Well its been a while since there has been any talk about the rovers on mars and they are still chugging along. The interesting thing about that is that one of the rovers, the opportunity rover, has just reached its ten year anniversary on the big red planet.

    The opportunity rover landed on mars on January 25, 2004 to carry out a 3 month exploration of the surface. Remarkably after 10 long years the rover is still able to move and collect data along with its big brother curiosity.

    Its amazing what we have discovered about mars in the short time that we have had on the planet. It will be even more amazing when we see the first astronauts walk on mars next to those rovers, but until then may opportunity and curiosity keep on rolling.
  21. gdaunton
    So by my time it is about 1 am on Monday night and I yet again find myself restless...
    Of course, my mind starts to wander.
    I have recently watched a TED talk by someone a few of you might know: Michael from the YouTube channel vsause (please excuse the most likely incorrect use of punctuation). Michael talks about why people ask questions and why people have been so interested in the questions he answers in his videos. This got me thinking, why do I want to learn about all this physics in the first place? For me mostly, I am interested in how the world around me works. So in turn I don't mind taking an extra physics course on top of what's required to pass high school. However I don't see the same enthusiasm from my peers, why?

    What it all comes down to is our instinct: if it doesn't matter to me, I don't care. But what made you read this blog post and perhaps one if my or anyone else's blog post? 9 times out of 10 it's the title that drags you in. Tachyons, the impossible particle; a catchy title that pulls you in, with the ultamite question why, what is it about this particle that makes it impossible. The truck is to slowly spoon feed you the answer you disire while trying to teach you something along the way (at least I try to).

    Well it's getting late and its really hard to type on this phone, so perhaps I'll continue this rant in another post. Sorry if this post didn't contain much physics.
    As always,

    P.S. I may retype this later if I read it and it doesn't make any sense.
  22. gdaunton
    So many a person may be thinking, "I know what normal wind is, but what is this solar wind crap?" Well you came to the right place.

    Solar wind is exactly what it sounds like, "wind" from light. Basically this phenomenon is based on the fact that the sun, or any other star, emits a stream of plasma that consists of electrons and protons traveling at very high speeds.

    Recently there has been talk about figuring out how to harness this energy to create a spaceship that can travel long distances without having to use any fuel. This would be great for long journeys because it has no moving parts and no propellant and therefore would be very durable.

    The only problem with this form of travel is that it is very slow. The pressure that the wind exerts is less than 1 newton per meter. However because its a space craft, if you get a large enough wing area and a long enough trip, the force created would accelerate the ship to a high speed but over a very long period of time.

    Based on this, a spacecraft powered by solar wind would be possible, but is not the best way to get to mars in a lifetime.

  23. gdaunton
    So the quantum world is a relatively new thing. This new world has only recently been discovered and it indeed very odd. This is because when you start to get down to individual atoms physics doesn't entirely hold up like its supposed to.

    The most known phenomenon that was discovered was the fact that electrons can act like both a wave and a particle. This was found during a famous experiment call the double slit experiment. In this experiment several electrons were sent through two slits and where they landed after they passed through the slits was measured. What was expected to happen is that the electron would act like the particle it was and create two lines. However when the electrons were shot through the two slits they created a interference pattern like a wave would. The even weirder part is that when the scientists looked to see what was happening at the slits to make the electron make this pattern, the electrons went back to acting like particles. Very strange...

    Latter on a physicist looked at this experiment and proposed that observing a particle in the middle of this experiment, after the electron had passed through the slit, would cause it to act like a particle. This would mean that by you observing the particle after it acted like a wave or particle would cause the particle to automatically act like a particle. So basically the conclusion of this experiment is that the present can influence the past.

    Of course we are only talking about tiny amounts of time, however scientists believe that this property could also apply to light that is bent around a gravitational well (the well acts like the slits in the experiments). So this could mean that viewing light from distant galaxy's could change something that happened thousands of years in the past.

    This is crazy...

  24. gdaunton
    Black holes, probably one of the first things many people think about when they think about space. But what is behind this matter sucker?

    All the black holes we know about are singularities that are created by a super nova. As a large star starts to run out of fuel to power the nuclear reactions that keep it alive, the gravity that holds the gas of the star together starts to tear the star apart. If the gravity that holds the star is strong enough, the fuel that is left in the core of the star heats up until a large explosion occurs called a super nova. After the explosion what is left of the star's core is very dense and has a substantial gravitational field. This field is so strong that it pulls everything around it toward it's self creating a funnel like effect.

    So what would happen if you were unfortunate enough to find yourself drifting into the pull of a black hole?
    Well you might still be able to escape, if the black hole is spinning, you could be ejected and launched into space, but lets say you are drifting towards a stagnate black hole. As you traveled closer and closer to the black hole time would seem to be passing slower and slower until you reached the event horizon, where time would totally stop.

    This is interesting because technically travelling into a black hole would be a way to live forever, if you see living as being forever trapped suspended just above the event horizon of a black hole. But this does pose a problem, what actually happens to you? Are you just eternally stuck there? There are, of course, many theories, however I would like to touch on the possibility that a black hole is actually a form of a worm hole.

    So a worm hole is what scientists call a hole in space and time; basically the scientific name for a time machine. The theory behind this is that because space is seen as bendable. Scientists think that space can have a hole created in it so that large distances can be traveled, or even perhaps time.

    Black holes seem like they could accomplish the same effect. Although we don't know if time actually reverses in a black hole, it seems possible. Think about this:

    If the high level of pull from the gravity of a black hole is enough to pull in light, wouldn't that mean that the mass of a black hole would have to be very large? So if as a black hole pulls in matter its mass increases, its mass would end up being very very close to infinity. If the mass of the black hole is close to infinity the gravitational force that it exerts is even closer to infinity. So, theoretically, the pull of gravity could pull an object very close if not over the speed of light which would cause time to travel backwards.

    I may be wrong (please correct me if I am), but black holes are a confusing subject that current physics may not even be able to explain. I'm just hoping I will never have to find out what happens if you come across one myself.

  25. gdaunton
    Almost everything in the universe has a physics principal that explains it. However a tachyon would destroy everything we know about our universe and the physics behind it.

    A tachyon is a particle that travels faster than the speed of light. In doing so the particle would travel backwards in time.

    So what happens when something travels faster than light? Well in terms of its physical effects, your mass would rapidly increase until it reached the speed of light where your mass would then be infinite the same would happen to the energy required to move you. All this happens in according to the equation E=mc^2. Visually, you would experience the doppler effect. As you approached the speed of light everything in front of you would start to get a blue tint and start to condense into one single point.

    So why does this magic particle break the laws of physics? Well first off its energy and mass would be larger than infinity as discussed earlier. Also as this trahyon travels faster than the speed of light, time actually goes backwards. The discovery of one of these particles would automatically prove the existence of parallel universes.

    Consider this: a trachyon emitter and receiver are placed on both the earth and mars. The scientists at the station on earth shoot a particle at mars, which, when received, the scientists on mars shoot a particle back to earth. Because this particle losses 2 minutes in time as it travels, the scientist on earth get a response particle from the moon 4 minutes before they shoot their particle at mars. So lets say that the emitter malfunctioned when the other particle was received so that a particle was never sent to mars. The particle still arrived at earth, but the first particle that started the chain was never fired, how can this be? Obviously there must be an alternate universe where the particle was sent from earth so that the chain was started.

    All this might be a bit confusing, and rightfully so, the existence of this tachyon particle is in fact impossible according to today's physics.
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