Posts tagged SCIENCE!
Posts tagged SCIENCE!
Had a terrible day, so bought books. These are early 20thC reprints of some influential scientific texts. The older is some extracts from Robert Hooke’s Micrographia. (Yes, that’s Hooke as in Hooke’s Law. Also, he studied at Wadham.) It’s an absolutely charming piece full of random italics, 17th century spelyngs and Lots of Capitals. Also note the name-dropping of “the most Ingenious Des Cartes”.
The other is a selection of texts from the beginning of the 19thC concerning early atomic theory. Along with some great diagrams, it contains some fantastic nomenculture, such as calling nitrogen “azote”, and the idea that ammonia consists of one hydrogen and one nitrogen; it does, of course contain 3 hydrogens, and the compound NH, nitrogen monohydride, has only ever been detected in space.
Good morning! Perspective - even after 5 months off the planet, this map looks odd to me. Subtle bias.
The 25 Coolest Catch Phrases for Scientific Concepts
One of the best parts about science is that it contains no shortage of awesome-sounding terms to describe complicated ideas. Here are 25 of them.
1. Absolute Zero: the coldest possible temperature.
2. Action At A Distance: a term used in quantum mechanics to describe the eerie effect when objects separated in space still interact with each other (non-local interaction).
3. Big Bang: a theory on the origin of the Universe that’s pretty self explanatory.
4. Big Crunch: a theory on the ultimate demise of the Universe in which the cosmos closes back in on itself.
5. Big Rip: another theory on the ultimate demise of the Universe in which the cosmos continues to expand at a rapid rate, destroying everything in the process, including matter at the atomic scale.
6. Biotic Factor: a living part of an ecosystem.
7. Blue Shift: another word for the Doppler Effect, it describes any decrease in the wavelength of light (Red Shift
works just as wellis an increase in wavelength).
8. Cold Fusion: a hypothetical type of nuclear reaction that could occur at room temperature.
9. Cosmological Singularity: the location near a black hole where the quantities that are used to measure the gravitational field become infinite.
10. Dark Energy: a hypothetical form of energy that permeates all of space and contributes to the acceleration and expansion of the Universe.
11. Dark Matter: a hypothetical form of matter that accounts for a large part of the total mass in the Universe.
12. Escape Velocity: the speed required to break free from the gravitational forces of a large celestial object (like the planet Earth).
13. Event Horizon: the point of no return near a black hole where events cannot affect an outside observer (i.e. the point at which the gravitational pull is so great that escape becomes impossible).
14. Heat Death of the Universe: yet another theory on the ultimate demise of the Universe in which the cosmos has been exhausted of all its energy (why do all the cosmological doomsday terms sound so cool?).
15. Limiting Factor: anything that controls the growth or survival of a population.
16. No Action Without An Equal And Opposite Reaction: this is essentially Newton’s
FirstThird Law of Motion.
17. Null Hypothesis: a term coined by Ronald Fisher to describe a type of hypothesis which proposes that no statistical significance exists in a set of given observations (an attempt to show that no variation exists between variables).
18. Quantum Entanglement: a term that describes what happens in “action at a distance” when microscopic particles interact physically and then become separated; it describes the special connection between pairs or groups of quantum particles (actually, anything with the word ‘quantum’ in front of it belongs on this list, like quantum superposition, or quantum locking).
19. Red Dwarf: a small and relatively cool star.
20. String Theory: a branch of physics that attempts to reconcile quantum mechanics and general relativity; it proposes that elementary particles within an atom are 1-dimensional oscillating “strings”.
21. Super Collider: another term for a particle accelerator.
22. Survival Of The Fittest: a wickedly concise description of Darwinian natural selection.
23. Terminal Velocity: the point at which a falling object has zero acceleration on account of the drag force equaling the downward force of gravity (for humans this is 210 km/h (130 mph) and for cats it’s 100 km/h (60 mph)).
24. Test Tube Babies: an outdated term for in vitro fertilization.
25. The Central Dogma: a term coined by Francis Crick and used in molecular biology to describe the flow of genetic information within a biological system.
Corrected a couple of glaring errors (pls to be Googling before citing Newton). There are probably more that I can’t comment on. Just goes to show that efforts to make science “cool” often result in huge errors caused by oversimplification and an inability to fact-check.
Tranquil Night Sky by Shainblum
Odds are good you don’t live in a region where you can see the Milky Way at night. It’s pretty faint, and light pollution is pretty bad. If you live in a spectacularly dark area, it looks like an eponymous streak of spilled milk and sparkles, as seen above.
Our Solar System is in one of the spiral arms of our galaxy. Our galaxy is flat, resting mostly in one plane. When we look at it, we’re looking right through it, edge on.
But look again. How is the Milky Way oriented in the sky? It stretches roughly from from the northern horizon to the southern horizon.
Okay. What’s the big deal with that?
When the Sun rises, it travels from the eastern horizon to the western horizon. Not coincidentally, this is also the same path the planets take across the sky. We travel in the same plane as all the other planets, all orbiting the Sun like we’re all on one giant, flat racetrack. (This is due to how the planets formed together, but I’ll go into that later.)
That the Sun rises in the east and sets in the west tells us a few things. One is that the Earth orbits the Sun on a plane almost perpendicular to its axis of rotation. (Another is that the Earth spins counter-clockwise as seen from the North Pole. That’s not particularly relevant here but is a fun fact.)
But the Milky way is aligned north-south. So… does that means the plane of the galaxy is nearly perpendicular to the plane of the Solar System?
(Once, when I was younger, I asked myself this very question. Shortly after, I had the honor of meeting Neil DeGrasse Tyson and asking him whether this purely geometric idea was right. And this is what he told me:)
Yes, the Solar System is orbiting the center of the galaxy sideways.
Technically, we’re tilted around 60 degrees from the galactic plane. The calculations here are a little off because the Earth itself is tilted about 77 degrees from the plane of the Solar System (or 23 degrees from being perfectly perpendicular to our orbit). If the plane of the Milky Way and the Solar System were aligned, we’d see the planets moving through the Milky Way at night — which we don’t.
How’s that for a change in perspective?
[made rebloggable by request]
EVERYONE SHOULD SHIP SCIENCE/SCIFI
I mean, think about it—Science as a mean drunk, taking vicious pleasure in pointing out all of Scifi’s inaccuracies; Scifi sitting there silently with thinned lips and arms crossed, refusing to return fire. (Because it’s not like Science doesn’t have flaws Scifi could bring up—who is it that forgets to bring passion to this relationship, huh? Who gets too laser-focused on methodology and publishpublishpublish, on sigfigs and minute changes on screens, and forgets that once you stared up at the stars or down into microscope and went, oh; went, more. Well, Science? Well?)
Imagine them working together (because they do they always have, sparks and tinder) Scifi scrolling through the latest Nature articles for inspiration as Science tries to design an experiment; Science harassing Scifi as its trying to bang out a new chapter. Both of them subsist on coffee and ramen, and doodle in the edges of notebooks when they’re supposed to be listening to lab managers or agents.
Imagine them in bed (because sparks and tinder—then the fire) Scifi traces the wave functions of Science’s body, and once on Science’s birthday (they never decided when that was, and humanity doesn’t remember—it was so long ago) Scifi put on a show, naming all the bones in the body in Latin, yeah baby.
(Although that one is sort of for both of them, since they agree on names—for different reasons, of course. For Science, they order the universe, family-genus-species all laid out, ions rendered ides or ates according to their nature. But Scifi spends a lot of time with Fantasy, and a little something has rubbed off—an almost mystic respect for names, for quantum breathed like it means philosopher’s stone; for lightyear and God particle and photon. But then again, for both of them it comes down to the power of the name, to build worlds on it.)
And Science runs its fingertips along Scifi’s shoulder, listening to it talk about the ethics of organ transplantation and personhood in the context of transhumanism and humanity’s place in a galaxy of other intelligent species—
You’re so soft, Science marvels.
You know you love it, Scifi laughs in return.
Of all the charts and tables and organizational tools for keeping information straight that mankind has invented, none is more impressive or more inspired than the Periodic Table of the Elements.
You might think of it as some tool of the devil that you had to memorize or study, and of which you have no fond memories. But the Table? IS AMAZING. The table is genius. The table is a work of inspired predictive power that boggles the mind.
Why is the Table so cool? Well, for a number of reasons.
As you may know, the Table was devised in 1869 by a scientist named Dmitry Mendeleev. At the time, scientists were trying to find ways to order the elements. Mostly they were trying to use atomic mass to put them in order. That didn’t really work. Mendeleev’s amazing insight (and it was amazing…I can’t imagine how he thought of it, it was pretty counterintuitive) was to group the elements in rows and columns based solely on his empirical observations of recurring chemical properties like melting points, bonding affinities, electronegativity, etc. These properties seemed to cluster and group the elements in ways that Mendeleev noticed and used for his table.
Cool as that is, it didn’t stop there. It became clear to Mendeleev that there were holes in the table where he suspected that other elements existed. And he was right. The holes in the table pointed the way for chemists to discover the missing elements. So the Table not only organized the existing elements, it actually predicted and helped discover elements that were not known at the time.
But there’s still more coolness to come. In 1869 no one had the first damned clue about atomic structure. Orbitals, subshells, electrons…it was all unknown. But as our understanding of atomic structure became more sophisticated, it became clear that Mendeleev’s table was actually organized based on atomic structure. Each new row (they’re called periods in the table) represents a new energy level. As you go left to right across the groups (what the columns are called in the table), you’re filling up each subshell with electrons until when you get to the far right, the noble gases, the level is filled and you jump up to the next period and the next energy level.
So Mendeleev, having no knowledge of subatomic structure and using purely observations of the elements’ physical characteristics, designed a table that actually revealed the way atoms are put together.
I find that pretty damned amazing.
Welcome to Night Vale
Episode 27 - First Date
Oh god this is even cuter than the 25ml beaker I found while on my work experience (I worked in a cosmetics lab, it was awesome).
IF YOU HAD ROOM WITH ABSOLUTELY NOTHING IN IT AND THE WALLS CEILING AND FLOOR WERE MADE OF MIRROR WHAT WOULD IT LOOK LIKE IN THE MIRRORS
Holy shit I asked my dad who’s a physics teacher and he just looked at me, looked at the table, looked at me, tried not to smile, looked angry, and started to look up where you can buy big mirrors.
There wouldn’t be any light. So wouldn’t it just be a pitch black room.
Yeah you’d have to put some lights in somewhere.
But if you did I bet it would be pretty freaking amazing. Who wants to apply for a research grant with me?
one guacamole is equal to 6.0221415×10²³ guacas
SO DONE WITH THIS WEBSITE
I only make my guacamole out of the freshest Avogadros.