Thursday, 30 July 2009

See and Be Seen

Hello Reader,

As a society that really wants to be seen, make a scene and individuals wanting to be noticed for something, we seem to be putting a bit of effort for the opposite! Ever wonder if not being seen is possible? Reader, I'm talking about invisibility. Using a device to hide oneself from other people's vision. Kind of like the Invisibility Cloak from Harry Potter.
*key idea: you need 2 main things for vision to occur. Object to be seen and an observer. Without either one, nothing can be seen*

For invisibility to work, the material being used must not be seen by the observer. As shown in the picture to the right, the material has to be able to reflect of the material, hit another above the object and bounce off the back. Unfortunately, this is very hard and maybe even impossible to do (have something follow you from above).

Let's take a step back for a second though. Light is an electromagnetic wave (we also know now, that it is a particle). That is, it changes from an electric field to a magnetic field very quickly. We know this thanks to James Maxwell. He also had thoughts about invisibility.

We know that most liquids and gases are "invisible" (transparent), but why is that? Atoms in higher excited states (due to heat, pressure or a bigger volume) have more spaces between them. This is a key role for such visibility problems. If the spaces between the atoms are greater than the wavelength of the light, then light is not given off. What about diamonds? Why can I see right through them? Some solids have special properties.they are called Lattices'. The atoms are arranged so that there are equal spaces between each other and is organised!

So how do we use such properties to become unseen? New materials are being worked on in laboratories called Metamaterial. These are materials that can bend light waves. So far, we are able to bend microwaves (smaller than infrared).

Light have a property called the index of refraction. If you have ever gone fishing and saw a fish in the water and decided to put a net over the fish, you know that you didn't catch it. this is because the index of refraction is responsible for the bending of light. This concept needs to be applied to an invisibility device. Metamaterial is special, in which it actually has a negative value for the index of refraction (everything you can see will always have a positive value).

This is quite close to the concept of Fibre Optics. In a fibre optic tube, light is bent at a 90 degree angle so nothing passes through it but stays contained in the tube. The US military has a device that uses fibre optics for an "invisible" cloaking device. this is the closest we are to such a cloaking device.

In Michio Kaku's book, Physics of the Impossible, he rates invisibility a class 1 impossibility. This means that it is not possible now, but will be in a matter of a decade.

Saturday, 18 July 2009

The Most Precious

I know this sounds pretty bland, but this topic, dear Reader, is about time. Think about it for a moment, really think about it. As your reading this, subconsciously, you're either hoping this doesn't take long or this takes as long as you can imagine. Today's post will explaining how we have depended on time, how it's viewed in science and different views on time.

Time seems to be everything. We get paid per time, our life relies on every minute, every hour and even years. We celebrate an annual event that occurs when we are either conceived or born. For those married, you have an anniversary - returning every year - a yearly celebration of your marriage. But it seems much more important than this.

As Our Lady Peace said in R.K. On Death, "[Death] gives importance and value to time.
Time would become meaningless if there were too much of it." I find this to be absolutely true. If we never concieved an idea to measure amounts of different periods, we would never care about what we do as humans.

I'm sure you have heard of this: Space-time. Do you really understand it's meaning? Well, space-time is what are known as dimentions. You see in 3-D, three dimensions. You can see up and down, left and right, and because you have 2 eyes that are far enough apart, you can see depths. Well, time has been added to the well known dimensions, for scientific pruposes to understand things at the quantum level and on a grander scale alike. Einstien used it for his Theory of Reltivity. Using a 4th dimension helps to illustrate what would happen to us if the sun just vanished out of thin air (we would still move around the Sun's orbit until we about 8 minutes [speed of light from Earth to the Sun]. Then we would float away).

The reason why I have posted this topic is because a pseudo-suggeustion from a friend made me curious about a website, timecube, which should be bashed, in my opinion. But main concept is a bit weird, he claims we live on a 4 cornered planet in which we experince 4 days instead of 1. this is interesting because we have thought for the longest time, until explorers from Asia and Europe travelled to the Americas. We even have travelled to space and have taken many images of our own planet. The result: We are still spherical. He bashes the education system, because it teaches the 24-hour system. Needless to say, Time Cube is not a likely thing to be taught in any school in the near future. We have made a system that works out mathematically and seems suffcient enough.

I also recently completed a book by Canadian author, Robert J. Sawyer. The main plot revolves around a neanderthal being quantumly transported to our part of the multiverse universe. They have a metric time system. That is to say, a day is 10 hours long. Metric time probably could work, if we thought it out properly, but very unlikely to work. We already use the metric system for time, before a full second aka milliseconds and after a full year aka decade, century, millenium ect.

How could metric time work? Well, let's do a few calculations:
We have 60 seconds in a minute, 60 minutes in an hour, 24 hours in a day, 365.25 days in a year (every 4 years is a leap year). So we will multiply each value.
60 * 60 * 24 * 365.25 = 31557600
Because we don't have that many zeros ending this number, this is difficult to do. We just would have the same amount of daylight in a day as we do now.

Hope you enjoyed, and wasn't a waste of time. Sugguestions for new topics and comments are always welcome.

Sunday, 12 July 2009

Life Away From Earth??

Hello Reader,

do you think there really is life out there? Did Roswell actually happen? Or are you on the other end of the spectrum, no life other than terrestrial being? Well today we will explore the mathematics of extra-terrestrials!

That’s right, math that predicts the probability of other aliens.

The equation is called the Drake Equation. This equation was brought about by Dr. Frank Drake of University of California who is a scientist in Astronomy and Astrophysics.

Not only does the equation predict how many civilizations are out there, it also predicts advanced civilizations! How many are at our level of intelligence and beyond. Without further ado, here is the ever so famous equation:

N = R x P x Ne x L x I x FC x LT

What do all these wonderful letters mean?

  • N is the number of aliens that possible could contact us or visa versa.
  • R is the average star formation
  • P is the fraction of stars that have planets surrounding it
  • Ne is the number of planets that could support life for every star that has a planet
  • L is the fraction of planets that WILL have life on it... at one point. Because everything started off as a single celled organism, this is going to be higher than N
  • I is the fraction of l that will become intelligent life. This could be an animal (anything that has a structure like our neural system).
  • FC is the fraction of intelligent life that can and will build a detection device for communication purposes.
  • LT is the time length in which a signal will be sent.

Here are values that have been used with this equation (taken from Wikipedia):

  • R = 10/year the Milky Way averages 10 stars per years.
  • P = 0.5 about half these stars will develop/pull planets into its orbit.
  • NE = 2 scientists believe that 2 of these planets will be able to support life.
  • Recap so far: 10 stars, 5 stars with planets 2 of these will have planets that support life.
  • L = 1 (100% of these planets will develop life of any kind. Such as microbes or amoebas.) (I would think only 50% at most but let’s go with this)
  • I = 0.01 (1% that could be intelligent)
  • FC = 0.01 (1% that could communicate with us.)
  • LT = 10,000 years (how long the civilization will last 10,000 years)

If we multiply each of these numbers together, we get N = 10 alien beings that we COULD encounter. This is only theoretical and we still have yet to encounter any (except possibly at Roswell).

If we use my 50% instead of the 100% for the ‘L’ value we come up with 5. This seems more reasonable. Makes sense why we have yet to encounter anything in this vast galaxy.

That concludes Drake’s equation. As always, comments are always excepted and topic suggestions are welcome as well.

Thanks for reading Keith’s Mind.

Friday, 10 July 2009

Spukhafte Fernwirkung

Hello Readers,

If you tried reading those words and succeeded, you can speak German pretty well. These words were spoken by a very famous person, about the topic I am about to deliver!

Einstein thought entanglement was a "spooky action from a distance". This is also the idea that he played with until his passing. He thought it was so impossible that if he didn't find the truth of the matter, he would change professions.

At the basics, entanglement is very simple. 2 subatomic particles can "share information". Here's where Einstein got angry. The mathematics show that at any distance, the "information" is sent instantaneously. That is, faster than the speed of light (that was precisely when Einstein stopped making hair appointments).

Remember that I said "electrons are weird little buggers"? Well, there are smaller subatomic particles. Let's say, sub-subatomic particles. These wee things that make up the other wee things (smaller building blocks for the neutrons, protons and electrons). These are leptons, quarks and bosons. Bosons are the force particles aka the particles that help hold atoms together. Quarks are the fundamental masses of the subatomic particle. Leptons are what gives a subatomic particle its spin.

It's weird to think about but all subatomic particles have a spin to it. Scientists have actually given it a numerical value of 1/2 or -1/2 (up or down). The spin of the particle is what information is sent. (A bit of romance ahead) Each subatomic particle has a counter part somewhere in the universe. They are "related" to each other. If an electron has spin up, then its counterpart has a spin down value to it.

That doesn't sound to weird, so why did Einstein freak out? Say these particles were separated to either side of the universe, what do we have? We have one spin up lepton on the far left (for visual purposes) and one spin down to the far right. If the spin changes (which it can) than the other changes to oppose it, instantly.

This concept has helped the idea of quantum teleportation. Scary to think that we could travel faster than the speed of light. But in order for us to travel quickly, we need to build a "holding" bin to put the opposite spinned subatomic particles in.

I hope you have enjoyed my 3 part series on Quantum Mechanics. Any and all comments and questions are welcome. As always if you have an idea for this blog, don't be afraid to tell me, via comments as well.

Happy reading!