Black Holes #1 – Singularities and Hawking Radiation

BH_wip_v14
The Black Hole from Interstellar

Black Holes seem like something that only exists in Science fiction, like Dark Matter and Energy, however, these astronomical objects are in fact at the heart of theoretical research within Cosmology. Research involving Black Holes may likely help us uncover more about the mysteries of Quantum Gravity, something Physicists believe to be the Theory of Everything.

main-qimg-23a28d9b4b5ba3b3e6ebe7a2ec8456bd-c

In simple terms, a Black Holes is a region in which the gravitational influence is so strong that nothing, not even light, can escape its pull beyond the Event Horizon, which means that the Escape velocity is essentially greater than the speed of light. Escape velocity is the speed in which an object needs to travel at to escape a gravitational field, e.g. the Earth’s.

Continue reading

My Scottish Space School Experience

SSSLOGO_SMBonjour fellow bloggers and blog viewers, I just came back from a fantastic residential week at Scottish Space School and I just thought it would be great to share this great experience with you all.

The Scottish Space School, as I mentioned several months before in a “thoughts” post, is a residential week aimed at students in their second last year of high school who are interested in pursuing a career in Engineering, Space Exploration or something along these lines, and is situated in the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow. This year I was one of the lucky 100 students to be selected from over 500 applicants based around Scotland to attend the week running from 11th to 16th June 2017.

The week-long programme included different engineering workshops, lectures from senior NASA guests, talks from people who worked in the Space industry, fun social events and many more.

Continue reading

How Small Can You Go in Scale?

After the many ramblings I made regarding Dark Matter previously, I want to turn around and think about Baryonic Matter again. Ordinary Matter is something that physicists know much more about than the mysterious Dark Matter and Dark Energy, even though in reality they do make up more than 95% of our known Universe. We are more knowledgeable about Baryonic Matter because of its presence all around us, after all, it is everything we can see and detect: from forms of life, elements in the Earth’s crust and mantle, buildings, cars, the Earth, the Sun, all of the stars… you get the idea.

uesc_05_img0271.jpg

Now, the stuff that makes up the matter. Firstly what comes to our mind may be elements, which are a table of 100 odd substances that are often called the “primary constituents of matter”. These elements can be identified through their chemical properties and are placed in the Periodic table in order of increasing atomic number (the number of protons in its atom’s nucleus).

70726a8a1270b08b0b0f66134227bad1

Atoms are another level down from the elements of the periodic table, which distinguishes different types of atoms. Atoms themselves is another study on its own. In the early 20th Century, Rutherford and a couple other physicists discovered an awful lot that directly correlates to our modern understanding of the atom through an experiment – firing alpha particles at a piece of gold leaf.

Continue reading

Dark Matter #2: Gravitational Lensing

heic1506e.jpgA couple of months ago I talked about a piece of evidence supporting the existence of Dark Matter which is the fact that the stars in the outskirts of galaxies were seen to move at a similar pace as galaxies near the galactic core, defying the norm of the Keplerian Decline.

Recap: Dark Matter makes up roughly 25% of the Universe, so it is five times more prevalent than ordinary Baryonic Matter. Physicists gave it the name Dark Matter not because of it having some mysterious evil property or anything of that sort, but because it simply does not interact with Electromagnetic Radiation. I agree Physicists are a creative bunch.

Continue reading

Renewables…you say?

Most of the energy we use to power technology come from finite sources which are not sustainable. This energy which may be in the form of either fossil fuels, coal or even nuclear fuels and so on will eventually be used up. However renewable sources such as solar power will not run out…..until the sun runs out of hydrogen fuel but that’s another story.

0318199_l
Even my trusty fx- 85GT PLUS uses solar power.

We are able to harness the light energy radiated by the sun by the used of solar cells. A solar cell is an electronic device made of semiconductors which exhibit the photovoltaic effect to convert light energy into electrical energy. Semiconductors are materials which lie between conductors and insulators. A conductor is a material which is composed of atoms in which electrons are easily freed from the nuclei. Even though it is able to form a current, it remains electronically neutral as there are the same number of positive protons and negative free electrons. An insulator, on the other hand, is a material which is composed of atoms which hold more tightly onto their electrons so they have no free electrons like conductors. Current is a measure of the rate of flow of charge through a material, with the electrons being the charge carriers transporting energy across a circuit.  Continue reading

On Polaroid Filters – Brief

polaroid5_zps7a198bc5Light is weird. Light or Electromagnetic Waves are well, waves. They are a result of a changing oscillating electric field and a magnetic field. Sometimes we call them Photons, massless high-speed subatomic particles, coming in packets called Quanta. Wave-particle duality is only the brief introduction of the enormous and extraordinary area within Physics called Quantum Theory.

A slinky is a nice little demonstration of how light travels. Light is a transverse wave so it vibrates perpendicular to the direction of energy travel. In Third Year of High School, my Physics teacher used a slinky as an example to illustrate this feature of a transverse wave and also the other, longitudinal wave, which is a wave in which its vibrations are parallel to the direction of travel. Two people held the slinky at the two ends and one begins to vibrate the slinky coils left to right.

xrtvnpeh6180202492082511076 Continue reading

Thoughts #9 – Scottish Space School

As you can probably infer from the title of this thoughts post, I was recently notified that I had made a successful application to the Scottish Space School programme. To be accepted onto the programme has been a dream of mine for the past two years as a former student from my school described her intriguing experience.

The Scottish Space School programme is designed for students into Science and currently progressing through the second last year of high school.It is a week-long Space-themed residential at the University of Strathclyde and features a set of lectures given by leading researchers, laboratory activities and workshops supported by NASA astronauts and engineers. On top of that, at the end of the week, 10 students are selected to go visit NASA’s Johnson Space Centre in Houston, Texas.

I am incredibly excited and grateful to have been offered a place and hopefully on the programme I’m able to meet a bunch of like-minded people who are as fascinated about the cosmos as me!

Till next time,

Susan

Thoughts #8 – On NASA’s Exoplanet Discovery ‘Beyond Our Solar System’

I heard the news that NASA was going to announce a breakthrough discovery a couple of days ago and as an astrophysics enthusiast, I was extremely excited.

Today, 22nd February 2017, NASA announces the discovery of seven new exoplanets orbiting a star – Trappist-1 only 40 light years away. Not only is this a record on its own, the content of the discovery is as or more so intriguing. Yes, we are talking about these as planets that could potentially support life. Each and every one of them are rocky resembling the inner four planets within our solar system – Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars, and all have been claimed to have the possibility of supporting liquid water on their surfaces. The discovery is not only astonishing in this essence but also of the fact that Trappist-1 is rather small and dim allowing them to be temperate, thus perhaps be home to life.

Even though only three out of seven of the planets lie within the ‘Goldilocks Zone’ of the star system, this discovery opens up more pathways for interstellar exploration into these worlds, enables further research on their atmospheres and gives us a fairly good chance of looking for clues about life out with Earth.

Till next time,

Susan

 

 

Dark Matter #1: Galactic Rotation Curves

After the death of pioneering astronomer Vera Rubin, I suspect many more people have become intrigued by the term Dark Matter. Something else that often accompanies this term is Dark Energy. Both probably sound like mysterious or perhaps evil forces of nature to an ordinary person – at least I thought so, but then I learned Dark simply implied that it doesn’t interact with light.

A friend’s sister, a frequent reader of Passion for STEM and also a physics lover herself suggested that I write something on dark matter. At first, I thought this may be a difficult task (and I still do) because of the amount of uncertainty regarding what it actually is within the scientific community.

cosmological_composition_-_pie_chart-svg

Everything we know that exists: us, all living things, all nonliving things, all the stars, galaxies, asteroids and cosmic dust collectively gather under one title – Baryonic Matter, and it accounts for less than 5% of the known Universe. The rest of the Universe under current calculation predictions is dark matter and dark energy, making up roughly 25% and 70% of the stuff in the Universe. This is rather overwhelming as what we know and experience is only less than a tiny fraction of reality. Since dark matter cannot be observed because it doesn’t interact with light, or as we say the electromagnetic force, there is no direct way of detecting it so how do physicists know that so much of the Universe’s mass is dark matter and not just ordinary matter like dust? Continue reading

Discussing Time Travel

dfhshrshtsrLast post I did a short guide on Special Relativity and I briefly mentioned time dilation which touches on the concept of Time Travel. Time Travel, like Parallel Universes or Teleportation is something that at a glance seems improbable, “beyond the boundary of physics” and just a complete work of science fiction, but interestingly enough all three of these areas are studied in-depth within the field of physics.

Einstein thought about space as a piece of fabric and essentially called it the fabric of space-time. We can think about time as a dimension, like length and width and height, there is a temporal dimension. Time travel is simply our progression through this dimension and we are all time travelling at this very moment because we are experiencing the passing of time. Time travelling to the future is a crucial everyday task, and it happens more naturally than people may acknowledge.

Continue reading