A little update on where I am with everything at the moment. Again I am incredibly apologetic for updating less frequently recently due to a lot going on. As you might already know, I entered the Breakthrough Junior Challenge, been notified as a semifinalist, and recently crowned Regional Champion of Europe – the popular vote process definitely was more time consuming than I had imagined, but now (I hope) I can share with you some of the exciting things I’ve been wanting to write about for a while.
Firstly this post is on what I consider as THE BIGGEST DISCOVERY IN PHYSICS this year – the neutron star collision. You might already know that the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded to the three leading physicists who were involved in a worldwide collaboration in the search for gravitational waves. The “kilonova” on August 17th was not only a detection of another gravity wave but it also unveiled so many more utterly amazing things about the cosmos we were yet to discover.
To start off let’s jump straight into the science behind the event of colliding Neutron stars. Neutron stars can be thought of as the less extreme versions of black holes – which are a result of very massive stars collapsing under their own gravitational pull and forming a point of infinite space-time curvature. These stars are the remnants of the supernovae of stars that are roughly 10 to 29 solar masses, too big to form a white dwarf (like how our own Sun will after its death) and too small to form a black hole. When a star this size explodes, its gravity is so strong that it literally forces electrons and protons to combine into neutrons, and the neutron star is stopped from further collapse by neutron degeneracy pressure. Neutron stars are extremely small and dense, their diameters are the size of cities but a teaspoon can be the weight of Mount Everest. Thus, there is no wonder how they produce immensely strong gravitational fields and not only cause gravitational lensing but also gravitational waves.
My life is a little hectic at the moment due to UCAS (University Application) deadlines and so on. While in the middle of composing my personal statement, I found a small tribute text I had written about Carl Sagan last year as a response to the following question for an application.
If you could have dinner with anyone alive or dead, who would it be and why?
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.
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.
Bonjour 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.
A 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.
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!
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.
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.
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 →