You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘speed’ tag.

In 5 billion years, the expansion of the universe will have progressed to the point where all other galaxies will have receded beyond detection.  Indeed, they will be receding faster than the speed of light, so detection will be impossible.  Future civilizations will discover science and all its laws, and never know about other galaxies or the cosmic background radiation.  They will inevitably come to the wrong conclusion about the universe……We live in a special time, the only time, where we can observationally verify that we live in a special time.

– Lawrence M. Krauss

Just imagine – a day when the skies are completely black at night and no matter how advanced technology gets (if classical physics is right and light speed is the max), they will never know anything about other stars or galaxies. The only evidence that they ever existed would be old stories. Mind blowing stuff.

By the way, I’ve heard a question in response to this quote basically wondering how the galaxies can be receding faster than light speed if light speed is the maximum. The reason is because the receding of galaxies is not “physical” travel through space, but rather it is the expansion of the fabric of space-time. Those familiar with science will understand this. If it helps, imagine two dots on the surface of a balloon. As you inflate the balloon, the two dots move farther apart because the surface of the balloon is expanding, but their physical locations on the balloon is still the “same” (i.e. the dots aren’t moving along the balloon, they’re still where you put them – it’s the surface of the balloon that’s stretching).

Advertisements

Been meaning to do a science related post for a while. I actually have some good follow-up information on the Higg’s Boson and its implications to science, but as that’s a long post I’ll have to do it later. It’s getting busy now that I’m approaching exam period.

In the meantime, enjoy this:

 

 

 

There are various versions of this floating around on the internet because, well, it’s stupid. How stupid you say? Well, here comes the science.

First of all, the neutrino that supposedly travelled faster than light (but was eventually proven not to), is also known as a ghost particle because it does not interact with matter. It quite literally travels through objects without slowing down. Unfortunately, a human doesn’t have this ability.

Second, special relativity means that an object approaching light speed will gain a mass approaching infinity. Not only would Fearless Felix have died, he probably would have formed a black hole that destroyed our solar system.

Finally, it’s just not possible to reach light speed. Humans don’t have the propulsion technology to get anywhere close, let alone free falling with only gravity accelerating you at 9.8m/s/s. Especially if you know that the speed of light is 299,792,458 metres per second. Now, the diameter of the earth is 12,756,200 metres, so Felix would have gone through the Earth more than twenty times in one second. Sounding stupid now?

So yeah, found a funny post in relation to this image: “This is what happens when you let art students tell the news”. Couldn’t help but chuckle.

So, recently scientists reported the discovery of a particle with observable effects likening it to the Higgs Boson. That’s a very complex way of saying “they think they found the Higgs Boson”. Some of you may not think this is a big deal. To those people, I say “I don’t believe you understand the gravity of this matter”. That’s the first of some of the Higgs jokes popping up.

Anyway, this is a huge scientific breakthrough and it pretty much shoots the whole neutrino affair out of the water. Why is that? Well, there was a lot more hype over the neutrino potentially surpassing light speed because geeks and opportunists started an avalanche of ill-informed statements. The most prominent of these was the whole “faster than light” travel fiasco. I wrote an article on the neutrino for a course at uni but I can’t be bothered finding it so I’ll sum up quickly why this is a stupid idea: the neutrino is also known as the “ghost particle” because it can travel through matter with minimal to no interaction. If something with that kind of amazing ability can’t surpass light speed (or was in doubt of surpassing light speed at the time that these faster than light dreams started multiplying) then what hope do humans have? Let’s put this in perspective. Suppose the neutrino did manage to break the light speed barrier. Well, you might say humans will use that technology to develop super-light speed travel. Errrrrrr. Wrong. What are you going to do, make a spaceship out of neutrinos? Let me remind you that neutrinos do not interact with matter. You’ll have a better chance at resolving the atheist-theist war than ever making even a seat out of neutrinos. There’s a lot more to the neutrino than that, and maybe I’ll put the information up here some time, but for now, rest easy knowing that we’ll always be stuck at sub-light speeds.

I sort of went off at a tangent here. The point was that the neutrino buzz was a fad; there was never really any substance to it. This Higgs boson ordeal, however, is mind boggling. I mean that literally. Even with my reasonable grasp of science, it’s a bit hard to wrap my head around. I asked my mom and stepfather (both PhD physicists who were top of their field in Australia before retirement) for a bit of clarification and arrived at the understanding I have now. I’m going to give a brief explanation of the Higgs Boson and Higgs field in the following paragraphs; if these do not interest you, you may skip, but that leaves you with a bigger question – what are you doing reading this if you’re not interested in science?

Ok, so let’s start with the Higgs field. Why? Because the Higgs Boson is a particle associated with the Higgs field in the same way a photon is associated with an electromagnetic field. The difference here is that the Higgs field permeates the universe. This is a bit hard to understand without an analogy. Let’s say that the universe is submerged within a tank of water – that is, all the planets and stars and galaxies are objects within this tank. The water would be the fabric of time and space – as well as the Higgs field. It is everywhere, in more ways than one. For example, you can bend the fabric of space time (with our analogy, that would be a ripple in the water). Whilst this may shorten the “distance” between two points, the ripple does not eliminate the space time in between – it merely distorts it.

So now that we’ve determined that the Higgs field pretty much encompasses the entirety of the universe (Einstein theorised a similar space time fabric, though I forget the exact name), what you need to know is that particles travelling through the Higgs field, and thus interacting with it, are affected by the Higgs  Boson. The Higgs Boson is a class of particle whose category is known as a Boson. It’s special because it transfers mass to certain elementary particles and thus explains why some particles have mass and others do not. Without mass, there would be no gravity and thus no universe – which is why you’ll hear that the Higgs Boson “holds the universe together”. You’ll also hear it called the “god particle” but Higgs dislikes that name – originally he wanted it called the “goddamn particle” but his editor thought it would be more attention grabbing if it was named the “god particle”.

Anyway, if we delve a little deeper (and further outside my comfort zone), we can attempt to explain how this mass is transferred. Most particles have a positive or negative, non-integer spin. This means that at each energy level of the particle, only one type of spin can exist for the orbiting electron. This is known as the Pauli exclusion principle. The difference with the Higgs Boson is that it can have zero spin or integer spins, thus allowing it to exist alongside another spinning electron at any given energy level. This essentially means that it can exist in multiple states (you may have heard of this quantum mechanics term before, especially since the popularisation of Schrodinger’s Cat). Because the Higgs Boson can exist where no other normal particle should, it has the potential to transfer mass (this is actually my own speculation, don’t quote me in any academic papers).

Anyway, that’s about as far into it as I’ll get. The crux of the matter is, the simple model has been completed. Scientists used this model for 50 years with no proof that the Higgs Boson existed, and now, finally, we have that proof. In short, we’ve discovered something that was fundamental to not only our creation, but everything we see around us in the universe.

The title of this post also mentions world powers, but I’ve rambled on a bit now. I’ll just leave with a quick paraphrasing of the well known Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson. “On the day that we Americans like to tell ourselves that we’re the best (July 4), Europe reminds us how far behind we’ve fallen in science (Higgs Boson)”. Dr. Tyson has a deep concern that scientific power will shift away from the US, and wishes to reignite his country’s passion for science. I agree with his forecast; due to the nature of brilliant minds, the next generations of scientists will go to Europe instead of the US for their scientific goals, due to the infrastructure Europe can offer (Large Hadron Collider vs. the now closed Enrico Fermi reactor in the US). A large part of the US’s success is due to the infrastructure and opportunity available within the country, which attracted immigrants and geniuses together. As Dr. Tyson also points out, the greatest scientific achievements made by the US were made by immigrants (a German scientist started the US space program, for instance), and if their infrastructure falls behind, inevitably, their science will too. This will have a widespread effect that will eventually see the US removed as the world superpower (among other factors).

Well, those are my thoughts for the day. Forgive me for any errors in my scientific talk – as I said, the details of quantum physics elude me and I haven’t had the time to research the Higgs Boson as much as I did for the neutrino. Let’s just leave with a picture of the second (and perhaps more prominent) reason why Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson is so famous now.

Image

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 191 other followers

Blog Stats

  • 395,195 hits
Advertisements