Archive for the ‘Science’ Category

On 2017 California wildfires were in the news. In the month of December powerful winds spread Southern California fires to destroy at least 175 structures and forced more than 27,000 evacuations. These high winds even have a name. Called the Santa Anas, the dry winds typically hit in late fall and are infamous in the Golden State.

California’s biggest and deadliest fires have been propelled by Santa Ana winds, which can gust to 100 mph (161 km/h). That wind speed makes smothering fires nearly impossible, said Chief Daniel Berlant, assistant deputy director the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, which is best known as Cal Fire. “In many cases, it’s all we can do just to try to control the path of the fire, trying to keep it away from people and homes,” Berlant said. “Stopping a fire when wind is 50, 60, 70 miles per hour is almost not possible.”

He added, “These fires burn into anything that’s in their path. A wind-driven fire is like a freight train, and stopping a freight train on a dime doesn’t happen.”

Helicopters can’t drop water or flame retardants in high winds, he said, because the gusts blow the liquids away.

Santa Anas also dry out trees, shrubs and grasses, turning them into tinder and spreading the blaze, he said.

“It’s the winds that spread the embers and fan the fire,” Berlant said. “That makes the fire burn fast and jump ahead, as embers fly in the high wind.”Santa Anas occur when high pressure over the Great Basin — a vast swath of Nevada, Utah and California — compresses air, cooking it, Cal Fire Captain Mike Mohler said.

That hot air then pushes southwest toward the coast.

“Our temperatures skyrocket,” Mohler said. “Humidity decreases down to single digits.”Climate change factors also play a role. What we see now is the same old story. ((Ack:By Anne C. Mulkern, E&E News/dec.6,2017)

Right now, on the outskirts of Redding, a rampaging wildfire is doing something that was once unusual: It’s burning fast…downhill.

“Fires are burning almost as fast downhill as they burn uphill,” said Cal Fire spokesman Scott McLean, from the scene of the Carr Fire, which by midday Friday had torched more than 44,000 acres and was only 3 percent contained.

That’s not typical. One of the first things wildland firefighters learn is that fires burn much faster uphill.

It’s simple physics: heat rises, so the heat from the fire warms and dries out the upslope fuels fastest. It’s also a case of proximity: if you draw a picture of a flame on a slope, you’ll see that there’s a much shorter distance between flame and ground on the uphill side than downhill, so the fire can jump directly from one blade of grass to another.Rapidly spreading downhill fires also played a major role in last winter’s Thomas Fire. It coincided with the longest Santa Ana wind event on record, according to Nauslar of the Wine Country fires. (Ack: Allie Weill, KQED science /PBS.org of July 28,2018)
compiled by Benny


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This age, dubbed the Meghalayan, began 4,250 years ago when what was probably a planet-wide drought struck Earth, according to the International Union of Geological Sciences (IUGS). Civilizations across the world, including those in Egypt, Greece, Syria, Palestine, Mesopotamia, the Indus Valley and the Yangtze River Valley were affected. This drought lasted 200 years and was likely prompted by shifts in ocean and atmospheric circulation.

Geologists have systematically divided up, and named, all of Earth’s roughly 4.54-billion-year history . From the longest to shortest, these lengths of time are known as eons, eras, periods and ages. Currently, we’re in the Phanerozoic eon, Cenozoic era, Quaternary period, Holocene epoch and (as mentioned) the Meghalayan age.

To determine the beginning time for each age, scientists looked at the unique chemical signatures found in rock samples from that time; each signature relates to a big climatic event, the IUGS said in a statement.

The Greenlandian, the oldest age of the Holocene (also known as the “lower Holocene”), began 11,700 years ago, as the Earth left the last ice age.

The Northgrippian (also known as the “middle Holocene”) began 8,300 years ago, when Earth abruptly began cooling, likely because vast amounts of fresh water that came from Canada’s melting glaciers poured into the North Atlantic and disrupted ocean currents, the BBC reported.

The Meghalayan is also called the “upper Holocene”Geologists chose the name “Meghalayan” because of a rock sample they analyzed from Meghalaya, a northeastern state in India, whose name means “the abode of clouds” in Sanskrit. By analyzing a stalagmite growing on the ground of Mawmluh Cave, geologists found that each of the stalagmite layers had different levels of oxygen isotopes, or versions of oxygen with different numbers of neutrons. This change marked the weakening of monsoon conditions from that time, the BBC reported.
(Ack: We are Now living in a geological age,Experts say/lauraGeggel/LiveScience of July18,2018/selected)
We may never come to grips with an eon. But man who has come of age ought to be responsible for how he uses his environment. Anthropocene Age which is man made calamity. Think of degrading your rivers waters and dumping your plastic. It is sure to end up in the food chain and you could be dining on hamburger laced with plastic granules. It shall not make Delhi-belly any grander. Eons ago we had a blue planet and we are now living in Planet Plastic.

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In ancient India there was a sage by name Samsara. He was so revered that gods discussed how to honor him suitably. Elephant God suggested to place him in the sea bed so whoever wished to ask any boon must negotiate with sea creatures. The sea god suspected bad motives in such a suggestion so he said, “Why make poor mankind learn to swim while the air is free?”. “Trimurthy should not mind one more god in their fold?,”Monkey God queried. Brahma laughed and replied, “Four means the end of Trinity” They rejected the idea. Finally they yielded to have him placed him beneath their abode. “Should not we ask Samsara his opinion in the matter?”Elephant God asked. So Sage Samsara was consulted and he said, “Yes, I have a boon to ask. “I am content to live on this dungheap. It must find its level so I shall not be envied by gods or by man. “Yes the goods were all as one, “Why bring up Sage Samsara up? Let him find his own level”. Thus he came to dwell atop the Mount Kailas which at first was merely a hillock.
Eons later when Brahma came down he saw Sage Samsara and he was almost placed as high as heavens. He exclaimed:”What,- impossible! How did you come so high?” Sage Samsara said, “I relied on your own godly powers and the rest on the gullibility of people who worship me. The Trinity muttered to one another,” Retreat quietly, we have many cosmic cycles to solve this riddle.”
This is how Science has arrived at the Theory of Almost Everything. First let us go through what we have achieved. Standard Model, for example.
The ancients believed that everything is made of just five elements earth, water,fire air and aether. The world around us is made of molecules, and molecules are made of atoms. Chemist Dimitri Mendeleev figured that out in the 1860s and organized all atoms – that is, the elements – into the periodic table But there are 118 different chemical elements. There’s antimony, arsenic, aluminum, selenium … and 114 more.
By 1932, scientists knew that all those atoms are made of just three particles – neutrons, protons and electrons. The neutrons and protons are bound together tightly into the nucleus. The electrons, thousands of times lighter, whirl around the nucleus at speeds approaching that of light. Further studies of Physicists Planck, Bohr,Schroedinger Heisenberg and few others had invented a new science and it explained this motion, quantum mechanics.
Just three particles. But held together how? The negatively charged electrons and positively charged protons are bound together by electromagnetism. But the protons are all huddled together in the nucleus and their positive charges should be pushing them powerfully apart. The neutral neutrons can’t help.
What binds these protons and neutrons together? particles to just three. Really four, because photon the particle of light that Einstein described. Four grew to five when Anderson measured electrons with positive charge – positrons – striking the Earth from outer space. At leastDirac had predicted these first anti-matter particles. Five became six when the pion, which Yukawa predicted would hold the nucleus together, was found.
Then came the muon – 200 times heavier than the electron, but otherwise a twin. That sums it up. Number seven. Not only not simple, redundant.
By the 1960s there were hundreds of “fundamental” particles. In place of the well-organized periodic table, there were just long lists of baryons (heavy particles like protons and neutrons), mesons like Yukawa’s pions and leptons (light particles like the electron, and the elusive neutrinos) – with no organization and no guiding principles.
the Standard Model by mid-sixties became a simple theory, and then five decades of experimental verification and theoretical elaboration.
Quarks They come in six varieties we call flavors. Like ice cream, except not as tasty. Instead of vanilla, chocolate and so on, we have up, down, strange, charm, bottom and top. In 1964, Gell- Mann and Zweig taught us the recipes: Mix and match any three quarks to get a baryon. Protons are two ups and a down quark bound together; neutrons are two downs and an up. Choose one quark and one antiquark to get a meson. A pion is an up or a down quark bound to an anti-up or an anti-down. All the material of our daily lives is made of just up and down quarks and anti-quarks and electrons. keeping those quarks bound is a feat. They are tied to one another so tightly that you never ever find a quark or anti-quark on its own. The theory of that binding, and the particles called gluons (chuckle) that are responsible, is called quantum chromodynamics. It’s a vital piece of the Standard Model, but mathematically difficult, even posing an unsolved problem of basic mathematics.
Discovering the Higgs boson in 2012, long predicted by the Standard Model and long sought after, was a thrill but not a surprise. It was yet another crucial victory for the Standard Model over the dark forces that particle physicists have repeatedly warned loomed over the horizon. Concerned that the Standard Model didn’t adequately embody their expectations of simplicity, worried about its mathematical self-consistency, or looking ahead to the eventual necessity to bring the force of gravity into the fold, physicists have made numerous proposals for theories beyond the Standard Model. These bear exciting names like Grand Unified Theories,Supersymmetry, Technicolor and String Theory.
Sadly, at least for their proponents, beyond-the-Standard-Model theories have not yet successfully predicted any new experimental phenomenon or any experimental discrepancy with the Standard Model.
After five decades, far from requiring an upgrade, the Standard Model is all we have nevertheless the Amazing Theory of Almost Everything. Almost in the Science means nothing beyond a theory.
(Ack:The Standard Model of particle physics: The absolutely amazing theory of almost everything/Glenn Starkman/the conversation/May 23,2018)
Moral: While reading The Absolutely Amazing Theory of Almost everything read ‘Doubt’ in place of almost.

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A team of Swiss scientists has performed a massive test of one of the strangest paradoxes in quantum mechanics, a huge example of the sort of behavior Albert Einstein skeptically called “spooky action at a distance.”

The story begins more than 80 years ago. Way back in 1935, Einstein and physicists Boris Podolsky and Nathan Rosen found something strange. They entangled two particles- let’s call them Alice and Bob — so that their physical properties were linked even across wide distances, and anything you did to one particle would impact the other. Intuitively, you’d think that if you had access to Alice, you’d know way more about her than you would about Bob, who’s a distance away. This is also what you’d expect given Einstein’s relativistic laws of physics at large scales. But the physicist trio discovered something odd, now called the Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen (EPR) paradox: By studying Alice, you actually learn much more about Bob than you do about Alice.

Later experiments using individual particles proved the physicists correct on this point. But this new experiment, published today (April 26) in the journal Science, shows that the effect still occurs using even a clump of nearly 600 supercooled particles.

It isn’t surprising exactly that a paradox originally framed in terms of two particles also occurs for clumps of hundreds of particles. The same physics at work in a very small system should also work in much larger systems. But scientists perform these ever-more-complex tests because they help confirm old theories and narrow down the ways in which those theories might be wrong. And they also demonstrate the capability of modern technology to put into action ideas that Einstein and his colleagues could think about only in abstract terms. To pull off this experiment, the researchers cooled about590 rubidium atoms (give or take 30 atoms) to the bleeding edge of absolute zero.

At that temperature, the atoms formed a state of matter called a Bose-Einstein condensate, which,  as Live Science has previously reported is a state of matter in which a large group of atoms become so entangled that they start to blur and overlap with one another; they begin to behave more like one large particle than lots of separate ones. Quantum physicists love to experiment with Bose-Einstein condensates because this kind of matter tends to demonstrate the weird physics of the quantum world at a large enough scale for the scientists to observe it directly.

In this experiment, they used high-resolution imaging to measure the spins of different chunks within the soup of rubidium atoms. The atoms in the condensate were so entangled that the physicists were able to predict the behavior of the second chunk by studying only the first. Both chunks of atoms, they showed, were so entangled that the behavior of the second chunk was in fact more knowable when only the first was observed, and vice versa.

The EPR paradox had come to life, on a relatively massive scale for the quantum world.

(originally published on LiveScience)

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Here is a news item: The Hubble and Chandra space telescopes have detected a new belch emerging from a black hole located about 800 million light-years away. But they saw a remnant of another belch that occurred 100,000 years earlier. “Black holes are voracious eaters, but it turns out they don’t have very good table manners,” Julie Comerford, from the University of Colorado, Boulder, told the 231st American Astronomical Society meeting in Washington DC. “There are a lot of examples of black holes with single burps emanating out, but we discovered a galaxy with a supermassive black hole that has not one but two burps.” The burp itself consists of a stream of high-energy particles that is kicked back from the black hole.(BBC online news/science)

When man talks about God, happiness or anything else his language is peppered with what is familiar to his world. Blackholes have voracious appetites we say. I can understand it since I have had voracious appetite some times and so long ago when I have had a cast-iron constitution. It has no meaning whatsoever outside the specific context of humans conveying their observations and based on their own experience. Nature of God, Trinity are all concepts which we employ in human language; logic, rhetorics by the same token are artifices to makes one’s arguments sound superior and it does not however means truth has been established. When we read in the Bible and in several passages, God’s blessings are given in conjunction with all living creatures who makes case for his right to cut out all competition?  When the Spirit writes of God’s anger over the old world he writes,”It grieved him at his heart” and he would destroy them as well. From so many examples it is very clear that God’s Providence would see man in a context than singly. Why? Man is a steward (Ge.1:28) and is responsible for their welfare. In salvation also he is a witness and bring others to peace of God which He assures as the portion for the righteous. Noah among the creatures in the ark is but a snapshot of the Millennial Reign on the earth. This being the case  when we see so many species are either extinct or on the endangered list where did man go wrong? His rational mind only makes his world in terms of dollars and cents but he is steadily making his own future in jeopardy. He accepts only ‘here and now’ and not the way God wants him to. His Time sees past future and present as here and now. God knew that there would be a great famine in Israel so he had set Joseph as his instrument and bestowed bumper crop to Egypt so much so they could be helped. Sufferings of Joseph were foreseen and God’s Providence to sustain a nation it was necessary. God also had instilled in him necessary qualities to ride out all injury and humiliation. Besides God sets him as an antitype for Jesus Christ whose death would bring great many to eternal salvation. God sees all events and persons and their roles in 360°. In short God’s ways are mysterious where man’s ways are only based on short term benefits for himself.

Cosmic lunch where stars partake their table manners however clumsy it would seem leave great blessings. ISM for instance. Do not however ask me who says Grace for the occasion.


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Muhammad Shaheer Niazi 17 managed to produce an electric honeycomb: physicists have known the phenomenon of electric honeycomb for decades. It occurs when a layer of oil is placed in an electric field between a pointy electrode and a flat one – and the instability caused by the build up of ions applies pressure to the surface of the oil – creating a beautiful pattern that looks like a honeycomb, or a stained glass window.

The high school student from Pakistan’s city of Lahore managed to photograph the movement of ions that forms the honeycomb besides recording the heat found on the surface of oil. No one has done this before. According to Niazi, “Electric honeycomb perfectly demonstrates how everything in this universe is seeking equilibrium. Its hexagonal shape is the most stable structure.”

In this case, he says, two electrodes are used; a pointy needle on top of a flat surface with a thin layer of oil on it. High voltage from the needle makes ions bombard the surface of oil, on their way to meet the ground electrode.

“It is just like lightning striking the surface of earth,” he says. But oil is a non-conductor. The ions start accumulating on the surface of oil. As the pressure increases, they create a depression and manage to meet the ground electrode.

In the process the surface of oil loses its shape, something it does not want. So within no time, honeycomb-like hexagonal structures appear on the surface of oil.

“The amount of energy that goes in equals the energy that comes out and thus the flow of electricity is efficient. This way equilibrium is restored,”

What is the order? Nature has laws and these are established so each entity has a role and several interactions simultaneously taking place between atmosphere ocean and land create a system, carbon or oxygen cycle for example. Such equilibrium however is temporary. Exchange of energy from one medium to other similarly points out to something else.  Conservation of energy owes to the nature of energy that cannot be destroyed  or created. Thus when we speak of Order and nature serving it by so many laws we need understand there is a moral imperative implied. So many wars each waged to redress some perceived injustice  is how we explain the rationale of war. Even so the Order restoring justice in calling every individual to account is quite natural.(Ack: 


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My two books Now You Know: Man and Nature and Mind and Matter are available.

Now You Know: man and nature https://www.createspace.com/7449242

Now You Know: mind and matter https://www.createspace.com/7559795

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