Archive for the ‘Science’ Category

Sir Edward V Appleton (1892-1965) British,


Appleton was an English physicist and Nobel prize winner (1947) who discovered the ionosphere.

In 1924 Appleton began research into the strength of the radio signals received at Cambridge from the BBC station in London. He soon discovered that the strength of the signal was constant during the day but varied during the night, rising and falling in an almost regular manner. He suggested that, at night, the Cambridge apparatus was receiving not one but two waves, one travelling directly and the other being reflected by the atmosphere. The existence of a reflecting layer had first been suggested around forty years earlier by Balfour Stewart. In 1902 Oliver Heaviside and A.E. Kennelly had independently postulated the theory of a conducting layer of the atmosphere: the Kennelly-Heaviside Layer. Following their lead Appleton began a series of experiments, which proved the existence of that layer in the upper atmosphere now called the ionosphere. Moreover, by a slight change of wavelength it was possible to measure the time taken by the waves to travel to the upper atmosphere and back. The position of the reflecting layer was thus identified and its height (60 miles above ground) determined. The method used was what is now called “frequency-modulation radar”. The ionosphere was thus the first “object” detected by radiolocation, and this led to a great development of radio research and to a military invention of the greatest importance in World War II


Further experiments which led to the possibility of round-the-world broadcasting were carried out and in 1926 he discovered a further atmospheric layer 150 miles above ground, higher than the Heaviside Layer and electrically stronger. This layer, named the Appleton Layer after him, reflects short waves round the earth. Three years later Appleton made an expedition to Northern Norway for radio research, studying the Aurora Borealis and in 1931 he published the results of further research on determining the height of reflecting layers of the ionosphere, including the use of a transmitter that sent out “spurts” of radio energy, and the photography of the received echo-signals by cathode ray oscillography.(Ack: Nobelprize.org, BBC.Co.UK-history)

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Light of my Life is not the light of your life

It was Isaac Newton who from series of experiments postuated that light is a spectrum of 7 colors. We also believe from the colors we see in a rainbow. The red light along one edge of the rainbow is electromagnetic radiation with a wavelength of about 620 to 750 nanometres; the violet light along the opposite edge is radiation with a wavelength of 380 to 450nm.

But there is far more to electromagnetic radiation than these visible colours. Light with wavelengths slightly longer than the red light we see is called infrared. Light with wavelengths slightly shorter than violet is called ultraviolet.

Many animals can actually see ultraviolet, and so can some people, says Eleftherios Goulielmakis of the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics in Garching, Germany. In some circumstances even infrared is visible to humans.

Beyond ultraviolet, electromagnetic wavelengths can go shorter than 100nm. This is the realm of X-rays and gamma rays. You won’t often hear X-rays described as a form of light.

“A scientist wouldn’t say ‘I’m shining X-ray light on the target’. They would say ‘I’m using X-rays’,” says Goulielmakis.

Meanwhile, go beyond infrared and electromagnetic wavelength stretches to 1cm and even up to thousands of kilometres. These electromagnetic waves are given familiar names like microwaves and radio waves. It may seem strange to think of the radio waves used in broadcasting as light.

“There is no real physical difference between radio waves and visible light from the point of view of physics,” says Goulielmakis. “You would describe them with exactly the same sort of equations and mathematics.” It’s only our everyday language that treats them as different.

So we have another definition of light. It is the very narrow range of electromagnetic radiation that our eyes can actually see. In other words, light is a subjective label that we only use because our senses are limited.


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There was time when electricity and magnetism seemed different things for a layman. But scientists like Hans Christian Oersted and Michael Faraday established that they are deeply entwined.

Oersted found that an electric current passing through a wire deflects the needle of a magnetic compass. Meanwhile, Faraday discovered that moving a magnet near a wire can generate an electric current in the wire. The idea of “electromagnetism” did not emerge until James Clerk Maxwell showed that electric and magnetic fields travel in the manner of waves, and that those waves move essentially at the speed of light. By a leap of imagination he theorized that light itself was carried by electromagnetic waves – which means light is a form of electromagnetic radiation.

In the late 1880s, a few years after Maxwell’s death, German physicist Heinrich Hertz became the first to formally demonstrate that Maxwell’s theoretical concept of the electromagnetic wave was correct.

Maxwell’s contribution to science is huge. Albert Einstein, who was inspired by Maxwell, said that he changed the world forever. Among many other things, his calculations helped explain what light is.

Having provided some scientific background let me try to explain the concept of the Trinity. Ishall quote relevant parts from the Nicene Creed:

I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.

And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-*begotten Son of God, …light of Light, very God of very God; (*begotten in the sense he is not made, being of one substance with the Father, by whom all things were made.)

And I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of Life; who proceeds from the Father [and the Son]; who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified; who spoke by the prophets.

Electricity, Magnetism and Light are three manifestatios of energy. Moslems would call their Supreme Being as the Lord of three worlds. Monotheism is fine and it has its way of manifesting in different modes. The Prophet of incomparable Light has to be inspired which is a mode different from writing down words. To be accurate and not miss an accent or sense is yet another mode; To be able to repeat verbatim is different. I can only answer for my faith. I have seen the light! I can say confidently. So shall say a blind standing under the sun being warmed by the light.

Do not forget the UN has designated 2015 as the International Year of Light.

I read the news this morning:

A toddler 18-month-old boy was killed in the night-time attack on two homes in the village of Duma,on the West Bank. His parents and brother suffered serious injuries. Slogans in Hebrew, including the word “revenge”, were found sprayed on a wall of one of the firebombed houses. On the other hand we had heard how a captured Jordanian pilot was set on fire by Daesh Jihadi elements. Obviously the glory of Light is wasted on them.


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Only recently President Assad admitted his predicament. He is winning a war that he cannot hold because of severe shortage. The Syrian leader must have realized what mass exodus of his people in order to avoid conflict could do to a vast country like his. He also said the army faced a shortage of soldiers. Naturally. This just shows no country can survive if there are no people to make it work. Assad may sit like Robinson Crusoe considering himself as a monarch of all that he surveys. But without a subject he must be a monarch who must foul all over the palace and clear up the mess himself. What pomp! What circumstance! Having said this we shall see nature itself shows the truth is not in the glory of any one or his clan or tribe. These are all sustained by the most meanest article one would not have given a second thought.

Look at the snowflake, it shall not form without a speck of grit or dirt to work its magic on. Similarly our clouds.

Firstly consider planktons. They are like you and me just nobodies managing their role in the marine foodchain, at the bottom Nevertheless most life in the sea ultimately depends on photosynthetic plankton. Also known as microalgae, these tiny or microscopic organisms live near the surface and take their energy from the sun and pass it on through the marine food chain.

Clouds are made up of many tiny droplets of water that have condensed from water vapour onto microscopic particles floating in the Earth’s atmosphere. These particles are known as cloud condensation nuclei. Plankton essentially help provide clouds with these nuclei to form around.

The number of these particles in a given volume helps to determine the number of droplets in a cloud, which can have a big influence on how much sunlight a cloud reflects back into space. The more droplets a given mass of cloud water is broken up into, the more sunlight is reflected, as the overall surface area of the cloud’s droplets increases. Since a significant portion of the planet’s reflectivity, or albeido, is due to clouds, this can have a major impact on the energy balance of the Earth.

But these plankton have a big role to play above the surface of the sea too. In new study published in the journal Science Advances it is found that plankton help to control clouds over remote seas far from land. These clouds in turn bounce the sun’s energy back into space, regulating the Earth’s climate and keeping temperatures cooler than they would otherwise be without them.( (The Conversation-How plankton help control clouds over the world’s most remote oceans/July 21,2015-Daniel Grosvenor)

When we see how many societies are rewriting natural and divine laws we know such societies make capitalism continue as before. When they fatten certain sections on the grounds these are on the assumption that the hands that create national wealth have also ingenuity and daringness. How real are they? Their risk taking is simiar to a free booter who is licensed by the ruling class to slash and burn rain forests or drill remote places and siphon off precious natural resources. The governments would not want to know the truth and pretend it is all for the nation’s economy. In nature there is no such big or little but each part is connected to something else. In such a complex sysem nations that let some perpetuate tyranny over the rest in their license to exploit what is for all shoud be considered as evil.

The concept of nations based on geographical borders is an illusion so is determining value of any in terms of size. People count.


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What are we? Science was young when the ancient Greeks put forward a set of classical elements: from water, air, fire and earth; the Chinese believed in water, fire, earth, metal and wood. Still it was young and naiive. In this age of Large Hadron Collider in Geneva the Physicists would put down matter as made of twelve fundamental particles – quarks and leptons. These have no substructure and cannot be broken down into smaller particles. Quarks and leptons interact via four forces to make the universe we know today.

How these particles work to make matter.

The nucleus and the electrons are attracted to each other, exchanging photons. The force between the nucleus and electrons is the electromagnetic force.

Many atoms constitute objects in our everyday life as well as much bigger components of the universe such as stars and galaxies. The force dominating this level of macroscopic phenomena is gravity.

In an atomic nucleus a proton is made up of two up quarks and one down quark, and a neutron is composed of one up quark and two down quarks. The force that binds three quarks in a proton or a neutron is called the strong force and this force is due to exchanges of gluons. Having said this let us examine force mediator that facilitates exchanges. There are four such mediators the “gluon”, “photon”, “graviton” and “weak bosons”.

An atomic nucleus constitutes an atom together with electrons orbiting around it. The relation between the nucleus and electrons resembles the one between the sun and planets in the solar system.

In the centre of stars, huge energy is generated by nuclear fusion being mediated by weak bosons. This energy makes the universe bright. In nuclear fusion, a down quark is changed to an up quark by the weak force. Stars are luminous because the fundamental building blocks are changing their types and providing energy.

Quarks like to hang in groups

Although most physicists believe that quarks are the fundamental building blocks which make up the universe, no one has observed an isolated quark on its own. This is due to the nature of the strong force.

Like a nucleus and an electron that attract each other due to their electrical charges, quarks are combined together by their color charges.

Many atoms constitute objects in our everyday life as well as much bigger components of the universe such as stars and galaxies. The force dominating this level of macroscopic phenomena is gravity, intermediated by gravitons.

Experiments in 1968 provided the evidence for the quark model. The quark model actually explains the existence of more than 100 particles, all known as “hadrons” (as in Large Hadron Collider) and made up of different combinations of quarks. For example the proton is made of three quarks. If protons are hit hard enough, the strong force can be overcome and the proton smashed apart. With the LHC recently updated is powerful and the scientists are ready to look deeper into the world of quarks.

The Large Hadron Collider, famous for finding the Higgs boson, has now revealed another new and rather unusual particle. Pentaquarks are incredibly difficult to see; they are very rare and very unstable. This means that if it is possible to stick five quarks together, they won’t stay together for very long. The team on the LHCb experiment made their discovery by looking in detail at other exotic hadrons produced in the collisions and they way these break apart. All hadrons seem to be made up of combinations of either two or three quarks, whereas pentaquarks as the name suggests are made up of five quarks.

Why is this important?

The discovery answers a decades-old question in particle physics and highlights another part of the mission of the LHC. Discoveries of new fundamental particles such as the Higgs boson tell us something completely new about the universe. But discoveries like pentaquarks give us a more complete understanding of the rich possibilities that lie in the universe we already know.

By developing this understanding, we may get some hints about how the universe developed after the Big Bang and how we’ve ended up with protons and neutrons instead of pentaquarks making up everyday matter.(Ack: the Conversation,Feb15 of 2013,2015- Takashi Kobota/Gavin Hesketh)

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Classical physics implies that anything falling through the horizon of a black hole can never escape. But Hawking showed that black holes continually emit radiation once quantum effects are taken into account. Unfortunately, for typical astrophysical black holes, the temperature of this radiation is far lower than that of the cosmic microwave background and we have no way of proving it. If a black hole continually emits radiation, it will continually lose mass – eventually evaporating. Hawking realized that this implied a paradox: if a black hole can evaporate, the information about it will be lost forever. This means that even if we could measure the radiation from a black hole we could never figure out it was originally formed. This violates an important rule of quantum mechanics that states information cannot be lost or created.

Determinism implies that the state of the universe at any given time is uniquely determined from its state at any other time. This is how we can trace its evolution both astronomically and mathematically though quantum mechanics.

If a black hole can evaporate and information lost how will determinism work? Black hole physics provides a test for any potential quantum gravity theory. Whatever your theory is, it must explain what happens to the information recording a black hole’s history.

It took two decades for scientists and they have come up with an answer. They suggested that the information stored in a black hole is proportional to its surface area (in two dimensions) rather than its volume (in three dimensions). This could be explained by quantum gravity, where the three dimensions of space could be reconstructed from a two-dimensional world without gravity – much like a hologram. See a problem like quantum gravity can disappear if we make the universe is a hologram: the real action would play out where gravity is zero. In regimes where there are no analytic tests a holographic universe replaces actual proof.

In this context we have Maldacena conjecture and it  reconciles Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity and quantum mechanics.

Shortly afterwards, string theory, the most studied theory of quantum gravity was also shown to be holographic.

Using holography we can describe the evaporation of the black hole in the two-dimensional world without gravity, for which the usual rules of quantum mechanics apply. This process is deterministic, with small imperfections in the radiation encoding the history of the black hole. So holography tells us that information is not lost in black holes, but tracking down the flaw in Hawking’s original arguments has been surprisingly hard.

Which came first? chicken or egg? Maldacena conjecture in this case makes chicken the hologram projection of egg where gravity is zero. Conversely shall we say chicken is the hologram projection of an egg in another time zone?

In a 4-D world of chickens , the eggs are entangled only in a flattened 3-D scaled down version of reality. Both are present.( cf.universe as a hologram)

(Ack: The Conversation June 24, 2015 -Don’t fear falling into a black hole – you may live on as a hologram- Prof.Marika Taylor/ in theoretical physics at Uni. of Southampton)


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Astrophysical journal of the 20th century was agog with Einsteins’ general theory of Relativity and this century is astir with Black holes. In our known universe the idea that no particle can pass faster than light was sacrosanct. Every theory had to fit in order to pass approval. In 2011 was a debate going on about faster-than-light neutrinos. Imagine the notion of the universe having internal boundaries! Only that we have not had any convincing proof to support this quirky idea. It has now been ditched.

What makes a black hole special is its event horizon. If you pass through you are lost forever, in the most complete way, from the universe you left behind. It’s a boundary to the knowable universe. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. The claim that the universe has internal boundaries is extraordinary. So what’s the evidence for event horizons? One may point to observations of hot matter around the postulated event horizon and say that matter is at least as far from the horizon as the size of the black hole itself. Einstein’s theory of gravity, describes these hot matter observations well, and if it continues to do so all the way down to the event horizon then black holes exist. But we’ve yet to see evidence for that.

Our theoretical explanations may require the existence of things for which there is no direct evidence. It happens all the time in physics. If you accept the Standard Model of Particle Physics then you probably believe in the Higgs boson even though it took a while in order to prove its existence. Similarly, if you believe general relativity then you probably believe in event horizons.

At best we may conclude the best theoretical model of the observational data implies a black hole. But that model includes general relativity, which we expect does not completely describe black holes, as it predicts a singularity – a point of infinite density and infinitesimal volume, at which space and time become infinitely distorted. Things can become quite weird is it not?

So when you come across the term “infinite” in physics it is more like the white spaces in old maps with a notation, ‘terra incognita’, meaning we have reached the limits of our understanding.

Thanks to Stephen Hawking who jiggered with black hole predicts small event horizons eventually explode due to’Hawking radiation.’

So it’s possible event horizons are where quantum mechanics first requires significant modifications to general relativity. Speculating further, it’s also possible that such modifications would prevent event horizons from forming. That might save us from living in a universe with parts that are unknowable.

‘Black holes are a bit like free will. Irrespective of the evidence, most of us live as if free will exists. And most astrophysicists live as if black holes exist’.

(The Conversation/ Black holes might exist, but let’s stay skeptical-Prof.craig savage, Theoretical Physics- Au.NU/ Nov.29, 2011)

(To be concluded)


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