British built "Bloodhound" will try and
break the land speed record. (Photo
courtesy of Flock and Siemens.)
Over the Edge
Roundup of Strange Science for the Month
Fastest Car? - The vehicle that looks like it will smash
the world land speed record has been revealed to the public
in London last month. The "Bloodhound" is a hybrid jet/rocket
propelled car that is designed to top out at a speed of
1,000 miles per hour. "It's a mixture of jet engine and
rocket motor," says project director Richard Noble. The
British built vehicle is a slick looking machine 44 feet
(13.5m) long with a tail fin that looks like it came off
a fighter jet. Its first test will come next year in South
Africa when its electronics will be tested at 200mph. It
will try then try and break the current speed record, set
in 1997 of 763 mph, by going 800mph. Then in 2017 it will
attempt to break the 1,000mph barrier. "Zero to a 1,000
miles an hour is 55 seconds, and then when we go through
the measured mile it's 3.6 seconds ... a mile in 3.6 seconds.
Then we gotta think about stopping," said Noble jokingly.
The team building the vehicle got assistance form British
Royal Air Force, and Army engineers.
Rises From the Ground with the Help of a Tree - A storm
hit Sligo, Ireland, blowing over a centuries-old beech tree
and unearthing the bones of a medieval teenager. The skeleton
was broken in two with the upper half caught in the tree's
root system and the lower half still in the ground. Radiocarbon
test from the bones suggest the body was buried between
1030 and 1200 A.D.. The victim was between 17-20-years year
old and stood 5' 10" well above average for the period.
He had a violent death as stab wounds were still visible
to the ribs and the left hand. "Whether he died in battle
or was killed during a personal dispute, we will never know
for sure," said Marion Dowd of Sligo-Leitrim Archaeological
Services. It is not clear if he was buried in a cemetery
or in insolation. No other remains have been found.
Civilizations Unlikely Says Study - A study by a scientist
at the Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy suggests
that there isn't currently any evidence for super advanced
alien civilizations in our observable universe. Astronomer
Michael Garrett's conclusions are based on the glow of infrared
emissions from galaxies we can see. In theory any really
advanced, so-called Kardashev Type III civilization (that
means it's a civilization on a galactic scale), would produce
waste heat with a certain infrared signature. "The original
research at Penn State has already told us that such systems
are very rare but the new analysis suggests that this is
probably an understatement, and that advanced Kardashev
Type III civilizations basically don't exist in the local
Universe," said Astronomer Michael Garrett, author of the
study. "In my view, it means we can all sleep safely in
our beds tonight - an alien invasion doesn't seem at all
with "Kitchen Knife" Claws - Scientists studying bones
found in the 1990 and donated to Australian Opal Centre,
think they have identified a new species that they have
nicknamed "lightning claw" because of impressively sized
claws. The claws, according to the researchers, were about
the size of kitchen knives and were used by the 20 foot
long carnivore to bring down and consume prey. The creature,
which has not yet been officially named, is a megaraptorid,
a group of theropod dinosaurs that exhibited long claws
and lived on the southern supercontinent Gondwana. Lightning
Claws, which lived about 110 million years ago, during the
mid-Cretaceous, was at least 10 million years older than
any megaraptorid previously known.
Look into Last Czar Murder - Russian investigators have
exhumed the remains of that country's last czar Nicholas
II along with this family. The probe will look into the
circumstances of the imperial family death at the hands
of the Bolsheviks in 1918. The Romanov dynasty had ruled
Russia for some 300 years before Nicholas II was forced
to abdicate in 1917. The investigation will attempt to re-confirm
the identities of the bodies, especially those of the children
Alexei and Maria.
Quote of the Month - "The
saddest aspect of life right now is that science gathers
knowledge faster than society gathers wisdom." - Isaac
New at the Museum:
'Wow' Signal -
August 19, 1977, Jerry R. Ehman, a professor at Ohio State
University, was sitting at his kitchen table when he realized
that he may have been the first human to have been contacted
by an extra-terrestrial, alien race. - Full
Picture of the Month - What
is this this?
Physics Weirdness - I noticed on your site that quantum
physics is mentioned often. I was wondering if you could
explain its origins and why it's considered more reliable
than the physics used prior to its emergence? (If that is
so) - Robert D.
Mechanics is one of the two great physics theories of
the 20th century that replaced classical (Newtonian) physics.
The other was General Relativity. Interestingly both
were fathered by the same man: Albert Einstein. While he
loved the one child the other was disliked. Einstein never
felt comfortable with Quantum Physics.
Relativity is mostly used to describe how the world of big
things work: The movement of planets, stars, rockets, etc.
Everything down to about the size of an atom. Below that
size scientists almost always use quantum physics to do
their calculations. Both were needed as classical physics
created by Issac Newton in 17th century couldn't predict
how the things worked when dealing with extremely large
objects (like planets and stars) or extremely small objects
(like photons and electrons).
the rules of general relativity seem to make some kind of
sense to us, the rules involved with quantum physics are
bizarre and challenge our understanding of reality. Little
in this realm is for certain. Everything is based on the
probability of something happening. This is one of the reasons
Einstein disliked it. He has often been quoted as saying,
"He [God] does not play dice" with the universe.
illustration of the strangeness of quantum theory is the
dual nature of light. Is light a particle or a wave? The
experiment that scientists used to find this out is called
the double-slit experiment. A barrier with two narrow
slits is placed between a light source and a screen. If
light is a stream of particles we could expect to see each
particle pass through one slit or the other and create two
separate lines of light on the screen behind it. This isn't
what occurs, however. We see a pattern of light and dark
lines all across the screen. This, known as an interference
pattern, is the result of waves of light passing through
the two slits, then interacting as they hit the screen with
the wave crests reinforcing each other to make the light
lines and the wave troughs making the dark lines.
I guess light is a wave them, huh? If you close one of slits,
though, suddenly light starts behaving like a particle again.
We see it piling up behind the open slit. Well, maybe light
only behaves like a wave when a lot of light particles are
moving together. Unfortunately this is not the case. When
the double slit experiment is performed sending only one
photon (light particle) though the barrier at a time the
photon doesn't show up behind the slits. It can show up
anywhere on the screen. In fact, as you send more and more
photons though the experiment one at a time the interference
pattern slowly builds up, just as before. Does that mean
that each individual photon is a wave that interferes with
itself? Yep. Does this mean that the photon passed through
both slits at the same time? Indeed, this seems to be the
scientists have placed photon detectors at each slit to
see which side the photon goes though a strange thing happens.
Suddenly the interference pattern disappears and there are
just two lines of light one behind each slit. The detector
has somehow forced the photon to stop behaving as a wave
and act like a particle again. Even if the detector is placed
on the opposite side of the barrier, after the photon
passes though the slits, the photon still acts like a particle.
How did it know that there was going to be a photon detector
on the opposite side of the barrier so it would behave
like a particle and not a wave when it passed though
In the end, light is both a wave and a particle at the same
time. If you think that doesn't make sense, you are right.
However, that doesn't change the fact that it is true. If
you can explain why all this happens and support your ideas
with experimental proof, you're probably on your way to
a Nobel prize.
is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Quantum
Physics weirdness. As you get deeper and deeper into it
what you find seems to make less and less common sense.
You might try to argue that scientists simply have gotten
the thing wrong except that quantum theory is one of the
most successful theories of all time and is used in the
design of such everyday things as TVs and cell phones. Experiments
show that not just light is both a particle and a wave,
so are electrons, protons and atoms. These maybe small things
too, but remember we are just made of atoms. At some level
are we just waves too?
have grappled to figure out what this means in the real
world. Some interpretations include the ideas like "nothing
is real until it is observed" or that there are countless
"multiple universes" each differing just slightly from the
one next to it. There isn't room here to discuss all the
ramifications of quantum theory, so I'm going to give you
a couple links that may help. Prepare to see the world in
a different light after reading these, or at least have
an awful headache:
a question? Click here to
send it to us.
Telescope - In October of 1608, Johannes Lippershey,
demonstrated his invention to the Netherlands States General
to obtain a patent on the first optical (refracting) telescope.
Lippershey was a lens grinder who built spectacles. He realized
that by mounting two lens in a tube he could make distant
objects appeared closer. He sold his invention to the Dutch
government, which appreciated its military value. Galileo
heard of the device and built his own to study the heavens.
Planets - Mid-October will be one of those rare times
when all five naked eye visible planets can be seen in the
night sky. The most difficult to see with be Mercury which
will only be visible in the east just above the horizon
just before sunrise. Three other planets - Venus, Mars and
Jupiter - can be seen at the same time in the same direction
higher in the sky. Saturn will be visible in the southwest
sky, just after nightfall.
More Evidence of Water on Mars - New findings from NASA's
Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) provide the strongest
evidence yet that liquid water flows intermittently on present-day
Mars. Using an imaging spectrometer on MRO, researchers
detected signatures of hydrated minerals on slopes where
mysterious streaks are seen on the Red Planet. These darkish
streaks appear to ebb and flow over time. They darken and
appear to flow down steep slopes during warm seasons, and
then fade in cooler seasons. They appear in several locations
on Mars when temperatures are above minus 10 degrees Fahrenheit
(minus 23 Celsius), and disappear at colder times. "Our
quest on Mars has been to 'follow the water,' in our search
for life in the universe, and now we have convincing science
that validates what we've long suspected," said John Grunsfeld,
astronaut and associate administrator of NASA's Science
Mission Directorate in Washington. "This is a significant
development, as it appears to confirm that water -- albeit
briny -- is flowing today on the surface of Mars." This
finding raises hopes that scientists my indeed find microbial
life on the Red Planet..
and Meep are on a well deserved vacation. In their place
we feature highlights from their past adventures.
Archive 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007,
Copyright Lee Krystek 2015. All Rights Reserved.