Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Life of a Cadaver

"Death. It doesn't have to be boring." 
 Mary Roach 

What happens to a body when a person dies? Does it end up in a grave, cremated, or decomposing in a creepy neighbor’s backyard? It may, but it could go on to be so much more. A body can go on to have, in a sense, a life after death. Bodies that are dedicated to science go on to have curious second lives as cadavers.  They have new jobs and a new life where their efforts save and improve millions of lives. How is this possible, one is may ask? Well, for one, cadavers do not have to do much more than lie around while they are manipulated by the living. They just lie there and regard researchers with nonjudgmental gazes while they are used in all sorts of manners to better understand the human body.  Cadavers are used by medical doctors to perfect techniques, to better understand decomposition, and to better understand forensic applications, but these are the blander uses for cadavers. The cadavers that really get to experience a new life are those who are used as crash test dummies. It seems weird to use human bodies as crash test dummies, but through their enthusiastic devotion to be crashed into concrete walls, they save many lives.   

I am not trying to be crude at all, but this is one of the applications that cadavers are used for. And, through research with them, automobile safety has risen substantially. Because, lets face it, what is a better tool to show the repercussions to a human body via the impact of a car? A plastic crash test dummy that gives us a force reading, or a cadaver that will show actual damage?                                                              I vote for the cadaver.   


Tuesday, May 29, 2012

String Theory

The Theory of Everything

“The most incomprehensible thing
 about our universe is that it is comprehensible.”
--Albert Einstein 
            Understanding the universe is a monumental task, yet many scientists dedicate themselves to this task with great vigor. The ultimate goal in physics is to try to understand everything, yet physicists have run into countless problems with the theories that have arisen. Theories are found, analyzed, and rejected. Careers are made and lost on hypotheses. Physicists run through the halls with the news of discoveries, yet the most monumental breakthrough will grab and pull their attention away. The latest theory to have the attention of the scientific community is something out of science fiction. It is a theory that seems unreal and plausible at the same time. The theory that has everyone in an uproar is string theory. This theory is changing everything that was ever known about physics. String theory has the potential to show that the laws of the universe are reflections of one grand physical principle, one master equation. The String Theory explains how quantum mechanics and general relativity can coincide in the quantum and dimensional realms.

The Supersymmetry String Theory is a complex theory that is trying to explain everything. It strives to present what the universe is composed of at a subatomic level, and how that composition affects the whole universe. This Superstring Theory, as it’s otherwise known, gives us a very simple explanation to what everything is made of (Hawking, Grand. 83). According to this theory, the whole universe is composed of ultra-subatomic vibrating strings (Greene, Elegant 15). These strings are present in everything; they make up everything. The preferred pattern of the vibration of a string appears as a particle whose “mass and force charges are determined by the string’s oscillating pattern” (Greene, Elegant 15). In other words, the vibration of the string determines which molecule it is. Its vibration will tell whether it forms a proton, neutron, electron, or a quark. (Greene, Elegant 14). These molecules will then go on to make everything that is known, and that is not known, in the universe and beyond. The introduction of strings into the equation means that particles cannot be point-like, as they are perceived in quantum mechanics (Gubser 52). The easiest way to visualize a string is to think of violin players (Greene, Elegant 14).  Every note that they produce has its own vibration. These vibrations come together to make notes that will turn into a melody, and, in the end, our universe is one grand orchestra. This orchestra of vibrating strings is what has the whole physics world exited, because, for the first time, they have come across a solution to bring quantum mechanics and general relativity together in one “theory of everything” (Huang 35).

This is a bit off of a paper that I wrote back in high school. I just love string theory! I hope that you guys share my love of the micro-world. 

Greene , Brian. The Elegant Universe. New York: W.W Norton & Company Inc,
                        1999. Print.
Greene, Brian. The Fabric of the Cosmos. New York: Random House, 2004.                                                                             Print.
Gubser , Steven. The Little Book of String Theory. New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 2010. 
Hawking , Stephen. A Brief History of Time. New York: Random House Inc, 2005.
Hawking , Stephan. The Grand Design. New York: Randon House Inc, 2010.
Huang , Fannie. Quantum Physics: An Anthology of Current Thought. New York: Rosen Publishing Group, 
2006. Print.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Yellowstone Supervolcano

This is a subject that has fascinated me since I was in middle school, Super Volcanoes. Yup, we are so not talking about your ordinary Mt. St. Helen here people. I am talking about volcanoes like Taupo, Lake Toba, Aira, and, our own little bundle of lava, Yellowstone. See, a majority of Yellowstone national park is really a caldera that is roughly 34x45 miles. 
This Supervolcano has erupted three times in the past due to the hotspot that it is centered over. And this hot spot has generated a magma chamber that is about the size of Rhode Island under the park. So, what does this mean for us homo sapiens? Well, it means that Yellowstone is closely monitored.
And this is were the difference between your every day volcano, and a supervolcano is realized. 
While the eruption of Mt. St. Helen was destructive, an eruption from a supervolcano such as Yellowstone has the potential to plummet the world into an ice age. A Yellowstone eruption could be over 1,000 times more powerful then the Mt. St. Helen's eruption in 1980.

 Anything within 100 miles of the park would be instantly killed and much of the northwest would be destroyed. 
And here is the kicker for you, scientists are worried about this volcano. It has shown increasing signs of activity. And at this point, Scientists are concerned  of  the "when" of the next eruption, not the "if." 

Friday, May 25, 2012

Happy Birthday!

Happy Birthday Electron! The theory of the electron was presented 120 years ago by the dutch physicist Hendrik Lorentz. And what a great discovery it was. 

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Chemical Clock

 Let us view the concept of a chemical clock

 no...not that type of chemical clock.
I am talking about a scenario where chemical compounds react and bring with them sudden, observable, events that can be tracked quiet precisely over a given amount of time. For example, think of a solution going from clear to black, and then back to clear again. Such events can be tracked at specific time intervals. 

Ahh yes. The good old iodine clock. (a.k.a the Harcourt-Esson Reactions) 

This reaction is started by mixing two solutions together. The first is a solution of hydrogen peroxide and sulfuric acid. To this solution we add another consisting of potassium iodide, sodium thiosulfate, and good old starch.

Once these lovelies are mixed we get these wonderful reactions:

In the first, slow reaction, the triiodite(I love this word) ion is produced:
H2O2 + 3 I + 2 H+ → I3 + 2 H2O
In the second, fast reaction, triiodide is reconverted to iodide by the thiosulfate:
I3 + 2 S2O32− → 3 I + S4O62−
But, alas, chemistry is all about our states of equilibrium. The thing is that the triiodide ion starts to be consumed faster than it can be generated when the solutions are mixed.  So, this second reaction is responsible for our dark blue/black color that seems to happen in a blink of an eye.
And then we find the equilibrium problem again and resort back to our clear color in different variations of this experiment. For in some reactions, the solution cycles from dark blue to clear until the reagents are all depleted. 

Sunday, May 13, 2012

The End is Near!

The end is coming! ahhhhhhhhhhh! Scream, run around, and forget your humanity. Then come to the realization that the world is not, in fact, going to end at the moment. See, this is was I predict will happen. The end of the world, as predicted by misinterpretation, by a bunch of yahoos. 
Yes, the Mayan calendar ends. Big deal, they ran out of rock to write on. The prediction does not even take into account leap years, or the right conversion from our current calendar to there's. Yes, I am ranting about something that is getting old, but, hey, I have to get it out there.
And in bigger news, there is more evidence to support the fact.

They recently found a new Mayan cave that does not predict the end of the world in 2012. Nope, this one only predicts that end of the world in a later date. :)

Friday, May 11, 2012

Finals are over, thank goodness. But, let us talk about this weird, and annoying, anomaly that makes us wonder about stuff at the odd most times. Sure, some of us have ADD and this come along with it, but it is really are inability to concentrate on what is at hand. Taking a test is something most of us would rather not do. So all of those thoughts that race through are head that we usually do not pay attention to, suddenly seem very appealing, and we lack on to them. So, in reality, we just really would rather do anything but take a test.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

ya....cuz this totally makes sense. 
All ya need to make water is water........

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Finals week is upon us. Papers are due, stress sets in, and tempers run high. The library becomes a place to sleep, study, and procrastinate. The joys of college never seem to end. 
On a side note:
2+2 does not equal fish
2+2 does not equal five
2+2= (cos^2x+sin^2x)4