Book review 12) Thing Explainer

Hi,

Cover of the book Thing Explainer

Randall Munroe is a great guy. Creator of XKCD (totally free nerd comics) and the author of What If which you can also read on the internet maybe only some parts… Now one day about two weeks ago I noticed in our school library that they bought his “new” book Thing Explainer. I wanted to buy it earlier but I found out that it costs like almost two new books and was quite discouraged (and I did not have the money anyway). So for some reason the people in the library bought it and I have read it in few days.


Book: Thing Explainer

Author: Randall Munroe

Genre: Science

Pages: dunno

Rating: 10/10


Thing Explainer is a book that explaines complicated stuff in simple words, simple means ten hundred most used words. Great idea I admit. Randall says that when he was younger he purposefully used complicated words so that nobody thought about him, that he did not know them, but in this book he does not need to care about it.

Inside you can find explanations of: Saturn V (Up Goer Five), Keyhole (Shape Checker), Periodic table, Sun, Washing maschine, Car and many many more. There are I think two or three double pages which extend the books already giantic size to double and the page about Skyscraper (Sky toucher) is of the format A2

1000 words is not much. Most technical terms do not exist and even if you know them IRL (in real life) you may find yourself wondering what some things mean. “Fire water” took me some time indeed. Or helium is “kind of air that makes your voice funny”.

Basically there is no objection from me, hopefully the author will write 2nd part since there is lot of stuff outhere that still needs to be covered!


Here is in the same style Einstein and Theory of Relativit explained.
Here is Up Goer Five.

This video is from Minute Physics about getting to space:

Dragallur

Do we see in 3 dimensions?

Hi,
its been quite long time since I wrote about dimensions. Just a quick recap since people do not click on links much: 0th dimension is point, 1st dimensions is line, 2nd dimension is plane and 3rd dimension is space. We are talking about spatial dimensions, another thing is atime dimension, but that is not important here.


So I got into this argument if humans see in 3 dimensions or not, I got no clear conclusion though so I am just going to discuss it here. We live in 3 spatial dimensions, proof, cubes exist. How do we see though? We can see cubes but I would argue that we see in 3rd dimension.

  1. Retina does not capture depth, it is 2 dimensional detector so we simply can not have a 3 dimensional vision.
  2. We have two eyes though, lot of people seem to like to point this out. With second eye you have what is called a stereoscopic vision.. the second eye has little bit different point of view and when brain combines it stuff gets depth. This does not mean that we see in 3D though. Still it is just two 2 dimensional pictures put together. Brain interprets this picture as 3 dimensional and based on experience judges distance. Also colors and shades can help us with that.

    File:3D stereoscopic projection icositetrachoron.PNG

    This is stereoscopic picture, disalign your eyes and match the pictures so you see 3 of them.

  3. You can draw anything you see on piece of paper and it will be exact representation of what you see, all angles same and so on. This I think would be impossible if you actually wanted to transfer 3D image to 2D plane because by definition 3D space is made up of infinite 2D planes put on top of each other. Same as you can not take infinite picture and store it in 1D line.
  4. If we could see in 3D we would see all angles as they actually are. If you look into corner you do not see 90° angles though because you remember the way that walls work you know that they are there.

Thats about the arguments I have, hope you enjoyed reading,

Dragallur

Sunset elevator

Hi,
today I will write about one particular physics problem that I was solving during weekend. It was pretty hard, but quite interesting set-up. (It is originally from Czech physics seminar called Fykos)


You and your boyfriend/girlfriend are sitting on a beach watching sunset. Luckily you are prepared to extend the romantic moment with elevator that will drive upwards. How fast does it need to drive for you two to be able to watch sunset continously?

Normally sunset related problems are about plane or car driving and how fast does it need to be for you to watch sunset all the time. That is freakin’ easy because you just need to drive at the speed that the Earth turns in your place. For Prague this is roughly 300m/s which is about the speed of sound.

This problem is way more unique. I do not know if my solution is correct since the people from seminar did not release solutions yet.

Basically you are standing on top of circle that is rotating at 300 m/s or also 0.00417°/s. You are soon leaving place from which you could see the sunset so you need to go up. The problem is that you are not actually going directly upwards to this place but as Earth turns your elevator rises in a line perpendicular to tangent of Earth at your paricular location, check out this desmos graph which helped me a lot to understand it (my creation): https://www.desmos.com/calculator/oftnm48s3b

Here is a picture though it is better to go on the original link which is very interactive:

(Check out complete end of post for explanation of picture) What does it mean for you in practice? In one hour you will be going almost 100 m/s. After 6 hours you will certainly be dead because the acceleration will kill you. At this point Earth would still be bigger on the sky though you would already be 500,000 kilometers away. After another three minutes from what I have considered last time you would be almost 3 million kilometers away and Sun and Earth would be the same size, at this point you would also ride in 1/3 of speed of light. But this journey still continues. After another 13 seconds you would go faster than the speed of light with acceleration of 14 km/s. There is not much time left but lets see.. 10 million kilometers would be reached by next 9 seconds. 5 seconds later you would go in freakin 10 million kilometers per second if it would be possible. One second before the journey would end you would reach 0.5 of AU. Soon after you would divide by zero which is dangerous[1]. After exactly 21600 seconds which is 1 quarter of day your elevator is perpendicular to this horizon, which sucks.

I bet your girlfriend/boyfriend would not be so happy about this trip though the first few hours would be amazing.

Dragallur

Explanation: black circle is Earth. Green line is elevator that with you turns left, after 21600 it will go 90 degrees. Red dot is the spot where you need to be in order to see sunset. Blue line is the original horizon.

[1]Do not be discouraged by only 0.5 AU. In the next mili and microseconds you would whizz through whole Milky Way and Observable universe as you would reach infinite speed.

Derivatives made easy 3a) Maximum and minimum explained

Hi,
in school we learn how to derive right now. The teacher does not do very good job. The class does not know about limits and they only learned power rule and no other rule for derivation though at the same time they learn about maxima and minima.[0]


When you derive function you can find lot of useful informations about it. Today I will talk about minima and maxima. Those are points where the function turns around creates “hill” or “valley” – maxima or minima.

https://www.mathsisfun.com/calculus/images/function-min-max.gif

Some fictional function.

In the function above (f-blue line) you can see couple of points marked. Two orange points are maxima, blue is minima and green is special to which I will get in another post.

 

As I have already said quite few times, when you derive function you will find out what is the slope (how much up or down) at one point[3]. If it does not go up or down it is zero, those are the maxima and minima you are looking for. Right before maximum you have positive slope, the function goes up towards maximum. Right after maximum you have negative slope. What is between if the function is smooth? Zero. When we derive function, lets say function like this:

f(x)=2x²    We get (according to power rule, if you do not know it ignore it right now):

f'(x)=4x    The apostrophe means that it has been derived.

Now when does this derivation equals zero? In other words? When is the slope zero?

Only when x=0 because f'(0)=4*0 = 0 [2]

The original function has minimum or maximum on the point when x=0 [1]. Tricky is that you do not know if it is minimum or maximum which needs some more work and I will get to it in another post.

Dragallur

[0]I will also talk about power rule, multiplication rule and so on in the future.

[1]To get the coordinates of the maximum or minimum you just plug the solution of the derivative to original function and you will get the y coordinate.

[2]If you work with higher order polynomials like x³ you might easily get more solutions which means more minimas and maximas.

[3]If you plot the derivation you will get the slope anywhere.

PS: sometimes I see minima or minimum and maxima or maximum so I use both as I want.