On human nature (part 1)

Hi,

Today I was going to write about the book Brave New World and happiness but just few minutes back I settled on something else so I am not even sure what will come out in the next several minutes.


As I was going through my news feed on Facebook I noticed Phil Plait posting again. It is about another black hole merger and gravitational wave detection. This happened I think four or five times now and of course for the first time it was all over the news, everybody was talking about it (even Czech news mentioned it). I am not sure how it was like for the next time but it probably did not get such an attention… now I am not trying to say that it should have, there are other important things (like a woman under root (don’t even ask for the context)). Anyway, this time gravitational wave was detected and public could only find out through reading one tweet [1]! That is how much coverage you get for discovery in probably completely new field of physics.

I am certainly quite biased here but the point that Phil Plait made in his post and that I want to share here is how people look for new things but then quickly forget about them. It appears we live in an age where meme (meaning not only joke now) lasts for shorter and shorter time [2]. This might be caused by this “information age” or whatever we call the 21st century but I think this trend also propagates further to the need to have a new iPhone or whatever is behind schedule on being “updated”.

Maybe all of this sounds cliché and just the other day I was telling one of my teachers that the reason why man do not work with hands so much is simply because we live in different time! It reminds me of people worrying about first books then newspapers, TVs and now phones and their effect on youth (this and this XKCD will help you get the idea). And yet should we be worried about the change? How are we going to get ready for it if we leave it to itself and then it does become a problem? I could write under this picture of Black Friday: “Look at those insane people!” but maybe as things tend to be it is more complicated than that (but yeah they are probably buying useless stuff 😀 ).

Dragallur

[1] Yup that is a lie, of course it spread through the internet but it was not such a boom.

[2] I should probably put disclaimers all over the place since I have not lived very long time yet.

Advertisements

Gravitational waves

Hi,
before I start to write about gravitational waves, let me explain how electromagnetic waves work.


Electromagnetic waves are just light which we see from candle for example. The thing is that in such a candle atoms oscillate and in the process of burning electrons are jumping on more energetic levels, orbitals. When this happens they want to go back right away, so they emit photon and fall back on the lower orbital. Such a photon then travels towards you and you can sense it with your eye.

But all of those atoms oscillate because there is huge temperature in the candle (800°C). They move back and forth creating waves of photons because some photons are closer together as the atom moves to the maximum of oscillation. As it goes back the photons are more stretched apart creating the gap in the wave. This is called electromagnetic wave.

If you had really good eye and somebody would walk away from you with candle, the light would not stop but you would observe the light come towards you in wave, in quantum. The frequency would get smaller and smaller but it would never disappear and would always appear with the same luminosity.

Now when you have gravity this can happen too in what is called gravitational wave. Such a wave is a result of shaking with something that interacts with gravity. The problem here is that gravity is such a weak force that you just can not observe it on candle and you need some kind of star.

Here comes two neutron stars which were found to be rotating rapidly around each other. As they rotate they create the ripples in space time, gravitational waves. In 1993 the Nobel prize was awarded to two guys who were able to indirectly observe how this system of two neutron stars was losing energy emitting those waves, they were observed to be slowly getting closer and closer to each other.

Physicists are trying to observe gravitational waves directly with tremendously precise methods using lasers but it was not yet achieved.

Dragallur

Picture is from here.