Crazy Science Questions | SciByte 16

Crazy Science Questions | SciByte 16

This week on SciByte we take a look at the weird, the wacky and the too strange to be true … except when science intervenes. We break it down and serve it up just for you, based on questions submitted by the viewers of this show!

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Show Notes:

What kind of crazy science are we talking about?
I saw a video of a floating strawberry, what’s that about ?!?
  • All materials have diamagnetic properties, but the effect is very weak, and is usually overcome
    • Diamagnetic : repels a magnetic field
Dia … what .. ic?
  • Property of an object which causes it to create a magnetic field in opposition to an externally applied magnetic field by, alters the orbital velocity of electrons around their nuclei
  • As water is predominantly diamagnetic, this technique has been used to ‘levitate’ water droplets and even live animals; however, the magnetic fields required for this are very high and can create problems if any ferromagnetic materials are nearby
    • The fields required are typically in the range of a little over 10.5 times more powerful than a typical MRI machine 16 tesla
  • Video’s of objects floating in strong magnetic fields
Speaking of the crazy visuals science provides us …
Why does a cloud appear around sonic boom and what IS a sonic boom
Like a crowded convention floor, even sound can only move so fast
  • Sound travels at ~ ‘760 mph / 340 meters per second ‘
  • When an object passes through the air it creates pressure waves in front of and behind is, similar to the waves by a boat
  • Also similarly the faster the object travels the closer the waves are forced together
    • Think crowd movement towards awesome free swag
  • At a certain point those air waves are compressed to such a degree that they can not get out of the way of each other
    • Eventually they merge into a single shock wave, this critical speed is known as Mach 1
    • Mach 1 ~ 761 mph ~ 1,225 km/h
  • When this shock wave passes, a listener hears all at once the sound emitted over a longer period: a sonic boom
The more you know! … about sonic booms and the first invention to break the sound barrier
  • The whip was probably the first human invention to break the sound barrier.
  • The cracking sound a bullwhip makes when properly wielded is, in fact, a small sonic boom.
  • The end of the whip, known as the “cracker”, moves faster than the speed of sound, thus creating a sonic boom.
That crazy cloud thing …
  • The origins of this cloud is still debated but there are long standing theories.
  • Rapid condensation of water vapor due to a sonic shock produced at sub-sonic speed creates a vapor cone
Traveling faster than sound in a circle round the world
Why are there 360 degrees in a circle?
  • There are a few theories about the origin, but the precise reason is unknown
The hand, more than just counting to 5 …
  • Using your thumb you can count to 12 on each hand using each finger bone. ( This is still used in many regions of Asia )
  • Also ‘12 bones on each hand, 2 hands = 24 hours in one day’
The kind of math you’ll never forget … Sexagesimal (base60)
  • Some ancient societies used Sexagesimal (base 60) math, but how did they get there?
    • Remember counting to 12 on one hand … ‘12 finger bones * 5 fingers = 60’
  • Originating in ancient Sumerians, it was passed to ancient Babylonians and is still used in a modified form ( for measuring time and angles )
  • We still use it today with time and latitude
Days in a year Theory
  • Ancient astronomers noticed that the stars in the sky advanced in their yearly trek around the sky by approximately 1/360 of their path each day.
    • The ancient Persian calender used 360 days per year, why 360? it’s that crazy base 60 math again
Equilateral Triangle Theory
  • An equilateral triangle is a triangle with all equal side lengths
  • The earliest trigonomety was used by Babylonian astronomers and their Greek successors
  • 1/60 (remember that crazy Sexagesimal math? I knew you would) of an equilateral triangle is the same as 1 degree or 1/360 of a circle
Actually 360 is easy on the math too …
  • 360 is readily divisible, it was 24 divisors
    • An integer which divides a number without leaving a remainder.
  • 24 time zones (15* per section) 24 hours in a day
Does science know that black holes are really real (i.e. 100% certainty) or its more like “we are sure for 90% that black holes exist”?
  • Due to their very nature, we cannot directly observe Black Holes.
  • Observations and math provided the [first evidence for black holes](http://www.damtp.cam.ac.uk/research/gr/public/bh_obsv.html although the idea has been around
    • Einstein’s general theory of relativity (published in 1916) predicts just the kinds of object we are now inferring
    • the first object to be generally recognized as a black hole is the X-ray binary star Cygnus X–1 as early as the 1970’s
Looking for what you can’t see
  • The extreme gravitational forces of a black hole warp space and time so much, that even light can not escape
    • You can not observe them directly in the same you we observe stars or galaxies, since they don’t give off light
  • We can observe the effects of how they warp space and time
You can check in any time you like, but pass the event horizon, and you can never leave
  • Some recent observations using X-Ray Binary Observation compared energy outputs from a specific set of star systems.
    • In one set, were Neutron Stars, which are the densest stellar objects (other than quasars and black holes)
    • In the other set, Black Hole Candidates (unproven massive objects)
    • Both sets were companion systems, where another star was orbiting the massive object in question.
  • The energy emissions of each set were vastly different
    • Neutron Star : Energy and matter falling in tends to impact the object at the center, and emit energy at a high rate
    • Black Hole Candidates : Energy and matter falling in had almost zero energy emission
    • Comparison picture
When math bends time and space
  • Hawking Radiation
  • Explaining what it is, is highly complicated. But suffice it to say that Steven Hawking proposed a theory that holds up to mathey scrutiny, indicating that Black Holes should emit a very specific amount of thermal radiation, which is inversely proportionate to their total mass.
    • In other words, the bigger the black hole, the less of this Hawking Radiation it emits, but it never reaches a point of zero emission.
  • Since all black hole candidates that we have currently observed are generally incredibly massive, detecting this tiny amount of Hawking Radiation is very difficult.
  • However, a certain type of “Primordial Black Hole” (relatively low on mass) can sometimes collapse in on themselves, generating a massive burst of Hawking Radiation.
    • In 2008, NASA’s [Fermi Gamma-Ray Telescope](http://fermi.gsfc.nasa.gov/ was launched, which includes searching for these ancient explosions as part of their purpose.
Do tachyon particles really travel backwards in time??
  • Tachyon : a hypothetical subatomic particle that moves faster than light
  • Because a tachyon moves faster than light, we cannot see it approaching.
    • After a tachyon has passed nearby, we would be able to see two images of it, appearing and departing in opposite directions. GIF
When the strange gets stranger
  • Unlike ordinary particles, the speed of a tachyon increases as its energy decreases. In particular
  • Since time travel is considered to be non-physical, tachyons are believed by physicists to either not exist, or else to be incapable of interacting with normal matter
The answer was 42 … but what will the question be?
  • Special relativity implies that tachyons, if they existed, could be used to communicate backwards in time, in a process called Tachyonic antitelephone
  • Welcome to causality violations, and answers before you ask the question
  • So I guess when we get beamed the answer, we’ll start to wonder what the question was.

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