Science With Lego Ant
Asteroids have long been an important part of Earth’s history. From forming the Moon (OK, that wasn’t really an asteroid- it was an Earth sized planet named Theia smashing into the Earth and knocking out a chunk that became the Moon) to the asteroid that killed the dinosaurs (it landed in modern-day Mexico), asteroids have always been a source of mass destruction. However, NASA has countless ways to avoid the destruction the dinosaurs faced.
By March this year, an official method was concluded.
And, of course, it involves nukes.
These measures would not be necessary in all cases. Of course, if the asteroid is spotted in time, a fleet of spacecraft, could easily knock the asteroid of its collision course. However, for surprise asteroids, nuking the asteroid would be the measures taken to save our planet.
Sometime around the year 2135, a 500-meter asteroid named Bennu will swing close-by Earth. This is quite large, considering the asteroid that killed the dinosaurs was only about 20 times bigger. According to NASA scientists, there is a 1-in-2,700 chance Bennu will hit Earth. Of course, if it came too close, NASA could always just propel it away.
For right now, Bennu is just an interesting space rock for scientists to study in the hopes that it might help them further understand the origins of Earth. But I’m getting off topic.
Just yesterday, April 15, 2018, an asteroid whizzed between the moon and the Earth, and no one had even noticed it coming. Named 2018 GE3, this asteroid could potentially have been larger than the statue of Liberty. Now that’s big. Not extinction level big, but still big.
The fact that it hadn’t been detected until the day before it whizzed by half the distance between the moon and the Earth is a huge problem. What if it had been a larger asteroid, and had actually hit us? NASA needs to up its game, and quick. Who knows what else is coming at us right now?
-Lego Ant, firstname.lastname@example.org
What is Fire?
Now that’s a good question. We all know fire is a bright burning thing that gives off heat and light. However, what is it really? By that, I mean what state of matter is it? I asked Mrs. Hanson, a science teacher, on Thursday, and she said it wasn’t a state of matter. I’ve found this answer multiple times, but I wanted to find out for myself.
There are five states of matter. Here I’ve listed them from hottest to coldest:
Plasma (ionized gas with pretty much no electric charge)
Bose-Einstein condensates (a group of atoms cooled to almost exactly absolute zero, so that they clump together and start behaving like a single atom)
However, fire is none of these. Fire is just energy, like electricity. The flames that we can see is just gas that is reacting and still giving off light. It is very weakly ionized, but it is not plasma. Well, that was a very informative article. I just learned what plasma, fire, and Bose-Einstein condensates are. Hopefully you learned something too.
I know this is old news, but I never wrote an article about it, so here goes:
At the end of 2017, last year, teleportation was achieved by scientists in China.
Yes folks, we’re living in the future.
But it’s not the kind of teleportation you would find in sci-fi.
Researchers in China were able to successfully reassemble a proton in a lab down here on Earth in a satellite orbiting the planet. Yes, a photon. Nothing too
big. But this is still exciting news. Though we are still unimaginable far from teleporting people, this is a small first step. Photon-small.
Now the question that’s probably pestering everyone is how.
And so that you don’t stop reading this, this is not fake news. Search it up.
The process used is called ‘quantum entanglement’. Basically, the scientists had 2 entangled photons, one on Earth and one in the receiving satellite. Brace yourselves- this next part is going to sound like fiction.
What this means is that if you do something to one of the entangled photons, the reaction occurs in both. Einstein himself called this connection spooky.
This connection matters because it can be used to send quantum information, or qubits. Bits refer to the smallest way to represent information. A quantum bit is called a qubit.
To move the information, a qubit is kind of downloaded onto the first photon, making it also appear on the second photon. This ‘teleportation’ has only been achieved with singular
atoms and photons. This technology could, in the future, be used for sending information, not matter.
And now all of you are disappointed.
But this is important because though quantum teleportation had been achieved in labs before, this was by far the longest distance qubits have been sent. This way of sending quantum
information could be used in quantum software, such as quantum computers of quantum internet, reaching unimaginable speeds, because it’s teleporting. And who doesn’t want fast internet?
Another advantage of sending quantum information is that it is unhackable. Another quality that could be seen as good or bad is that quantum information can never be destroyed. But it’s
unhackable. Which I, personally, think makes it good for various purposes, from science to politics.
I think that’s enough for this article.
Have fun reading this on your slow, non-quantum internet. *snickers*
Why is Light the Fastest Thing in the Universe?
All of us know that light travels faster than anything else, traveling from the Sun to the Earth in just 8 minutes 20 seconds. This is the reason ginormous distances
in space a measured by how far light can travel in a year (lightyears). But why is light so fast?
First, let’s start with some background information. In 1676, the concept that light had a finite speed was first introduced by an astronomers assistant trying to account
for discrepancies in the eclipses of one of Jupiter’s moons. The astronomer and assistant went through some rough calculations and came to the conclusion that it would
take about 10 minutes for light to cover half the length of the diameter of Earth’s orbit. Before this, everyone just assumed that light traveled from one place to another
The assistant was doubtful, because if lightspeed was really finite, the same discrepancies would be visible in the other moons.
This controversy came to an end in 1728, when other astronomers began taking measurements. They agreed with the theory that lightspeed was finite, but they concluded that it traveled
much faster than previously thought. By today, lightspeed is thought to be about 670,616,629 mph. That’s reeeeaaaalllllyyyy fast. Now, on to why it’s that fast.
When electromagnetic theories arose, another scientist figured out that the speed of a certain electromagnetic wave was exactly the speed of light, giving birth to the theory that light
is an electromagnetic wave. This theory was later proven by numerous other scientists. In 1905, Albert Einstein brought light to the theory of relativity, saying nothing could move faster
that the speed of light in a vacuum, which was represented by the variable c in e=mc2.
And while I’m researching this, I am mentally screaming BUUUUUUUUTTTTT WHHHHHHYYYYYYY
So I kept researching. Before quantum theory came along, only electromagnetism was used to explain light. But the problem was that electromagnetism comes about with charged particles.
And we’re talking ‘bout light in a vacuum. A vacuum has no particles inside it.
Then came along quantum field theory, suggesting that a vacuum will always have the teeniest bit of particles. Nothing is ever truly empty.
YOU ARE NEVER TRULY ALONE.
These particles in the vacuum are produced by quantum fluctuations. Quantum fluctuations pretty much mean you never truly know everything about something.
You cannot know both the position and momentum of something at the same time, according to Heisenberg’s Uncertainty principle. Basically, in a quantum vacuum, there are teeny tiny bursts
of energy that make those few particles exist and then not exist. Like an almost instantaneous *pop*. This means that the thing that’s position/momentum is being measured keeps fluctuating
the tiniest bit. How does this connect to light?
Well, if you apply an electromagnetic field, the pairs of particles and anti-particles with an equal and opposite charge that are what the popping particles appear as produce an electric charge,
and applying a magnetic field produces a magnetic charge (ooooh *science*)
Using these charges, scientists can not only measure but calculate the speed of light. How? Ehhhh I don’t think we should get into that right now. This is already so long.
Thanks to https://aeon.co/essays/why-is-the-speed-of-light-the-speed-of-light for a lot of that!
But this article isn’t quite done. The question is, why can nothing move faster than c, the speed of light?
According to Einstein’s theory of relativity, things don’t move faster and faster- time just move slower. Y’all are probably just like WHHHHAAAAAAAAATTTT right now and want to go do something
else with your life. But stay with me!
So this theory came about because Einstein thought that if light was the fastest thing, and he strapped a torch to a rocket, it would be going at the rocket’s speed added onto the light’s speed.
But that simply couldn’t be. With Einstein’s new theory, the speed of light was constant , but time wasn’t. This theory also decided that as an object’s speed increased, it kept getting heavier
until it couldn’t go any faster. That final breaking point was the speed of light. This was tested in a lab in 1964 by accelerating electrons, and the electrons got heavier as the accelerated.
Therefore, the theory was proven.
As time gets slower and slower, when the breaking point is reached, at the speed of light, time just stops. When time stops, the reason light can’t go infinitely fast is because even thought it was
just an electromagnetic wave, at that speed it would get too heavy to go faster.
But I left out one thing. Light isn’t really the fastest thing ever. Sure, it’s the fastest thing in the universe, but the universe is expanding faster than light could ever go.
UPDATE: So I just started reading A Brief History of Time by the brilliant late Stephen Hawking, and it covers a lot of this, along with much more. If this article interested you, be sure to check that out!