Posts Tagged Physics

(Digital) Life is for Sharing

Actually I know very few people who have NOT yet been infected by this contagious, addictive phenomenon. Obviously I am not referring to bird flu, swine fever or certain strains of E.coli but to “Angry Birds” here. Through unfortunate circumstances, I currently still am a (angry) customer of the piggy-pink Telekotz and am looking very much forward to the end of their tyranny contract with me. Now, after this clarification, I hope to have established the necessary critical context and am comfortable to bring the following ad to your valued attention: The idea and realisation of taking such a game, based on a relatively simple 2D physics simulation, into the “real world” is quite stunning.

“It’s time to end this struggle which has cost millions of innocent people their ability to concentrate in work!”
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Relative Size of Things in the Universe

Getting the relative size and distances right is not always straightforward for us – having evolved in mediocristan of middle-earth, going a few orders of magnitude larger or smaller just blows our common sense and spatial awareness to pieces (see the impressive overview of our solar system produced and donated to me by a seven-year old). I never get tired of watching good animations of zooming in and out of the world as we know it. Decades ago, it was the Powers of Ten that gave such a view for the first time – at least it was the first movie of this kind I got exposed to (the book is here).

Hence when I came across the post below on SchockWellenReiter it prompted me to search for related videos – there is a lot of good stuff out there I wish my teachers had available when I went to school! Kantel describes the Planetenweg (planetary pathway?, opened in Sptember 2003) in the honourable old University-Town Göttingen: It represents our Solar system to scale (1:2 Billion) – Two Billion Kilometres in (outer) space corresponding to one Kilometre on the Planetenweg. Planet Earth shrinks to a 6,5 Millimetre ball (approx. a quarter of an inch) while the sun is about 75 metres away and about 70 centimetres big. You have to walk about an hour to get from the sun (close to the central train station) to reach Pluto (at Bismarckturm) … I know, it’s just a dwarf planet now … relatively speaking you are walking faster than light! To reach our next neighbouring star you’d need continue walking for about half a year, about half around the earth.

The video below is based on current data from NASA – It features a sphere denoting the area that the earliest radio-wave emissions from earth (ca. 70+ years ago) have travelled. Enjoy!

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A beginners guide to the galaxy

Admittedly, I have no idea about Quantum Gravity, apart that some physicists like their universe to be rather bubbly than stringy ( or just the other way around: more stringy than loopy, like Leonhard in Series 2 Episode 2 of “Big Bang Theory“).

But the caption of the above movie from the Max-Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics in Potsdam/Golm says (quote) “The following sequence visualises the quantum evolution of geometry in Loop Quantum Gravity. The colours of the faces of the tetrahedra indicate where and how much area exists at a given moment of time. The movie illustrates how these excitations of geometry change as dictated by the Quantum Einstein Equations. Technically, the faces form a complex dual to the graph of a spin network state and the colour shows the amount of spin (area) with which the edges of the graph area are charged.” (end quote).
Wow – a combination of words like evolution, network, graph, spin, state, geometry and tetrahedra in a few lines and you have my full attention! Although it was bound to appear on my radar at some point, I don’t quite see the exact connection with biomolecular networks and structures clearly – yet. Nevertheless, it’s either watching the visualisation for mere aesthetic reasons or digging deeper with the aid of “Loop and Spin Foam Quantum Gravity: A Brief Guide for Beginners” – by Hermann Nicolai, a string theorist and director of the Quantum Gravity and Unified Theories department at the MPI for Gravitational Physics / Albert Einstein Institute. The visualisation is available for download on their pages.
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