How Einstein Reconciled Religion to Science


“I believe in Spinoza’s God, who reveals himself in the lawful harmony of the world,” he told him, “not in a God who concerns himself with the fate and the doings of mankind.”

Source: How Einstein Reconciled Religion to Science

On a similar note, I also like this thought that resonates with my own.

Some awesome Chemistry experiments

When I was growing up and had to decide what field to get in to for my college, I was in a dilemma. I really liked computers, after the really simple BASIC and C programs I wrote during my high school. But on the other hand, Physics seemed too fundamental and I wanted to understand what is going on around me and explain it with the Math I so love. But what did catch my interest most of all is the explosive reactions that Chemistry opened up. It was something I did not understand at all and that intrigued me. Of course little did I know that Chemical Engineering had nothing to do with pure Chemistry. But enough of that reminiscence.

It always is interesting to me to find experiments that open up new perspectives on things. And recently, this article “Top 10 Mad Science-Worthy Chemistry Experiments” via Neatorama caught my attention. And I just couldn’t let it pass without writing a rant about it…

Do read the article and watch all videos to get some interesting new ideas and the possibilities that Chemistry opens up.

Batteries that charge in 10 seconds.

Wow! There aren’t too many things I see everyday that make me go wow ! This could be next big thing that might have a noticeable impact on how you and I work everyday and the possibilities are quite staggering if you think about it. But of course for now, I’ll be happy to have just quickly charging cell phones, laptops, mp3 players and hybrid cars that do not degrade in performance quickly if it is plugged in too long ! Grrr …

Here’s an excerpt from the article that talks a little about the physics involved:

A number of recent papers suggested that, in at least one lithium battery class (based on LiFePO4), the problem wasn’t the speed at which lithium moved—instead, it could only enter and exit crystals of this salt at specific locations. This, in turn, indicated that figuring a way to speed up this process would increase the overall performance of the battery.

To accomplish this, the authors developed a process that created a disorganized lithium phosphate coating on the surfaces of LiFePO4 crystals. By tweaking the ratio of iron to phosphorous in the starting mix and heating the material to 600°C under argon for ten hours, the authors created a material that has a glass-like coating that’s less than 5nm thick, which covers the surface of pellets that are approximately 50nm across. That outer coating has very high lithium mobility, which allows charge to rapidly move into and out of storage in the LiFePO4 of the core of these pellets. In short, because lithium can move quickly through this outer coating, it can rapidly locate and enter the appropriate space on the LiFePO4 crystals.

The results are pretty astonishing. At low discharge rates, a cell prepared from this material discharges completely to its theoretical limit (~166mAh/g). As the authors put it, “Capacity retention of the material is superior.” Running it through 50 charge/discharge cycles revealed no significant change in the total capacity of the battery.

Here are a few links on the same topic if you are hungry to learn more about it.

1) MIT news.
2) The UK Daily mail.
3) At Technology-Review via Slashdot.
4) BBC.

Five mysteries of the universe.

Few of the things I care about in this endless pursuit of knowledge, as an individual on this earth … Concisely and very precisely thought out and written in simplicity:

1) Universe
2) Life
3) Death
4) Free Will
5) Sex

Michael Brooks on five mysteries of the universe.

Update: In a tangential topic, here are couple of things few others are worried, about the solar system: The Unknown Solar System.

Stephan’s Quintet – The galaxy collision

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Max-Planck Institute/P. Appleton (SSC/Caltech)

This false-color composite image of the Stephan’s Quintet galaxy cluster clearly shows one of the largest shock waves ever seen (green arc), produced by one galaxy falling toward another at over a million miles per hour. It is made up of data from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope and a ground-based telescope in Spain.

Four of the five galaxies in this image are involved in a violent collision, which has already stripped most of the hydrogen gas from the interiors of the galaxies. The centers of the galaxies appear as bright yellow-pink knots inside a blue haze of stars, and the galaxy producing all the turmoil, NGC7318b, is the left of two small bright regions in the middle right of the image. One galaxy, the large spiral at the bottom left of the image, is a foreground object and is not associated with the cluster.

The titanic shock wave, larger than our own Milky Way galaxy, was detected by the ground-based telescope using visible-light wavelengths. It consists of hot hydrogen gas. As NGC7318b collides with gas spread throughout the cluster, atoms of hydrogen are heated in the shock wave, producing the green glow.

Spitzer pointed its infrared spectrograph at the peak of this shock wave (middle of green glow) to learn more about its inner workings. This instrument breaks light apart into its basic components. Data from the instrument are referred to as spectra and are displayed as curving lines that indicate the amount of light coming at each specific wavelength.

The Spitzer spectrum showed a strong infrared signature for incredibly turbulent gas made up of hydrogen molecules. This gas is caused when atoms of hydrogen rapidly pair-up to form molecules in the wake of the shock wave. Molecular hydrogen, unlike atomic hydrogen, gives off most of its energy through vibrations that emit in the infrared.

This highly disturbed gas is the most turbulent molecular hydrogen ever seen. Astronomers were surprised not only by the turbulence of the gas, but by the incredible strength of the emission. The reason the molecular hydrogen emission is so powerful is not yet completely understood.

Stephan’s Quintet is located 300 million light-years away in the Pegasus constellation.

One thing to remember is that because galactic distances are so vast, even though galaxies frequently collide, the actual stars in them almost never do. The pictures make it look like there should be millions of individual collisions, but in fact, collision means just passing though one another.

The gravitational effects of course can totally rip the smaller galaxy apart. There are small satellite galaxies being sucked into the milky way as we speak! Cool huh ?!


Take a leap into hyperspace

Before i begin, this article has a lot of physics concepts in it. If physics is not your cup of cake, go ahead and read my other posts ! 

Now, did the title catch your eye ?! It sure did that to me. I went ahead and read the article over at NS and was amazed at what i saw there. The article details about an unknown scientist’s work in Germany about an attempt to make a GUT(Grand Unification Theory) which ended up opening new realms to explore and exploit.

Hyperspace is a concept which will enable a spacecraft to reach Mars in less than 3 hours and a star 11 light years away in only 80 days. Now that, is abstract physics at its best 🙂

If you are interested, go ahead and read the article. If not comprehensible, it sure is a nice read that reminds me of ‘Star Trek’.

NewScientist’s top 10 stories of 2005

1. 13 things that do not make sense

Our most clicked story of 2005. The placebo effect, cold fusion, dark energy, the “wow” signal and bizarre homeopathy results – these were just a few of the mysteries that fascinated you.

2. Pentagon reveals rejected chemical weapons

The chemical “sex-bomb” designed to make enemy soldiers sexually irresistible to each other, thus destroying an enemy’s morale.

3. 11 steps to a better brain

Like a personal trainer for the brain, without the strain. We expect the IQ of our readers to be much greater now than at the start of 2005.

4. US military sets laser PHASRs to stun

The PHASR is an impressive looking beast, larger than Captain Kirk’s trusted phaser, but the risk of blinding innocent bystanders shrouded this prototype weapon in controversy.

5. Details of US microwave-weapon tests revealed

The US military raised temperatures further in 2005 by trying their new microwave weapons on a test crowd – with mixed results.

6. Failing ocean current raises fears of mini ice age

In a year dominated by climate-change fear and greenhouse gas emissions targets, the news of a 30% reduction in the warm currents that carry water north from the Gulf Stream sounded a loud note of alarm.

7. Antarctic ice sheet is an ‘awakened giant’

A slumbering giant, the massive west Antarctic ice sheet, previously assumed to be stable, started to collapse noticeably in 2005, adding extra heat to the climate debate.

8. Bionic suit offers wearers super-strength

Many kids dream of growing into a bionic adult, able to perform superhuman deeds. This dream moved one mechanical step closer to reality this year.

9. Out-of-this-world sex could jeopardise missions

Sex and romantic entanglements among astronauts could derail missions to Mars, said a top-level panel of US researchers. Their recommendation for NASA – more study of the issue.

10. Centrifugal weapon could deliver stealth firepower

Another weapon, this time a gun that spits out ball bearings after spinning them to extreme speeds – and there’s a video of the beast in action.

— My 2 cents : Do not miss to read each of the stories. All of them are very interesting. After all, they did make it to the top 10 stories of the year !


Ten bogus frights of the past that shocked the world

Bird flu  

Bird flu has overshadowed the year 2005. The abominable virus claimed many bird lives in South East Asia before heading across Europe to Russia and Ukraine. However, the more scientists and officials talk about the deadly threat, the less credible it looks to people. Some people believe there is no such thing as bird flu. They think the whole story stemmed from the fights over the world market between the poultry producers. Others blame the pharmaceutical companies that are keen to spread panic and therefore make us buy more medicines. Which story should we believe in? Does the bird flu really exist? Does it pose a threat to humans? Did other threats of the worldwide proportions materialize?

It did not take long to tackle the problem; doctors found a pathogen and a vector – coronovirus and a palm cat, a viverrine animal normally used for food in China. However, the urgent measures could not stop another myth from spreading far and wide. The myth said that the SARS problem was made up to lower China’s economic growth and disrupt the exceedingly profitable tourist industry in South East Asia.

Academician of the Russian Academy of Sciences Lev Sandakhchiyev:

“Discovering a new more dangerous type of previously unknown coronavirus in the patients was direct evidence of a real threat. The ‘spinning’ of that epidemic stressed the importance of international cooperation. Many people did realize that humankind was destined to face new or recurrent infectious diseases. Therefore, a system of global and domestic monitoring is highly required.”

Spent nuclear fuel

Following a heated debate in 2001, the Russian president signed into law the bill on storage and reutilization of spent nuclear fuel from foreign nuclear power spent nuclear fuelplants. Specialists were unanimous while explaining to their opponents that spent nuclear fuel was not just the waste material from the nuclear industry. According to them, it is a high-tech product that can be used for extracting raw materials and energy. Despite potentially huge profits Russia could make (one ton of spent nuclear fuel costs $1 million; total estimated amount of spent nuclear fuel is 200 thousand tons), environmentalists have been relentless in their opposition to the new law.

Nikolai Shingarev, Director of the Information Center of the Federal Agency on Nuclear Energy:

“No spent nuclear fuel is being brought into Russia despite the law. We will probably sign the first contract under the new legislation for a small consignment of spent nuclear fuel from a research reactor in Uzbekistan. Today Russia is receiving nuclear waste from the nuclear plants built in the Soviet era in Ukraine ($370 thousand per 1 ton) and Bulgaria ($600 thousand per one ton). Reutilization waste materials will be stored in Russia only if the governments OKs the storage and only if fuel had been originally produced in Russia. 75% of revenues will be allocated for environmental programs and the remaining 25% will make part of local budgets.”

10 myths of the past, which never materialized

Steam-driven locomotive: serious scientists were asserting that cows would stop bearing offspring and produce milk at the sight of a locomotive. They also clamed that air would be squeezed out of train carriages at 20 km per hour and passengers will suffocate as a result.

Robot: intelligent machines will shake off dependence and take command of the world; humans would submit to the power of the machines.

Spacecraft: spacecraft were making holes in the atmosphere during the takeoff; the earth’s protective anti-radiation layer of the atmosphere will be eventually destroyed and thus the earth will be exposed to dangerous space particles.

Microwave oven: fried sausages can irradiate in the dark; radiation from food cooked in the oven will pile up in the human body and cause cancer.

Cell phone: radiation emitted by a cell phone receiver can affect the brain by liquefying it. Paradoxically, a cell phone phobia could not stop the massive spread of cellular communications all over the world.

Vaccination: the danger of vaccination is one of the longstanding fears in the world; the first objectors appeared shortly after the first vaccination campaign launched by Dr. Edward Jenner in 1796; many objected to vaccination in Russia at the end of the 1990s.

Environmental pollution: some people feared that the civilization would come to end by 2020 due to sky-high levels of industrial and communal pollution which should result in a lack of oxygen and poisonous evaporation.

Asbestos: Micro particles of asbestos cause lung cancer. Asbestos was produced in Canada and the USSR. Canadian asbestos companies went bankrupt following an anti-asbestos propaganda campaign instigated by the competitors. Russia’s asbestos makers have survived the bad times. The incidence rate of cancer in the town of Asbest does not exceed an average national incidence rate of cancer.

Global warming: industrial emissions of carbon dioxide cause the greenhouse effect that leads to overheating of the earth’s surface. Consequently, polar ice will melt away causing the global ocean level rise by one meter.

Ozone holes: Freon used in refrigerators and deodorants will destroy the ozone layer of the atmosphere, which protects Earth against the harmful effects of ultraviolet radiation. As a result, the number of cancer and other deadly diseases will grow.