Quotes – 19

It always bothers me that, according to the laws as we understand them today, it takes a computing machine an infinite number of logical operations to figure out what goes on in no matter how tiny a region of space, and no matter how tiny a region of time. How can all that be going on in that tiny space? Why should it take an infinite amount of logic to figure out what one tiny piece of space/time is going to do? So I have often made the hypothesis that ultimately physics will not require a mathematical statement, that in the end the machinery will be revealed, and the laws will turn out to be simple, like the chequer board with all its apparent complexities.

– R. P. Feynman, Character of Physical Law, November 1964 Cornell Lectures, broadcast and published in 1965 by BBC, pp. 57-8.

Wiggle that big toe.

Past few years, I’ve changed my outlook towards life or rather refined would be a better way to put it and sitting alone, contemplating and meditating on how far I’ve come, still puzzles me. I want to say so many things, put forth ideas that could be useful to others but part of me does not feel like solidifying it in words. Unconsciously, the writer’s coma that I’ve been trying to wake up from has also been affecting my work and the vigor, passion seems to have fizzled a little, it seems. Now that I understand quite well what I do, it does not hold my interest as it once did. Bigger challenges await in future for sure but task unfinished grows from monotony.

Nevertheless, I’m trying to wiggle my big toe, the crud caught up in my mind, blocking my thought flow, to get going a new lease on life and realize the original priorities, to finish what I started. Abstract but clear, visible is a new beginning and an upcoming end of an old chapter.

I hope in another 4 months to finish the work and get my head around my plan for the future… Or maybe just a month of good sleep might clear my head enough to stop all this rambling.

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.

Quantum Information Teleported Between Distant Atoms

For the past few years, I have been following the buzz on quantum computing. Even if I only barely understand the theory behind physics involved, there is still something mysterious about quantum mechanics that keeps bringing me back. Anyway, I diverge here.

Recent breakthrough in quantum computing occurred when scientists were able to successfully teleport information between two distant atoms. Furthermore, there are huge possibilities in the field of quantum cryptography if the efficiency of the quantum entanglement is a little more feasible.

Refer to the original article below for more information.

Science Quantum Information Teleported Between Distant Atoms.

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Yet another energy creator

Read an article today “Chemist Tries to Solve World’s Energy Woes” at Livescience. Chemist Dr. Daniel Nocera at MIT is trying to use the bountiful energy in sunlight to split water into its basic components, hydrogen and oxygen.

Well the research is still underway and is probably far from being complete but there could be some potential here. If it works, is practical and feasible, then in the future, we might be able to use something like this. Although i very seriously doubt the use of sunlight as a perpetual energy source for such a reaction, i would love to be proved wrong.

Here is an excerpt from the article where Dr. Nocera talks about future energy needs.

Nocera cites a calculation by Caltech chemist Nathan Lewis that power demands in 2050 will be so great that just to keep carbon dioxide emissions at twice preindustrial levels, a nuclear plant would have to be built every two days. There’s not enough room on the planet’s surface for other widely touted solutions such as wind and biomass to have much impact.

I seriously do not know on why people are so skeptical about the use of nuclear energy for producing power. It is much much safer and foolproof than it used to be; We can get almost limitless and perpetual energy if we produce fuel rods in Breeder reactors; It is environmentally friendly and clean. History has taught us a bad lesson about reactors but isn’t it time to move forward and think about how not to repeat the history by making advanced safety measures to avoid any kind of catastrophe. And safety is one of the important aspects that we are being taught. The end result is not just about producing power but to produce clean, safe power. And we are getting there …

I for one, strongly believe that reactors are the cleanest answer available to us to meet all the energy needs of the future. It is vital to realize this fact and start building reactors and reduce the usage of fossil fuels as much as possible before we end up imposing doom on ourselves soon. But oh well since economics and politics are involved in this earth saving venture, i know that we will wait until the situation that Norcera portrays in the excerpt is reached …