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Thursday, August 27, 2015


As I mentioned in the earlier blog post matter has a wave like nature along with a particle like nature. However it is only apparent in case of subatomic particles since they have very little mass.  Now because of the wave like nature there is fundamental uncertainty in determining the position of  a subatomic particle. An electron's mass is 9.1X10-31while the mass of a proton is 1.673X10-27kg.

Mathematical calculations for fundamental uncertainty to determine the position of electron actually exceeds the radius of the nucleus of an atom and hence you never find electron inside the nucleus of an atom. 

This fundamental uncertainty is the reason why one cannot plot an exact circular path of the rotation of the electron around the nucleus. One can only plot a probability region where the electron is most likely to be found around the nucleus. Also the wavelike nature of a very light particle like the electron makes its orbit spherical rather than circular.

Electrons are very important because the electricity that is produced is due to the flow of electrons. All electrons carry a negative charge. If you are using a solar cell, the phenomenon by which the electricity if generated is called PhotoElectricity. It works this way:-

The electrons in the outermost shell of the atom are least strongly bound to the nucleus. When this atom absorbs a photon, the photon's energy is transmitted to the atom. If this energy exceeds the binding energy of nucleus and the electron then the electron is release from the atom and it is now a free electron. When this electron is in an electric field, it will travel across the circuit thus generating electricity. The solar panels are made from silicon or germanium and this materials have the property of generating photoelectricity absorbing photoelectrons from visible light. Charge of an electron is about 1.602X10-19 coulomb

Proton carries an equivalent amount of opposite charge but it much heavier than electron, hence it resides inside the nucleus and it is more strongly bound to the nucleus

Wave Magic

Waves or vibrations are an integral part of the universe.

De Broglie showed that matter not only has a particle like nature it also has a wave like nature, only that the wave like nature of matter is not observable to the human eye. The main reason for this is that human eye cannot detect microscopic or subatomic particles. In case of of larger objects the wave lengths is so long that the wave like nature is not apparent.

What are waves. Waves are but regular disturbances in a medium. Sound waves are disturbances in air, while visible light is disturbances in electromagnetic field. The particle of light is known as photon. The energy of a photon is directly proportion to its frequency. Plants absorb this photons from sunlight during the process of photosynthesis. They manufacture their own food by absorbing this photon.

Music is rhythmic sound that tends to have some effect on the mind. Now why does this effect happen? Why do we like certain forms of music or sound like the song of a cuckoo but don't like the unrythmic sound made by a crow. Certain people have the ability generate soul stirring music, how do they have this ability? and why we are so much attracted towards their music? 

We don't realize how much we are surrounded by such waves. The AC electricity that we receive, when its magnitude and direction are plotted in a graph, it would generate a wavelike profile. Our heart that pumps blood to all the parts of the body beats rhythmically. 

The phenomenon of resonance has a very vital importance in tuning musical instruments to the right frequency. This phenomenon is very important and its knowledge is also very important to engineers and scientists. Take the example of Tacoma Bridge disaster , the entire bridge was destroyed because of the phenomenon of resonance, when the natural frequency of the bridge was matched by the frequency produced due to 40 mph winds.

Nicola Tesla once said " If you want to understand the universe, think in terms of energy, frequency and vibration". Tesla is one of the greatest scientist of all times and this shows that the study of waves i.e. frequency, vibration, wavelength, resonance etc is very vital. 

Thursday, August 20, 2015


Ordinary matter can exist in four states, three are most commonly observable to us. The three states that we commonly observe are solid, liquid and gas.

However there exists a fourth state of matter and it happens to be the most common state of ordinary matter in the entire universe, but it is not commonly observed by us on earth. That state of matter is called plasma. 99% of the ordinary matter in the universe is in plasma state. So on earth's surface we are essentially living in an island that is free from matter that is in plasma state. 

In the plasma state of matter is a combination of highly ionised atoms and free electrons. The sun and other stars comprises of hydrogen atoms in plasma state of matter i.e. there is no electrons moving around the nucleus of those atoms they are all positively charged.

High temperatures in the core of the sun, more than 1 million degree Kelvin, results in combining of two Hydrogen nuclei into a Helium nucleus. The mass of the Helium nucleus is slightly less than that of the combined mass of the two Hydrogen atoms, the mass that is disappeared is converted into energy. The magnitude of this energy is equal to 

      Energy = (change in mass)X(velocity of light in vacuum)X(velocity of light in vacuum)

This reaction is called nuclear fusion reaction and the entire energy of the sun and other stars are produced in this way. So although matter in plasma state is not available on the surface of the earth it is important to us. Actually high temperatures at the core of the sun is the reason because of which matter goes into plasma state. Even the thunderbolt of lightening is plasma. 

On earth a small amount of plasma matter can be created by subjecting gases to high magnetic or electric field. Scientists are highly interested in plasma state of matter and lot of research is being done in this direction. 

What we see is not exactly what we get, if you are watching stuff on earth you will be deluded to thinking that matter has only 3 states solid , liquid and gas. But once we searched the universe we found , no that's not correct most of the matter is in plasma state. We don't know how many more secrets that the universe has that we are yet to discover. This search will be an exciting journey for humankind.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

The machines of Future and 3D printing

Amazing things are possible in the world of science and technology. Albert Einstein rightly said "Facts can be stranger than fiction". Consider the first computer or the Babbage's analytical engine and compare it to the fastest computer today, or even your desktop/laptop or mobile phone for that matter. Your mobile phone is way more powerful than than the first computer or even computers that were used around 20 years ago.

3D printing is only now catching up, people are mesmerised by the power of 3d printing. The 3D printing machines are getting cheaper, better and faster. Engineers are working on technologies to 3D print houses, already some residential structures are made by 3D printing and that too in a very short amount of time.

Looking forward, with 3D printing technology, in the future we may have 3D printer that can print out other 3D printing machines. Only the raw materials have to be provided to the 3D printers for that purpose.

Now consider the example of a tree. A tree normally germinates out of the seed. It absorbs the nutrients from the soil along with water and with the help of sunlight it carries out the process of photosynthesis and produces its own food. Almost every part of a plant or tree is edible to some animal or other.

Micro-organisms and termites eat the wood; ants, cattle etc eat the leaves and other animals as well as humans can consume the fruits. The fruits themselves contain the seeds that can again give birth to a new plant. This is a beautiful self controlled food generation system of nature.

Now as humans can we intervene and make a 3D printer that can mimic this process. Just as the plants, trees etc absorb nutrients and water from the soil, in a similar way we can provide soil and water as the raw materials to the machine and the machine then converts the soil and water into more basic substances and then produce the stuff that we want be it food, wood or any other organic material. In theory this is possible.

3D printing has achieved the above mentioned dream to some extent. NASA is planning to make 3D printers for astronauts to give them 3d printed food in space. There are already 3D printed artificial animal tissues being made. So it is technologically possible to have 3D printed meat, hence a 3D printed artificial hamburger is a possibility that one cannot deny.

The problems that technology created in the past like air, water and noise pollution have their solutions in technology as well. The air pollution caused by cars and coal fired power plants can be sorted out by utilization of wind, tidal and solar power.

The technology of 3D printing is most promising. In the future our houses, cars and almost everything maybe 3d printed. 3D printed items are also cheaper, there have been prosthetic limbs made for amputees that are customised for their needs and they are cheaper than the traditionally manufactured prosthetics.

 An example is given in the video below.

You can see how this 3D printed prosthetic arm not only costs less but also it is better in terms of functionality since it is customised for the amputee, depending on the structure and functionality of the portion of the body that is incomplete. 

Note that the above video is an example of the current state of technology, this technology will advance in the future and amazing things will be possible.

Friday, August 14, 2015


Carbon is an amazing element, it is an element that has a complete branch of chemistry dedicated it to it Organic Chemistry. Plastic is a kind of hydrocarbon. 

Since its invention plastics have been very popular. First of all Plastics are tough,durable, cheap material ideal for making all kinds of stuff. Plastics helped in reduction of use of wood, thereby saving lots of trees. Almost every stuff that was made of metals or wood began to be replaced by plastics.

Plastics not only helped to reduce the utilization of wood it also reduced the utilization of leather. Today most shoes or any other footwear that are made globally are more often that not made of some kind of synthetic plastic. Although leather has not gone totally out of use but its demand has reduced significantly. Leather is comparatively more expensive than plastic. 

Plastics are used almost everywhere. An advantage plastics have over metal is that plastics are bad conductors of heat and electricity. Again they are cheaper than metals. Today 3D printing technology is gaining prominence and most stuff that is 3d printed is made of ABS plastic. 

The use of plastics is bound to increase, it is predicted that in the future our homes would be made of plastic. Another beautiful compound made from carbon atoms is carbon nanotubes. This carbon nanotubes are 100 times stronger than steel. At the moment carbon nanotubes are expensive but the prices have come down significantly since they were first invented. In future if this carbon nanotubes can be even more cheaper, then we may have all kinds of solid structures built out of them, even cars, bridges and spaceships.  

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Universe and Life

A great scientist of our times Sir Stephan Hawkings and Russian millionaire Yuri Milner has launched a $100 million project for search of alien species. Now consider this fact that universe in unbelievably vast and there are millions of earth like planets with conditions favourable for existence and evolution of life. 

Now the question is why should living beings be like us, they can be different from us. Intelligent life might have evolved in a different way somewhere else in the universe. Maybe they are gigantic or maybe they are microscopic. Their might be existence of alien life that may not require oxygen at all for their existence. 

Here on earth we can't live at temperatures that are beyond  60 degree Celsius. However there might be existence of living beings somewhere in the universe that maybe tolerant to very high temperatures.

Earth beings can't survive in vacuum because of the internal pressure of the fluids exerted on the cell walls. The cells would burst as soon as they are in vacuum. There maybe existence of intelligent beings that may not be planet based but are free floating space entities. 

In every galaxy there is a massive black hole at the centre around which other bodies or systems rotate, like the sun is rotating around the black hole that is at the centre of the Milky Way. There are galaxies that have a more massive black hole, the velocities of the other planets and stars have to be high enough to prevent them from falling into the black hole. 

Life that might have come into existence on the planets in this galaxies maybe different from us. Living beings evolve generation after generation depending on conditions of the place where they exist. 

"Facts can be stranger than fiction", there might be a massive lot about life in the universe that's waiting to be explored. Just because a planet does not have earth like conditions is no reason why it should not have life,after all what are living beings? A set of entities that survives, reproduces, adapts, evolves becoming higher organisms. 

It is of course a mystery, why life should exist on earth or anywhere else in the universe at all? 

There is so much that remains to be explored about the universe, it would take many Milena to explore it. Its bound to be an exciting journey of discoveries. In every step we will find something new. Maybe someday in this process of discovery we will find God. 

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Earth Atmosphere our armour

We know that oxygen is vital for our existence. We get this oxygen from the atmosphere. This not the only function of the atmosphere. The atmosphere also acts as a protective shield to us from the debris of space that are attracted towards the earth by its gravitational force. 

Various meteorites, rocks, asteroids etc of different sizes, some a few centimeters across are constantly moving towards the earth. When they enter the atmosphere they have to overcome the resistance offered by Earth's atmosphere. This results in friction between the object and the atmosphere, the debris becomes hotter and hotter and ultimately melts off and is converted in vapour. Thus saving the earth from the bombardment of this debris.

Only a few meteorites of very large size are able to make it through the atmosphere and reach earth most of them fall into the oceans, since a major part of the earth is covered by oceans. A few do reach the land. On a clear night you might have seen shooting stars. This are  rocks from space that are burning due to the friction with earth's atmosphere. Most of them never reach the earth's surface.

We have seen meteorites being found from different places on earth. Till now I have seen only one TV report when a large meteorite fell on some one's garage and damaged their car. However the family got an excellent amount of money for that meteorite. (I unfortunately don't remember the details of it since I believe I saw that in a Discovery channel programme some 18 years ago or more.).

Of course we know that there is belt between the orbital paths of Mars and Jupiter that comprises of thousands of asteroids of various shapes and sizes. This are believed to be the remnants of an ancient planet that no longer exists. This belt has a significant importance in the history of Earth. Millions of years ago when dinosaurs were everywhere around the earth. A large asteroid from that belt, started moving towards the sun, after being thrown of its orbital path and on the way it was attracted by the earth's gravitational field. This asteroid rammed into the earth. 

It was too big to be burnt off by the earth's atmosphere.  The collision of the asteroid resulted in shock waves across the planet. It triggered a chain of events that lead to a huge cloud formation around the earth that blocked sunlight for years. The asteroid was 15 kilometres across. It also triggered tsunamis across different parts of the world. More details are mentioned in this Science Daily news report .

This event wiped off most of the living beings from the planet. The dinosaurs became extinct since they needed lot of food for survival because of the size of their bodies. Only the smaller creatures survived and later evolved, once the clouds cover went away. Without this event probably mammals won't have existed on earth and human beings who are the most advanced mammals, won't have existed on earth either. 

The solar system is so huge that its scale model won't fit a piece of paper. Take for example the distance between the sun and earth. Now if on paper we plot the sun as an object that has a diameter of one centimetre, then the distance between the earth and the sun has to be approximately 230 cms, and the diameter of earth has to be less than 1 mm. 

This gives us an idea about the vastness of our solar system. Also the fact that this large size reduces the probability of collision with an extraterrestial object. So the possibility that our planet would be hit by a massive object in the future is very low but it is not zero. However the smaller bodies that enter our atmosphere will be burnt off by the atmosphere and our lives will be saved.