Chemicals

IMG_20200210_185247_170

Something I wrote a couple of years ago on Facebook :

I keep seeing posts, don’t use this, don’t eat that, they are full of toxic, carcinogenic, genetically modified ingredients. BUT does anyone ever question where this information comes from? There does not seem to be scrutiny of whether things are FACT or FICTION.
Firstly everything is made of chemicals..because they are made of atoms or molecules of various elements. Even the wind is made if chemicals, because it is in fact gases like Nitrogen, Oxygen, Carbon Dioxide and other elements. The only thing that us not chemical is energy, like light (photons) and energy on the electromagnetic spectrum.
So when someone writes there are chemicals in something that is FACT.
Some are harmful and some are good, it can depend on the amount of something in it. That seems to be where the problem lies. Especially where people believe in homeopathic remedies, where the original active ingredient is so diffuse it sometimes can not be measured any more but people still believe in its effectivness (the placebo effect).
There seems to be an idea that even trace amounts of chemicals can do harm, in some cases that is true, we have all seen films where terrorists plan to put nerve agents in water supplies, and they show a tiny phial of stuff and say this thing can kill a million people. But it is not true that all things in trace amounts can be harmful. It’s these scare stories that worry me. I love science and finding out things. I am not an expert, so I tend to ask people who know or look up things on Wikipedia or Snopes to see what the facts are.
I think we should all question things, but try and follow the facts, not being scared to seek the truth. Certain newspapers will say something is poisonous one day, and then say it is a cure for everything the next. Sometimes you can’t take things at face value.
Science is important, without it we would be back in the stone age.

How to tell the earth is a sphere…

sketch-1579765873048

So how can you tell the Earth is a sphere? The ancient Greeks worked it out ( I don’t remember the name of the person who did).

The experiment was to put a stick in the sand at or near the equator, so it would have a tiny shadow directly underneath the it at mid day as the Sun was directly overhead.

If you place a stick upright, at 90° to the Eaths surface either North or South of the equator, the stick casts a shadow at mid day. (Look at the hands of a clock the hands move round in the same way). Say the equator is 3pm and the Sun is overhead, you would get no shadow, then as you go further away from the stick at the equator you get increasing angles (see diagram). Eventually at the poles the shadows would be at their longest.

So how can you tell its a sphere? The angles add up. You can calculate the curvature of the planet from these simple experiments. The ancient Greeks got very close to calculating the circumference of the Earth. Their calculations were only a small percentage out on their measurement.

 

Twisted sunrise

IMG_20200110_232425_130

Betelguse the star is shrinking.

Fainting they say.

On the shoulder of Orion,

it’s getting fainter.

Red Giant,

stellar wonder,

obese and middle aged?

Perhaps your sides are about to split.

Red Giants can’t stay inflated.

They use up all their fuel.

Puffed up and massive.

Suddenly they can pop like a balloon.

Not enough energy to push out,

the star will fall inwards,

then boom!

Bounce out…

In a million years or so?

You might be a Supernova!

Make a Betelguse nebula.

Then Orions shoulder will flower.

And we may see an exploding star.

The first in the Milky-way since 1604.

Fireworks

IMG_20200101_002756_887

Sodium nitrate, sulphur and carbon. Mixed together make gun powder. That is the explosive mixture they put into fireworks. The ratios of the different elements determine the burning characteristics. Strontium makes red, sodium yellow, copper green, magnesium bright white, other elements make different colours. Cobalt? Possibly blue. The elements burn at different temperatures. Each element, when heated, excites electrons in its atoms. As they cool down again photons of light are given out (emitted). The colour depends on the energy the photons release. Bear with me it gets complicated! In the same way you can tell what elements are in the sun or other celestial objects by their emission lines. If you look at a spectrum (rainbow of colours), given out by the light of the sun there are gaps, these correspond to gases like Hydrogen and Helium.

I don’t know enough science to explain properly.

Anyway the fireworks have stopped so I might go to bed.

X

Schrodingers cat?

IMG_20191229_201109_912

Quantum physics. I like reading books about it. But I don’t really understand. Schrodingers cat is in a box. There is a phial of poison in the box with it, but no one knows if the cat us alive or dead unless you open the box. What causes the phial to break depends on entangled electrons…… Which is where I’m lost and can’t remember what I read.

Books I would recommend, that I’ve had for years. In Search if Schrodingers Cat, by John Gribben, and In Search of Schrodingers kittens, by the same author. He also wrote In search of the Edge of Time.

So it’s up to you. It’s a tricky subject, but worth looking into.

What is a blog for?

sketch-1577646571126

Blogging seems to be all sorts of things. I follow poetry, science, history, art and all sorts of other subjects. I post pretty much anything I’m interested in. I try and write things that are interesting, sometimes short stories or poems, other times about my art.

I started out thinking it would purely be about painting and drawing. But I suddenly realised that I wanted to include more than that. My writing and grammar skills are not honed. I used to write essays in English or History classes, but that was on the subjects on the syllabus. When I got to Art school I had to write essays and a thesis, so blogging came slowly. I hope what I write is enjoyable or interesting.

X

I like noticing things…

DSC_2393

For instance, this is the just after full moon. Its in the same place in the sky as it was over the last few days, but not at the same time! I know the Earth and Moon orbit each other, and the moon is tidally locked with us. Which means it has one side always facing towards us. But as I say its in about the same place, but each day its a bit later, so after 5 days it’s moved from being there at 2am to 6am…..

Think about it. The Earth rotates in 24 hours, if the Moon is coming up later each day it must be going round the Earth at a certain speed. I don’t have the mathematic skill to work that out but if it takes 6 days to move 4 hours then if you multiply 4×6 you get 24 (hours) for it to end up in the same place so if you multiply 5(days)x6 you get 30, which is approximately a month to get to the same place in the sky and appear again at 2am. The Moon waxes and wanes while doing this. From that you can tell approximately where the sun is in relationship to us. If the half moon, and all the other phases are facing one way before full moon, the Sun is on the lighter side of the Moon. If its curved the other way as the moon starts to go away from full, then it’s on the other side. You can guess when the sun will rise from this, the smaller the area of brightness the more to the side of the Earth the sun must be. I can’t work out whether the sun would be rising sooner or later depending on its phase. I can see in my mind that if you were looking at both Earth and Moon from space they would be lit from the same direction, but sometimes you see the Moon in daylight, so I don’t know how that works. I think I would need to start drawing very long thin triangles, based on say a quarter of a centimeter on one side and 93 centimeters on the other two to work something out (based on the ratio of distances from the Earth to the Moon and the Earth to the Sun – .5:93…this is just scaling down the siz. I’m thinking in miles because I don’t know the distances in kilometers…. Its all got a bit complicated….

I remember once watching the moon every day for a week from the top of the hill, each day it got closer to the setting sun, till finally there was almost an eclipse. Somewhere on Earth there must have been an eclipse in the following day or so, but we missed it because the sun had already set.