Thursday, July 19, 2007

7/19/07 Warning: This Post Isn't Fun

Because I'm such a cool cat, I was watching "Universe" on The History Channel. My favorite tidbit was about the planet Mercury. A year on Mercury is 88 earth days. But a day on Mercury is 180 earth days or so. My confusion lies in the whole "day" thing. Cuz after one revolution of the sun, only half a day has passed. But some parts of the planet got lots of sunlight. While other parts got little or none. You know, how about this? Take a second and get two things out of your desk and play with me. The big thing is the sun. The little thing is Mercury. Now, let Mercury orbit the sun once. But as it's orbiting, it will only rotate about half way. Oh wait, here's a better idea... Make your desk lamp the sun. That way you can see which side of Mercury is getting sunlight. Cool, huh? Actually, I have no idea which way the orbits go. You know what? New plan. Put your objects back in your desk and get back to work.


We're just going to go full on science today. As a kid I remember going to a museum and playing a computerized tic-tac-toe game. The game would never lose. At about the age of 8, I think I mastered the concept. The new hotness? Computerized checkers. "It took an average of 50 computers nearly two decades to sift through the 500 billion billion possible draughts positions to come up with the solution."


Who's the real culprit when it comes to pollution and CO2 emissions? Beef. "Producing 2.2lb of beef generates as much greenhouse gas as driving a car non-stop for three hours".


As of this post, the world population is estimated at 6,599,478,950. And is increasing by 3 people per second. The number of hectares of productive (arable) land is 8,561,816,049. And is decreasing by one every 7.67 seconds. I'm simply making an observation. And the observation is this - Something's got to give.


Just in case you weren't familiar yesterday with Strong Bad and Trogdor.... Much to my surprise, there is a full Wiki dedication to HomeStar Runner. Which got me to thinking. Maybe I should start a Nacho Wiki. You think it would be hard to do?


And for the final science tidbit of the day.... Spooky action at a distance. That's what Einstein called the Theory of Quantum Mechanics. Here's the simplest way I can explain it... All communication takes time. The universal speed limit (as we currently understand) is the speed of light. The speed of light is very fast. At the same time, it is not instantaneous. The light we see from the sun take 8.5 minutes to get here. Even gravity works at the speed of light (Another one of Einstein's great contributions). If the sun exploded or, hypothetically speaking, just disappeared, the earth wouldn't hurdle into space for 8.5 minutes.

One of the inconsistencies that Einstein saw with Quantum Mechanics is entanglement. Two particles can become "entangled" (the details aren't important right now). But, much like Chainsaw and Dave, they share the same brain. As soon as one particle's spin is determined, the entangled particle instantaneously spins the opposite direction. So, let's say for instance, you take two of these entangled particles and shoot them in opposite directions. One towards the sun and one out into the far reaches of the solar system. Just before the one particle hits the sun, you determine its spin. The other particle, in theory, will immediately spin in the opposite direction. But how does it know? Remember the speed of light takes 8.5 minutes to travel to earth. So now, those two particles would need twice that (17 minutes since they are in opposite directions) to make any kind of communication.

All experimental signs point to that being the case. Even more - it points to Einstein being wrong about Quantum Mechanics. And this, my friends, is one of the many mysteries remaining in the world around us.


To conclude the nerdy post - Star Wars on Robot Chicken. (My favorite scene is the final one on this first video).

No comments: