Monday, November 23, 2015

Science of Interstellar: Higher Dimensions

     We see our world as 3 dimensional, we can see right, left, forward, backward, up and down. However we exist in a 4 dimensional world, the fourth being time, where we not only move through a 3D space but also through time as it passes to us. However we can only move forward in time due to relativity. You can visualize space-time as a two dimetinonal fabric, with gravity warping that fabric. Our universe can be thought of as a three dimensional "brane" being embedded in a "bulk" with 4 dimensions.
     John Schwarz and Michael Green set out in 1984 to discover the laws of quantum gravity and made a breakthrough. This breakthrough only worked if the "bulk" had 9 space dimensions and 1 time dimension, six more than space dimensions than our "brane." In this "superstring theory" the extra dimensions have large influences on our "brane," that can be measured if we had sufficient technology. These influences could make it possible to reconcile the laws of quantum physics with Einstein's laws of relativity.
     In Interstellar the bulk's six extra dimensions are made into one extra dimension for practice purposes. The bulk in interstellar shares 3 space dimensions and 1 time dimension with our brane. It also has a fifth space dimension. Kipp Thorne refers to this as "out back," and extends perpendicular to our universe.

Monday, November 9, 2015

The Morals Of Nuclear Weaponry

     In the movies "Fat Man and Little Boy" and "Gojira" the topic of morals regarding the first two atomic bombs dropped on Japan is looked at in two perspectives. On the side of "Fat Man and Little Boy" it portrays it as a neccisary evil that would end further bloodshed in the pacific, even if many of the scientists disagreed with the use of the weapon on Japan. In "Gojira" the so-called oxygen destroyer is a weapon of mass destruction that no doubtedly represents the Atomic Bombs. In the Film they use the Oxygen Destroyer to defeat Godzilla despite the residual destruction of the life in the harbor. This is done to prevent anymore destruction at the hands of Godzilla even though the scientist that created it didn't want to use it untill a peaceful use could be found. Notice any similarities? The scientists of the Manhatten Project knew it would be destructive, but did it to prevent further war, and the scientist used his Oxygen Destroyer, that he wanted to make into a peaceful device, to stop Godzilla. Certainly the movies displayed similar and yet differing views, one in favor of the bombs and one criticizing their use. 

     If I were a scientist and I knew that my research was applied to weapons I wouldn't be against it, this of course sounds cruel, however, the advancement of weapons can lead to less civilian collateral and safer handling than weapons in the past. Sure some applications could be producing more powerful weapons, but in producing more powerful weapons the less likely they are to be used. The principle of MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction) has kept our nuclear weapons from being fired due solely to the fact that other powerful nations have comparable weapons and our using of nukes could lead to them being used against us. Researching science with weapon applications is certainly not without danger or risk of it being deployed en masse, yet you would have to hope that it leads to a peaceful resolution or made current weapons safer.

Monday, November 2, 2015

The Raging Global Warming Debate

     Say what you will about the physics of the movie Day After Tommorow, but it has a very driving point, Global Climate shift is important. No matter what side of the argument of global warming you stand on, it's certainly a hot topic these days. I would like to look at the aspect of coastal flooding, certainly an idea that holds importance here in Charleston. 
     The idea is simple, as polar ice on Greenland and Antarctica melt and drain into the ocean it adds to the total amount of water on the worlds oceans. While this may not seem like a large amount over a short period of time compared to the sum of the oceans volume, however it adds up to a few inches of water over the the course of a longer period of time. While only a couple inches may seem negligible, these few inches, 3.5 globally, can prove to be devistaing to low-lying coastal communities. 
     As the above chart emphasizes, some areas can see tremendous rises in sea level. This rise in sea level can be attributed polar melting of land ice due to global warming, which in turn is due to many factors such as introduction of CO2 to the atmosphere via the burning of fossil fuels (approx. 337 billion metric tons since 1751) as well as many natural factors that can also contribute to the warming trend. This warming trend is accountable for the melting of permanate ice caps in Greenland and Antartica, as well as the recession of sea ice in recent history. 
     While efforts have been made to lessen further impact of fossil fuels such as renewable resources, it is not probable to completely stop the emission of CO2 with current dependence on oil, as such the emission trend will continue along with predicted warming trends as more CO2 and other greenhouse gasses are emitted into the atmosphere. While greenhouse gasses are not the only cause for the warming trend, they are a major factor.  

     This graph shows projected sea level rise based on predicted warming patterns. Statistics like these certainly should be taken with consideration for the timeframe, however, drastic sea level rise could be the bane of costal communities like the one here in charleston if global warming trends continue in their predicted manner. There certainly is no "silver bullet" for stoping climate change, but moving towards renewable energy could be a valuable step in the right direction.