Physics Demo

The best branch of science is microbiology. I can say this for certain because I’m a microbiologist, so I should know. There are other sciences that are quite good as well, and then there are some that are OK, and then somewhere deep into the lower half of the list of good sciences is physics. Physicists would probably argue with this, saying that “without physics, there would be no gravity”, but this is plainly untrue. Without microbiology, there would still be bacteria, and it’s not like we’d all go floating off the surface of the planet if physics was suddenly abolished as a science.

Anyway, this isn’t their list.

I did see some physics demonstrated the other day though, and I was impressed. Not impressed enough to move it above anthropology, but impressed nevertheless. And so, I’m going to share the video with you, right here, right now.

What happens in the video isn’t unexpected – physics tells us what to expect and what physics tells us to expect, occurs – but it is still a bit weird and tough to get your head around. Allow me to demonstrate – bring forth The Coxmatron!

The lead in is actually really interesting too, but if you just want to skip to the mentally confusing bit, jump to 2:30.

Galileo hypothesised that falling objects would fall at the same rate regardless of their masses, and so yes, the only reason that a bowling bowl falls more quickly than a bunch of feathers is because of the added air resistance on the latter. And yes, you know that, but because you have never seen a bowling ball and some feathers dropped in the absence of air (until now), it’s properly weird to actually see happening, isn’t it?


* It’s nowhere near as good as microbiology, but still much better than biochemistry.

Astronaut problems

I have no idea of the veracity of this*, but I think it’s great anyway.
Gravity wins again:


Hadfield returned to earth this week after 146 days in space on board the ISS. And while there were other astronauts up there with him, he was the one who kept us updated with the goings on aboard the vessel and gave us brilliant pictures like this.

* actually, now I do. Real tweet, but not the real man. 🙁

Neutron Star Facts

I love science, me.

But I struggled to get my head around this particular bunch of facts about Neutron Stars, which I happened across.
As you do.

A neutron star is so dense that one teaspoon (5 millilitres) of its material would have a mass over 5.5×1012 kg, (5 500 000 000 000 kg) about 900 times the mass of the Great Pyramid of Giza.
The resulting force of gravity is so strong that if an object were to fall from a height of one meter it would only take one microsecond (0.00001 s) to hit the surface of the neutron star, and would do so at around 2000 kilometers per second, or 7.2 million kilometers per hour (7 200 000 kph).

Always handy to have masses measured in Great Pyramids of Giza, I find.

“Hey – I have’t seen you in weeks! Wow – have you lost weight?”
“Why yes. I’ve exercising more and eating less and I’ve lost about 0.000000001636 Great Pyramids of Giza. I feel great.”

Anyway, to put that into perspective, here on earth 5 ml of water weighs 0.005 kg and an object falling from 1m would take about 0.1 sec to hit the floor and would do so at 35kph. Which you really should survive, depending on your landing position.
Personally, I’d feel less confident about coming out of a collision with the floor at 7.2 million kph unscathed.

Consider yourselves educated.

It’s a pleasure.