Gravity Explained

By Anupum Pant

I’m always amazed by how teachers all around the world come up with fantastic ideas to make science easier for kids. A couple of months back we saw a video of Dan Burns using a trampoline to explain the space-time warping at a Physics Teacher SOS workshop in Los Gatos High School. In fact there is even a place on the web where you can learn it to do yourself [here].

Another explanation which came around much later just takes the cake. EdwardCurrent uses a “space-time stretcher” to demonstrate how gravity, well, stretches the space-time fabric. Moreover, the material he uses to construct this teaching aid comes mostly amongst all the old stuff lying in his garage.

Continue reading Gravity Explained

Biological Darkmatter

By Anupum Pant

To most of us, looking at things from a distance, it often seems like the age of exploration is over. It seems like there’s not much left to be discovered. Only a few who strongly believe that the age of exploration is far from over, and work hard to keep exploring, end up finding new things.

Take for instance the part of ocean that remains unexplored and unseen by human eyes today. According to NOAA’s website this unexplored part is about 95%, even today!

In fact, it is estimated that 96% of the universe is made up of some mysterious thing (called the dark matter) which we haven’t even started to figure yet.

If you think that is taking it too far, we don’t even know our bodies completely yet. Just last year (in 2013) a new body part in the human body was discovered!

Nathan Wolfe, a biologist and explorer, talks about how most (as much as 40-50% of it) of the genetic information found in our own gastrointestinal tracts doesn’t classify under any kind of biological form we have ever known – Not plant, animal, virus, bacteria or fungus. Biologists call it the biological dark matter.

genetic information

There are unknowns all around us and they are waiting to get discovered.

The Largest Object in the Solar System

By Anupum Pant

On November 6th 1892, after being spotted by a British astronomer Edwin Holmes, comet Holmes was not seen again for several decades. Thus it came to be known as the lost comet. Out of the blue, more than 70 years later, the comet was again seen in the year 1964.

Now it is known that comet Holmes was captured by Jupiter several thousand years ago, and it never went back to the Kuiper belt. It is a Jupiter family comet. Every 6.88 years, the comet orbits the sun.

Even this year, on 27th of March, it was one of the most bright comets of the year. But it was something that happened back in the year 2007 which made it one of the most popular comets in the sky.

For a brief period, comet Holmes, which is also a part of our solar system, became the largest object in the solar system. Yes, even larger than the sun!

On November 9th 2007, the diameter of comet’s coma – a cloudy region surrounding the comet made up of very tiny shiny ice and dust particles – measured about 1.4 million km. The sun’s diameter rounded to the nearest hundred is estimated to be 1.392 million km. Agreed the coma wasn’t as massive as the sun, but the size of it did measure slightly more than the sun at that time.

It indeed is a great achievement to become the largest object in the solar system (for some time) for an object that is just a tiny mass of ice and dust that is only about 3.6 km wide.

That day, the cloud around it erupted due to a mysterious outburst which still puzzles scientists. Such outbursts have been seen in the past too and are thought to have been originated as a result of its collision with a meteor (or probably due to an internal steam eruption).

via [space]