Estimating the Distance of a Lightning Strike

By Anupum Pant

Everyone who’s studied basic science at school knows that light travels much much faster than sound. Light can travel about 300,000 km in a single second. Sound, in the same time would cover about 0.3 km. That’s a huge difference.

Considering that, it is fairly easy to calculate how far a lightning strike happens by measuring the time it takes the sound to reach you after you see the lightning. In that case, taking into account the enormous speed of light, you assume that the light instantly reaches you and you just count the seconds it takes for the sound to be heard at the place you are.

Then multiplying the seconds with 0.3 would give you, in kilometres, how far it happened – an estimation of, course.

So, if there isn’t a mess of lightning strikes happening somewhere, which usually isn’t the case, and if you can clearly tell which sound came from which lightning strike, which you can’t in most cases, you can actually estimate the distance of a strike very easily.

If you think that’s great. You might be interested in:
How to estimate the temperature.
and How to estimate the time to sunset.

Coldest Spot in The Universe

By Anupum Pant

Where do you think is the coldest spot in the universe. Like many would have guessed, somewhere in the deepest places in space, the temperature would be coldest than anything else. After all, space being so massive, the probability that happening is so high outside of Earth. Probably the Boomerang Nebula is the coldest. At least that is what Google says:

At a positively frigid one Kelvin (that equates to –458 degrees Fahrenheit or –272 degrees Celsius), the Boomerang Nebula in the constellation Centaurus is officially the coldest known place in the entire Universe. It’s even colder than the background temperature of space!

No!

Behold, the coldest temperature ever recorded anywhere in the universe is in a laboratory, here on Earth – at MIT! It is extremely close to what the coldest temperature can be theoretically.

They call it the Bose-Einstein condensate (BEC). and the temperature reached has held a record since the year 2003 and in numbers, it is 10 trillionths of a degree F above absolute zero.

And the process ironically involves heating up to 700 degrees celsius to obtain a lots of free sodium atoms. Then, ironically again, they are hit with a laser to make them move lesser. And finally a special kind of evaporative cooling is done to reach nano-kelvin levels. That is how, extremely cold temperatures are reached.

The Coldest Place on Earth

By Anupum Pant

A couple of days back I wrote about the hottest place on earth. That made me think of how cold the coldest place would be. I was sure it’d be somewhere in one of the poles, but I wasn’t sure where exactly it was.

This is what Google said:

Aerial photograph of Vostok Station, the coldest directly observed location on Earth. The lowest natural temperature ever directly recorded at ground level on Earth is −89.2 °C (−128.6 °F; 184.0 K), at the Soviet Vostok Station in Antarctica, on July 21, 1983.

After a little more digging, I found that his was the old record. Turns out, the coldest place on earth now, not counting the laboratories, is still in the high ridges of the East Antarctic plateau close to Vostok station. It’s called the Dome B. And the coldest times happen when all the conditions are perfect.

When the conditions are right, the temperatures during winters can reach minus 92 degrees Celsius!