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Volume 5 Issue 11 Jan-Jun 2012

Online full text at
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Online full text at
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Supported by
Young Scientists Journal
This magazine web-based Young Scientists Journal is online journal open access journal (www.ysjournal.com). It has been
in existence since June 06 and contains articles written by young scientists for young scientists. It is where young scientists
get their research and review articles published.
Published by
MEDKNOW PUBLICATIONS AND MEDIA PVT. LTD.
B5-12, Kanara Business Center, Off Link Road,
Ghatkopar (E), Mumbai - 400075, INDIA.
Phone: 91-22-6649 1818
Web: www.medknow.com
Editorial Board
Chief Editor: Cleodie Swire, UK
Editorial Team Members Emma Copland, UK
Team Leader: Fiona Jenkinson, UK Rachel Wyles, UK
Chris Cundy, UK Arthur Harris, UK
Louis Wilson, UK Niyi Adenuga, Nigeria
Louis Sharrock, UK Jake Shepherd-Barron, UK
David Hewett, UK Harriet Dunn, UK
Fiona Paterson, UK Gilbert Chng, Singapore
Mei Yin Wong, Singapore Maria Jose Tamayo, Peru
Alex Lancaster, UK Hannah Morrison, UK
Matthew Brady, UK Anne de Vitry d'Avaucourt, France
Ben Lawrence, UK Kiran Thapa, England
Tim Wood, UK Muna Oli, USA
Robert Aylward, UK Maddy Parker, UK
Chloe Forsyth, UK Technical Team
Savannah Lordis, UK Team Leader: Jacob Hamblin-Pyke, UK
Emily Thompsett, UK Mark Orders, UK
Natalie Cooper-Rayner, UK
Young Advisory Board
Jonathan Rogers, UK Malcolm Morgan, UK
Muna Oli, USA Otana Jakpor, USA
Pamela Barraza Flores, Mexico
International Advisory Board
Team Leader: Christina Astin, UK
Ghazwan Butrous, UK Mike Bennett, USA
Joanne Manaster, USA Tony Grady, USA
Andreia Azevedo-Soares, UK Ian Yorston, UK
Paul Soderberg, USA Charlie Barclay, UK
Anna Grigoryan, USA / Armenia Alom Shaha, UK
Don Eliseo Lucero-Prisno, UK Lorna Quandt, USA
Linda Crouch, UK Arjen Dijksman, France
Steven Chambers, UK Armen Soghoyan, Armenia
Thijs Kouwenhoven, Netherlands/Philippines Anthony Hardwicke, UK
Tobias Nørbo, Denmark John Boswell, USA
Mark Orders, UK Sam Morris, UK
Lee Riley, USA Malcolm Morgan, UK
Corky Valenti, USA Joanna Buckley, UK
Vince Bennett, USA Jonathan Rogers, UK
Volume 5 | Issue 11 | Jan - Jun 2012
Volume 5 | Issue 11 | Jan - Jun 2012
Young Scientists Journal
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Published by
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MEDIA PVT. LTD.
B5-12, Kanara Business Center,
Off Link Rd, Ghatkopar (E),
Mumbai - 400075, INDIA.
Phone: 91-22-6649 1818
Web: www.medknow.com
Editorial
Cleodie Swire .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. 1
Interview
Interview with Harry Kroto
Cleodie Swire .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. 3
Review Articles
The Sun’s the limit
Dennis Cui .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. 6
Exploring the quantum world
Lauren Peters .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. . 11
The light in dark chocolate
Joyce Chen. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .18
Golden simultaneous equations
Gianamar Giovannetti-Singh. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .20
Thermodynamics of the Earth’s atmosphere
Martin H Wong.. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .23
Opinions
Can science and religion work together while one relies on evidence and
the other on faith?
Catherine Schuster Bruce .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .31
A new age of science is not dawning – It has arrived
Toby McMaster . .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .34
Research Articles
The effects of magnetic felds on plant growth and health
Edward Fu .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .38
Household bacteria: Everyday elimination methods uncovered!
Defne Gürel, Melis Atalar, Ayça Arslan Ergül .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .43
Young Scientists Journal | 2012 | Issue 11 1
Editorial
The Young Scientists Journal is proud to present Issue 11. This issue contains a wide variety of articles, and
the essence of this is expressed in Toby McMaster’s piece which emphasises the importance of maintaining
communication and collaboration between the different specialities to ensure that scientific progress is as efficient,
enterprising and extensive as possible. This is something that we, as the next generation of scientists, must
all keep in mind lest we subjugate the people who hold the key to the most pressing challenges for mankind.
An example of this is solar power, which has often been presented to me as an infeasible source due to it’s
not being profitable enough either in terms of cost or energy conversion. However, in ‘The Sun’s the limit’, a
persuasive argument is put forward that will make you re-evaluate your stance and perhaps persuade you
that solar power is where our focus should lie. Another article that may change your views is ‘The light in
dark chocolate’ which explains why everyone’s favourite indulgence doesn’t deserve to be solely associated
with bad health. Catherine Schuster Bruce explores how some of the world’s greatest scientific minds have
managed to uphold their seemingly conflicting scientific and religious beliefs.
The issue also contains articles where the authors explain some of the most intriguing subjects in science:
quantum physics, the Earth’s atmosphere and the Golden Ratio. These are an easy way to become versed
on these topics, as they are written with a student readership in mind.
Two original research articles are also featured: one by a group of students from Turkey that evaluates common
ways to eradicate bacteria, and another that studies how magnetic fields affect plant development. These
highlight that it is not only graduate scientists who can carry out worthwhile experiments, and show what an
effective way it is to become accustomed to the process of executing research.
We have interviewed a Nobel prize-winning scientist, Harry Kroto, whose research involves the discovery
of buckminsterfullerene, which has fuelled some of the latest avenues of investigation in solar power. He
offers invaluable advice about what young students should look for in the work they intend to pursue, and
the questioning nature that they must uphold.
I should like to thank all the authors for submitting their articles and working with us to make them into the
refined versions that you now see before you. Our hardworking team of editors also deserves credit, especially
when you consider that they have been finding time for the task alongside their demanding work at school
preparing for essential public examinations. Finally, thanks must go to the senior team at YSJ: Fiona Jenkinson
(the head of the Editorial Team) for her management of the group and for producing the image for the front
cover, Jacob Hamblin-Pyke (head of the Technical Team) for maintaining our public portal – the website, Miss
Christina Astin for her guidance and encouragement, and Prof. Ghazwan Butrous for his directing that keeps
us all focussed on the progression of the journal.
Cleodie Swire
Chief Editor
E-mail: 07ccs@kings-school.co.uk
DOI: 10.4103/0974-6102.97653
2 Young Scientists Journal | 2012 | Issue 11
In addition to the above, the work of one person that should be commended above all is that of our current
Chief Editor, Cleodie Swire. Her contributions to the journal have been outstanding in terms of organisation,
leadership and commitment. She has helped keep all aspects of the journal under control and indeed made
substantial improvements and I am certain she will continue to do so. I feel it is fair to say that this issue would
not be what it is if it weren’t for her efforts.
Fiona Jenkinson
Head of the Editorial Team
E-mail: 08flvj@kings-school.co.uk
About the Author
Fiona Jenkinson is 17 years old and goes to The King's School Canterbury where she is currently studying for her AS
Levels. She is studying Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Maths. In her free time she enjoys art, music, photography and
reading. She is unsure of what she wants to do in the future.
Young Scientists Journal | 2012 | Issue 11 3
ABSTRACT
Professor Sir Harold Kroto FRS [Figure 1] is a
British chemist who is most famous for being
one of the Nobel-prize winning discoverers of
buckminsterfullerene, known as `buckyballs' [Figure 2].
This is a spherical cage-like molecule with the formula
C60 which can be used to encage and transport other
molecules [Box 1]. He now works at the University of
Florida, USA. For a brief biography, see Box 2.
What made you interested in science?
I’m not sure that anything did, other than being
interested in Meccano and being told by my
father that I’d better be interested in science and
mathematics. My main interest as a kid at school
was geography, and art and graphics.
What was the turning point when you decided
to pursue chemistry?
I had a teacher who took an interest in me and a
couple of other students, and encouraged me to go
to Sheffield University, which at the time was probably
the best chemistry department in the country.
In your opinion, why is it important that we
continue to study chemistry?
Chemistry is an overarching subject, and almost
everything to do with sustainability and survival today
involves chemistry.
Science for life: I think it is important to have a
scientific background; everyone should do science
and mathematics to a reasonable degree so that they
have some appreciation of the culture that created
modern lifestyles. The more you understand the
technology in the modern world, the better decisions
you will make if you are in a position of responsibility.
Many of the important decisions made nowadays
involve scientific understanding: climate change, fuel
problems, medical issues, etc. It’s a basis for giving
people a better understanding of the world we are in.
Take no one’s word for it: Science for me has a deeper
intellectual aspect and I call it ‘natural philosophy’.
Natural philosophy is defined in the following way:
it is the only philosophical construct that we have to
determine truth with any degree of reliability.
For instance, do you think that the Earth goes round
the Sun or the Sun goes round the Earth? Until
Galileo, people believed that the Sun goes round the
Earth – if you look outside the window, this is how it
looks.The Royal Society has the motto ‘Take no one’s
word for it’ – the questioning of everything is what
science is about. Common sense suggests that the
Sun goes round us; it’s actually quite complicated to
prove the truth, which involves Foucault’s pendulum
[Figure 3] showing that the Earth is rotating.
Interview with Harry Kroto
Interview
Cleodie Swire
The King's School Canterbury, England, E-mail: 07ccs@kings-school.co.uk
Chief Editor, Cleodie Swire, interviewed Sir Harold Kroto, Nobel Prize winner.
4 Young Scientists Journal | 2012 | Issue 11
Once you realize that, you appreciate how easily
people can be misled. I don’t respect anybody who
cannot prove to me what they are telling me on the
basis of evidence. You must be really careful about
accepting things without evidence. You should tell
your teachers that it’s obvious that the Sun goes
round us – common sense suggests it. It’s actually
uncommon sense that you need to understand nature
– it is uncommon sense that makes a scientist look
a little more deeply and decide that something isn’t
quite right.
How has technology affected the type of work
chemists do throughout your career?
Enormously – it has changed life completely.
Technology now is so efficient and so complex and
so inscrutable that people are using technology
without knowing what is going on. Twenty years
ago, if someone told that you could talk to anybody,
anywhere in the world with something the size of a
Figure 3: Foucault’s pendulum at the Pantheon, Paris [available from
htp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Pendule_de_Foucault.jpg]
Figure 2: Buckminsterfullerene [available from htp://en.wikipedia.
org/wiki/Buckminsterfullerene]
Figure 1: Harry Kroto [available from htp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/
Harry_Kroto]
Young Scientists Journal | 2012 | Issue 11 5
About the Author
Cleodie Swire is currently studying Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Further Maths at A Level. She hopes to study
Medicine at University. She enjoys sport and travelling.
cigarette packet, you would have thought they were
crazy.
Today there is a disconnection from technology. Up
until the big advance in technology in the last part
of the twentieth century, most people knew how
something worked because when it went wrong, you
had to fix it, you didn’t just throw it away and replace
it. By fixing things, you learn how they work.
What do you view as being the most exciting
application that has come from the discovery
of buckminsterfullerene?
It’s being tested at the moment as a rather good
dopant in solar cells (see The Sun’s the Limit, p . 6-10).
There will be a market for organic-based solar cells,
rather than silicon-based ones. It’s possible that we
will make some very inexpensive organic polymers
which will not need a battery, and using C
60
as a dopant
in these solar cells improves the efficiency of the
electricity production by several orders of magnitude.
Up to now, the contribution buckminsterfullerene
has made to science has been quite a fundamental
learning point because we learned that it self-
assembles. People didn’t think that it would self-
assemble, which shows that we don’t know much.
Do you have any advice to young people?
Never do anything where a second-rate effort will
satisfy you. If it does, go and find something else.
Do something to the best of your ability. If you are
prepared to work 25 hours a day, eight days a week
on a project, then you’ve chosen the best thing for
you to do.
That is the determination that I have, though not
everyone does. I never do anything where a second-
rate effort will satisfy me. If you find something you
feel that way about, then you will almost certainly do
it better than others who may have the potential to do
it better than you, but don’t have that determination
in that particular area.
You’ve got to satisfy yourself – you shouldn’t be doing
it to get a good mark, but to feel that you are doing
the best you could possibly do. That’s a good recipe
for success in the future, I think.
References
1. Buckminsterfullerene. Available from: http://en.wikipedia.org/
wiki/Buckminsterfullerene. [Last accessed on 2012 Mar 3].
2. Harry Kroto’s Curriculum Vitae. Available from: http://www.
kroto.info/General_info/CV_A.html. [Last accessed on 2012
Mar 3].
6 Young Scientists Journal | 2012 | Issue 11
Figure 1: A pie chart of the United States’ energy spectrum. [Available
from htp://parsonspr.wordpress.com/2009/10/20/october-is-energy-
awareness-month/] [Source: U.S. Energy Informaton Administraton
(Oct 2008)]
The Sun has been, and always will be, the Earth’s
largest energy reservoir-it powers every living
system, from plant photosynthesis to every node
of the food web. Humans, like all other organisms,
depend on sunlight. Early humanity treasured the
Sun’s existence, using its energy as instruments
of religious rituals, fire, and war. By the rise of
modern civilizations, however, Sun power has been
virtually pushed off the energy spectrum. As modern
civilizations improved standards of living, the
demand for energy increased. This rise in demand
has largely been met with fossil fuels. Technologies
were devel oped to l ocate and extract these
resources from the earth and mass infrastructure
was built to process and distribute these energies.
Figure 1 shows the estimated energy usage by
source in the United States in 2009.
[1]
83% of the
yearly energy consumption in the U.S. is derived
from petroleum, coal, and natural gas, while only
8% is supplied by renewable energy. It should be
noted that solar energy accounts for only 0.08%,
an insignificant amount, of the total United States'
energy pie.
Solar History and Theory
Technology capable of harnessing the power of the
Sun was first developed in 1954 at Bell Laboratories.
However, the invention aroused little interest at the
time because petroleum cost less than $2 a barrel
and solar energy cost nearly $600 per Watt. In the
ABSTRACT
The Sun’s the limit
Review Article
Dennis Cui
Lynbrook High School, California, USA. E-mail: dennis.z.cui@gmail.com
DOI: 10.4103/0974-6102.97658
Many scientists are employed to research into novel ways to generate energy for human
use since fossil fuels - currently the main source of energy - are a finite resource. One of
the most promising fields is solar energy, as the Sun is a very reliable source. It is also
a very 'clean' source, as no greenhouse gases are released during the generation of
energy, and less destruction of unused land is required compared to many other renewable
resources. However, photovoltaic cells are expensive and do not have very high energy
conversion ratios at the moment. Ongoing research includes finding materials to make the
cells cheaper, and the use of organic semiconductors, which present various advantages.
Young Scientists Journal | 2012 | Issue 11 7
late 1950s, the National Aeronautics and Space
Administration (NASA) saved the photovoltaic (PV)
cell from the technological dumpster by using them
as lightweight and reliable energy sources to power
satellites.
[1]
As petroleum prices rapidly increased,
researchers began to consider the prospect of PV
cells designed for use on Earth. In the last 20 years,
investment in and progress on PV cells have
exploded. Many institutions of higher education, such
as Harvard, MIT, and Stanford, have begun research
and development (R&D) programs to produce next
generation PV cells. Private labs have produced PV
cells with energy conversion ratios over 20%, fueling
a consumption growth of over 50% in the last 10
years.
[1]
A solar panel is a packaged, interconnected
assembly of PV cells. The typical PV cell operates in
three steps to produce electricity: charge collection,
charge separation, and charge extraction. A basic
PV cell consists of a transparent active layer, a
double-layered conductor (dubbed N and P layers),
and an external circuit. The active layer absorbs
light; electrons are excited in the electron-excess
N-layer, and these excitons, bound electron-hole
pairs, move towards the electron-hole rich P-layer.
A thin gap between the two layers acts as a check
valve-electrons can travel across in one direction but
not the other. Because the electrons cannot return to
the N-layer, a charge imbalance is created within the
conductor. These excitons diffuse through the PV cell
towards the external circuit, which extracts this charge
by creating a bridge that allows electrons to flow
between the N and P layers.
[2]
This flow of electrons
constitutes an electric current.
Sunlight is Abundant
Solar energy is a viable source of energy because
of its abundance. The total energy output of the
Sun exceeds the output of any other energy source
by several orders of magnitude. This solar energy
incident on the earth’s surface can be obtained by
dimensional analysis:
Energy = Flux × Area × Time
Exper i ment al l y, t he sol ar f l ux const ant i s
1.366kW/m
2
the cross sectional area of Earth is;
p r
2
= 1.27 × 10
14
m
2
; a year has 8760 hours. Inserting
these values into the equation shows that the Earth
receives 1.5 × 10
18
kWh (kilowatt hours) of energy
per year from sunshine, which is roughly 10,000
times the world annual total energy consumption of
15 terawatts. 10% efficient solar conversion system,
covering 0.1% of the land on Earth would be sufficient
to power the world.
[3]
With solar energy, the world
does not have to worry about energy shortages and
our standards of living have room to improve. In
addition, the Sun is the most reliable energy source
for life on Earth because it will continue to produce
energy until it dies, which coincides with, when the
Earth will cease to support life.
Sunlight is delivered to nearly all parts of the world
year-round, which makes solar energy the ideal
source for remote locations. It is economically
unfeasible to integrate large electric utilities into
these areas, but building a household solar energy
generating unit allows energy to reach places where
utilities do not go: off the grid. In addition, sunshine
follows a diurnal cycle, which matches the human
energy usage pattern-it shines when we use energy
during the day and sets when we are asleep at night.
Solar Power is Clean
Solar energy is a viable source of energy because
of its cleanliness. PV cells generate electricity by the
characteristics of the material they are constructed
from-that is, no physical or chemical change is involved
in the production process, leading to zero waste and
emission in energy production. Conventional energy
sources such as coal, petroleum, and natural gas have
high emission levels of carbon dioxide and other harmful
greenhouse gases such as nitrogen (N), methane
(CH
4
), water vapor (H
2
O), and ozone (O
3
), which
lead to global warming and smog pollution. Nuclear
energy is also undesirable because it carries a high
risk of radiation (alpha, beta, and gamma) and creates
hundreds of thousands of tons of radioactive waste
including uranium (U-238), plutonium (Pu-239, Pu-
240), fission products (Sr-90, Cs-137, Tc-99), and minor
actinides (Np-237, Am-241, Cm-243/244).
[1]
Moreover,
nuclear radiation and waste will remain dangerous for
thousands of years. The recent Japanese nuclear power
plant leaks are just one example.
Solar energy is also cleaner than other renewable
energy. Wind turbines must be built in order to
harness wind energy, dams must be built in order to
harness water power, and millions of acres of land
must be cleared to support growing crops for bio-fuel.
These construction (but destructive) projects often
deface the surrounding environment and harm the
surrounding ecosystem. In contrast, solar panels can
8 Young Scientists Journal | 2012 | Issue 11
be built on a much smaller scale and can be easily
installed on the walls and roofs of houses or other
pre-existing locations.
Solar Energy is Still Expensive
Commercially available PV cells are composed of
silicon and have an average energy conversion
efficiency of 12%. So far, it has been expensive
to manufacture these cells due to high energy
requirements and labor cost. Therefore, the cost of
manufacturing and generating energy from PV cells
has always been higher than the cost of using other
forms of energy. Figure 2 compares the cost per
kilowatt-hour of solar energy to other major energy
competitors.
The graph shows that, currently, the cost of
solar energy is double the nearest competitor.
However, solar energy is unique in that it has no
decommissioning and production costs because
PV cells require little to no maintenance. Although
the current cost of producing solar power may be
daunting, technological advances in the field promise
a bright future for solar energy.
Research and Development
To make solar power competitive in the energy
market, researchers and scientists have been
developing new PV cells with high energy conversion
efficiency and low production cost. Recently, R&D
programs have been working on creating PV cells
in the form of amorphous, thin films using cheaper
and more flexible organic compounds. Unlike silicon
units, organic PV cells are based on p-conjugated
organic electronic materials. In conjugated organic
molecules (systems with alternating single and
doubl e bonds) every carbon center exhi bi ts
sp
2
hybridization. In nature, these strings of sp
2
hybridized orbitals are rigid, but when these
delocalized orbitals are oxidized, they degenerate
into a band of electrons.
[4]
When this band is partially
emptied, it permits electron mobility, thus turning
into an organic semiconductor.
Organic semiconductors bring a host of advantages
for the development of cost-efficient and flexible
thin-film PV cells. Organic semiconductors are
generally made of polymers and can be deposited
from sol uti on, maki ng a reel -to-reel coati ng
possible for inexpensive, large scale production;
organic semiconductors are also compatible with
lightweight substrates such as glass and plastic,
making them a prime candidate for mass production
and cheap installation; organic semiconductors
have high optical absorption coefficients, ideal
to harvest a large fraction of the solar spectrum.
Most importantly, organic PV cells can be adapted
to suit a host of requirements through chemical
processing. For example, one experiment at the
Advanced Energy Research Center of SANYO
Electric Co., Ltd. reported that by replacing the
classical electron donor copper phthalocyanine
(CuPc) with tetraphenyldibenzoperiflanthene (DBP)
(a combination of carbon and hydrogen) the PV
cell’s absorption coefficient spectra almost doubled
with respect to light between wavelengths of 500 nm
and 600 nm.
[5]
A high absorption coefficient is
crucial in PV cell efficiency, and DBP has the highest
performance in wavelengths in which the Sun’s light
spectrum strength is strong. With breakthroughs
in composing and altering materials for organic
semiconductors at the molecular level, there is now
a plethora of ways to improve organic PV cells.
However, organic PV cells also have considerable
drawbacks-their efficiency is roughly a third of that of
inorganic PV cells and their lifetime is only a fraction
of that of inorganic PV cells. To enhance lifetime,
researchers are developing self-repairing organic
PV cells modeled on plant chemistry.
[6]
To improve
the conversion efficiency, various methods and
techniques are being developed to maximize exciton
diffusion, forward electron transfer, and charge
transport. Researchers have improved the packing
of molecules in organic semiconductors to produce
more excitons and facilitate separation into mobile
Figure 2: A comparison of energy prices from 2010. [Available from
htp://nuclearfssionary.com/2010/04/02/comparing-energy-costs-
of-nuclear-coal-gas-wind-and-solar/]
Young Scientists Journal | 2012 | Issue 11 9
charges. Researchers have also found that charge
carrier mobility is enhanced by blending polymers with
electron-accepting materials such as fullerene (C
60
)
derivatives, cadmium selenide (CdSe), and titanium
dioxide (TiO
2
).
[7]
Earlier this year, one independent
research group at MIT discovered that graphene
(a nanoscale carbon allotrope) exhibits flexibility,
conductivity, and resistivity almost parallel to Indium-
Tin-Oxide (ITO), the standard material for electrodes
in organic PV cells.
[8]
Whereas ITO is relatively rare
and expensive, carbon is the second most abundant
element in the Earth’s crust. Breakthroughs in organic
PV cell technologies demonstrate promise for its
future success as a world energy producer.
The Future is in Solar
In the past 30 years, various technologies have been
developed and the price per kilowatt of using solar
energy has dropped from $5 to less than $0.25.
[9]
Solar
energy is no longer in the distant future. It is becoming
a reality-more and more solar panels are being installed
on houses, in schools, and in open areas. In some parts
of the world, where sunlight is omnipresent, the price
of using PV cells has already undercut conventional
energy prices. Figure 3 shows the history of the cost
of PV cells and the projected future of PV cell costs.
The cost of solar energy continues to decrease as the
cost of conventional energy continues to increase.
Experts expect grid parity (the price at which solar
energy will be competitive with conventional energy)
to occur by 2015. Research and investment in
organic PV cells are likely to elevate solar energy to
be competitive with and cheaper than other forms
of energy. Sunlight is sustainable, stainless, and
singular. Sunlight is ubiquitous, boundless, and
accessible. Sunlight is the tonic of nature. In the
future, everything we consume or use-from the lights
that we use, the vehicles we drive, to the preparation
of the food we eat-will be powered directly by the
Sun. Our energy usage will be forever sustainable
and independent. Green energy will dominate the
energy spectrum, and we will put a brake on climate
change. That future is in solar energy.
References
1. Energy Explained, Your Guide To Understanding Energy. U.S.
Energy Information Administration. U.S. Department of Energy.
Available from: http://www.eia.doe.gov/energyexplained/
index.cfm. [Last accessed on 2011 Mar 04].
2. Bushan B. Springer Handbook of Nanotechnology. 1st ed.
Vol. 1. Verlag: Springer, Academic Search Premier. 2004.
http://www.springerlink.com/content/978-3-642-02525-9 [Last
accessed on 2011 Jan 12].
3. Xue J. Perspectives on Organic Photovoltaics. Polymer Review
50.4 (2010): 411-19. Academic Search Premier. [Last accessed
on 2011 Mar 06].
4. Brunetti FG, Kumar R, Wudl F. Organic electronics from perylene
to organic photovoltaics: Painting a brief history with a broad
brush. J Mater Chem 2010;20:2934-48.
5. Fujishima D, Kanno H, Kinoshita T, Maruyama E, Tanaka M,
Shirakawa M, et al. Organic thin-film solar cell employing a
novel electron-donor material, Solar Energy Materials and Solar
Cells. Vol. 93, Issues 6-7. 17
th
International Photovoltaic Science
and Engineering Conference. Fukuoka International Congress
Center in Fukuoka, Japan; 2009. p. 1029-32.
6. Strano MS. Photoelectrochemical Complexes for Solar Energy
Conversion That Chemically and Autonomously Regenerate.
Nature 2010:929-36. Nature Publishing Group: Science
Journals, Jobs, and Information. 05 Sept. 2010. [Last accessed
on 2011 May 23].
7. Sounni AB. Low Cost Manufacturing of Light Trapping Features
on Multi-Crystalline Silicon Solar Cells: Jet Etching Method and
Cost Analysis. Thesis. Massachusetts: Massachusetts Institute of
Technology; 2010.
8. Chandler DL. “Graphene Electrodes for Organic Solar Cells.”
Nanowerk LLC. 6 Jan. 2011. Available from: <http://www.
nanowerk.com/news/newsid = 19598.ph P>. [Last accessed
on 2011 Jan 11].
9. Margolis RM. Solar Energy: Market Trends and Dynamics.” NARUC
2009 Winter Committee Meeting. Washington D.C; National
Renewable Energy Laboratory; 2009 Feb 16.
Figure 3: An overview of solar unit prices from 1978 to present
and extrapolated future prices. [Available from http://www.
renewableenergyworld.com/rea/news/artcle/2010/08/test10?cmpid
= rss]
10 Young Scientists Journal | 2012 | Issue 11
About the Author
Dennis is currently studying physics in school. He has taken courses in chemistry, biology, and computer science and
is currently studying multivariable calculus at West Valley Community College. Dennis is fascinated by nanotechnology,
which led to his interest in the application of nanotechnology to solar energy, and computer science, which led him to
begin developing applications for the Android platform. He hopes to attend Harvard College in the fall of 2012. In the
future, Dennis plans on studying a combination of business and engineering. He plans to be a business entrepreneur.
For Students
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• Have you seen examples of STEM work in schools which deserves to be published?
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Young Scientists Journal | 2012 | Issue 11 11
ABSTRACT
Introduction
In the early 19
th
century, physicists were becoming
dangerously content with their understanding of what
appeared to be a wholly deterministic
1
universe. It
was not long, however, before classical physics
failed to explain the small-scale phenomena that
was being observed by physicists and a new and
radical theory was required. Quantum Theory is the
study of discrete packets of energy called quanta
and its still evolving theory attempts to explain the
strange behaviour of small scale systems. Matter is
both a wave and a particle; a cat is both dead and
alive;
2
particles that are light years apart can be
inherently linked and others can exist in two places
at once.
Superposition is thought by many to be the central
tenet of quantum theory and yet it is not studied
until degree level physics. Through this article, I
would like to make some of the exciting aspects of
quantum theory more accessible to readers. I will
investigate the double slit experiment in which we
see these quantum properties in context and discuss
their implications. By doing so, I will merely touch
the very edges of a dynamic, ever-changing, and
incredibly controversial theory, yet I hope to provide
a worthwhile insight into some of the distinctive
characteristics which distinguish quantum theory
from classical physics.
Background
The term, ‘classical physics’ refers to universal laws
such as Newtonian mechanics that were known and
understood prior to the birth of quantum theory.
Classical physics was not replaced by quantum
theory because such laws remain valid right down to
the atomic scale, but they fail at the subatomic level.
Classical physics is what we experience on a day
to day basis and it is therefore intuitive; it describes
The development of quantum physics over a century ago marked a departure from classical
physics. The author introduces the strange world of quantum phenomena by describing
the double slit experiment and our inability to grasp the electron's behaviour as wave
and/or particle. She goes on to discuss the measurement problem, wherein the very act
of measuring a system affects its outcome. Quantum physics signalled a shift away from
determinism and the author outlines the 'many worlds' theorem and suggests some of the
implications of this interpretation. She also offers an insight into uses of quantum theory
in technology and other non-scientific disciplines.
Lauren Peters
The Sixth Form College, Solihull. E-mail: l.peters@hotmail.co.uk
DOI: 10.4103/0974-6102.97661
1
Determinism is when the exact properties of a system at a given
time are sufficient to define what the system will do next.
2
It should be noted that the cat idea is a thought experiment that has
extrapolated what is seen at a quantum level to a macroscopic level.
Exploring the quantum world
Review Article
12 Young Scientists Journal | 2012 | Issue 11
the forces that make objects move and explains why
liquids turn to gases at certain temperatures. It is
logical and predictable. In comparison, quantum
ideas appear irrational and random. It is essential
that one carries no intuitive assumptions from the
classical world we live in through to the quantum
world as it is explored. As we shall see, wave-
particle duality states that matter does not exist
as either a wave or a particle, but both. Similarly,
superposition insists that something does not exist
here or there, but both. It is easy to assume such
ideas are false simply because our experience
implies that they must be. If two beings from a
2D world looked at a cylinder from perpendicular
angles, one would look and insist it is a circle while
the other would stubbornly disagree, seeing it as a
rectangle [Figure 1]. Physicists experience a similar
paradox. They can perform one experiment and see
light acting unarguably as a particle, while another
experiment will demonstrate the unambiguous
wave-nature of light. Just like the cylinder, it is both
and neither.
Wave-Particle Duality
While studying physics at A level, one learns about
a famous experiment phenomenon called the
photoelectric effect
3
. Although the experiment which
shows this effect will not be covered in detail within
this article, it is important to know that it demonstrates
light acting as a particle. It had been found that
the precise observations made when light causes
electrons to escape from a metal surface could not
be explained with the wave theory of light. The effect
remained a mystery until 1905 when Albert Einstein
postulated that light travelled in discrete ‘packets’
of energy called quanta. These quanta were later
dubbed ‘photons’.
These ideas left physicists in a quandary because there
were many other, equally valid, experiments that
demonstrated light acting as a wave. In 1801,
Thomas Young had performed the double slit
experiment. Monochromatic
4
light aimed at two slits
forms an interference pattern
5
of alternating bright
and dark areas on a screen positioned behind the
two slits [Figure 2]. Such an interference pattern is
distinctly characteristic of wave motion and can only
be explained by accepting that the light from each slit
travels in waves. (See footnote 5 for more information
on wave motion).
Soon after Einstein’s revelation, scientists began to
ask: If light can act as both a wave and a particle, can
the same be said for matter? Louis de Broglie

[Figure 3]
applied mathematics to the wave-particle duality
of matter, showing that the wavelength of a particle
is equal to a constant divided by the product of
the particle’s mass and velocity λ= h/mv. The
theory was later consolidated when an interference
pattern was formed with electrons. This can be
demonstrated by using the same apparatus as for
the double slit experiment, but replacing the source
of monochromatic light with an electron gun. The
electrons travel through the slits one by one and hit a
large photographic plate on the other side where they
make a small mark on impact. Initially, the marks seem
to appear at random across the plate, however, after
some time, a pattern begins to form [Figure 4]. When
thought of as particles, there is no explanation for
why the electrons form a consistent pattern. Yet when
thought of as waves, it is a convincing example of the
familiar interference pattern previously observed with
light. The discrete arrival of the marks demonstrates
the particle-like nature of electrons, while the overall
Figure 1: The circle-rectangle paradox [diagram drawn by author]
3
For more information see “Einstein: His life and Universe” By Walter
Isaacson
4
Monochromatic means light of one wavelength
5
How an interference pattern is formed:
On passing through each slit, the light waves diffract (spread out)
and overlap with each other. A wave consists of peaks and troughs
the two individual displacements of each wave are added together.
Therefore, if a peak meets with a peak it forms a super-peak and light
is observed. Similarly, if a trough meets with another trough it forms
a super-trough and light is observed. If, however, a peak meets a
trough, they will cancel each other out and no wave is formed- hence
no light is observed. The interference pattern consists of alternate
light and dark strips that signify where the two light waves have
overlapped and formed a light wave or cancelled each other out.
Young Scientists Journal | 2012 | Issue 11 13
pattern demonstrates their wave-like nature. Just like
the monochromatic light, these finite bits of matter
can behave as both waves and particles.
Superposition
The interference pattern observed suggests that the
electrons travel through both slits as a continuous
wave. Yet it is more difficult to answer the question,
through which slit does one indivisible electron
travel? Intuitively, one would predict that one electron
travelling through the upper slit is most likely to hit
the photographic plate directly opposite this upper
slit, while an electron travelling through the lower
slit is most likely to hit the plate opposite this lower
slit. Yet strangely, most marks are made midway
between the two slits indicating that this is where one
electron is most likely to arrive. Physicists, therefore,
concluded that one indivisible electron must travel
through both slits at the same time, a phenomenon
called superposition.
Superposition reveals an important feature of
quantum physics. In classical physics, one can
be sure that what is observed in an experiment
will be the same no matter what method is used
to observe it, provided the conditions of the
experiment are kept constant. However, in this
quantum experiment, we can observe very different
results simply by looking in a different place. If we
decide to add detectors by each of the two slits
to find out exactly which slit each electron travels
through before reaching the plate, we will never
actually detect two electrons travelling through both
slits at the same time, as superposition implies
we should. Instead, the electron will always be
detected either at the top slit or the lower slit. We
will also notice that an interference pattern is no
longer observed on the photographic plate, but
instead, the marks accumulate directly opposite
either slit (as intuition previously predicted). Hence,
we have completely changed the outcome of the
experiment simply through the act of measurement.
Quantum theory brought about a much greater
emphasis on the effects caused by measurement
which raised questions about what happens
when a measurement is made. The results of this
experiment appear to depend on the question you
are asking: if you ask a wave-like question (what
pattern will the electrons make if allowed to act
collectively?) then you will get a wave-like answer
and observe an interference pattern. If, on the other
hand, you ask a particle-like question (which slit
does the electron pass through?) you get a particle-
like answer: the electron will travel through one slit
only and arrive, in isolation, at the photographic
plate, forming no such interference pattern.
[1]
Figure 2: Double slits experiment showing waves [Available from htp://
paulkiser.wordpress.com/2010/09/27/negatve-tme/]
Figure 4: Double slit experiment with electrons [Available from htp://
commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Two-Slit_Experiment_Electrons.svg]
Figure 3: Louis de Broglie 1892-1987 [Available from http://
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Broglie_Big.jpg]
14 Young Scientists Journal | 2012 | Issue 11
The Measurement problem
There have been several attempts to explain what
happens when a measurement is made and I will touch
on them very briefly. Erwin Schrödinger [Figure 5]
explored quantum ideas and used mathematics
to aid him in his understanding of superposition.
He formed an equation using wave mechanics
to describe quantum theory mathematically. On
analyzing Schrodinger’s wave equation, Max
Born concluded that the equations could not be
describing the position of the electron itself - spread
into a wave-as it would no longer accommodate
particle-like properties (which we clearly observed
as each electron arrived at the photographic plate).
Instead, Born postulated that Schrodinger’s equation
described the probability of an electron (or particle)
being in a given location while behaving as a wave.
An electron could be here, there, or perhaps over
there, and the probabilities of each are presented
accordingly in Schrödinger’s wave equation. When
one makes a measurement of where the electron
does in fact reside, it can no longer exist in any place
except the one in which it is measured. Therefore,
the probabilities are confined to that single location
and all other probabilities must reduce to zero. By
taking a measurement, we destroy any potential
the electron had to travel another path. Before such
a measurement is made, quantum systems exist
as a wave function as described by Schrodinger’s
equations. The evolution of the wave function is
deterministic and everything we measure (velocity,
position, energy etc) depends on its wave function.
However, at the point of measurement, the wave
function collapses and the outcome is probabilistic.
Quantum theory radically demonstrated that some
events are not determined by physical laws and the
outcome of an experiment cannot be predicted using
all knowable information before the measurement
is made. It is important to realize that this notion is
different to the use of probabilities when throwing
dice. The movement of the dice is determined, but
many variables and forces are involved therefore
making it easier to make probabilistic predictions.
There are no such variables
6
in quantum physics and
so it is believed that non-determined (random) events
are inherent in nature. Schrödinger’s wave equation
has become well established within physics and
physicists have since formed various theories in an
attempt to explain what causes and what happens
when the wave function collapses-this quest is known
as the measurement problem.
The first theory to be popular among physicists was
the Copenhagen Interpretation, derived by Niels Bohr.
It states that our experience of reality is based on
measurement and an entity is only what one measures
it to be. In this way, the wave-particle paradox would
be explained by stating that when you are measuring
the electrons as particles, they are in fact particles. If,
on the other hand, you do not detect them as particles
but allow an interference pattern to form, the electrons
are waves. A consequence of this theory is that it
becomes meaningless to ascribe any properties to
something without measuring it. Even after measuring
it, you can only describe the entity with the measured
properties at the time you measured it and to describe
it at any time later you would have to measure it again.
A further theory that is becoming increasingly
popular is the many-worlds interpretation. It states
that everything that could happen does happen,
but in different worlds. Whenever there is a choice,
the universe splits so that each world is identical
except for the path chosen. When we measure which
slit the electron travelled through, we are measuring
the reality of what happened in our world, while the
electron also travels through the second slit in another
world. Not only does this theory create a huge number
of worlds, it also raises the question at what point does
it split? If the universe immediately splits every time
there is a choice, then the electrons would not be able
to interfere on the other side of the slits in order to form
Figure 5: Erwin Schrödinger 1887-1961 [Available from: http://
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Erwin_Schrodinger2.jpg]
6
The idea of hidden variables determining the outcome of apparently
random events is called the hidden variables theory and was
explored at length by a mathematician named John Bell. However,
such variables have not yet been proven to exist.
Young Scientists Journal | 2012 | Issue 11 15
an interference pattern on the photographic plate. The
electrons would exist in two, non-interacting worlds.
There is not one widely accepted or fool-proof
theory and the search for such a theory continues.
On studying quantum physics at a higher level, one
finds that the mathematical interpretations are far
more complete than our physical understanding.
Indeed, the mathematical equations of quantum
theory can predict the nature of our universe with
startling accuracy despite not having a physical
explanation of why. Such mathematics is inaccessible
prior to undergraduate study and so is it is easier
to simplify the double slits experiment into several
straightforward ideas. Firstly, one must simply accept
that individually the electrons act as particles, while
collectively they can behave as waves. When sent
through the two slits, nature will allow the electron to
take every possible path and travel down both slits
unless forced by the observer to choose. If allowed
to take both slits (in superposition), the electrons
behave as waves, they diffract
7
on passing through
the slits and interfere with each other to form the
pattern on the plate. If, on the other hand, the observer
forces the electrons to choose a path (by taking a
measurement), superposition does not occur. Instead,
the electrons act as particles, travelling through one
slit at a time and arriving at the plate as expected.
Implications
These quantum phenomena have interesting
implications on science, technology and the way in
which physicists view our universe.
Despi te l acki ng a compl ete expl anati on for
observations, physicists are able to harness quantum
physics’ bizarre properties to advance human abilities
beyond the boundaries of classical physics. An insight
into quantum properties has allowed physicists and
engineers to understand and therefore manipulate
materials on a much smaller scale than previously
possible. The electronic revolution depended heavily
on quantum mechanics such as the design of the
laser in a DVD player which relies on the Schrödinger
equation. Perhaps the most visible implications for
the future will be further advances of technology and
the use of quantum mechanics to produce extremely
fast quantum computers.
Furthermore, quantum theory changed a physicist’s
understanding of our world. It was previously thought
that the very nature of physics relied on an element
of determinism, whereby the properties of energy
and matter will remain constant and not change
randomly as one measures them. And yet with the
birth of quantum theory, Newtonian mechanics could
no longer be applied to all aspects of science or
used to determine exactly how a system will change
with time. Consequently, many scientists including
Albert Einstein were afraid of its non-deterministic
implications. It was feared that there might be
widespread implications for the rest of established
physics as such ideas seemed to undermine the
intuition of a physicist. I spoke to Tim Freegarde
of the University of Southampton who agreed:
“Intuition is extremely valuable for a scientist as it’s
both a subconscious method of checking based
on experience and a way of roughly modelling what
should happen before more rigorous simulations can
be performed”.
[2]
However, in the 1800s, a physicist’s
intuition, like ours, was based exclusively on their
classical experiences and so it was assumed that
anything which obeyed Newtonian mechanics was
‘intuitive’ and anything that didn’t was not. Tim argues
that, as a quantum researcher, he observes quantum
behaviour frequently, and has, therefore, acquired an
intuitive understanding of quantum physics. If earlier
physicists had such intuition, they would not have
been so put off by quantum ideas.
Quantum Mechanics further implies that an observer
can no longer exist independent of the system.
Instead the observer will have an inevitable and
profound effect on the system through the influence
of measurement. Consequently the nature of our
universe in the absence of humans has become
inherently unknowable. Physicists have pondered
on the disturbing implication that when one is not
there to observe it, the universe will exist in a mixture
of superposed states, only having a defined state
when observed. This apparent paradox is explored
in the well known thought experiment “Schrödinger’s
Cat”. A cat is sat in a sealed box with a quantum
mechanical system that has a probabilistic chance
of releasing a poisonous gas. According to the
Copenhagen interpretation, the gas will be in a
superposition state of released and not released,
and therefore, unless the cat is observed, it too
must exist in a superposition state of being both
dead and alive.
The “many worlds” interpretation brings a degree
7
When light diffracts, it spreads out on passing through a gap or
passing an obstacle. Diffraction is a property of waves.
16 Young Scientists Journal | 2012 | Issue 11
of determinism back into quantum physics as
measurement does not cause the particle to take
a single path at random, but allows the particle to
take every possible path - each in a different world.
However, the theory does have other implications.
We find that time does not run exclusively forwards
as we experience it, but is continually branching off
in many different directions. Furthermore, reality is
taken completely out of our hands as we cannot
decide which world we will exist in.
[3]
Do we have any
control over what happens or does every possibility
take place independent of us. Indeed, what is the
‘we’ that we experience or in other words - what is
consciousness? Much to the frustration of some
physicists, a consequence of quantum physics is that
it raises a whole range of philosophical questions.
Finally, the quantum properties explored in this
article have the potential to change our view on the
very nature of time. We experience an exclusively
‘forward’ direction for time which can be defined
classically by the second law of thermodynamics:
The entropy of a system must increase. Time gives
us an indication of causality, whereby something in
the present will cause an event in the future; however,
it would appear that quantum systems do not follow
these laws of causality. Take, for example, a double
slits experiment in which the measurement is made
several nanoseconds after the electrons have passed
through the slits.
[4]
Strangely, this measurement still
changes the outcome of the experiment, breaking the
interference pattern and forcing the electron (which
has already passed through the slits) to travel through
one slit only. This process, called post selection, is
an example of a future event changing something in
the past, implying that on a quantum level, the past
is no more certain than the future.
Conclusions
I will conclude this article by reiterating the features
of quantum theory that have been revealed while
investigating two of its phenomena: Wave-particle
duality and superposition.
It would appear that it is very difficult to picture or
conceptualize quantum phenomena. I discussed how
light and matter can act as both waves and particles,
and yet in our classical, everyday world such a notion
is impossible. We could conclude therefore, that
as classical beasts, we are restricted in our natural
understanding of the quantum world. In one of his
famous lectures, Richard Feynman demonstrated this
idea by saying “[when studying quantum theory,] our
imagination is stretched to its utmost not to understand
the fiction, but our imagination is stretched to its utmost
just to comprehend those things which are there”.
[5]

However, our intuition is based on classical physics
because we are of classical size and are nurtured
in a classical world. Physicists who spend their time
researching quantum mechanics can gain a similar
intuitive understanding of quantum phenomena.
Secondly, these phenomena demonstrate how
quantum experiments differ from what we experience
on a classical level. Classically, the same conditions
will always produce the same results, but the double
slits experiment proves that, due to superposition,
this is not the case in the quantum world. Similarly,
whereas in classical physics, it is possible to perform
a measurement which reveals everything about a
system without causing a disturbance, in quantum
physics the very act of measurement changes the
outcome of the system.
Furthermore, this investigation revealed a loss of
determinism due to the probabilistic nature of quantum
mechanics. Schrodinger’s equations describe a wave
function which evolves deterministically, yet the
outcome of a measurement is based on probabilities
alone. Even if one can measure the exact properties
of a quantum system, it is only possible to make
probabilistic predictions.
The very feature of quantum physics that gave it its
name is the idea that the smooth and continuous are
replaced with discrete ‘packets’ called quanta. Just
as waves are replaced with particles, energy itself
occurs in discrete quanta- an idea that revolutionized
our understanding of the atom and interactions
between light and matter.
It has become apparent that mathematical capability
is vital to an understanding of the quantum world
which greatly limits a qualitative understanding of
quantum phenomena. As well as the mathematical
formalism, classical physics presents a physical
description which can (usually) be understood by a
layperson. Consequently, it is often not restricted to
physicists alone, but other areas of science as well
as wider disciplines could make use of its insights.
Conversely, some of quantum theory is presented
exclusively in mathematical form - called quantum
formalism. As a consequence, physicists can
mathematically calculate exactly what is observed
with immense accuracy - making quantum physics
Young Scientists Journal | 2012 | Issue 11 17
About the Author
Lauren Peters is interested in the physics behind our natural world and started studying Physics at university in
September 2011.
the most successful theory in scientific history - yet
they cannot provide an explanation for events.
Therefore, I have told you a lot about superposition,
but I have not provided you with a complete
explanation for exactly what happens when we
detect a particle that is in a superposition state.
This almost philosophical conundrum continues to
puzzle physicists at the forefront of science. As the
Scientific journalist, Michael Brooks wrote: “If you
ask a roomful of physicists what goes on when we
measure a particles properties, some will tell you
that new parallel universes necessarily spring into
being. Others will say that, before a measurement
is performed, talk of a particle having real properties
is meaningless. Still others will say that hidden
properties come into play while another group will tell
you that they deal with physics not philosophy and
dismiss the question without giving you an answer”.
[6]

Exactly which, if any, of these interpretations are
walking in step with reality is yet to be determined.
But perhaps there is an element of truth in the notion
that it is irrelevant. The rules of quantum systems are
known, they can be successfully applied to a range of
experimental and real world scenarios and the results
show that quantum formalism works remarkably well.
An attempt to find out what it all means will inevitably
be clouded by our self-centered, classical mindset
and we cannot hope to gain any further insight by
imposing our everyday view of the universe on nature
itself. After all, contrary to our classical understanding,
it does not have to be either or; it could well be both.
References
1. Quantum Theory - John Polkinghorne - ISBN 978-0-19-280252-1.
2. Email conversation with Tim Freegarde, University of Southamp-
ton 06/09/10.
3. Is the Universe Deterministic? - Vlatko Vedral - New Scientist
18/11/06.
4. The Quantum Time Machine - Justin Mullins - New Scientist
20/11/10.
5. The Character of Physical Law (1965).
6. Rise of the Quantum Machines – Michael Brooks - New Scientist
26/06/10.
18 Young Scientists Journal | 2012 | Issue 11
In our calorie conscious world today, chocolate has
consistently garnered a bad reputation. From causing
acne to obesity, the cocoa candy has been known to
be loaded with fats and sugars; however, research
has highlighted some surprising health benefits
associated with the consumption of chocolate.
Antioxidant Powers
Chocolate specifically contains a compound called
flavanol, a type of flavonoid, which is a compound
generally found in vegetables, fruits, teas, and wines
that exhibit anti-aging and antioxidant behavior.
[1]
Flavanol gives the chocolate its sharp flavor and
lends its antioxidant powers to prevent oxygen
radicals and environmental toxins from damaging
the body.
[1]
Increased amounts of oxygen radicals
in the body have links to various diseases such as
cancer and atherosclerosis,
[2]
the condition in which
fatty substances such as cholesterol block the blood
vessels and thicken the artery wall. These substances in
chocolate prevent the buildup of low-density lipoprotein
(LDL), known as the bad lipoprotein, which reduces the
risk of artery plaques and blood clots and improves the
blood circulation. Consequently, these substances also
lower blood pressure, a big contributor to heart disease
and stroke, kidney problems, and cognitive dementia.
Mood Enhancers
Moreover, chocolate also contains many mood-
Figure 1: An image to show the chemical structure of phenethylamine
[Available from htp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phenethylamine]
ABSTRACT
Obesity is one of the biggest challenges facing the developed world, so people are very
aware about what they eat. Chocolate has always been labelled as one of the foods to
avoid if you are intent on losing weight. However, chemicals found in dark chocolate -
such as flavanoids and phenethylamine - are known to have positive effects on humans'
health and wellbeing. In addition, only one third of the fat in dark chocolate contributes
to LDL cholesterol levels.
Joyce Chen
Lynbrook High School, San Jose, CA, E-mail: smilys.joyce@gmail.com
DOI: 10.4103/0974-6102.97664
Review Article
The light in dark chocolate
Young Scientists Journal | 2012 | Issue 11 19
About the Author
Joyce Chen attends Lynbrook High School in San Jose, CA, and enjoys delving into the realms of science. She loves
to play golf for her varsity girls’ golf team and is enamored by the French language and culture.
boosting substances such as phenethylamine
[Figure 1], which increases the production of
endorphins and dopamine.
[3]
These two products are
neurotransmitters associated with pleasure and love,
the common feelings that people express when eating
chocolate. Another substance found is serotonin,
[3]
a
neurotransmitter linked to happiness and well-being
and a common combater of depression. Also found
in chocolate are anadamide and theobromine, which
are also transmitters secreted by the brain that help
in boosting pleasure and motivation.
[3]
It is no wonder
why chocolate has long been used by humans to
enhance mood and feeling [Figure 1].
Fat Content
Though many sceptics believe that chocolate contains
a high percentage of fat, negating its benefits, it
might not be as bad as people think. Chocolate
comprises equally three main fats: oleic acid, stearic
acid, and palmitic acid.
[4]
Oleic acid is an unsaturated
fat that does not elevate LDL cholesterol levels, and
though stearic acid is a saturated fat- which normally
contributes to LDL cholesterol- research has shown
that stearic acid usually is converted to oleic acid,
having no significant effect on LDL cholesterol.
[5]
Thus,
palmitic acid is the only truly detrimental saturated fat
that raises LDL cholesterol in chocolate and only one-
third of chocolate’s fat is harmful to health.
[5]
Chocolate Inequalities
However, though there are many benefits to eating
chocolate, the main culprit for its bad reputation is
its added sugars, which curb its nutritional worth.
Furthermore, during chocolate processing, much of
the bitter flavonoids from cocoa disappear, leaving
chocolate with a greater percentage of sugar and
calories.
[4]
However, different types of chocolate
[Figure 2] have different amounts of flavanoids. For
example, dark chocolate tends to have a greater
supply of antioxidant-rich flavanoids and a lesser
supply of sugar, while white chocolate has no cocoa
solids and thus no flavanoids.
[3]
Rather, this misnomer
comprises cocoa butter, sugar, milk solids, and
salt – a concoction void of nutritional content. Thus,
moderate consumption of dark chocolate provides
the best balance of taste and nutrition.
References
1. Buhler DR, Cristobal M. “Antioxidant Activities of Flavonoids.”
Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University. Nov. 2000. The
Linus Pauling Institute. Available from: http://lpi.oregonstate.
edu/f-w00/flavonoid.html. [Last accessed on 2011 Jun 20].
2. Rettner R. “Sweet Science: The Health Benefits of Chocolate |
LiveScience.” Current News on Space, Animals, Technology,
Health, Environment, Culture and History | LiveScience. 11
Feb. 2010. TechMediaNetwork.com. Available from: http://
www.livescience.com/6111-sweet-science-health-benefits-
chocolate.html. [Last accessed on 2011 Jun 20].
3. Robbins J. “Chocolate’s Startling Health Benefits.” Breaking
News and Opinion on The Huffington Post. 22 Feb. 2011.
TheHuffingtonPost.com, Inc. Available from: http://www.
huffi ngtonpost.com/j ohn-robbi ns/chocol ates-startl i ng-
heal_b_825978.html. [Last accessed on 2011 Jun 20].
4. Cleveland Clinic. “Heart-Health Benefits of Chocolate
Unveiled.” Cleveland Clinic. Feb. 2010. Available from: http://
my.clevelandclinic.org/heart/prevention/nutrition/chocolate.
aspx. [Last accessed on 2011 Jun 20].
5. Stibich M. “Chocolate - Health Benefits of Chocolate.” Longevity,
Anti-Aging and You - Healthy Aging, Longevity, and Anti Aging.
26 Apr. 2009. About.com. Accessed from: http://longevity.
about.com/od/lifelongnutrition/p/chocolate.htm. [Last accessed
on 2011 Jun 20].
Figure 2: An image showing chocolate (Available from http://
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chocolate]
20 Young Scientists Journal | 2012 | Issue 11
ABSTRACT
Introduction
The Golden Ratio is a number represented by
the Greek letter Φ and is approximately equal to
1.6180339887…; it is irrational and is infinitely long,
similar to π. Nevertheless, Φ can be represented by
a fraction (which contains √5, an irrational number).
The fraction which represents Φ is
1 5
2
+
.
Φ is an extremely interesting number; it appears
everywhere in nature. The number is a ratio, the
Golden Ratio, and it represents the “perfect cut”
of nature. Everything in nature, from the number of
pollen grains on a flower to the number of bonds in
the compounds of uranium oxide, to the spiral shape
of galaxies can be accurately modeled by Φ.
Φ is a ratio, and it is often shown in nature as 1:Φ,
such as the ratio of the distance between the shoulder
and the elbow, and between the elbow and the
fingertips. That is yet another Golden Ratio. However,
if the larger section is considered to be 1, the smaller
ratio can be Φ, known as the Lesser Golden Ratio.
In this paper, we aim to prove that the only possible
solution to the simultaneous equations below is to
use the Greater and Lesser Golden Ratios, therefore
making the equations mathematically “beautiful.”
Most natural feats which contain the Golden Ratio are
considered to be esthetically “beautiful.”
Simultaneous Equations
First, we introduce a set of simultaneous equations,
which are at the center of this paper.
[1]
1. x-1=y
2.
1
x
= y
3. n =x
4. n - 1 = x
5. 2 + y = n
Obvi ousl y, i t i s possi bl e to rearrange these
equations to create a longer string of equations
such as: x -1=n- 2= n − = 1 y, or n=2+y=x
2
=x-1.
However, these cannot give any numerical value for
the constants x, y, and z. This is why, the quadratic
formula must be used. The final answer that we
want to reach is
x =
1 5
2
+
;
therefore, we know that there must be a way of using
ax
2
+bx+c=0. We shall then find the values of a, b,
Golden simultaneous equations
Review Article
Gianamar Giovannetti-Singh
Parkside Federation Academy, Cambridge, UK. E-mail: gianamar@ieee.org
DOI: 10.4103/0974-6102.97668
In this paper, we investigate the simultaneous equations derived from the Golden Ratio,
and use differentiation to find the coordinates where Φ in the x-axis meets Φ in the
y-axis in a golden quadratic graph. We demonstrate a proof for the solutions to the five
simultaneous equations below by using algebraic and graphic solutions.
Young Scientists Journal | 2012 | Issue 11 21
and c which will give us the value of x by using the
quadratic formula,
x =
-b b - 4ac
2
±
2a
.
The values of a, b, and c must eventually make
x =
1 5 +
2
,
which is Φ ≈ 1.6180339887… Therefore, we use
the formula
Φ =
1 5 +
2
and substitution to find the numerical
values which would go into the formula as a, b, and c.
Algebraic Proof

Since we know that
1 5
2
j
+
=
, 1=–b ∴ b=–1.
Then, 5 b - 4ac
2
= , but we know that
b=-1 5 = 1- 4ac -1 =1 - x =x
2 2
∴  
At this stage, it is much simpler to work out a
because of the 2 in the Φ formula. It is evident
that a=1 because 2=2a ∴ a=1. At this point, it
becomes clear what the missing constant c is:
5 = 1 4c 5 -1 c= c= 1 − ∴ ∴ − ∴ − 4 4
Another way to determine these constants is to use
some of the simultaneous equations. Initially, we
calculate:
x 1=
1
x
x(x 1)=1=x x =1
2
− ∴ − −


Therefore, we have obtained values for a, b, and c
to use in the quadratic formula.
Now that we have all three of the constants
needed for the quadratic formula to work, we
must prove that it does;
x =
b b 4ac
2a
2
− ± −
,


x =
5
2
a 1, b= 1, c= 1

= − −
We now have x = ϕ ≈ 1. 6180339887 . . .
∴ y = x – 1≈ 0.6180339887... ∴ n = x + 1 ≈ x +1 ≈
2.6180339887 and x = – φ, y = – ϕ, z = 0.382
Graphic Solution
Now that we have sorted out the equati ons
al gebrai cal l y, we can al so use graphs and
differentiation to find the lowest possible point of
the curve y = x
2
– x – 1, which is derived from our a,
b, and c from the quadratic formula. On a graph we
can sketch this curve to find the x-intersects and the
minimum point (not maximum because it is quadratic
and continues increasing to infinity).
From Figure 1, it is possible to say that the x-intersects
of the curve are Φ and –ϕ, the Golden Ratios.
Differentiation: y = x x 1
2
− −











dy
dx
(x )=nx
dy
dx
=
d(x - x -1)
dx
=2x -1=0
n n 1
2


∴ ∴ − − − x =
1
2
1
2
1
2
1=
5
4
=y
2
Therefore, we can see that the minimum point of this
curve has the coordinates
1
2
,
5
4






 .
Figure 2 shows a magnification of the graph at the
point (ϕ, 0), showing the exact point of the Golden
Ratio.
[2]
Figure 2: x-intercepts of the functon y = x
2
– x – 1; crossing at Φ and -ϕ
Figure 1: Quadratc graph of the functon y = x
2
– x – 1
-5 -4 -3 -2 -1 1 2 3 4 5
10
20
30
x
y
- 2 . 0 - 1 . 5 - 1 . 0 - 0 . 5 0 . 5 1 . 0 1 . 5 2 . 0
- 0 . 1 0
- 0 . 0 8
- 0 . 0 6
- 0 . 0 4
- 0 . 0 2
0 . 0 2
0 . 0 4
0 . 0 6
0 . 0 8
0 . 1 0
x
y
22 Young Scientists Journal | 2012 | Issue 11
About the Author
Gianamar Giovannetti-Singh is extremely interested in Mathematics and Physics. In March 2012, he was awarded the
title of Junior UK Young Scientist of the Year for the National Science and Engineering Competition at the Big Bang Fair
2012 in Birmingham for his research on the orbital and physical dynamics of the Trojan asteroid 2010 TK7. Furthermore,
he was awarded the CREST Prize for Enthusiasm and Real-World Context, and was selected as an international delegate
to the United Kingdom at Broadcom MASTERS International at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair;
amongst the eighteen winners selected from across the world. He is currently taking part in research on possible new
cancer therapies with the use of quantum tunneling to increase the chances of total ionization of tumors. He is 15 years
old, and is looking forward to continue studying Mathematics with Physics at University. Gianamar Giovannetti-Singh has
published two research papers in the Journal of Modern Physics, and in April 2012, he spoke at the IEEE International
Conference on Electric, Information, and Control Engineering about one of his projects in the field of quantum mechanics.
In July 2012, he will speak at the Biennial International Quantum Structures Association Meeting, whose proceedings
will be published in the International Journal of Theoretical Physics about a predictive method for the annihilation tracks
of subatomic particles.
References
1. Olsen S. The Golden Section: Nature’s Greatest Secret. Wooden
Books. Walker & Company; 2006.
2. International Conference on Data Engineering. 16
th
International
Conference on Data Engineering: 29 February-3 March 2000.
San Diego, California: Institute of Electrical & Electronics
Engineers; 2000.
Young Scientists Journal | 2012 | Issue 11 23
Review Article
Thermodynamics of the Earth’s
atmosphere
Martin H Wong
University of Pennsylvania, USA. E-mail: martinwhy@gmail.com
DOI: 10.4103/0974-6102.97673
The Earth’s atmosphere is definitely one of the most
intriguing (yet perplexing) topics to explore because
it performs crucial functions to lay the foundation for
prosperous lives. Biologically, it shields the biosphere
from harmful solar radiation. Physically, it is our ‘green
house’ that makes the planet habitable by trapping
heat energy. Without this precious layer of gases, the
earth could not be much different from other planets.
Generally, the domain of the atmosphere includes
the inner breathable layer of gases as well as the
outer region of space influenced by solar wind. The
atmosphere extends up to approximately 2000 km
above the ground.
As mentioned, the source of energy warming the
atmosphere is the heat from sun in the form of
electromagnetic radiation with short wavelengths.
In terms of spectra, the radiation is 10% of ultra-
violet, 40% visible light which can pass through the
atmosphere without being absorbed, 49% short infra-
red, and 1% higher energy and x-radiation. Around
70% of the energy carried by the electromagnetic
waves is absorbed, while the atmosphere, clouds,
and ground surface directly reflect the remaining
30%.
.
However, the energy absorbed will eventually be
re-radiated back to space largely via infra-red waves
after receiving solar radiation with short wavelengths.
It is explained by Kirchhoff’s law of thermal radiation
and Wein’s law.
One might think that as we go up the atmosphere,
temperature should gradually decrease and reach
a minimum upon reaching outer space due to the
re-radiation. But surprisingly, it actually varies up and
down a few times as a result of the changing average
kinetic energy of air molecules.
In the lowest layer called the troposphere [Figure 1],
as height increases, it gets colder up until reaching
the tropopause, the junction between troposphere
and stratosphere. Moving upwards, the temperature
increases through the stratosphere. The rise
Figure 1: A diagram illustratng the atmospheric layers [available from
htp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Atmosphere_layers-en.svg]
24 Young Scientists Journal | 2012 | Issue 11
stops at the stratopause, which separates the
stratosphere and the mesosphere above. Then, the
temperature starts to fall again at the mesosphere.
This drop is greater than that in the troposphere as the
lowest temperature is achieved at the mesopause.
Finally, it becomes even hotter at the thermosphere
above, achieving the highest temperature among all
the levels at the thermopause.
[1]
This is only the general trend along the atmosphere
– the detailed variations are significantly dependent
on different latitudes and longitudes, seasons, solar
activity, and miscellaneous disturbances such as
global warming and volcanic eruptions.
The troposphere extends around 7 km from the poles
and 17 km from the equator.
The temperature decreases from around 290 Kelvin at
the surface to 220 Kelvin at the tropopause. It is named
after ‘tropos’, a Greek word which means ‘turning and
mixing’. As the atmosphere is heated from below by
solar radiation, the hotter air near the ground expands
and becomes less dense, displacing the cooler air
above. The sinking cool air in turn is heated by the
surface and rises again. Thus, a convection current is
formed. The troposphere contains 99% of the total water
vapour in the atmosphere, the constant mixing of air
and turbulence creates the weather and forms clouds.
Gravity is the main force contributing to pressure
in the atmosphere. It is highest at sea level (101.9
kPa, where 1 Pa = 1Nm^-2) and decreases almost
exponentially with increasing altitude, given by the
Barometric formula:
[2]
∆P/∆H = -g. r
Approximately, 90% of the weight of the atmosphere
lies within the troposphere.
The Lapse Rate is the rate of change of temperature
with gain in height. In the troposphere, it has a
negative value because temperature decreases
up the layer. When a certain parcel of air rises
due to disturbance, it expands in volume because
the pressure is lower. The expansion is adiabatic,
which means there is essentially no heat exchange
during the process. This is because air is such a
poor thermal conductor that the amount of heat
exchange is negligible in a very short period of time.
The first law of thermodynamics states that:
∆U = Q + W (where U is the internal energy, Q is the
thermal energy and W is the work done).
Q can be ignored as the value is negligible, we get:
∆U = W
Work is done on the surroundings by the gas when
it expands. By the following equation:
W = -P. ∆V (where P is pressure, and V is volume)
Expansion of air increases its volume, therefore, work
done becomes negative, and therefore, change in
internal energy is also negative.
As the decrease in internal energy equals work done by
gas in expansion, when considering one mole of gas:
Cv. ∆T = -P. ∆V, where Cv is the molar heat capacity
at constant volume and T is the temperature (*)
Also,
PV = (1) RT, where R is universal gas constant = 8.31 J/
mol. K
Differentiating the equation by chain rule:
P. ∆V + V. ∆P = R. ∆T
Rearranging:
R.∆T – P.∆V = V.∆P (**)
Using Cp. ∆T as well as combining (*) and (**)
Cp. ∆T
= (Cv + R). ∆T
= Cv. ∆T + R∆T
= -P. ∆V (from *) + V. ∆P + P. ∆V (from **)
= V. ∆P
= M. ∆P/r (density (p) = mass/volume) where M is
the molecular weight of air.
Substituting into the Barometric formula, it becomes:
Cp. ∆T. r/M. ∆H = -g. r
Young Scientists Journal | 2012 | Issue 11 25
Rearranging:
∆T/∆H = - Mg/Cp
Considering the two most abundant species in air,
nitrogen, and oxygen which contribute 78% + 21%
= 99% in total, in 1 mol:
Nitrogen = 2 x 14.0067 g/mol = 28.0134 g/
mol = 0.0280134 kg/mol
Oxygen = 2 x 15.9994 g/mol = 31.9988 g/
mol = 0.0319988 kg/mol
Therefore, average molecular weight of air is:
0.78 × 0.0280134 + 0.21 × 0.0319988 = 0.0285702 kg/ mol
Therefore, the estimated Lapse Rate in troposphere
is:
∆T/∆H = -0.0285702 (9.806)/3.5 (8.134) @ -9.8 K
per km
[3]
(vibration contribution of nitrogen and oxygen to the
heat capacities is negligible)
To conclude the above, in the troposphere, the
temperature decreases as altitude increases, while
the reverse occurs for a sinking parcel of air.
However in reality, as mentioned, the troposphere
contains 99% of the water vapour contained in the
layers in the atmosphere. Also, the maximum vapour
concentration is found near the surface due to
evaporation of water. As a result, air does not behave
as an ideal gas anymore if we take the presence of
water vapour into account. The actual temperature
drop rate is called the environmental lapse rate, which
averages -6.5 Kelvin per km.
As air rises and expands, temperature would
eventually reach the condensation point of water
where water vapour condenses to droplets. This
change of state releases latent heat of vaporization to
the surroundings, so the drop in temperature in reality
is smaller. Despite the fact that the above calculations
describe the adiabatic change for ‘dry’ air, we can
assume that the air is ‘dry’ if it is not saturated with
water. This is because air cools at the dry adiabatic
lapse rate until the vapour condenses at dew point.
The Pol ar Regi ons are excepti onal because
temperature decreases with altitude initially. It is a
temperature inversion, a phenomenon also occurring
at the stratosphere and thermosphere.
The tropopause is the boundary between troposphere
and stratosphere. Temperature stops decreasing
here and the air almost becomes completely dry.
Beyond this layer, the stratosphere extends 11-50
km above the surface. Temperature starts from 220
K and rises to 275 K at the stratopause. Since air is
warmer at the top of the layer than at the bottom,
convection does not take place and all vertical
mixing is impeded. In fact, the name ‘stratosphere’
originates from the stratification of air in this layer. As
a result, the stratosphere acts as a ‘lid’ that contains
the turbulences below in the troposphere and limits
cloud height.
The rise in temperature along the stratosphere is
due to the fact that oxygen molecules absorb highly
energetic ultra-violet radiation emitted by the sun. The
photolysis of oxygen molecules leads to production
of ozone. Subsequently, ozone is destroyed by ultra-
violet radiation and a continuous cycle of oxygen –
ozone is formed. Both, creation and destruction of
ozone, (called the Chapman mechanism), convert
energy carried by the UV radiation into heat which
warms the stratosphere.
The action of a three-body reaction is crucial to
understanding the Chapman mechanism.
[4]
For two
species, A and B, to produce a single product AB, an
initial reaction takes place where an excited product
AB* is produced.
A + B → AB*
This excited product carries excessive energy and
needs a third body (M) to remove the excess energy
in order to produce the final product AB. The third
body is excited in this reaction and eventually will
convert the excess energy into heat.
AB* + M → AB + M*
M* → M + Heat
The third body can be any inert molecules. The
excited product will eventually break down into their
original components in the absence of the third body
because it is short-lived.
In general:
26 Young Scientists Journal | 2012 | Issue 11
A + B + M → AB + M + Heat
The Chapman mechanism begins with the photolysis
of oxygen molecules present in the stratosphere.
They are constantly bombarded by photons of ultra-
violet radiation emitted from the sun.
Photons are quanta of light carrying energy, given
by the equation:
E = hƒ
Where h is Planck’s constant (6.626×10^-34 Js) and
ƒ being frequency of the electromagnetic radiation.
There can be no accumulation of energy from several
photons. The energy does not depend on amplitude
or intensity of the wave, but depends only on its
frequency.
The bond enthalpy of an oxygen molecule is 498
kJ/ mol, which means a total of 498 kJ of energy must
be supplied in order to break one mole of oxygen
double bonds. From the above equation, for a single
oxygen molecule this corresponds to a frequency of
1.253×10^15 Hz.
n = ƒl where v is the speed of the wave, and l is the
wavelength of the wave.
A minimum photon wavelength of 239.5 nm is needed
in order to break the bond and split apart an oxygen
molecule. This falls on the ultra-violet spectrum, in
particular, the UV-C region where wavelength ranges
from 100 nm to 280 nm. Therefore, the extremely
harmful UV-C radiation is effectively shielded from the
below by the absorption action of oxygen molecules
in the stratosphere.
The oxygen atom is now at its ground level triplet
state. It is highly reactive due to the two unpaired
electrons. It then combines with an intact dioxygen
molecule to form ozone:
O + O
2
→ O
3
This is a three-body reaction where an inert third-
body (e.g. Nitrogen) must be present to take away
the excess energy and dissipate it as heat to the
surroundings. This is one of the ways by which the
stratosphere is warmed.
[5]
Undoubtedly, ozone concentration is finite in the
atmosphere. The balance is maintained by several
destruction processes which are radical-assisted
reaction chains. They are important sources of heat
production in the stratosphere.
Radicals are relatively reactive species in the
atmosphere. Pressure in the atmosphere decreases
exponentially with height and collisions between
molecules are rare due to the low concentrations.
However, radicals are more ‘reactive’ because they
have an unpaired electron in their outer shell which
gives them high free energy. A radical usually has
an odd number of electrons in total (e.g. NO
2
), but
both atomic and molecular oxygen are exceptions.
The first step of radical formation involves input of
energy because radicals possess high free energy.
In the atmosphere, this external source of energy
comes from solar radiation:
Non-radical + energy (photons) → Radical + Radical
…(1)
The production of radicals then triggers the reaction
chain:
[6]
Radical + Non-radical → Radical + Non-radical … (2)
(2) produces a radical which goes on to propagate
the reaction itself, while the non-radical can be
photolyzed again in (1).
The chain terminates when two radicals react:
Radical + Radical + M → Non-radical + M
This reaction is slow due to the fact that the collisions
between radicals are infrequent as they are in low
concentrations.
The first mechanism for ozone destruction is called the
ozone – oxygen cycle in the Chapman mechanism.
[7,8]
For the sake of comparison, if we assume that an
ozone molecule has two normal double bonds, the
average bond enthalpy is calculated as follows:
3 O
2
→ 2 O
3,
where enthalpy of formation is 2 x
142.7 = 285.4 kJ/mol
Three oxygen double bonds are broken, requiring
input of 498 x 3 = 1494 kJ/mol
Therefore, a total of 1779.4 kJ must be supplied.
Young Scientists Journal | 2012 | Issue 11 27
As there are four double bonds created in two
ozone molecules, the average bond energy is
1779.4/4 = 444.85 kJ/mol theoretically.
However, in reality, there are two half-bonds in each
ozone molecule. They only count as one single bond;
therefore, the estimated bond energy to remove one
oxygen atom from an ozone molecule is simply:
(498 kJ/2).(3/2) = 373.5 kJ/mol
In this ozone-oxygen cycle, the ozone molecule is
again struck by high-energy photons (UV radiation)
to undergo photolysis:
[9,10]
O
3
+ energy (photons) → O
2
+ O* (excited oxygen
atom, also known as O (
1
D))
To break one double bond in an ozone molecule and
release an oxygen atom,
(373.5/6×10^23) kJ is needed.
This corresponds to a frequency of 9.39×10^14 Hz
and a minimum photon wavelength of 319.3 nm. This
range falls on the spectrum of UV-B radiation, meaning
that it is also filtered out effectively. UV-C photons are
also energetic enough to photolyze ozone.
The excited oxygen atom O (
1
D) is quickly stabilized
by a third body (e.g. nitrogen or another dioxygen
molecule) to become O (
3
P). Heat is released and
this is another way to warm the stratosphere.
[11]
(The electronic structure of an oxygen atom in its
triplet ground state, O (
3
P), is 1s
2
2s
2
2p
x
2
2p
y
1
2p
z
1
with
two p orbits not fully filled. The singlet state oxygen,
O (
1
D) with orbital configuration 1s
2
2s
2
2p
x
2
2p
y
2
is
even more energetic. Its arrangement disobeys the
Hund’s rule, which states that electrons should singly
occupy available orbitals with same spin before
pairing up.)
Although ozone is split apart, the oxygen atom is
still highly likely to react with another intact dioxygen
to regenerate ozone. The termination of the chain
requires the combination of ozone and the ground
state oxygen:
O
3
+ O → 2 O
2
The above ozone-oxygen mechanism is insufficient to
remove enough ozone to keep a balance in atmospheric
concentration. The equilibrium is further complemented
by several catalytic loss cycles where reactive free
radicals are involved; they include hydrogen oxide,
nitrogen oxide, and chlorine radicals.
[12]
The hydrogen oxide radicals
Firstly water is involved in the cycle. It is transported
up from the troposphere as well as produced by the
oxidation of methane within the stratosphere. The
excited oxygen atom produced in photolysis of ozone
is now reduced by water:
H
2
O + O (
1
D) → 2OH
Next, the hydroxyl radical OH reacts with ozone:
OH + O
3
→ HO
2
+ O
2
The HO
2
in turn combines with ozone again:
HO
2
+ O
3
→ OH + 2O
2
Therefore, the net reaction is:
2 O
3
→ 3 O
2
This is a catalytic cycle because the species HO
x
is
reserved and can be reused again to remove ozone.
The terminal reaction is:
OH + HO
2
→ H
2
O + O
2
Nitrogen oxide radicals
In the stratosphere, NO reacts rapidly with ozone to
produce NO
2
:
NO + O
3
→ NO
2
+ O
2
Subsequently, it undergoes photolysis:
NO
2
+ energy (UV photons) → NO + O
O + O
2
+ M → O
3
+ M
Again heat is produced to warm up the stratosphere.
However, combining the above equations, there is
no net removal of ozone. The catalytic depletion of
ozone is achieved by reaction between NO
2
and an
oxygen atom:
NO
2
+ O → NO + O
2
If this is combined with the initial reaction, net ozone
is removed:
28 Young Scientists Journal | 2012 | Issue 11
O
3
+ O → 2 O
2
Chlorine radicals
This final cyclic mechanism is actually conducted
by industrial emissions called chlorofluorocarbons
(CFCs). As CFCs are inert in the troposphere, they
are transported upward to the stratosphere and are
photolyzed by UV radiation:
CF
2
Cl
2
+ energy (photons) → CF
2
Cl + Cl
The chlorine atom produced reacts with ozone:
Cl + O
3
→ ClO + O
2
ClO + O → Cl + O
2
Therefore, the net reaction becomes:
O
3
+ O → 2 O
2
Termination of the equation is:
Cl + CH
4
→ HCl + CH
3
Finally, it also involves production of heat:
ClO + NO
2
+ M → ClNO
3
+ M
To summarize, the above explained how UV radiation
is converted into heat energy to warm up the
stratosphere. The temperature rise is contributed to
by the creation of ozone from photolysis of oxygen
molecules as well as its destruction through the ozone-
oxygen mechanism and several catalytic loss cycles.
Temperature variation along the stratosphere is
another major aspect to look at. As the stratosphere is
an inversion layer, temperature increases with height.
This is due to the combined effects of distribution and
production of ozone.
One might think that the concentration of ozone
is greatest at the top of stratosphere because it
reaches maximum temperature there. This is partly
true because the rate of production of ozone is
indeed highest at the top where solar radiation is
strongest, averaging 5×10
6
molecules per cm
3
per
second. However, it is also true that the greater the
radiation, the faster the rate of ozone destruction
which generates heat. Therefore, heating rate due to
absorption of ozone is greatest at the top and thus
the temperature becomes highest.
On the other hand, the area of greatest ozone
accumul ati on i s found i n the mi ddl e of the
stratosphere at around 25 km above the ground.
This is where product of UV-C intensity and oxygen
concentration is at a maximum. Below the peak,
the density of dioxygen molecules is much greater
than that at top as air density increases towards
the surface. However, the rate of energetic photon
arrival is scarce because most of them have been
absorbed and filtered above. The rate of dissociation
of dioxygen is slow. Due to limited production of
oxygen atoms, the formation of ozone is also limited.
Above the peak, ozone is short-lived because it is
entirely controlled by photolysis with rapid creation
and destruction. Therefore, the concentration is
not as great as below despite achieving the peak
temperature.
The mesosphere lies above the stratosphere beyond
the stratopause. It is at the altitudes of 50-85 km
above the surface. Temperature drops from 260 K at
the stratopause to about 150 K at the mesopause,
which is the lowest among all the layers.
The pressure and density of air decreases with height;
therefore, oxygen becomes thinner and thinner
through the mesosphere. However, the incident
ultra-violet radiation in the mesosphere is much more
intense than in the stratosphere; therefore, dioxygen
molecules are mostly photolyzed by the energetic
photons. After dissociation, the oxygen atoms would
usually recombine to form dioxygen, subsequently
being photolyzed again. In fact, the concentration of
molecules is so low that oxygen essentially exists in
atomic form at greater heights.
In the stratosphere where air is denser with higher
dioxygen concentration, an oxygen atom is more
likely to meet a dioxygen to form ozone. But in the
mesosphere, the chance of atomic oxygen meeting
an intact oxygen molecule decreases greatly with
height. Therefore, ozone concentration decreases
with height and there is less release of heat energy
due to absorption of UV radiation. The rate of drop
in temperature is even greater than that in the
troposphere.
On the other hand, convection of air occurs in the
mesosphere. Air at the bottom is warmer because
there is higher ozone concentration and direct
heating from the hot stratopause as well. Vertical
mixing of air occurs and eddy diffusion intensifies.
Thi s contri butes to the drop i n temperature.
Young Scientists Journal | 2012 | Issue 11 29
Also, radiative cooling becomes significant at the
mesopause through the emission of carbon dioxide
(at wavelengths of 15 micrometers). This is another
reason for the dramatically low temperature at the
mesopause. Carbon dioxide molecules are excited
through collisions with oxygen atoms and the internal
energy provided is radiated away, thereby cooling
the mesosphere.
[13]
The thermosphere begins beyond the mesopause,
and extends from 90-500 km above the ground.
This is where the ionosphere is formed as well.
It is another inversion layer where temperature
increases with height where a staggering peak of
2000 K is reached. There is also a sharp ‘local’ rise
in temperature from the mesopause until reaching
an altitude of 140 km.
One difference between the thermosphere and the
layers below is that it is classified as the heterosphere,
because nitrogen and oxygen no longer have uniform
concentration in total composition. Without convective
mixing, the density of gases falls off exponentially and
atmospheric gases tend to sort into layers according
to relative molecular weight. The heavier a constituent
such as oxygen and nitrogen, the quicker they fall
off compared to lighter constituents like helium and
hydrogen.
In the region between 120 – 220 km, temperature
increases with height because there is much more
high energy radiation available, including extreme
ultra-violet and X-rays. Their wavelengths range
from around 110 nm – 0.01 nm and the photons are
extremely energetic. Species like nitrogen and oxygen
photolyze and the peak loss for dioxygen molecules
is at 120 km. Many would even ionize under
bombardment of powerful photons as electrons are
knocked off and positive ions are left behind. This
contributes to the formation of the ionosphere.
For example, at around 95 km altitude the formation
of N
2
+
proceeds more rapidly due to increased
exposure to energetic X-rays.
Subsequently, a series of highly exothermic reactions
occurs:
N
2
+
+ O → NO + N
N
2
+
+ NO → NO
+
+ N
2
The local peak temperature at 140 km corresponds to
the F layer of the ionosphere where electron density
is increased to a relatively high level compared to
other regions. The increase in temperature in the
lower thermosphere is mainly due to exposure to very
energetic photons and the subsequent dissociation
of species. However, further up in the thermosphere,
the surge in temperature is due to the excess energy
produced by ionization processes. The electrons heat
up and collide with ions. Afterwards, the neutral gas
is heated.
To summarize, the thermospheric temperature
becomes highly dependent on the strength of solar
radiation as well as other external drives (e.g. solar
wind and activity) as altitude increases. Due to the low
volume heat capacities and concentration of gases,
even absorbing a small amount of energy can cause
a significant increase in temperature.
An interesting fact is that we actually cannot
feel the ‘hotness’ in the thermosphere nor can
a thermometer measure it. This is because the
concentration of gases is so low that the contact
with the molecules cannot transfer enough energy
to ‘heat the detector’.
To conclude, here is a brief summary of this essay – how
temperature goes up and down along the atmosphere.
First of all, temperature decreases with height in the
troposphere because of the adiabatic expansion of a
rising parcel of air. Work done in the surroundings is
converted to a decrease in internal energy. Secondly,
it gets hotter rising though the stratosphere because
of the absorption of energetic photons (UV) during
the creation and destruction of ozone. The excess
energy in the reactions is dissipated as heat which
warms the stratosphere. Thirdly, a greater decrease
in temperature occurs at the mesosphere where
the warming effect of ozone becomes less and less
significant due to decrease in its concentration.
Finally, it gets even hotter in the thermosphere
because there are more energetic photons available.
The dissociation and ionization of molecules
contribute to the rise in temperature.
References
1. Gribbin J. Inside Science: Structure of the Earth's Atmosphere.
New Sci 1995;148:1-4.
2. Judith, Curry, Peter, Webster . Thermodynamics of Atmospheres
& Oceans. Cornwall: Academic Press; 1999.
3. Campbell I. Energy and the atmosphere: A Physical - Chemical
Approach. Surrey: John Wiley and Sons; 1977.
30 Young Scientists Journal | 2012 | Issue 11
4. Spiro TG, Stigliani WM. Chemistry of the Environment. New
Jersey: Prentice Hall; 1996.
5. Daniel, Jacob. Introduction to Atmospheric Chemistry.
Chichester: Princeton University Press; 1999.
6. Lacis, Andrew, Hansen, James. A Parameterization for the
Absorption of Solar Radiation in the Earth's Atmosphere. J Atmos
Sci 1974;31:125-7. Available from: http://ams.allenpress.com/
archive/1520-0469/31/1/pdf/i1520-0469-31-1-118.pdf. [Last
Accessed 2009 Feb 20].
7. Colin, Baird. Environmental Chemistry. 2
nd
ed. New York: WH
Freeman and Company; 1999.
8. Fergusson J. Inorganic Chemistry and the Earth. Oxford:
Pergamon Press; 1982.
9. Nicolet, Marcel. Stratospheric Ozone: An Introduction to its
study. Rev Geophys 1975;13:594-619. Available from: http://
www.agu.org/journals/rg/v013/i005/RG013i005p00593/
RG013i005p00593.pdf. [Last Accessed 2009 Feb 23].
10. Rowland FS. Stratospheric ozone depletion. Philos Trans R Soc
Lond B Biol Sci 2006;361:769-90. Available from: http://rstb.
royalsocietypublishing.org/content/361/1469/769.full. [Last
Accessed on 2009 Feb 22].
11. Petrucci R, Harwood, William, Herring, Geoffrey. General
Chemistry - Principles and Modern Applications. 8
th
ed. New
Jersey: Prentice Hall; 2002.
12. Solomon, Susan. Stratospheric ozone depletion: A review of
concepts and history. Rev Geophys 1999;37:275-82. Available
from: http://mls.jpl.nasa.gov/library/Solomon_1999.pdf. [Last
Accessed on 2009 Feb 23].
13. Beig G, Keckhut P, Lowe RP, Roble RG, Mlynczak MG, Scheer
J, et al. Review of mesospheric temperature trends. Rev
Geophys 2003;41:1-6. Available from: http://www.tropmet.
res.in/awnew/aw-47.pdf. [Last Accessed on 2009 Feb 25].
About the Author
Martin is currently attending the University of Pennsylvania, an Ivy League Institution located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
He is majoring in Physics at the College of Arts and Sciences and minoring in Statistics at the Wharton School of Business.
He expects to graduate in 2014 with a Bachelor of Arts in Physics, and plans to pursue either a master's degree in the
USA, or secure a quantitative position in the investment banking industry in Hong Kong, his hometown.
In his spare time, Martin likes to do brain teasers and solve puzzles related to probability, as he enjoys the process of
getting stuck at first, but eventually coming up with a break through. He also likes biking long distance when in Hong
Kong during the holidays. As an aviation enthusiast, he is interested in aerodynamics as well as flight theory, and
sometimes does plane spotting online. He is also a classical pianist with a Diploma who sometimes enjoys practicing
new pieces for leisure.
Young Scientists Journal | 2012 | Issue 11 31
ABSTRACT
It is a common belief that science and religion are
incompatible views on life that contradict each other
and, on first thoughts this appears true; one appears
to be based on fact, the other, as some may see it,
on fiction. Nevertheless, many great scientists have
been religious. Christianity was first adopted by the
Greeks from Antioch who were the first non-Jews to
take on the faith. These Greeks are said to be the
founders of science and logic. Therefore, is there a
hidden link between the two ways of thinking of which
our society is ignorant and unknowing?
Science and religion are two different ways of
interpreting life and the world that we live in. They
answer different sets of profound questions. Science
deals with the mechanisms of the world and how it
works; religion is concerned more with the meaning
of the world. This in particular is an example of an
aspect of religion that is not dealt with by science. It
is a matter of “how” and “why,” the subjective versus
the objective. They, therefore, do not answer each
other’s questions; scientific questions have scientific
answers. However, some questions arise from
science but take us beyond the realms of scientific
knowledge and this is when faith endeavors to draw
conclusions. For example, it is impossible to carry
out experiments that could recreate the moments just
before the Big Bang as it is not feasible to create the
circumstances and fundamental elements as they
are very rare, and so, it will always be speculation as
to what happened “before.” In this case science is
limited; hence, it may be seen as a “leap of faith” as
to what one believes happened prior to and during
this short time of unknown history.
It is a common belief that science only deals with
objective truths whilst religion is an entirely subjective
concept. However, this is not entirely true. Science
can also be subjective and is often based on
interpretation. Some may speculate that science is
merely interpreted fact. Data from an experiment have
little value until conclusions are drawn from them.
Scientists, being human, do not possess absolute
knowledge, so have to have faith in the results and
in their understanding of the world to draw a final
conclusion.
[1]
In addition, for science to be accepted
Can science and religion work
together while one relies on
evidence and the other on faith?
Opinion
Catherine Schuster Bruce
Bristol University, England. E-mail: schuster_bruce_catherine@bryanston.co.uk
DOI: 10.4103/0974-6102.97693
Science and religion – Are they really incompatible? Some famous scientists, such as John
Polkinghorne, have been highly religious, others such as Albert Einstein have offered
varied and complex views on religion, and then there are those, like Richard Dawkins, who
can only criticize it. Why is it that such great minds do not think alike? Perhaps science
and religion just offer different perspectives on life – the objective evidence against the
subjective faith – but when Big Bang theory and any one of the creation stories collide,
is there, and will there ever be, an outright winner? Or do science and religion merge to
become indistinguishable? This article aims to help to clarify the situation.
32 Young Scientists Journal | 2012 | Issue 11
as correct, society has to have belief and trust. If a
paper is published in a respected scientific journal, it
is deemed to be fairly reliable by the general public;
however, it is questionable whether the faith society
has in science is justifiable when there have been
previous occasions of scientists tampering with their
data to produce fake, “ground breaking” conclusions.
If each individual does not prove the conclusion to
be correct, then the belief in what a scientist says to
be right is based on human trust only. Furthermore,
the conclusions in the scientific report are based
on the faith the scientist has in their results and in
their own knowledge. Religion can also be seen
as “interpreted fact” as there are various different
accounts of the same events in the Bible, for example,
Jesus’ miracles. Therefore, it could be said that there
is little difference between the belief in God and trust
in science.
Ri chard Dawki ns i s a promi nent athei st and
professor who thinks all belief should be based on
evidence, and therefore science and religion are
incompatible because of their completely opposing
perspectives on life. He feels it is a tragedy to base
life on something with no evidence.
[2]
This links to
his reasoning behind why people’s religions are
very much linked to where they live in the world. He
concludes that they are heavily influenced by family
and other people in close contact because in the
same way scientists have differing opinions due
to a lack of experimental data, people have certain
religions due to a lack of evidence to base their
views on. However, it could be said that although
you cannot prove religion exists, similarly, you cannot
prove that a “God” or higher power does not exist.
In my opinion, it is Dawkins’ mistake to assume that
“God” is natural and is therefore within the capacity of
science to experiment with and test; he cannot prove
“God” and therefore assumes there is no “God”.
However, “God” cannot be part of nature. The idea
of “God” is the explanation to why things are the way
they are; it is the answer to existence, not existence
itself. Furthermore, the limitations of science and
scientific experiments must be remembered as some
scientific theories, although based on evidence, are
proved not to be true. A good scientific theory does
not necessarily have to be entirely correct. That is
to say, no scientific theory is ever secure; new data
can always undermine a previous theory. There have
been examples of false theories effectively guiding
advances in science before new evidence was found
and they gave way to more up-to-date theories. I
therefore disagree with Dawkins and see evidence
based on scientific theory not as the truth but as a
guide to show the way for new research and put our
knowledge together in an ordered manner.
Religion is often criticized for having self-contradictions
and logical failings within it. For example, the world
being created from nothing in 7 days can be regarded
as simply illogical. However, the same could be
said about science and the contradictions between
quantum theory and general relativity. Neither science
nor religion is complete, and both are therefore
contradictory.
The biggest problem that faces religion in the
modern world is suffering. Society questions its faith
in religion when life gets difficult. John Polkinghorne,
a particle physicist and priest, draws another link
between science and religion as he says, “science
can help us deal with this problem” by way of
the evolutionary theory.
[3]
This theory highlights
the potential of nature. He claims that God could
have created a readymade world, but instead He
gave it lots of potential, so creatures could make
themselves.
[3]
I agree with him in this area and
believe that death and disaster, although hard to
deal with, are part of a life that cannot be perfect; a
perfect world is not feasible. According to the Bible,
even God has suffered, thus suggesting that no
matter who the individual is, suffering is unavoidable
and a fact of life. However, both science and religion
can give us understanding and one can gain comfort
from this understanding that helps us cope with the
negative aspects of life that I feel are inevitable.
Furthermore, similar to the belief of Polkinghorne, I
feel that a higher power, not necessarily “God,” has
granted us an independence and freedom to be.
This is far more useful than a readymade perfect
world. Self-determination is not necessarily better
than suffering, but it helps us deal better with this
unavoidable fact of life.
There was a study conducted in 1997 by Edward
Larson at the University of Georgia in the USA, which
attempted to repeat an older study carried out in
1916 by psychologist James Leuba. Both reported
the percentage of scientists who believed in God.
The studies proved that despite the advances in
science, the same percentage of scientists believed
in God. I feel that one of the reasons behind this is
the fact that everything in life is very specific and
finely tuned. For example, quantum physics is based
on a very specific energy and resonance. Therefore,
scientists experimenting with such accurate and
Young Scientists Journal | 2012 | Issue 11 33
About the Author
At the time of writing Catherine Bruce was 17 years old and attended Bryanston School where she studied Maths,
Chemistry, Biology and French. She is now currently studying medicine at Bristol University and is in her first year. She
has an interest in journalism and media and hopes that in the future she will be able to use a medical background to do
this. She enjoyed writing this essay due to its challenging questions as well as the fact that ethics is a subject that she
finds thoroughly interesting and very relevant to her future career where ethical dilemmas are faced on an everyday basis.
precise data are led to believe that as Polkinghorne
has said, “some intelligence has monkeyed with the
laws of nature.”
[3]
This shows that some people, like
Richard Dawkins, see religion as a way of explaining
a lack of knowledge, but others, like the majority
of physicists, use it to explain why the world has
so much potential and precision. Without this, the
theories behind science would not work, and thus it
is a very significant aspect of science.
Determinism is an intellectually stimulating idea that is
also relevant to the link between science and religion.
There is the intriguing question of whether a higher
power has control of the mind and whether we have
any choice over our thoughts and actions. If this were
to be true, then a higher power is controlling all the
scientific knowledge we know and are yet to know, but
is also controlling that in which we believe. At the end
of the day, both science and religion are concepts
formed and understood in our minds, so both would
be affected by this higher power.
In conclusion, I have, through studying evidence,
decided that science and religion are not an
oxymoron when put together. They are two things that
complement each other. They both contribute to our
knowledge of the world we live in through answering
questions which are different, yet also inextricably
linked. They differ because they emphasize different
aspects of life. To really understand the world, one
has to ask both “how” and “why” and these questions
can be answered for the same event. In the words
of Einstein, “science without religion is lame, religion
without science is blind.”
References
1. Kakos, Spyridon. Harmonia Philosophica. Harmonia Philosophy
Publications; 1st edition (October 20, 2010).
2. YouTube clip of an interview with Richard Dawkins.
3. Polkinghorne, John. Exploring Reality: The Intertwining of
Science and Religion. SPCK Publishing (21 Oct 2005).
34 Young Scientists Journal | 2012 | Issue 11
ABSTRACT
When I was at primary school, I was taught mostly
literacy, numeracy, and a little bit of “science.”
Then, when I made the gigantic step from primary
to secondary school, numeracy suddenly became
mathematics, literacy became English, but science
was still science. Then, in year 2010, aged 14 and
about to start my GCSEs, I was very excited to be
taught biology, chemistry, and physics as three
separate entities; but who has the right idea? Is it
the people who taught me how to have fun and play
with plasticine, or those who taught me the content
for some of the most important science exams I have
ever taken? I argue that it is the former.
In this rapidly advancing world in which we live, there
are several major issues for which the whole scientific
establishment needs to contribute, meaning that
the classical boundaries of science are beginning
to blur into one. In this article, I will explore some
of these issues and their potential solutions, whilst
also showing how science’s “Big Three” (biology,
chemistry, and physics) may have to learn to share
the spotlight with each other, and how, what I call
fringe sciences, such as psychology and economics,
may also have their own roles to play.
Climate Change
It is now widely accepted that the Earth’s climate
is changing. Is this down to our species’ insatiable
desire for easy energy or not? As much as this is a
valid question to ask, it is relatively unimportant. We
have to do something if we want future generations
to live in the houses in which we have lived and enjoy
the positive advances which previous generations
have achieved [Figure 1].
There has been a wide range of suggestions as to
what ought to be done, and none are the brainchild
of a single “scientific discipline.” One such example
is Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS). This involves
preventing some of the carbon dioxide (CO
2
) that
we produce from entering the atmosphere. There
are a variety of options for CCS, from pumping the
gas into old mines to reacting it with salts to form
stable compounds.
[1]
Although it sounds like pure
“chemistry”, the latter option is still in the process
of testing due to its high energy requirements, but if
done on an industrial scale it would require perfect
logistics and a lot of organization. Both of these
options are likely to require a financial incentive in
A new age of science is not
dawning – It has arrived
Opinion
Toby McMaster
Twyford Church of England High School, London. E-mail: tbest888@hotmail.com
DOI: 10.4103/0974-6102.97694
Science is now divided into a multitude of specialities, with each one having very narrowed
interests. However, this leads to the departmentalization of a subject that is united, and
the ensuing lack of communication slows the progress of science. Many of the questions
that perplex scientists today will only be answered by working together and making the
most of other specialities, from the challenge of producing enough food for the expanding
population to the search for extraterrestrial life.
Young Scientists Journal | 2012 | Issue 11 35
order to popularize them, such as the UK’s Carbon
tax. Enter the economists.
Also, there is a need for “clean” or carbon-neutral
fuels, such as hydrogen, which can be produced
from the partial combustion of CO
2
fuels, or biofuels
produced from recently living matter. The use of these
fuels will require alternative engines, which will involve
some engineering and a pinch of chemistry, another
area for collaboration.
Food Production
However, the above suggestion of biofuels poses
a problem all of its own. As the world’s population
grows and rapidly approaches 9 billion, there are
more people to feed and less food to go around.
Biofuels amplify this by taking up crop space for
plants that cannot be used to produce food.
[2]
Plants such as Poplar have been investigated
in response to this as Poplar is able to grow on
nutritionally poor soils which are unable to support
food crops [Figure 2]. However, even if this proves
fruitful in saving land, there are many other issues to
be overcome, and improving the yield of plants is a
big target in agricultural science.
One reason for low yield is that the enzyme
ribulose-1,5-bisphosphate carboxylase oxygenase
(RuBisCo) is notoriously inefficient at catalyzing its
stage in photosynthesis. Due to this, many attempts
have been made to try to improve its efficiency,
by genetic engineering and other molecular level
techniques.
[3]
However, this is not the only area of science which
is involved; for example, the development of novel
fertilizers and other beneficial and ecologically
sustainable chemicals requires the work of industrial
chemists.
In addition, this is a topic with obvious political
connections and there will likely be multiple solutions
which are combined to combat what is a great issue.
The sensitivity of the topic is something which needs
to be considered to allow methods to be implicated
as quickly and efficiently as possible to save lives
and improve the quality of life.
Medical Treatments
The discovery of treatments for serious medical
conditions has increased rapidly in the past few
decades. Much of this has been due to the rise of an
area known as medical physics, where two disciplines
which are taught as completely different concepts at
school are reinforcing one other whilst also saving
lives. One such example is the MRI machine which
is the most commonly used method to locate brain
tumors. Radio waves are sent through the body,
causing hydrogen atoms to realign themselves,
and when they revert to their initial arrangements,
they release radio waves themselves which can
be detected. Regions with a greater concentration
of hydrogen atoms appear darker and those with
lesser concentration, such as fatty tissues, show
up lighter [Figure 3].
[4]
This is just another example
of how a topic often taught in one subject – the
electromagnetic spectrum in physics – can be used
to solve a problem in a “completely distinct” area
Figure 1: The Earth from space (from htp://gimp-savvy.com/cgi-bin/
img.cgi?nasa6UIFv87M8R23430)
Figure 2: A tractor (available from htp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tractor)
36 Young Scientists Journal | 2012 | Issue 11
of science, medicine. Many other techniques, both
treatments and diagnostic procedures, have been
produced from this crossover and the future of
medical physics looks bright.
There is also the involvement of other science-
like subjects such as psychology in medicine, for
example, the rise of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity
Disorder (ADHD) which has involved psychological
examination of many children, followed by the
prescription of drugs from drug designers. One
widely used drug is Ritalin, which is often used for
the treatment of this disorder; however, it has known
side-effects, such as the stunting of a child’s growth,
if used for extended periods.
[5]
Other longer-term projects involving all three sciences
include building living organs-on-a-chip, such as
heart-on-a-chip.
[6]
This concept was devised to aid
drug testing and reduce animal testing. The heart-on-
a-chip is made up of heart cells on a flexible polymer
bathed in the nutrients required by the myogenic
cells. This is one of the ultimate collaborations, with
contributions from biology, chemistry, and physics
producing a potentially revolutionary technology.
Are We Alone in the Universe?
Despite serious issues on our home planet, there
are still fundamental questions that have puzzled
the human race for centuries and remain relatively
unexplored. Yet, this next century is likely to redefine
our beliefs of extraterrestrials, no longer to be
reserved for Hollywood blockbusters and fanatical
preachers; instead they could become reality.
The turn of the millennium has seen the exponential
rise of a new science: astrobiology. This is the
search for life on other worlds and could be the key
to answering some of mankind’s greatest queries. If
we truly are alone in the universe, or at least unable
to locate other life, then surely we owe it to ourselves
and our universe to really commit to solving some
of our home’s global issues. If life were found,
even small microbial life forms, it would be a major
breakthrough and arguably the greatest achievement
in the history of science.
The recent voyage of NASA’s Kepler satellite has
popularized the search for so called extra-solar
planets [Figure 4]. A variety of techniques exist for
detecting objects such as these, all of which involve
something which would classically be classed as
physics. Astronomers are able to gather amazing
amounts of preci se i nformati on from si mpl e
measurements such as the time an object takes
to cross in front of a star. The atmosphere of many
planets can be analyzed based on the individual
spectrum of colors absorbed by different gases.
Although there is no guarantee that life in the universe
would be anything like us, it has been suggested that
we look for such life forms that would produce the
same compounds as ourselves, as well as relying on
the same basics such as liquid water and a stable
environment. The logic behind these decisions is that
were there a giant silicon-based superorganism in the
nether regions of our galaxy, we would have almost
no idea about how to detect its presence.
Based on these assumptions, there are certain
regulations for the potentially inhabitable planets,
Figure 3: An MRI scan (available from htp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/
Magnetc_resonance_imaging)
Figure 4: Artst’s impression of an extra-solar planet (available from
htp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Astrobiology)
Young Scientists Journal | 2012 | Issue 11 37
such as size. Too small and their gravity would not
be great enough to capture an atmosphere to warm
the planet and lower pressure would reduce the liquid
range of our old friend H
2
O. Too large and the core
would retain its heat far more efficiently causing great
volcanic activity, possibly releasing noxious gases.
[7]

Moreover, such planets would have to be within a
certain distance of their star to avoid overheating or
cooling; this “fussiness” has led to the nickname of
the Goldilocks’ zone, a region neither too hot nor too
cold. These are the sort of characteristics that can
be determined using clever physics to add to the
knowledge possessed by biologists of the ingredients
for life in our search to solve one of the greatest
mysteries of life.
Conclusion
Although I believe there is nothing essentially “wrong”
with teaching science as three subjects in isolation,
it must be emphasized that science is a co-operative
subject. There is much to be gained from listening to
others with different areas of knowledge and speciality.
Having fun is fine, but teachers and professors
canvassing that their science is “the best science”
is neither constructive nor particularly helpful to
prospective students. Although it is likely to remain that
co-operation between individuals, each with their own
specialities, is the way most interdisciplinary problems
are solved, we are, I believe, heading into a future
where knowledge of one single “science” will no longer
be enough. The wall between the traditional sciences
is not falling; it is lying crumbled where it once stood.
References
1. Available from: http://www.co2captureproject.org/co2_
capture.html. [Last cited on 2012 Apr 5].
2. Available from: http://www.oxfam.org.uk/get_involved/
campaign/food/. [Last cited on 2012 Apr 5].
3. Spreitzer RJ, Salvucci ME. RUBISCO: Structure, regulatory
interactions, and possibilities for a better enzyme. Annu Rev
Plant Biol2002;53:449-75.
4. Available from: http://www.netdoctor.co.uk/health_advice/
examinations/mriscan.htm. [Last cited on 2012 Apr 5].
5. Available from: http://www.drugs.com/ritalin.html. [Last cited
on 2012 Apr 5].
6. Avai l abl e from: http://www.newsci enti st.com/arti cl e/
mg21028184.000-building-a-human-on-a-chip-organ-by-
organ.html. [Last cited on 2012 Apr 5].
7. Dartnell L. Life in the Universe. Oneworld Publications; 2007.
p. 66-9:
About the Author
Toby, currently in year 13 at Twyford Church of England sixth form, is taking A levels in Biology, Chemistry, and Further
Maths. Next year, he hopes to go to university to study Natural Sciences, possibly with a year abroad. In his spare time,
he plays tennis, goes running, and enjoys watching the US sitcom The Big Bang Theory.
38 Young Scientists Journal | 2012 | Issue 11
ABSTRACT
Introduction
De Souza et al. showed that the growth and yield of
lettuce could be improved by treatment of its seeds
before they were grown, using rectified sinusoidal
non-uniform electromagnetic fields.
[1]
It was observed
that magnetism has effects on lettuce at the nursery,
vegetative, and maturity stages, including a significant
increase in root length and shoot height, a greater
growth rate, and a significant increase in plant height,
leaf area, and fresh mass. Positive biological effects
of magnetism on sunflower and wheat seedlings
weights were reported.
[2]
Further data show that the
magnetic field induced by the voltage of a specific
waveform enhanced or inhibited mung bean growth,
depending on the frequencies,
[3]
which suggests that
the magnetic field on plant growth may be sensitive to
the waveform and frequency of the source electrical
voltage. The effect of static magnetic field on plant
growth has also been studied. Cakmak et al. found
that static magnetic field accelerated germination
and early growth of wheat and bean seeds.
[4]

Vashisth et al. obtained similar results with chickpeas;
furthermore, they found that the responses of the
plant to static magnetic field varied with field strength
and duration of exposure with no particular trend.
[5]

However, as indicated by a literature review, weak
magnetic field exhibited negative effects on plant
growth, such as inhibition of primary root growth, in
some cases.
[6]
For instance, exposure to magnetic
field inhibited early growth of radish seedlings with
decrease in the weight and leaf area.
[7]
An interesting
result is that the biological effect of a magnetic field
is different between the south and north poles, as
illustrated by a study, which showed that radish
seedlings had a significant tropic response to the
south pole of the magnet, but insignificant response
to the north pole.
[7]
It is theorized that the south
pole of the magnet enhances plant and bacterial
A study was conducted to test the hypothesis that a magnetic field can affect plant growth
and health. The study divided plants into three groups. The first group of plant seeds
grew in a low magnetic field. The second group grew in a high magnetic field. The third
group grew in the absence of a magnetic field, serving as a control group. Several growth
parameters were measured, including the germination rate, plant height, and leaf size. In
addition, the health status was measured by leaf color, spots, the stem curvature, and the
death rate. Plant growth was observed continuously for four weeks. The results showed
that magnetism had a significant positive effect on plant growth. Plant seeds under the
influence of the magnetic field had a higher germination rate, and these plants grew taller,
larger, and healthier than those in the control group. No adverse effects of magnetism on
plant growth were noticed. However, the removal of the magnetic field weakened the plant
stem, suggesting the role of magnetism in supplying plants with energy.
Edward Fu
Student, University High School, Irvine, CA. Email: blackviola2@gmail.com
DOI: 10.4103/0974-6102.97696
Research Article
The effects of magnetic
fields on plant growth and health
Young Scientists Journal | 2012 | Issue 11 39
growth by conferring energy, whereas the north pole
retards their growth. Thus, it is possible to utilize
the magnetic north pole against infections or tumor
growths. Morphological anomalies in pollen tubes
of a particular plant exposed to magnetism were
observed,
[8]
which raises an important question of
whether magnetism can cause gene mutation and
cancer. This issue is still controversial and demands
more research evidence before any conclusion can
be drawn.
Experimental Design and Methods
Hypothesis
The main hypothesis is that static magnetic field
has effects on plant growth. If plants grow in an
environment with magnetic field, they will grow
differently than if they grow without magnetic field.
Purposes
The experimental objectives include:
• To observe plant growth based on a set of growth
and health parameters under the magnetic field.
• To compare plant growth under magnetic fields
of different strengths.
• To compare plant growth under the magnetic
field at different points in time.
• To determine whether the magnetic field
can influence plant growth based on the
observational data.
• To identify the parameters of plant growth
affected by the magnetic field, if any.
• To observe changes in plant growth after the
magnetic field is removed.
Materials
• Plant seeds – a bag
• Soil – a bag (28 L)
• Sunlight – eight hours per day
• Water
• Magnets – two magnets with the magnetic
strength of 0.33 Tesla and 0.49 Tesla, respectively
• Rulers – one
• Magnifiers – one
Procedures
1. Prepare three round plastic or glass containers,
each with a diameter of 10 inches and a height
of about 6 inches.
2. Place the same soil (mixed natural and artificial)
in each container to form the soil bed of about
four inch deep.
3. Plant seeds (radish) on the superficial layer of the
soil (one inch deep) in each container. Sixteen
seeds are planted, so that they are evenly
distributed along a circle with a diameter of six
inches.
3.1. In the second container, a horseshoe-
shaped magnet of 0.33 Tesla is placed at
the center of the circle surrounded by the
seeds [Figure 1].
3.2. In the third container, a horseshoe-shaped
magnet of 0.49 Tesla is placed at the center
of the circle surrounded by the seeds
[Figure 1].
4. Each nursing container is placed by the window
facing the east and exposed to the sunlight in
the daytime. The plants grow under the room
temperature at 25
o
C with a humidity level ranging
between 30 and 50%. The soil in each container
is kept wet by watering once every day so that the
soil surface is neither dry nor soggy to the touch.
The soil moisture was estimated at 0.25 ml/in
2
.
5. Record on a weekly basis the number of
seeds that have germinated, plant growth, and
observations about plant health such as color
of leaves, and spots or holes due to pests and
diseases. Diseased spots will be quantified.
Plant growth will be measured by plant height
and leave size as shown in Figure 2.
6. The experimental observation will last for four
weeks. The magnets in the third pot will be
removed at the end of the third week, but the
observation will continue for the fourth week in
an attempt to evaluate the reversibility of the
magnetic effect on plant growth, if any.
Results
There were three experimental conditions, as shown
in Figure 3: (1) no magnet, (2) low magnetic field, and
(3) high magnet field. The plants that had no magnetic
field surrounding them were found to have slower
growth as well as smaller leaf sizes. The growth and
leaf sizes increased as the strength of magnetism
increased.
The germination rate of the plants without the
magnetic field was less than the germination rate of
those with a magnetic field as seen in Table 1. In the
control group, 12/16 plants germinated during the
first week, while 16/16 of the plants growing under
40 Young Scientists Journal | 2012 | Issue 11
a magnetic field (for both low and high magnetism)
did so in the first week. Overall, the germination rate
of the control group was 14/16 in the whole study
period. The significantly higher germination rate in the
first week for the experimental groups with magnetic
fields means that magnetism can increase the speed
of plant development.
As seen from Table 2, the plants in the groups with
magnetic fields grew taller (measured by stem height)
and bigger (measured by leaf size) by as much as
25%. For instance, the stem height was 4.18 cm in the
control versus 5.25 cm in the high magnetic group at
the fourth week. Furthermore, the high magnetic field
had more stimulatory effect on plant growth than low
magnetic field. The photographs [Figure 3] also show
that plants grew with a better overall appearance in
the environment with magnetic fields.
As seen from Table 1, the amount of unhealthy stems
in the control was 1/14. In comparison, 1/16 of the
plants in the trial with low magnetic field had an
unhealthy stem, and 1/16 of the plants in the trial with
high magnetic field had an unhealthy stem during the
third week. When the magnet was removed for the
fourth week in the trial with high magnetic field, the
number of unhealthy stems increased to 6/16. The
number of plant deaths for the control group was
2/14, and the number of deaths for both low magnetic
field and high magnetic field groups was 0/16. Thus,
more plants died without than with magnetism. Plant
Figure 1: The experiment design where the magnet was surrounded
by 16 plant seeds
Figure 2: Plant growth is measured by the stem height (top) and leaf
size (botom) every week over a one month period. Blue: Control. Pink:
Low magnetc feld. Yellow: High magnetc feld. The curves suggest that
there is consistent positve efect of magnetc feld on plant growth
Figure 3: The plant growth in three trial groups with no, low, and high
magnetc felds, respectvely, in the middle of the experiments (the
third week)
Table 2: The average plant height and leaf size in the control group
and two experimental groups with low and high magnetc felds,
respectvely
Results Plant height (cm) Leaf size (cm)
Control Low mag High mag Control Low mag High mag
Week 1 1.22 1.7 1.5 0.52 0.67 0.59
Week 2 2.97 3.75 3.72 0.61 0.73 0.84
Week 3 4.09 4.69 5.06 0.79 0.84 1.03
Week 4 4.18 4.91 5.25 0.79 0.91 1.14
Table 1: The unhealthy changes and death of plants in control and
experimental groups at the end of the fourth week. In the group
with high magnetc feld, the magnet was removed at the end of
the third week; there was a signifcant increase in the number of
stem changes afer the magnet was removed. The control group
has a signifcantly lower germinaton rate in the frst week than the
experimental groups with magnetc felds
Control Low magnetc High magnetc
Germinaton rate 12/16 (1
st
week)
14/16 (overall)
16/16 (1
st
week) 16/16 (1
st
week)
Leaf unhealthy 2/14 2/16 2/16
Stem unhealthy 1/14 1/16 6/16 (4
th
week)
1/16 (3
rd
week)
Plant death 2/14 0/16 0/16
Young Scientists Journal | 2012 | Issue 11 41
Table 3: Statstcal comparison on plant height using paired t-test
provided by an online statstcal calculator:
[9]
Comparison t-value P value Statstcal
signifcance
Control versus low magnetsm 9.59 0.0024 (< 0.01) Yes
Control versus high
magnetsm
4.37 0.022 (< 0.05) Yes
Low versus high magnetsm 0.86 0.45 No
Table 4: Statstcal comparison on leaf size using paired t-test
provided by an online statstcal calculator:
[9]
Comparison t-value P value Statstcal
signifcance
Control versus low magnetsm 5.19 0.014 (< 0.05) Yes
Control versus high
magnetsm
3.86 0.031 (< 0.05) Yes
Low versus high magnetsm 1.63 0.20 No
stems became unhealthier after removing the magnet
in the trial with high magnetic field.
Statistical analysis, shown in Tables 3 and 4, based
on t-test among groups showed that plants exposed
to magnetism (low or high) outgrew plants in the
control group in terms of both plant height and leaf
size, and these results were statistically significant.
Discussion
Previous research showed that plant growth can be
increased by both dynamic
[1]
and static
[4,5]
magnetic
fields. Magnetism also accelerates germination.
[4]

These findings were confirmed by my research
presented here. However, some studies reported
negative results. The difference in research outcomes
may be due to variations in experimental design.
Taken together, the current evidence seems in favor
of the view that magnetism has a positive influence
on plant growth and development.
However, previous research studies do not measure
the plant health status with and without magnetic
influence. My research suggests that magnetism
makes plants grow not only faster and bigger, but
also survive better. An interesting observation is that
a large portion of plant stems became curved after
the magnet was removed in the group exposed to
high magnetic field. A possible explanation is that
magnetism accelerates plant growth and supplies
energy. In the absence of magnetism, plants lose
energy derived from the magnetic field and the plant
stem cannot support its weight.
The differential effect on plant growth between the
north and south poles has been noticed previously.
One theory is that the south pole causes plants to
grow faster, but promotes bacteria, and the north pole
of the magnet caused slower growth, but healthier
plants. A number of unhealthy leaves were noted
in my experiment, but the plants close to the north
pole and those close to the south pole do not show
any observable difference in their growth and health
status. This is perhaps due to the use of horseshoe
magnets rather than bar magnets in the experiment.
Conclusions
I have found that the plants surrounded with a
magnetic field tend to grow faster, taller, bigger, and
healthier, as measured by the plant height, leaf size,
and selected parameters related to their health status.
The germination rate in the first week is significantly
higher with than without magnetic field. The magnetic
field may also supply energy, as reflected by my
observation that removal of magnetism causes the
plant stem to bend. The results confirm my hypothesis
that magnetism affects plant growth and health. In
the literature, most similar studies have found the
positive effect of magnetism on plant growth, but few
have reported the magnetic effect on plant health.
Moreover, a new finding in my experiment, which has
not been reported in the literature, is the potential
relationship between magnetism and plant energy.
It means that magnetism affects both the structure
and function of a plant. Finally, it was not suggested
by my study that the magnetic field caused any
negative biological effect, as far as the plant growth
and development is concerned.
Acknowledgement
I would like to thank my parents for their encouragement
and for their suggestion about an online statistical resource
and reference styles.
References
1. De Souza A, Sueiro L, González LM, Licea L, Porras EP, Gilart F.
Improvement of the growth and yield of lettuce plants by non-
uniform magnetic fields. Electromagn Biol Med 2008;27:173-84.
2. Fischer G, Tausz M, Kock M, Grill D. Effects of weak 16 3/2 Hz
magnetic fields on growth parameters of young sunflower and
wheat seedlings. Bioelectromagnetics 2004;25:638-41.
3. Huang HH, Wang SR. The effects of inverter magnetic fields on
early seed germination of mung beans. Bioelectromagnetics
2008;29:649-57.
4. Cakmak T, Dumlupinar R, Erdal S. Acceleration of germination
and early growth of wheat and bean seedlings grown
42 Young Scientists Journal | 2012 | Issue 11
under various magnetic field and osmotic conditions.
Bioelectromagnetics 2010;31:120-9.
5. Vashisth A, Nagarajan S. Exposure of seeds to static magnetic
field enhances germination and early growth characteristics
in chickpea (Cicer arietinum L.). Bioelectromagnetics
2008;29:571-8.
6. Belyavskaya NA. Biological effects due to weak magnetic field
on plants. Adv Space Res 2004;34:1566-74.
7. Yano A, Ohashi Y, Hirasaki T, Fujiwara K. Effects of a 60
Hz magnetic field on photosynthetic CO2 uptake and
early growth of radish seedlings. Bioelectromagnetics
2004;25:572-81.
8. Dattilo AM, Bracchini L, Loiselle SA, Ovidi E, Tiezzi A, Rossi C.
Morphological anomalies in pollen tubes of Actinidia deliciosa
(kiwi) exposed to 50 Hz magnetic field. Bioelectromagnetics
2005;26:153-6.
9. GraphPad-Software. Quick Calcs: Available from: http://www.
graphpad.com/quickcalcs/ttest1.cfm. [Last accessed in 2005].
About the Author
Edward Fu is 15 years old and doing Biology and Chemistry at University High School in California. He is on the
Science Olympiad Team at his school and won a medal in 8
th
and 10
th
grades.
Acknowledgment
Lorna Quandt is a graduate student in Psychology at
Temple University in Philadelphia, USA. She uses EEG
(electroencephalography – the recording of electrical activity in
the brain using electrodes placed on the scalp
[1]
) to study her
areas of interest: action processing, social cognition, and the
overlaps between action execution and action observation.
[2]

Lorna is a member of the International Advisory Board of
the Young Scientists Journal, assisting our group of school-
student editors with the science in the most challenging articles
submitted to the journal. She is now stepping down from the
IAB to focus on her work, and everyone on the YSJ team would
like to thank Lorna for the guidance and time she has given us,
particularly whilst preparing Issue 10.
References
1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electroencephalography
2. https://sites.google.com/site/lornacquandt/home
Young Scientists Journal | 2012 | Issue 11 43
People care about sanitation in all aspects of their lives.
Through this concern, different people have come
up with their own unique ways of sanitizing, or killing
bacteria, in their daily lives. Although many chemical
products intended to do the same job are becoming
more popular throughout the market, many people
prefer to stick to their old-fashioned ways in their
homes. After observing this common trend, especially
applied in domestic spaces in Turkey, it was decided
to further investigate the efficiency of the methods.
Through the surveys completed, it was found that the
following methods were used extensively in homes:
• Heat exposure
• Soaking in vinegar
• Soaking in lemon juice
• Filtering
• Soaking in bleach
• Soaking in dilute hydrochloric acid (HCl)
• Soaking in salt water
• Soaking in sugar water
• Soaking in citric acid
• Washing with soap
An informative trip to the Ministry of Health - public
health and hygiene center (Refik Saydam Hıfzıssıhha)
was made, to learn about bacteria that may be found
in our tap and drinking water, as well as methods of
testing and identifying them. Following this, 10 common
household methods used around us were chosen at
random and tested on E. coli – a possible bacterium
commonly found (and eliminated) in Ankara’s water. We
inoculated the bacteria into media and then exposed
them to the criteria we wanted to test: Heat, vinegar,
lemon juice, filter, bleach, HCl, salt, sugar, citric acid,
and soap. The criteria were tested in different ratios/
amounts to see how effective each one was. The
samples were measured with a spectrophotometer for
any bacterial growth and compared to the experiment’s
positive and negative controls.
ABSTRACT
We maintain household sanitation as having great importance in the process of disease
prevention in the modern world. There are a wide range of options when choosing what
to use to kill bacteria and other pathogens. However, this study was carried out in order
to discover whether all of the common methods for eliminating household bacteria were
indeed effective. This was done by inoculating e-coli into media and then exposing them
to common criteria to find out the which method and which quantities for each method were
effective in inhibiting bacterial growth. The results showed that almost half the methods
tested demonstrated pathogenic contamination, so although providing an unfavorable
environment for bacterial growth, some methods are not effective at preventing bacterial
growth completely.
Defne Gürel, Melis Atalar, Ayça Arslan Ergül
1
Student, Bilkent University Preparatory School,
1
Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics,
Research and Teaching Assistant Bilkent University, TR-06800, Bilkent, Ankara, Turkey, E-mail: defnegurel@hotmail.com
DOI: 10.4103/0974-6102.97698
Research Article
Household bacteria: Everyday
elimination methods uncovered!
44 Young Scientists Journal | 2012 | Issue 11
Our results showed that, indeed, not all of the
methods people use today were reliable. Almost
half of the methods tested demonstrated pathogenic
contamination. Therefore, even though these
methods provide an unfavorable environment for
bacterial growth, most of them are not efficient
enough to prevent their growth completely.
Scope
This experiment is designed to collect various
household methods used to kill bacteria in our daily
lives, and test their reliability on E. coil.
Equipment and Materials
• Escherichia coli DH5µ
• Agar plate
 Tryptone 10 g
 Yeast Extract 5 g
 Agar 10 g
 NaCl 5 g
 ddH
2
0 1 L
• LB Broth Medium
 Tryptone 10 g
 Yeast Extract 5 g
 NaCl 5 g
 ddH
2
0 1 L
• Flame (Bunsen burner)
• Approx. 40 falcon tubes
• Approx. 6 bacteria plates (Petri Dish)
• Inoculating loop
• Pasteur pipette
• Ethanol (96% alcohol)
• Vinegar
• Lemon juice
• Filter (0.20 µm pore size)
• Syringe
• NaClO (bleach)
• HCl
• Salt
• Sugar
• Citric acid
• Liquid soap
Equipment supplied by host laboratory
• Autoclave
• Incubator
• Spectrophotometer
• White light
• Pipettes
• Water baths
• Freezer (-20°C)
• Refrigerator (4°C)
Lab safety equipment
• Lab coats
• Goggles
• Gloves
Procedure
Part I (preparation)
1. Sterilize the lab bench (work area) and light
a Bunsen burner. Put on all the lab safety
equipment (gloves, goggles, and lab coat).
2. Retrieve Escherichia coli DH5µ from frozen
stock.
3. Thaw at 37°C.
4. Into three separate falcon tubes, inject 3 ml of
LB Broth Medium near the flame (15 cm away).
a. In two of them, inoculate 10 µl of DH5µ
using a micropipette.
b. In the third tube, inoculate 20 µl of DH5µ
using a micropipette.
5. Retrieve three Agar plates prepared beforehand
and open near the flame (15 cm away).
a. Drop 20 µl of E. coli DH5µ onto the center
of two plates.
b. Drop 40 µl of E. coli DH5µ onto the center
of the third plate.
c. Spread the bacteria amongst the plate evenly
using a bent Pasteur pipette (spreader),
after sterilizing with ethanol (96% alcohol).
6. a. Place the falcon tubes in an incubator at
37°C, shaking at a rate of 225 rpm for 16
hours.
b. Place the Agar plates in a steady incubator
at 37°C for 16 hours.
7. Retrieve the plates and tubes (after 16 hours) and
place in a refrigerator at 4°C until ready for Part II.
Part II (the experiment)
1. Retrieve one of the E. coli cultures inoculated
into the LB Broth Medium in PART I and allow it
to adjust to 37°C.
2. Prepare 26 sterile falcon tubes and pipette 2 ml
of LB Broth Medium into each of them.
3. Near a flame (15 cm away), inject 10 µl of
Escherichia coli DH5µ from the saturated culture
prepared into each falcon tube, except for two.
Young Scientists Journal | 2012 | Issue 11 45
The two tubes that do not have any bacteria
in them (only LB Broth Medium) will be the
experiment’s negative control.
4. Test for the criteria obtained through surveys
conducted beforehand, as follows:
a. Expose four of the tubes to heat in separate
water baths for 10 minutes: 40°C, 60°C,
80°C, and boiling water.
b. Inject 200 µl, 400 µl, and 2 ml of vinegar
into three of the tubes.
c. Inject 200 µl, 400 µl, and 2 ml of lemon juice
into three of the tubes.
d. Using a syringe, inject all the culture in
one of the test tubes through a cellulose
acetate filter with pore sizes of 0.20 µm into
a separate falcon tube.
e. Pipette 2 µl, 20 µl, and 200 µl of bleach
(NaClO or sodium hypochlorite) into three
falcon tubes.
f. Pipette 2 µl, 20 µl, and 200 µl of HCl into
three falcon tubes.
g. Pipette 2 ml of saturated salt solution prepared
beforehand into one of the falcon tubes.
h. Pipette 2 ml of saturated sugar solution
prepared beforehand into one of the falcon
tubes.
i. Pipette 10 µl of citric acid (1 molar) into one
of the falcon tubes.
j. Place one drop of soap into one of the
falcon tubes.
5. Label all the falcon tubes. The three left (that were
not tested) will be considered the experiment’s
positive control.
6. Incubate tubes at 37°C, shaking at a rate of
225 RPM for 16 hours.
Part III (Analysis)
1. Retrieve all falcon tubes from the incubator.
2. Pipette a sample of approximately 500 µl
f rom each f al con t ube i nt o a separat e
spectrophotometer cuvette.
3. Measure each sample for any growth using a
spectrophotometer. Compare the results to the
positive and negative controls.
4. Record and analyze the data.
5. Sub-culture samples of the “positive-control.”
a. Inoculate the samples onto Agar plates
using the “streak plate technique.”
b. Incubate at 37ºC for 16 hours.
c. Observe the plates and isolated colonies
under white light.
Results and Discussion
Results throughout the experiment prove that
about half of the household methods tested are
not effective. Before obtaining results through the
spectrophotometer for the different methods tested,
LB Broth Medium (which was not incubated and
did not have any bacteria inoculated) was read to
obtain blank results. This, along with the results
of the experiment’s negative control (where only
the medium was incubated and no bacteria was
inoculated), was significant in order to see if any
contamination occurred in the incubator. As intended,
there was no external contamination throughout the
growth process of the investigations. This can be
verified through the extremely low absorbance
figures obtained from the spectrophotometer
[Figure 1].
It was seen that exposing bacteria to heat (40°C,
60°C, and 80°C) does not prevent bacteri al
growt h. I n f act , 40°C provi ded a f avorabl e
envi ronment for bacteri al growth, si nce the
optimum growth temperature for many bacteria
is around 37°C. However, keeping the bacteria
at boiling temperature for 10 minutes definitely
prevented all the bacterial growth. This result
prompted us to question the common household
use of kettles to boil water for hot drinks, such as
tea, coffee, soup, etc. This is because, although
kettles are designed to boil water, they tend to stay
at the boiling point (around 100°C) for only a short
period of time. Then, they turn themselves off, and
Figure 1: Spectrophotometer data with absorbance values. Samples
were measured with 600 nm wavelengths to detect the presence
of bacteria. Absorbance values were presented on the graph with a
logarithmic scale. The threshold value was set as 0.1. When tested,
samples generatng absorbance rates below the threshold value were
considered to inhibit bacterial growth. In the same context, samples
with values above the threshold allowed the growth of bacteria
46 Young Scientists Journal | 2012 | Issue 11
the temperature of the water drops rapidly. For
this reason, it is reasonable to say that they only
reach about 80°C on average. As can be seen in
the data, 80°C still allows the bacteria development
to a pathogenic degree.
Adding vinegar to the experiments prevented
bacterial growth at all concentrations tested (200 µl,
400 µl, and 2 ml) – proving to be an effective method.
Adding the same concentrations of lemon juice
also prevented the bacterial growth to some extent,
though not fully. Even so, due to the liquid’s opaque
quality, the spectrophotometer gave high results
(suggesting bacterial growth) for the investigation,
even after dilution. However, we think that this is
because the spectrophotometer read the lemon
juice itself as false positive results due to scattering
of the light by the colloidal dispersion character of
lemon juice.
Passing bacteria through a micro-filter (with 0.20 µl
pore size) was one of the most reliable methods
tested. However, even though these filters are
commonly found in scientific laboratories, they
are harder to obtain and apply in household
environments.
Bleach and hydrochloric acid are both sold in
about 5% concentrations for household cleansing
purposes. They are commonly used in many homes.
Through the surveys completed, it was seen that
especially these two chemicals were used extensively
for domestic purposes. For that reason, the two
criteria were tested at the same concentrations.
Ratios of 1:1000 (2 µl), 1:100 (20 µl), and 1:10
(200 µl) were inoculated into test tubes. From the
results obtained, it was seen that adding a ratio of
1:1000 of the chemicals was not enough to prevent
growth. Even so, adding only 10 ml (1%) of HCl or
bleach into a bucket of cleaning water (approximately
1liter) is enough to kill microorganisms such as
E. coli in the surrounding environments. This figure is
significant as people tend not to know that even such
a small amount of the chemical is sufficient for it to
be effective. This finding stipulates that the habit of
pouring bottles of bleach to disinfect a small surface
should be abolished.
Saturated salt – used to simulate the process of
adding salt to water, food, or other sources of
pathogenic bacteria – resulted in significantly low
figures. In contrast, adding saturated sugar to the
media did not turn out to be an effective method.
Although sugar did not increase the growth rate of the
bacteria, it did not have any effect in the prevention
of growth, either.
Citric acid, another chemical commonly found in
household environments for cleansing purposes, was
tested as well. Ten microliters of concentration 1 Molar
was added in to the medium (2 ml) – diluting the citric
acid to 5 mM. This concentration was not enough to
prevent bacteria growth, as seen in the data.
Adding one drop of liquid soap to the media definitely
stopped the bacterial growth. This proved that our
common habit of washing our hands, indeed, is
effective.
In order to verify that the results were reliable, a
positive control was also kept for the experiment.
These media had only bacteria inoculated in them,
and they were incubated with the rest of the tubes.
No foreign substance was added in order to prevent
contamination. For this reason, it can be seen
through the data that the positive control obtained
the highest results with the most contamination.
This, as well as the results obtained from the
negative control, proved that the experiment was
completed as intended and reasonably accurate
results were obtained.
To observe the microbes, a sample taken from the
positive control was inoculated onto Agar plates
and placed into a steady incubator at 37ºC. After
16 hours, Agar plates were examined under white
light for the formation of colonies and photographed
[Figure 2].
Figure 2: Photos of bacteria examined under white light. Samples taken
from the positve control experiment were inoculated onto Agar plates.
The opaque areas on the plates indicate bacteria colonies
Young Scientists Journal | 2012 | Issue 11 47
After testing different methods used to kill “germs” in all
aspects of our lives, there are many recommendations
that can be made. Food that is consumed uncooked
can be washed with vinegar, lemon juice, or salt. This
combination is commonly found in salads, hinting
that it is safe to eat! Also, food (e.g. pasta) and
beverages (e.g. tea) to be cooked can be boiled for
10 minutes in order to kill all bacteria in them. For
cleansing household surfaces, adding small amounts
of bleach or hydrochloric acid will be sufficient. For
our personal hygiene, soap is always reliable!!
In summary, some of the household methods
used to kill bacteria in our daily lives did not
prove to be effective at all. The data from the
spectrophotometer, as well as plate examinations,
verify that not all of these methods are reliable,
even though people might use them extensively
in their homes.
Acknowledgements
1. Bilkent University Molecular Biology Laboratory, Ankara,
Turkey.
2. Refik Saydam Hıfzıssıhha Merkezi (Public Health and
Hygiene Center), Ankara, Turkey.
References
1. Gürel D, Atalar M, Arslan-Ergül A. “5 Second Rule” Under the
Microscope, Bilim ve Teknik 482; 2008. p. 30-1. (In Turkish).
2. Microbiology Laboratory Manual, 2006-2007. Bilkent University
Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics.
3. Lim D. Microbiology. 2
nd
ed. McGraw Hill; 1998.
About the Authors
Defne Gurel and Melis Atalar are high school students at Bilkent Laboratory and International School in Ankara,
Turkey. Having shown great interest in scientific research, they won first and second place titles at their school's
science fairs consecutively over the years. Defne and Melis have also qualified to display their projects at a national
competition and were awarded 3
rd
Place nationwide at a Turkish National Invention Fair in 2007.The research in this
article was conducted at Bilkent University's Molecular Biology and Genetics Laboratories, under the supervision and
support of research assistant Ayca Arslan Ergul.
48 Young Scientists Journal | 2012 | Issue 11
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Young Scientist Journeys
Editors: Paul Soderberg and Christina Astin
This book is the first book of The Butrous foundation’s Journeys Trilogy. Young scientists of the past
talk to today’s young scientists about the future. The authors
were members of the Student Science Society in high school in
Thailand in the 1960s, and now, near their own 60s, they
share the most important things they learned about science
specifically and life generally during their own young scientist
journeys in the years since they published The SSS Bulletin, a
scientific journal for the International School Bangkok.
Reading this first book is a journey, that starts on this page
and ends on the last one, having taken you, Young Scientist, to
hundreds of amazing “places,” like nanotechnology, Song
Dynasty China, machines the length of football fields, and
orchids that detest wasps.
But the best reason to
take the journey through
these pages is that this
book will help you
prepare for all your other journeys. Some of these will be
physical ones, from place to place, such as to scientific
conferences. Others will be professional journeys, like from
Botany to Astrobiology, or from lab intern to assistant to
researcher to lab director. But the main ones, the most exciting
of all your journeys, will be into the Great Unknown. That is
where all the undiscovered elements are, as well as all other
inhabited planets and every new species, plus incredible things
like communication with dolphins in their own language, and
technological innovations that will make today’s cutting-edge
marvels seem like blunt Stone Age implements.
For further information please write to info@butrousfoundation.com
The Butrous Foundation, which is
dedicated to empowering today the
scientists of tomorrow. This
foundation already publishes Young
Scientists Journal, the world’s first and
only scientific journal of, by, and for,
all the world’s youngsters (aged 12-
20) who want to have science careers
or want to use science in other
careers. 100% of proceeds from sales
of The Journeys Trilogy will go to the
Foundation to help it continue to
fulfill its mission to empower
youngsters everywhere.
Book Details:
Title: Young Scientist Journeys
Editors: Paul Soderberg and Christina Astin
Paperback: 332 pages
Dimensions: 7.6 x 5.2 x 0.8 inches, Weight: 345 grams
Publisher: The Butrous Foundation (September 26, 2010)
ISBN-10: 0956644007
ISBN-13: 978-0956644008
Website: http://www.ysjourneys.com/
Retailer price: £12.45 / $19.95

The Butrous Foundation Journeys
Trilogy
Thirty-one years ago, Sir Peter Medawar
wrote Advice to a Young Scientist, a
wonderful book directed to university
students. The Butrous Foundation’s
Journeys Trilogy is particularly for those
aged 12 to 20 who are inspired to have
careers in science or to use the path of
science in other careers. The three volumes
are particularly for those aged 12 to 20 who
are inspired to have careers in science or to
use the path of science in other careers. It is
to “mentor in print” these young people that
we undertook the creation and publication of
this trilogy.
Young Scientist Journeys (Volume 1)
This book
My Science Roadmaps (Volume 2)
The findings of journeys into key science
issues, this volume is a veritable treasure
map of “clues” that lead a young scientist to
a successful and fulfilling career, presented
within the context of the wisdom of the great
gurus and teachers of the past in Asia,
Europe, Africa, and the Americas.
Great Science Journeys (Volume 3)
An elite gathering of well-known scientists
reflect on their own journeys that resulted
not only in personal success but also in the
enrichment of humanity, including Akira
Endo, whose discovery as a young scientist
of statins has saved countless millions of
lives.
Table of Contents:
Introduction: The Journeys Trilogy, Ghazwan Butrous . . . 11
Chapter 1. Science is All Around You, Phil Reeves . . . 17
Chapter 2. The Beauty of Science, and The Young Scientists Journal,
Christina Astin . . . 19
Chapter 3. The Long Journey to This Book, Paul Soderberg . . . 25
Chapter 4. Dare to Imagine and Imagine to Dare, Lee Riley . . . 43
Chapter 5. How the Science Club Helped Me Become a Human Being,
Andy Bernay-Roman . . . 55
Chapter 6. Your Journey and the Future, Paul Soderberg . . . 63
Chapter 7. Engineering as a Ministry, Vince Bennett . . . 83
Chapter 8. Cold Facts, Warm Hearts: Saving Lives With Science,
Dee Woodhull . . . 99
Chapter 9. My Journeys in Search of Freedom, Mike Bennett . . . 107
Chapter 10. Insects and Artworks and Mr. Reeves, Ann Ladd Ferencz . . .
121
Chapter 11. Window to Endless Fascination, Doorway to Experience for
Life:
the Science Club, Kim Pao Yu . . . 129
Chapter 12. Life is Like Butterflies and Stars, Corky Valenti . . . 135
Chapter 13. Tend to Your Root, Walteen Grady Truely . . . 143
Chapter 14. Lessons from Tadpoles and Poinsettias, Susan Norlander . . .
149
Chapter 15. It’s All About Systems—and People, J. Glenn Morris . . . 157
Chapter 16. A Journey of a Thousand Miles, Kwon Ping Ho . . . 165
Chapter 17. The Two Keys to Making a Better World: How-Do and Can-Do,
Tony Grady . . . 185
Chapter 18. Becoming a Scientist Through the Secrets of Plants, Ellen
(Jones) Maxon . . . 195
Chapter 19. The Essence of Excellence in Everything (and the Secret of
Life), Jameela Lanza . . . 203
Chapter 20. The Families of a Scientist, Eva Raphaël . . . 211
Appendix: Lists of Articles by Young Scientists, Past and Present . . . 229
The SSS Bulletin, 1966-1970 . . . 230-237
The Young Scientists Journal, 2008-present . . . 237-241
Acknowledgements . . . 243
The Other Two Titles in the Journeys Trilogy . . . 247
Contents of Volume 2 . . . 249
Excerpt from Volume 3: A Great Scientist . . . 251
Index . . . 273
Editors
Christina Astin and Paul Soderberg

The Butrous Foundation
The foundation aims to motivate young people to pursue scientific
careers by enhancing scientific creativity and communication skills.
It aims to provide a platform for young people all over the world
(ages 12-20 years) to participate in scientific advancements and to
encourage them to express their ideas freely and creatively.
The Butrous Foundation
Butrous Foundation
The Butrous Foundation is a private foundation established in
2006. The current interest of the foundation is to fund activities
that serve its mission.
The Mission
The foundation aims to motivate young people to pursue
scientific careers by enhancing scientific creativity and
communication skills. It aims to provide a platform for young
people all over the world (ages 12-20 years) to participate in
scientific advancements and to encourage them to express their
ideas freely and creatively.
Thematic approaches to achieve the foundation mission:
1. To enhance communication and friendship between young
people all over the world and to help each other with their
scientific interests.
2. To promote the ideals of co-operation and the interchange of
knowledge and ideas.
3. To enhance the application of science and its role in global
society and culture.
4. To help young people make links with scientists in order to
take advantage of global knowledge, and participate in the
advancement of science.
5. To encourage young people to show their creativity, inspire
them to reach their full potential and to be role models for the
next generation.
6. To encourage the discipline of good science where open minds
and respect to other ideas dominate.
7. To help global society to value the contributions of young
people and enable them to reach their full potential.
Visit Young Scientists journal www.ysjournal.com
The Butrous Foundation
The foundation aims to motivate young people to pursue scientifc careers
by enhancing scientifc creativity and communication skills. It aims to pro-
vide a platform for young people all over the world (ages 12-20 years) to
participate in scientifc advancements and to encourage them to express
their ideas freely and creatively.
The Butrous Foundation
The Butrous Foundation is a private foundation established in 2006.
The current interest of the foundation is to fund activities that serve
its mission.
The Mission
The foundation aims to motivate young people to pursue scientifc
careers by enhancing scientifc creativity and communication skills.
It aims to provide a platform for young people all over the world
(ages 12-20 years) to participate in scientifc advancements and to
encourage them to express their ideas freely and creatively.
Thematic approaches to achieve the foundation mission:
1. To enhance communication and friendship between young people
all over the world and to help each other with their scientifc
interests.
2. To promote the ideals of co-operation and the interchange of
knowledge and ideas.
3. To enhance the application of science and its role in global so-
ciety and culture.
4. To help young people make links with scientists in order to take
advantage of global knowledge, and participate in the advance-
ment of science.
5. To encourage young people to show their creativity, inspire them
to reach their full potential and to be role models for the next
generation.
6. To encourage the discipline of good science where open minds
and respect to other ideas dominate.
7. To help global society to value the contributions of young
people and enable them to reach their full potential,
visit Young Scientists journal www.ysjournal.com