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seen a pictures of electrons, protons, and other particles as tiny spheres, but actually physicists have long questioned how spherical such objects really are. The results of a new ten-year study at Imperial College London have helped narrow down the answer, for the electron at least ... and that answer is that it's very spherical. Aside from just wanting to know the answers to questions like this, Glowing globe from arcs of light physicists can use this particular bit Source: Chad Baker of information to help with a major outstanding question in particle physics and cosmology. The most accepted theories would suggest that when our universe was created, matter and antimatter would probably have been created in equal portions (with a net energy of 0). The problem is that when antimatter comes into contact with ordinary matter, these forms of matter annihilate each other. Since we're here to ask the question, we can tell that this didn't happen ... but we're not really sure why. It's not like there are big stockpiles of anti-matter out there in the universe (at least not in the region we can see), so physicists really don't know for sure what happened to it all (assuming it was ever created in the first place). But if there's one thing physicists are good at, it's coming up with ideas, and there are a lot out there. Some of them suggest that the electron is a perfect sphere, while others suggest that it's more egg-shaped. Specifically, the press release from Imperial College London says:
"The experiment, which spanned more than a decade, suggests that the electron differs from being perfectly round by less than 0.000000000000000000000000001 cm. This means that if the electron was magnified to the size of the solar system, it would still appear spherical to within the width of a human hair." This should allow scientists to begin ruling out the egg-shaped electron theories, focusing their efforts on trying to narrow in on which of the spherical-electron theories can be tested in other ways. Related Articles: y Imperial College London (press release) -Electron is surprisingly round, say Imperial scientists following ten year study y Nature - Improved measurement of the shape of the electron (abstract available for free, must pay for access to full paper) y Popular Science - Electrons Are Incredibly Close to being Perfect Spheres y Wired.co.uk - The electron: 'Round round get around, I am so round' y Wired Science - Electrons Are Near-Perfect Spheres y Comments (3) y Permalink y Share Feeds for Physics Tweets Wednesday June 1, 2011 I freely confess, I'm still trying to really get a handle on how to most effectively use Twitter. I have an account, of course (@AboutPhysics), but am not sure I'm getting the most out of the whole experience. Still, it's nice to have instant interactions with others interested in physics, and overall I'm finding it rather enjoyable. A while back I put out a call for suggestions on Twitter users that have good physics-related content, but the only response I got from that was for @neiltyson, who I already follow. As I begin to compile a more comprehensive list of physics tweeters, though, here are some resources so you can follow them on your own, should you be inclined to: y Tweeting Physics
WeFollow - Influential Physics Twitter Users(check out #11!!) y 20 Incredible Twitter Feeds for Space Geeks y @AboutPhysics/GeneralScience-4 y @AboutPhysics/FamousPhysicists y @AboutPhysics/PhysicsNews y Comments (0) y Permalink y Share Philosophy and Science Monday May 23, 2011 As readers know, I enjoy philosophy. I minored in it in college and write essays for books that link popular culture to philosophy topics, such as the recent Green Lantern and Philosophy (which Ihave discussed before). Recently, I learned that The New York Timeswas bringing back their "The Stone" column, which has philosophers writing about the topics that interest them. I posted the following quote from the article, which illustrates why I like philosophy so much, onto Facebook: "...philosophy is more than a profession. Philosophy is that living activity of critical reflection where we are invited to analyze the world in which we find ourselves, and to question what passes for common sense or opinion in the particular society in which we live."
To which an astute colleague of mine commented: "I thought that description applied to science."
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Read More... Comments (5) Permalink Share The Importance of Education Tuesday May 17, 2011 I believe that education is the single most important activity there is. If there is good education, then I think everything else takes care of itself, on every level: personal, family, business, community, state, regional,
and national levels. I have faith that most of our problems - economic disasters, international and intercultural strife, and even climate problems - can ultimately be solved by a well-educated populace. Education is the cornerstone to growth and there are many reasons to study physics as part of a well-rounded education. Yesterday, President Obama gave a speech at Booker T. Washington High School in Memphis, Tennessee, where he echoed some of my own thoughts on the matter. You can read the whole speech or watch it on video, because it contains a lot of good stuff about the service provided by teacher, and how education helps inspire you, but I'd like to focus now on some of his words which I think are especially true of science and mathematics education:
Physics Formulas This site provides a very thorough listing of physics equations, including physical constants, available for download in a number of formats, including PDF.
Physics is the science of Nature in the broadest sense. Physicists study the behaviour and interactions of matter and energy, which are referred to as physical phenomena. Physics is the study of matter, energy, motion, and forces. Physics is a major branch of science, concerned with the fundamental components of the universe, the forces they exert on one another, and the results produced by these forces.
Physicists study the properties and forms of matter and energy heat, light, electricity and magnetism, and nuclearenergy. They try to understand the forces that act in theuniverse, and the laws that these
forces obey - e.g. matter and energy can't be destroyed, only changed from one to the other (a conservation law). Theories of physics are generally expressed as mathematical relations. Well-established theories are often referred to asphysical laws or laws of physics; however, like all scientific theories, they are ultimately provisional. Modern physics relates to the laws of symmetry and conservation, such as those pertaining to energy, momentum, charge, and parity. The fundamental concepts of physics underlie all basic science -astronomy, biology,chemistry, and geology. Physics is closely related to the other natural sciences and, in a sense, encompasses them. It is concerned with the most fundamental aspects of matter and energy and how they interact. Modern physics has discovered how atoms are made up of smaller particles and how these particles interact to build atoms into molecules and larger objects of matter. Chemistry, for example, deals with the interaction of atoms to form molecules; Chemists use this knowledge to guide them in their work in studying all existing chemical compounds and in making new ones. Chemistry is the science of molecules and the chemical compounds that they form in bulk. Chemistry draws on many fields of physics, particularly quantum mechanics, thermodynamics and electromagnetism. However, chemical phenomena are sufficiently varied and complex that chemistry is usually regarded as a separate discipline. Much of modern geology is largely a study of the physics of the earth and is known as geophysics; and astronomy deals with the physics of the stars and outer space. Even living systems are made up of fundamental particles and, as studied in biology, biophysics and biochemistry, they follow the same types of laws as the simpler particles traditionally studied by a physicist. Physics also is essential to the applied science and engineering that has given us the supersonic jet, the laser, the fax, live satellite transmission, and the chips of a computer.
Physics may be loosely divided into classical physics and modern physics. Classical physics includes the traditional branches that were fairly well developed before the beginning of the 20th cent. y Mechanics -- the study of motion and the forces that cause it y Acoustics -- the study of sound y Optics -- the study of light y Thermodynamics -- the study of the relationships between heat and other forms of energy y Electricity and Magnetism. Physics recognises four fundamental forces of nature: gravitation, which was first adequately described by Isaac Newton; y electromagnetism, codified in the 19th century by Maxwell's equations; y the weak nuclear force, which is responsible for the decay of some subatomic particles; y and the strong nuclear force, which binds together atomic nuclei and is 1012 times stronger than the weak nuclear force. The laws of motion were codified in the 17th century by Isaac Newton, who provided a physical explanation of the motions of celestial bodies. Physics was extended in the 19th century, to study changes in physical form that take place, such as, for example, when a liquid freezes and becomes a solid. Changes of state due to heat are studied in the branch of physics called thermodynamics. Other changes in the form of matter, for example, those which occur when oxygen and hydrogen combine into water, are usually considered to be part of chemistry rather than physics. The distinction between physics and chemistry is somewhat arbitrary since ideas from physics are routinely used in chemistry. Modern physics is concerned with the structure and behaviour of individual atoms and their components, while chemistry deals with the properties and reactions of molecules -- which depend on energy, especially heat, as well as on atoms; thus, there is a strong link between physics and chemistry. Chemists are more interested in the specific
properties of different elements and compounds, whereas physicists are concerned with the general properties of all matter. Astronomy is the science of the entire universe including the Earth's gross physical properties, such as its momentum and rotation, insofar as they interact with other bodies in the solar system. Until the 18th century, astronomers were concerned mainly with theSun, Moon, planets, and comets. During the last two centuries, the study of stars,galaxies, nebulas, and the interstellar medium has become increasingly important.Celestial mechanics, the science of the motion of planets and other solid objects within the solar system, was the first proving ground for Newton's laws of motion, and thereby helped to establish the fundamental principles of classical (pre-20th-century) physics. Astrophysics, the study of the physical properties of celestial bodies, developed during the 19th century and is closely connected with the determination of the chemical composition of those bodies. In the 20th century physics and astronomy have become more intimately linked through cosmological theories, especially those based on thetheory of relativity. Newton's mechanics dominated physics for two centuries, and can loosely be described as a 'clockwork' view of the universe - given the positions, masses, and velocities of all objects in the universe, then their future behaviour could, in principle, be predicted to arbitrary precision using Newtonian mechanics. This view has changed dramatically due to major developments in the early part of the 20th century. On the very small scale, and for rapidly moving objects, ordinary, commonsense notions of space, time, matter, and energy are no longer valid, and two major theories of modern physics present a different picture of these concepts from that of classical physics. y Einstein's theories of relativity (special and general), which grew in part from Maxwell's work; the Theory of Relativity is concerned with the description of phenomena that take place in a frame of reference that is in motion with respect to an observer. y quantum mechanics, which introduced the notion of uncertainty in the simultaneous observations of certain quantities, e.g. position and
momentum. Quantum Mechanics is concerned with the discrete, rather than the continuous, nature of many phenomena at the atomic and subatomic level, and with the complementary aspects of particles and waves in the description of such phenomena. Both of these areas involve concepts which are highly counter-intuitive defying common sense - but which have been repeatedly confirmed by experiment. vinylidene chloride a colourless, dense, toxic, volatile, flammable liquid belonging to the family of , used principally in combination with , acrylonitrile, or for the manufacture of a class of plastics called saran. Vinylidene chloride is also used as a starting material for making methylchloroform, or 1,1,1trichloroethane, a solvent useful in cleaning electrical machinery. Physiology Study of the vital functions and basic activities of living organisms - cells, tissues, organs, and organ systems - and their parts, in relation to the whole. Embryology Study of the formation and development of organisms from the zygote, or fertilised egg. Confined mainly to multi-celled organisms. Taxonomy Hierarchical classification of natural organisms indicative of their
structures and differences. Genetics Study of inheritance and variation in organisms, and mechanisms by which these operate; causes of similarities and differences among related individuals. Ecology Study of relationships between organisms and their environment; the interactions of individuals within groups and with their suroundings. Morphology The study of the shapes of plants and animals. Molecular_Biology Study of chemical processes at the level of large organic molecules such as proteins and nucleic acids. Biochemistry Study of the chemical processes within living systems as a whole. Microbiology The study of micro-organisms - their structure, function, and significance. Paleontology is the study of earth-bound remains as a means of explaining and exploring the history of man and nature. It is the study of time's biological footprints. Paleontology is the scientific study of lifeforms existing in former geological time periods. Fossils, the remains or imprint of a plant or animal preserved from prehistoric times by natural
methods and found mainly in sedimentary rock, asphalt, coal, and amber, are the chief data upon which paleontological study is based.
he science and study of life and of plant, animal, and other types of organisms. The science of life and living organisms, biology studies the form, structure, function, growth and development, behavior and interaction of all living things. Biologists study the characteristics of life forms, such as their cellular organization and development, how they respond to stimulation, thechemical processes of their growth and production of energy ( metabolism) and how they reproduce. But the underlying question all biologists try to answer is, What is life? Life is divided into levels of organization that help biologists see the big picture within the study of each organism. The organization goes from the tiniest part of the life form that can be studied, to the largest:
Molecules, the smallest portion of compounded atoms or elements that carries the form's characteristics; Cells, the smallest unit of living tissue that can function as an independent entity (form of life); Tissues, which are made up ofcells and other matter, are what animal and plant organ are made of; Organs, a structure of a plant or animal which performs a specific and essential function; Organ_systems, a group of organs that work together to perform a function, such as the digestive system; Organisms, a living thing and/or its structure - a human being is a complex organism, so is a dog, a cat and a tree;
Populations, the organisms living in a certain group or area, such as a city, a forest or a test tube. The basic disciplines of biology study life at one or more of these levels. While people have always been interested in the study of life and used what they learned in their attempts at healing and in their religious rites (like the Egyptians' practice of embalming or trying to preserve the bodies of the dead), biology was confused with a lot of superstition and was sometimes considered magical. The study of biology as a sciencewasn't really developed until the last few centuries BC. During this time, Aristotle established the basic tools of biology, which are observation and analysis. Aristotle was responsible for the concept of classification, which separated the life forms and made it easier to study a certain branch or level of a life form. Still, his knowledge of all the different classifications of life was limited. From about the third century BC until the second century AD, biological studies were most concerned with agriculture and medicine and how biological discoveries could benefit the human condition.
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