Quantum Mechanics: aka Quantum Physics aka Quantum Theory, is a branch of physics that provides a mathematical description of the Wave -particle Duality of Matter and Energy. The theory was developed in 1925 by Werner Heisenberg. Quantum mechanics describes the time evolution of physical systems via a mathematical structure called the wave function. The wave function encapsulates the probability that the system is to be found in a given state at a given time. Quantum mechanics also allows one to calculate the effect on the system of making measurements of properties of the system by defining the effect of those measurements on the wave function. This leads to the well-known uncertainty principle as well as the enduring debate over the role of the experimenter, epitomised in the Schrödinger’s Cat thought experiment :: Read the full article »»»»
Protoscience: In the philosophy of science, a protoscience is an area of scientific endeavor that is in the process of becoming established. Protoscience is distinguished from pseudoscience by its standard practices of good science, such as a willingness to be disproven by new evidence, or to be replaced by a more predictive theory. Sometimes scientific skeptics refer to protoscience as “pathological sciences”. “Protoscience” is a term sometimes used to describe a hypothesis which has not yet been tested adequately by the scientific method, but which is otherwise consistent with existing science or which, where inconsistent, offers reasonable account of the inconsistency. Some protosciences go on to become an accepted part of mainstream science, for example; astrology and alchemy – at a time before invention of the scientific method – might be called “protosciences” by historians of science, but after the invention of the scientific method, when some practitioners refused to adopt the scientific method, the fields were then labeled “pseudoscience”. Several sciences started as branches of philosophy: mathematics, natural philosophy, economics, psychology, sociology, and the same may end up, historically, being the case for some cultural, traditional, or ancient practices. A “protoscience” may be a field where the hypothesis presented may or may not be in accordance with the known evidence at that time, and a body of associated predictions have been made, but the predictions have not yet been tested, or cannot be tested, due to current technological limitations. Such was the case for general relativity at the time of its proposal, which is now considered science, and the case for string theory, which at the time of this article writing is a protoscience. So why do we mention this – protoscience - because we’ve added it as a category.
The Centennial Light: The World’s longest running lightbulb – A Shelby Bulb – is celebrating its 110th birthday on June 18. In its role as night-light for the firetrucks – who would have guessed fire trucks where scared of the dark – it has operated almost continuously for its entire life, only being switched off a number of times early on, to be moved.
Known as a Shelby bulb after the town in Ohio that it was manufactured in the bulb was a revolution for its time. After emigrating to the USA in 1892 electrical engineer Adolphe A. Chaillet started the Shelby Electrical Company, with business partners. Shelby was operating by 1896. A new manufacturing technique and the bulb filament were used to produce the Shelby bulb, all developed by Chaillet. The coiled filament carbon lamp burned brighter than other bulbs at the time and had better directional properties, this became the basis of the Shelby bulbs success.
The Centennial Light has faced its fair share of controversy, with many people speculating that the long-lasting filaments could be produced today but for the fact that the manufacturing companies wouldn’t be so profitable, did GE buy the technology and shelve it? The Shelby Electric Company that produced the bulbs was absorbed into GE – General Electric – in 1914. Shelby had already moved away from the original coiled carbon filaments as used in the Centennial bulb, Tungsten had been introduced and allowed much cheaper and brighter bulbs to be produced. While the Centennial Bulb was originally rated at 60 watts it is down to 4 watts due to its age. So the answer to the controversial question ‘Could we all have light bulbs that last 100 years ?”. Yes we could but we would be paying $30 a bulb and sitting in the relative darkness of the low light output of carbon.
With its own website and publicity for its 110th birthday this is also the most famous light bulb in the world. Anyone can visit the light, just ring the bell at the back of the station and the fireman on duty will show you around. It’s good to see a celebrity that hasn’t let fame go to its head. Happy birthday you plucky little bulb, keep on keeping those firetrucks safe.
Water draining from a sink or toilet will always spin the same direction, counter-clockwise in the northern hemisphere and clock wise in the southern hemisphere.
Only one satellite has been ever been destroyed by a meteor, the European Space Agency’s Olympus in 1993. If two satellites collide who’s insurance pays, and do you have to overtake on the right in space. Whatever road rules they’re using in space it’s working. With well over 8,000 satellites whirling around the planet - all launched since 1957 – there has ever only been one hit by a meteor and only one collision between two satellites. With the added complication that some satellites travel at very high speed -26,00km/h- while others don’t travel at all – they are in geo-stationary orbits - it is amazing that more satellites haven’t met an early demise. The satellite Olympus was hit by debris from the Perseid shower, a meteor shower caused by the annual visit of comet 109P/Swift-Tuttle passing close to the earth. The satellite would normally have been moved out of danger but had already been partially disabled. The fact that there aren’t more satellite incidents is completely down to the satellites being moved to avoid any known dangers, such as meteor showers. Ground control of satellites by NORAD and other montioring stations is the only defence for satellites, until the get theyre own lasers anyway.
If you thought a Leap Year was an oddity. Leap Seconds help battle the slowly increasing Solar Day. To keep the civil day aligned with the apparent movement of the Sun, positive or negative leap seconds are inserted. A civil clock day is 86,400 seconds long, but will be 86,401 s or 86,399 seconds long in the event of a leap second. Leap seconds are announced in advance by the International Earth Rotation Reference Systems Service which measures Earth’s rotation and determines whether a leap second is necessary. Leap seconds occur only at the end of a UTC month, and have only ever been inserted at the end of June 30 or December 31.