Another Year End Wrap Up Blog Post- Science and Tech

Another Year End Wrap Up Blog Post- Science and Tech

Seems that many blogs are doing wrap ups. There also a good number of end of the year science and technology stories. So I figured “what the heck?”.

As 2015 ends and 2016 begins, I have a good number of stories in my “Saved for Later” folder in my Feedly account. I thought I would start out 2016 by cleaning it up a bit and sharing them.  These items are about science and tech.

Black Holes

Black Hole in the universe
Black Hole in the universe (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As the name implies, nothing in our universe can escape the super-high gravity, not even light. This also means that gaining any information about what happens beyond the “event horizon”, the point where the gravitational escape velocity exceeds the speed of light, is impossible. Or is it? An article at Sciencemag.org discusses just how physicst are attemting to tackle the problem. While in the category of not-warm-fuzzy-nice physics, the concept is simple, quantum math must balance out. The issue is how to figure out what happens after the event horizon based on what happens before. Black holes “evaporate” and well, like I said not all warm and fuzzy:

Physicists think they have a way out. In 1974, British theorist Stephen Hawking argued that black holes can radiate particles and energy. Thanks to quantum uncertainty, empty space roils with pairs of particles flitting in and out of existence. Hawking realized that if a pair of particles from the vacuum popped into existence straddling the black hole’s boundary then one particle could fly into space, while the other would fall into the black hole. Carrying away energy from the black hole, the exiting Hawking radiation should cause a black hole to slowly evaporate. Some theorists suspect information reemerges from the black hole encoded in the radiation—although how remains unclear as the radiation is supposedly random.

And it even gets less friendly after that, attempting use quantum teleportation to dechiper it further. While it is not easy to follow, it certainly is the closest thing we have to real life Star Trek. It is fascinating. While it is something you should read carefully, the story of quantum partners Alice and Bob offers a good explanation. It is worth the read and mental wrestle.

Why String Theory is not Science

I was lucky enough to have Jearl Walker as my physics in college. He is currently the only active author on the best-selling college textbook on physics. I recall saying something to the effect of “all string theory has done is ruin a lot of careers”…

This article at Forbes does a good job at explaining why string theory falls short.

Remember Yutu?

I am a bit of a space buff. I do remember Yutu. It is the Chinese rover which, after 2 years, is still roving the Moon. While it hasn’t roved much due to system problems, it holds the record for the longest operational lunar rover. This rover still can explore the area nearby and has discovered a new type of Moon rock.

Processing Light

Relation between the refractive index and the ...
Relation between the refractive index and the density of silicate and borosilicate glasses. “Calculation of the Refractive Index of Glasses”. Statistical Calculation and Development of Glass Properties . . (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Almost all of us want faster computers. While quantum computers are one way to go. Another is to use something faster than electrons. How about photons? In our universe, nothing travels faster than light. Therefore, it is the fastest possible way to transport date.

Earlier this year, in one of my Lumpy’s Links posts, I mentioned a a CMOS chip that can process light.

In theory, the speed of light is constant. In practice, light seems to slow down as it passes through materials, water is one such substance. How much it seems to slow is determined by the material’s refractive index. In short, the wavelength of the light is “squished” by the material. The fact that light does not actually slow down is not relevant to this topic. What matters is that the speed of the data transfer would slow.

The closer a refractive index is to zero, the faster light seems to move through the material. Now we return to the not so warm and fuzzy physics. When a refractive index of zero is reached, light moves only across space and not time. In short, the light now appears to move infinitly fast. Scientists have created such a material.

A New Mesh for Cleaning Oil Spills

Despite the push for alternative energies, we are still heavily dependent on oil. Despite being careful, we still spill oil. Oil spills are extremely expensive to clean up. Engineers at Ohio State University have developed an oil repelant mesh can filter oil-poluted water for as low as one dollar per square foot.

Medical Tech Advances – Two New Bandages

Being a former medic, I understand the importance of bandages. The right bandage at the right time can be the difference between life and death.

Many of our current civilian life-saving techniques and devices were developed either on, via necessary improvisation, or for the battlefield. This is the case for my first bandage. It isn’t actually a bandage but it is certainly a lifesaver.

Gunshot and shrapnel wounds are, in most neighborhoods, uncommon in the civilian world. Unfortunately, they are common in combat zones. These types of wounds often cause massive blood loss and if not treated immediately are fatal. If the wound is in a location where a tourniquet can not be used, it must be “plugged”. Then dressings are applied over the wound, now packed with dressing. The dressings are applied over top each other as the blood saturates the dressing below. The reason the medic applies the dressings on top of each other is to monitor the amount of blood lost. This gives the surgeons information as to how much blood was lost.

A new type of syringe developed for battlefield first aid. This syringe has now been approved by the FDA for civilian use. The Xstat syringe injects sponges into the wound. Each injection absorbs the blood and plugs the wound within 20 seconds.

Another nifty development in bandages also surfaced in 2015. While special bandages infused with various medicines have been around for a while, this smart bandage for burns takes it to the next level. Check out the video below.

A Smart Bandage for Burns

While I dind’t completely clean out that folder, I put a good dent in the science tech items. Thanks for reading, feel free to comment and share. Finally I hope you all have an excellent 2016.

Awesome Moon Rise Video

Nothing much to say about this one, you just have to watch it.

Google Maps for Mars and the Moon

The waxing gibbous Moon as observed from Earth
The waxing gibbous Moon as observed from Earth (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Just In Case You Can’t Afford a Spaceship

I was digging through old posts and came across Google Mars which was new in 2006.  Bieng both a NASA and Google junkie, I think these two sites totally rawk. Nonetheless, both Mars and the Moon are still kewl and worth sharing. The Moon site even allows you to explore all the lunar landing sites in 3D.

Lunar Lion Update

Lunar Lion Project Still Has 90 Days and Could Use Your Help

This artist's rendering represents a concept o...
This artist’s rendering represents a concept of possible activities during future space exploration missions. It depicts a human tended lunar base. JSC2004-E-18833 (April 2004) (NASA) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Back in May I came across the Lunar Lion Project.  It is a crowd-funded project to have some college students put something on the Moon.  All in all, in my opinion, a very kewl project.

I think the goal of these student’s is not only ambitious but can serve as an inspiration for even younger students to attempt to do even greater things.  I am of the opinion that the various NASA projects not only gifted mankind with technological innovation but also filled universities with physics, engineering and other hard disciplined students. If America is going to continue to be a competitive nation, we need such students for it is obvious the future is in cutting edge technologies.

I checked in on the project yesterday and it seems they still have a long way to go.  So, please, if you can donate, do so.  If not, at least spread the word by posting and tweeting about the project.