Tag Archives: physics

Kittens Play With Newton’s Cradle

Most kitten videos portray the same scene over and over. A bunch of baby cats playing. It’s cute, but Internet viewers of 2012 want more. And adorable kitten channel Funny Cats And Nice Fish is ready to deliver. 

In their new video ‘Kittens Learn Physics‘ that already has over 60,000 views, they gave their cute kittens a Newton’s Cradle to play with.

It’s terribly interesting how it seems the kitties  kinda get it. The video just went viral this week, and is now covered on sites like BuzzFeed, io9, TastefullyO, and TheFW


Read more: http://www.viralviralvideos.com/2012/10/18/kittnes-play-with-newtons-cradle/

Upside Down Cat Flips Over To Always Land On Its Feet Explained In Super Slow Motion

Everyone knows that cats always land on their feet when they fall, but how do they do that? The phenomenon perplexed the nerdy cat owner who runs Smarter Every Day, so he set up his high speed camera and began testing with his kitty, dropping his pet upside down. 

The physics behind the phenomenon of cats always landing on their feet is even more amazing once you begin to understand the science behind it.

The nerdy cat video (which is just a perfect recipe for the Internet) has naturally gone viral, amassing over 125,000 hits in just two days. It is already featured on the coveted YouTubeTrends


Read more: http://www.viralviralvideos.com/2012/08/10/cat-flipping-over-to-land-on-its-feet-in-super-slow-motion/

10 Greatest Unsolved Mysteries In Physics

It can seem like an uphill challenge to try to understand the universe around us. We have found many answers to the mysteries in our world: how planets orbit the Sun, why an apple falls from a branch to the ground, and why the sky appearsblue. The quest to uncover all ofthe secrets of the universe is guaranteed to be filled with difficult challenges, unimaginable problems and a mountain of ingenuity neededto overcome them.

Many physicists have already wrestled with the riddles of existence, but there are many more conundrums to solve. Get ready for the ten greatest unsolved mysteries of physics… the enigmas that have evaded the most eminent mindsthe world has ever known.

Dark energy

We can’t see it andwe can’t feel it, but we can test for it, and nobody knows what it is. In spite of this, scientists think that dark energy makes up around 70% of the universe. It was imagined to explain why galaxies don’t just drift apart but instead accelerate away from each other. You can think of it as a repulsive gravity that pushes matter apart. How it works, however, is still a mystery.

Dark matter

The other “dark” substance in our universe. Dark matter, like dark energy, cannot be seen or felt. This elusive substance has some differences to dark energy though; the only way that we have observed it is indirectly. We know that there must be more matter in the universe than we can see becausewe can measure its gravitational effects, but no one knows exactly what makes up this mysterious stuff.

It’s a wave… it’s a particle!

Rays of light have a split personality. They create interference patterns that are typical of waves. They reflect offsurfaces, suggesting that they could be a wave or a particle, or both at the same time. They can also be used to liberate electrons from their shells: something that indicates that they are particles. But how does light determine whether it acts as a particle or a wave?

Time, the onwardmarch

We only get older, not younger. Trees only get taller; they don’t return to acorns. Our Sun only ever uses up its fuel, never returning to a coolball of hydrogen gas. Time only goes in one direction…but why is it impossible for us to reverse the clocks?

We are living in a hologram

This one boggles the mind. The universe, everything we see and feel and experience, may actually have two spatial dimensions. Think of a 2D hologram, like the one on the back of a credit card: it can have all of the information of a 3D image but in only two dimensions. Some scientists have postulated that our universe is like the hologram on your credit cards: space seems like it has three dimensions, but it may turn out that all we are seeing is a projection from a 2D universe outside of our perception.

Matter and antimatter

There is a definite discrepancy between the ratios of these two substances. There was supposed to be an equal amount of ordinary matter and antimatter particles with the same mass but opposite chargein the early universe, but now the universe is overwhelmed with regular matter. Many theories have been thrown around, for examplethat particle genesis favored one way of creating matter, but nothing conclusive has popped up. The mystery of how matter “won” over antimatter may be revealed in the newly-upgradedLarge Hadron Colliderat CERN.

The lifetime of the universe

This mystery,the endof the universe,might not keep you up at night, but it will certainly be of concern to beings alive far into the future.This epiceventispredicted to occur inabout 10 billion years. Two opposing theories are the Big Crunch and the Big Rip. Neither of these outcomes sound terribly fun. The big crunch is the opposite of the Big Bang all of the pieces of matter in the universe will stop accelerating away from each other and start accelerating towardeach other. A boiling collision of all ofthe matter in the universe ensues (and mankind is unlikely to survive that). The Big Rip is where all of the pieces of matter in the universe continue to accelerate away from each other, faster and faster until eventually space-time moves so fast that it rips atoms apart(mankind is also unlikely to survive that one).

These two possibilities aren’t the only possible outcomes for the universe sadly it seems unlikely that our generation will ever know its fate.

Why can’t we imagine four dimensions?

We little humans struggle to envision a world with four spatial dimensions. Some theories (such as string theory) need as many as eleven dimensions to be hypothetically possible. If string theory turned out to be correct, we’d have to figure out how there are sixmissing dimensions tangled up in our reality. I can feel a headache coming on…

Why does light have a universal speed limit?

c, the speed of light constant, is valued at 3×108meters persecond. But whythis figureand not, for example,4×1020m/s?Is it a random digit pulled out of a bag of numbers when a new universe explodes into existance? It’s currently impossible to know why the speed of light is the speed that it is… all we know is that our universe couldn’t exist without this limit.

Unifying the big and the small

Everything big, like stars and black holes, is made up of small things: particles. Einstein’s laws of relativity govern the very big, while quantum mechanics is king in the realm of the very small. But physicists can’t seem to jam the two theories together. The trouble is that gravity just doesn’t appear to work on the nanoscopic scale. And bizarrequantum effects, like quantum tunneling (whereby an atom can “tunnel” through an otherwise impenetrable boundary), can’t be applied to planets or stars. Your eyes would likely pop if the Moon suddenly “tunneled” through the Earth. It seems barmy that there would be one theory for everything big and another for everything small. Some scientists are trying to tackle this problem, and even making headway, but the missing link is still incredibly elusive.

Read more: http://www.iflscience.com/physics/greatest-mysteries-physics

Quantum Computer Makes Finding New Physics More Difficult

Physicists often work unusual hours. You will find them running experiments at 4am and 10pm. This is because, so long as the pertinent conditions inside a lab – such as temperature or light level – are fixed, the outcome of an experiment should not depend on location of the lab in space or time.

This property of the world to behave according to the same laws of physics everywhere is called Lorentz covariance, after the Dutch Nobel-Prize winner Hendrik Lorentz. All existing evidence suggests that the world is naturally Lorentz covariant.

Even a small violation of this property would be shocking. In particular, it would imply the existence of a “preferred frame”: by travelling at an appropriate velocity, in just the right part of the universe, an observer would perceive physics to be significantly simpler than it is from all other points of view. Such a violation would break the standard model, our best description of the behaviour of light and matter.

Disappearing Aether

Historically Lorentz covariance has not always been accepted. In the late 19th century, many scientists supported the idea of an aether, a homogeneous material permeating the universe, relative to which all light moves. As the Earth travels through the aether, light travelling in the same direction as the Earth should appear to move slowly, while light travelling in the opposite direction should appear to zoom past – like an express train on the other side of the tracks. In 1887, this idea was soundly rebuffed by an experiment by Michelson and Morley, who showed that the speed of light is constant, regardless of the orientation or motion of the lab.

Since the Michelson-Morley experiment, Lorentz covariance has been tested in a wide variety of experiments, to increasingly high precision. Even a very tiny asymmetry would break our models and so these new experiments can only ever increase our confidence in a Lorentz-covariant world: it remains conceivable that a violation will one day be detected. Some modern quantum field theories flaunt the rules. Searching for experimental violations has the appeal of a lottery – with very small probability, you could discover fundamentally new physics.

If new physics is waiting to be found, it just lost a big hiding place. New results, published today in Nature, dramatically improve the precision with which Lorentz covariance can be tested. The research was performed by the research group of Hartmut Häffner at the University of California at Berkeley.

Quantum Computers To The Rescue

Häffner’s day job is quantum computing. Using electrons associated with single atoms (ions) of calcium, suspended in an electric trap at extremely low temperatures, Häffner and his team can create qubits.

Qubits are the quantum-mechanical analogue of classical bits – the 0s and 1s that run our classical computers. But they are unlike classical bits and more like Schrodinger’s cat, because they can be “dead” and “alive” at the same time, which is to say they can be in two different states at once.

The world at the scale of an electron works very differently than the one we live in. But suspending our beliefs of the world of big things has plenty of benefits. Quantum computing has the promise of very powerful applications, including efficient code-breaking and fast simulation of chemical reactions. It has driven massive development of quantum computing hardware, drawing interest from Google, Microsoft and the UK government.

Häffner realised that this new fancy hardware could be used for experiments unrelated to quantum computing. It occurred to him that two entangled qubits could serve as sensitive detectors of slight disturbances in space.

“I wanted to do the experiment because I thought it was elegant and that it would be a cool thing to apply our quantum computers to a completely different field of physics,” he said. “But I didn’t think we would be competitive with experiments being performed by people working in this field. That was completely out of the blue.”

Häffner and his team conducted an experiment analogous to the Michelson-Morley experiment, but with electrons instead of photons of light. In a vacuum chamber, he and his colleagues isolated two calcium ions, partially entangled them as in a quantum computer, and then monitored the electron energies in the ions over a period of 24 hours.

If space were squeezed in one or more directions – if the world is not Lorentz-covariant – then the orientation of the lab would make a difference to the energy of the electrons. This would give rise to a noticeable oscillating signal over a 12-hour period, as the earth rotates. It didn’t, showing that space is uniform in all directions, and doesn’t change shape for any reason. Häffner’s experiment achieved a precision of one part in a billion-billion, 100 times better than previous experiments involving electrons, and five times better than optical tests such as the Michelson-Morley experiment.

Häffner now hopes to make more sensitive quantum computer detectors using other ions, such as ytterbium, to gain another 10,000-fold increase in the precision measurement of Lorentz symmetry. He is also exploring with colleagues future experiments to detect the spatial distortions caused by the effects of dark matter particles, which are a complete mystery despite comprising 27% of the mass of the universe.

“For the first time we have used tools from quantum information to perform a test of fundamental symmetries, that is, we engineered a quantum state which is immune to the prevalent noise but sensitive to the Lorentz-violating effects,” Häffner said. “We were surprised the experiment just worked and now we have a fantastic new method at hand which can be used to make very precise measurements of perturbations of space.”

The Conversation

Read more: http://www.iflscience.com/physics/quantum-computer-makes-finding-new-physics-more-difficult

Quantum Physics’ Schrödinger’s Cat Explained

Most people don’t even know what Quantum Physics is, let alone understand the complex science. To help open your minds, this kitty video explains one of the world’s greatest mysteries, Schrödinger’s Cat. The video is featured on NewScientist, Neatorama, and LaughingSquid


Read more: http://www.viralviralvideos.com/2011/09/28/quantum-physics-schrodingers-cat-explained/