An exotic new state of matter – Transparent aluminium. 

Yup, you heard it right! And No! this is not a star trek reference

Oxford scientists in 2009 bombarded aluminium with the most powerful soft X-ray laser. They focused all this power down into a spot with a diameter less than a twentieth of the width of a human hair. At such high intensities, aluminium turned transparent.

The invisible effect lasted for only an extremely brief period of time- an estimated 40 femto-seconds. But hey! The existence of such an exotic state of matter per se, opens up new frontiers for pristine research and technology. As Albert Einstein rightly said:

The process of a scientific discovery is, in effect, a continual flight from wonder.

Types of Damping

Damping is an influence within or upon an oscillatory system that has the effect of reducing, restricting or preventing its oscillations.

There are 4 types of damping:(in the order of the animations shown)

1. Under Damped System.

The system oscillates (at reduced frequency compared to the undamped case) with the amplitude gradually decreasing to zero.

2. Critically Damped System.

The system returns to equilibrium as quickly as possible without oscillating.

3. Over Damped System.

The system returns to equilibrium without oscillating.

4. Un-Damped System.

The system oscillates at its natural resonant frequency

( Sources: xmdemo, timewarp,wikipedia)

ISS is the third brightest object in the night sky!

It often comes as a surprise to people when i tell them that the space station can be seen with the naked eye! Flying at 400 km above your head, the ISS looks like a really fast moving airplane in the sky.

The ISS isn’t brighter than the day sky and hence cannot be seen during the day. But in the night, it’s the third brightest object in the sky! It reflects the sunlight off the solar panels on its surface.

Spot the station!

If you would like to see the ISS for yourself, NASA ‘s Spot the station! is at your disposal. Register with your email address/mobile number and every time the ISS passes by your town/city, you will get a notification with the time, duration and inclination.

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Have fun!

(Extras: There are mobile phone apps which you could use too, like the ISS detector satellite detector for android. At the end of the day all that matters is what is convenient to you.

ISS tracker– Real time tracking of the ISS)

Celestial Wonders- Binary Stars.

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The twins of the stellar world are binary star systems.A binary star is a star system consisting of two stars orbiting around their common center of mass.When two stars appear close together in the sky, the situation is known as an “optical double”. This means that although the stars are aligned along the same line of sight, they may be at completely different distances from us. This occurs in constellations; however, two stars in the same constellation can also be part of a binary system.

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Artist’s impression of the sight from a (hypothetical) moon of planet HD 188753 Ab (upper left), which orbits a triple star system( yes, a Triple Star system!). The brightest companion is just below the horizon.

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Binary star systems are very important in astrophysics because calculations of their orbits allow the masses of their component stars to be directly determined, which in turn allows other stellar parameters, such as radius and density, to be indirectly estimated. This also determines an empirical mass-luminosity relationship (MLR) from which the masses of single stars can be estimated.

It is estimated that approximately 1/3 of the star systems in the Milky Way are binary or multiple, with the remaining 2/3 consisting of single stars.

The Brightest star in the sky is a binary.

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This is true. When it was discovered in 1844 by the German astronomer Bessel, the system was classed as an astrometric binary, because the companion star, Sirius B, was too faint to be seen. Bessel, who was also a mathematician, determined by calculations that Sirius B existed after observing that the proper of Sirius A (the main star) followed a wavy path in the sky, rather than a uniform path. Sirius can now be studied as a visual binary because, with improving technology and therefore improved telescopes, Sirius B was able to be seen, although not for 20 years after Bessel had correctly predicted its existence.

Black Holes in a binary System ?

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The term “binary system” is not used exclusively for star systems, but also for planets, asteroids, and galaxies which rotate around a common center of gravity. However, this is not a trick question; even in star binaries, the companion can be a black hole. An example of this is Cygnus X-1.

The universe is pretty amazing huh?…

Baffling Polymer Balls Behavior

I was fascinated by the polymer balls so i went to the shop to treat myself with one. As i was exploring these balls, this bizarre behavior caught my eye.When you immerse these colored polymer balls in water, they seem as if they are 2-d objects although they are spheres! Crazy right?

If you liked this and want to read more about polymer balls and the physics that underlies it, do check out:

Physics of invisibility.

Why is glass transparent?

Have a great weekend!

The Miura Fold

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The Miura fold is a method of folding a flat surface such as a sheet of paper into a smaller area. The fold is named for its inventor, Japanese astrophysicist Koryo Miura.

Why it is awesome?

The Miura fold is a form of rigid origami, meaning that the fold can be carried out by a continuous motion in which, at each step, each parallelogram is completely flat.

This property allows it to be used to fold surfaces made of rigid materials; for instance, it has been used to simulate large solar panel arrays for space satellites in the Japanese space program.

The fold can also be unpacked in just one motion by pulling on opposite ends of the folded material, and likewise folded again by pushing the two ends back together.

In the application to solar arrays, this property reduces the number of motors required to unfold this shape, reducing the overall weight and complexity of the mechanism.

Other cool stuff.

Miura folded maps. Snug it into your pocket when not in need and open it up in style when you are lost !

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(Source : http://www.bun-sho-do.co.jp/english/nextg/miura-fold/ , wikipedia )

Which would fall first in vacuum: A feather or a ball?

If you take a feather and a ball, and drop them simultaneously from your hand or from the top of a building what would you observe? Obviously the ball drops faster than the feather. But why?

Air resistance is the result of air molecules bombarding onto the object as it moves through the layer of air. The feather offers more air resistance and hence it falls slower.

Now you can up the ante and ask what if you remove the air resistance?

If you remove all the air molecules from the air,you would just get vacuum, a space devoid of any matter. With no molecules to bombard the object,

The feather and the ball would fall at the same rate as you can see in the animation. The demonstration was carried in the world’s biggest vacuum chamber.

( Extra: The same demonstration, but this time done on the moon :

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Source video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E43-CfukEgs

Have a good day!

Physics of the ballpoint pen

People often brag about Large Hadron Collider as having one of the most sophisticated Technology in the world. True, but even if you are living in France, it’s still inaccessible! I believe that accessibility is the true trait of technology.

Look around the place that you are sitting in. Do you see a Ball Point pen lying around in the vicinity? Chances are that it is, are really high. Today on FYP, we will unravel the modest physics that governs it.

The physics.

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Behold the ball in a ball point pen!.

To write you glide your pen onto the paper right? So what you are doing is rolling the ball that is present on the pen’s tip.

The ink flows continuously under the influence of gravity from the ink reservoir to the ball.

The ball rolls and the ink gets transferred onto the paper.

How does the ink stay inside the pen?

Put a drinking straw into a glass of water (or any liquid) and then put your finger over the top end of the straw so it’s air tight. You can now lift the straw out and the liquid will not fall out of the straw!

Now switch characters and imagine the liquid to be the ink and the straw to be the ink reservoir and voila!

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Fun Fact.

Rollerball pen and Ballpoint pens work on the same principle. They differ in the type of ink used. While Ballpoint pens have a thicker oil based ink, the rollerball uses a liquid ink, thus giving its fluidity.

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(Sources : http://home.howstuffworks.com/pen3.htm )

Can dominos knock down the empire state building ?

Chain Reaction.

Everyone knows that a line of standing dominos creates a fun chain reaction when you knock the first one over; but did you know you can use increasingly larger dominos and get the same result?

The setup.

Professor Stephen Morris knocks over a 1-meter tall domino that weighs over 100 pounds by starting with a 5mm high by 1mm thick domino.He uses a size ratio of 1.5, meaning each domino is one and a half times larger than the last one. This is the generally accepted maximum ratio that dominos can have to successfully knock each other over.

Hans Van Leeuwen of Leiden University in the Netherlands, published a paper online showing that, theoretically, you could have a size ratio of up to two. But that’s in an ideal (and probably unrealistic) situation.

Fun fact.

There are 13 dominoes in this sequence. If Professor Morris used 29 dominoes in total, with the next one always being 1.5x larger, the last domino would be the height of the Empire State Building.

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Source: Physics Buzz.