Just what you wanted on a Friday night – a physics lesson! Whether you love or hate physics may have depended on your teacher. Don’t worry, you don’t need to read every word, you could just scroll through to the lovely pictures if you prefer. For those who want to look over this, I have tried to make sure the key points are in bold type.
I am no expert, but my pea-brain is wired mathematically – lock in me in a room for several hours with a pen and paper and you will probably find I have filled the paper with as much of the Fibonacci Sequence as space would allow rather than a story. So I find that my mind laps up physics and maths…and I often find myself staggered by the order, the genius, the laws that have been there far far before humans began looking up at the stars.
Goodness, I’m typing with a terrific thunderstorm erupting outside – it’s breathtaking.
Photo credit ParentRap @ pixabay.com
In 1905, Albert Einstein published a paper that was considered to be a mathematical footnote to his special theory of relativity. It contained the formula now synonymous with his work:
This famous equation tells us that the amount of energy released when an atom is split equals the loss of its mass times the speed of light squared. Easy yeah?
c2 times speed of light squared
c2 means c times c, or 186,282 miles per second times 186,282 miles per second
Because c2 is an enormously large number (34,701,000,000 mi2/sec2), a small amount of mass can be converted into an enormous amount of energy. When an atom of uranium is split, it quickly forms two smaller atoms but also loses about 0.1 % of its mass; that tiny amount converts into a vast release of energy.
Is it only uranium that we may associate with nuclear energy that this applies to? Well the principle is the same with all matter or substances. Here are some interesting ways of explaining what it would mean if it was easy for us wee humans to extract and harness the energy from any substance around us other than by setting it on fire:
Just 450 g of any substance completely converted into energy equals:
- 11 billion kilowatt hours
- the power needed to drive a car around the earth 180,000 times
- the power required to propel the largest oil tanker around the world 400 times
- the electric power needs of the United States for one day
The reverse is also true. It takes a tremendous amount of energy to “materialize” just one atom. But this is basically what happens in a cyclotron – a type of particle accelerator. Matter is produced by colliding particles at high energy. The resulting mass of all particles produced in the collision is greater than the two particles that collided. In other words, matter has been created. That is why enormous energies are required in the cyclotrons. Think about that: an enormous amount of energy is needed to make a tiny amount of matter.
Modern science is aware that matter can be changed into energy and energy into matter. Our sun provides an example of matter being converted into energy. Every single second, the sun converts about four million tons of matter into sunlight and other forms of radiant energy. The small fraction of that energy that reaches us is sufficient to sustain life on the earth. It is quite simply mind-boggling to contemplate the tremendous power and energy that were required to create not just the sun but also all the other billions of stars.
I love this verse penned three thousand years ago, long before Albert Einstein was born.
“Lift up your eyes to heaven and see.
Who has created these things?…
…Because of his vast dynamic energy and his awe-inspiring power
As I mentioned in a previous post…not all see the physical and scientific information in front of them in the same way. It is not my place to belittle anyone else’s views. There is no way I would mock anyone for their sincere beliefs. However, it is not at all difficult to understand why so many billions give glory to a Creator.
Through my eyes, I see abundant reasons to ascribe glory to an intelligent mind, a wonderful, purposeful, incredible mind behind the existence of the material universe. As someone who loves science I find it hard to understand why some are dogmatic and close-minded in their view that it was all one big accident. Mathematically that is more than preposterous.
When I look up at the stars…aah! My oh my, it’s really hard to find the words. I’m in tears. I can’t explain the surge of love and wonder and utter esteem and admiration…it fills me with energy to live my life (forgetting anything that has hurt me) convinced this power will be used to put all matters right. It’s an astonishing thought, but there have been times when I felt so alone due to the challenges I was facing, that it was only because of Him I found the fight to keep breathing. I remember it that night in the park. I remember seeing stars above me and not knowing what was happening…but sensing an urgent order that I had to keep breathing.
Now, if you think any of the physics above was complicated, then check out this helpful explanation below of what goes on inside one of these cyclotrons. Of course if you watch Star trek regularly you probably understand all of this:
For even the most basic inquiries into the dynamics and structure of matter, space, and time, physicists seek the simplest kinds of interactions at the highest possible energies.
These generally involve particle energies of many GeV, and the interactions of the simplest kinds of particles: leptons (electrons and positrons) and quarks for the matter, or photons and gluons for the field quanta. (Since isolated quarks are experimentally unavailable due to colour confinement, the simplest available experiments involve the interactions of, first, leptons with each other, and second, of leptons with nucleons, which are composed of quarks and gluons.)
To study the collisions of quarks with each other, scientists collide nucleons, which at high energy may be usefully considered as essentially two-body interactions of the quarks and gluons of which they are composed. Elementary particle physicists tend to use machines creating beams of electrons, positrons, protons, and antiprotons, interacting with each other or with the simplest nuclei (hydrogen or deuterium) at the highest possible energies, generally hundreds of GeV or more.
Have a wonderful weekend…I am heading out to dance in the rain with my friends!