Forces and their unification

There are four forces known that govern everything in this cosmos. Gravity, electromagnetic, strong and the weak force. We usually only feel the first two because the last two are responsible for activities at atomic level. Like the beautiful mass-energy equivalence given by Einstein, people believe that there should be a simple mathematical equation which can constitute all of these fundamental forces and that is how a unified theory can be achieved. However it has not been yet done. I have been quite amused by the symmetry that exists in many parts of nature. If I talk about mathematics, when I used to solve the maxima and minima problems, they usually occurred at symmetry. In physics, Newton’s third law is a beautiful example of how symmetry exists. This symmetry, this simplicity, has always been a thing of pondering for me. I also have this hope that no matter how complex one system is, it’s governing equations could be extremely simple.

Science is a beautiful subject. But sometimes, when it is expressed too scientifically, it becomes difficult to understand even for scientists themselves. Its language should be simple so that people could know it. Most of the fundamental ideas of science are essentially simple, and may, as a rule, be expressed in a language comprehensible to everyone. This quotation of Einstein completely explains it well. But if science is this beautiful, then there should be a unification of these forces, after all these independent entities are keeping this cosmos together. We may not get this unified theory so soon. It may or may not exists. But if it exists and if we are able to find it, that would be a much greater example of how this cosmos which looks so complex, is yet so simple.

My first astronomy observation

Yeah! So it was last month and our astro club had planned for a trip to a mountain called Wu Shan in Tainan. It was not just my university, there were around eight other Taiwanese universities including NTU and NCTU. This trip was meant to observe the night sky. Well, to be honest, this would be quite normal for the people who are active in the club but for a lad like me who had not opportunities enough to witness the night sky closely, it was once in a years opportunity (I am 21 so yeah,  saying once in 21 years won’t be unfair). Not to my surprise, I was the only Non-Chinese speaker among a group of around hundred astro enthusiasts. While we arrived the destination in noon, we had to set up our camps and tents for the night and had an introduction and some games to get us acquainted. It was followed with a Taiwanese style hot pot which I remember I ate too much.

Now it came to the main part, night. Everyone had set their telescopes pointing up towards the different parts of sky. There was a  lecture (of course in Chinese) about the various stars that we were going to observe that night (someone told me so). At around 10 or so, we started observing endlessly. First came the evening star, Venus. It was first to disappear as well. It moved all across the sky before fading out into the horizon. About Venus, it is bright enough to recognize in the evening. It is first of the few stars you can probably see around 7 and that is why it is called the evening star. After it, was the turn of giant Jupiter. We were not only asked to see it, we also had this chance to look at its moons. I could spot three of them around it. Honestly, all the planets look like our moon through telescopes. Difference being, when you turn your eyes on them, you can not really see them. But a telescope is powerful enough to resolve even its moons. Thanks to science! The most wonderful part of the night was the Saturn observation. Saturn looks incredibly beautiful! I have been seeing it in textbooks and yes, textbooks are right. Saturn ring makes it different from others. Because I did not know how to distinguish between constellations, I had to asked my mates to let me have some idea about the position of Saturn. I remember, I just kept looking at it for quite sometime before one of my friend started telling me something about other stars.

The bad part. I gave up quite early. I remember I went back to bed around 2.30 AM and many people made it till 4. After sometime, I was feeling kind of different (or separated) from the astro crowd. They were enjoying it their way and I was in my mood. My telescope was free but without the knowledge of where it was pointing at. I did not know much about starts anyway. It was a beautiful experience overall followed with Taiwanese food the next morning.

A disaster of Science

Nature is usually silent. It does not make much sound. If you listen to the birds chirping in the morning or the evening breeze echoing in your ears, it is pleasant. But is this silence, is this beauty a result of something beautiful? The answer would be NO. To establish this world we live in, Earth has struggled a lot. It has faced a tremendous series of changes in its ecosystem and more importantly, it has been patient enough to host the life it presently has.

But is this equilibrium forever? Of course not. Internal and external disturbances are unavoidable. Luckily, I have not seen any serious external disturbance so far like the dinosaurs saw in their time. But if I talk about internal disturbances in Earth, I must have heard(and felt) many. Earthquakes and thereby generated Tsunamis, floods, volcanic eruptions, cyclones etc. are some of the imperfections in our almost perfect world. These little imperfections are not so serious if I see it from Earth’s point of view considering all those massive collisions, impacts which Earth had in it’s past. But we humans are not as strong as our bearer, we are highly sensitive to these tiny disturbances. Mankind has suffered extremely in some of these situations.

Most recently, Nepal has been a victim of an internal disturbance in Earth’s tectonic plates. What we can do? Obviously nothing. These things are bound to happen. It looks like we have to pay a price every now and then for our habitat on Earth. This universe we live in, it looks so empty and silent. But at the time when it makes some noise, it makes others cry.

(Twenty) Six Degrees of Separation

We live in a big world, indeed a very big world. You can estimate it from the fact that the surface area of Earth is more than 5000000000 sq. km. (do not bother to count the zeros, I am telling you it’s huge) and there are not many people who travel it in their lifetimes. But we, earth-livings, are not really attentive towards the vastness of this universe. We hardly wonder about the extremities of sky while we look at it.

Last week, I was reading a book called “You are here” by Christopher Potter where I found about the classification of this extreme vastness. All the things of this universe can be put into twenty six levels or degrees.

The first degree is from 1 meter to 10 meter i.e up to 10 raise to the power one.  All the humans, many animals (not all) falls in this range. Robert Wadlow was the tallest human (2.72m) in our history. These are the things that we can see when we are near to them and can not be observed as we go far away.

The second degree is from 10 meter to 100 meter i.e 10 raise to the power two. This range includes large animals such as the dinosaurs of whose fossils give us the estimation of their lengths.

Similarly, the third degree covers human things up to skyscrapers. Burj is about 818 meters which is currently the tallest one.

The fourth degree extends up to 10km, Mt. Everest is an example within this range.

Higher levels include orbits of satellites. Hubble telescope orbits at around 600km (Sixth degree). High orbit Earth satellites orbit in the Eighth degree while the natural satellite of Earth, Moon, orbits in Ninth degree.

After the satellites, comes the planets, Venus at it’s closest is in Eleventh degree. And after the planets, our mighty sun can be considered which is at the average distance which falls into Twelfth degree of separation.

This is the criterion that is further extended to estimate the measure of bigger things than sun, such as galaxies and galaxy clusters.

P. S. Six degree of separation is a theory/play that any two persons can be connected to each other with a maximum of up to six interconnections. This is a personal separation space while I talked about what I probably can call cosmic separation.

Scientheist

Lately, I have been thinking a lot about the concept of god and reading and watching many things about science. According to what I perceive, almost all the facts about this world can be explained by science. Be it the natural calamities or the beginning of this universe, everything can be explained logically. While god on the other hand, is a belief and faith of many people. The words I am yet to say are my point of view and in no way, I mean to impose anything on anyone. My concept of god is a bit strange from usual. I do not believe now that any materialistic god exists because I have not seen it, I have not known anyone who has been to heaven or hell and more importantly, I have not felt it.

What I believe in is an inner power within ourselves, may be that is something which I can term as god in my perspective. Generally we bow our heads before god to ask for something. In a similar way, we can ask our inner being to give us the strength and the motivation to claim our targets.

Scientheist is just a term for scientific atheist. I believe in science and logic. I can not blindly believe in something which I can not prove. We are just tiny creatures, lucky enough to get lives within us. We are made from same stuff as that of a star, and when a star can die, why can not we? What is so special about us that we will get a life again? When a universe possibly can be given birth from a big bang i.e nothing, why can’t our life just come to an end, again nothing? I believe that there is no god behind our existence and it just a mere coincidence that life flowered here on Earth. As long as the conditions on Earth are good enough for us to survive, our race will do so. And when the time has to come, it will come, like it did for the mighty dinosaurs. 

New year, is it?

January has come again and we are calling it a new year. But is it really a new year? Things around us have been more or less the same: same sky (obviously a little more polluted than the last January), air, water, sun, moon and even people. If we see it from here, things around us certainly do not point to something which makes this year new.

Now, let us see our Earth from outer space. Just after Earth completes one revolution around the sun i.e. one year, it does not follow the same orbit and it tends to shift it’s starting point and takes up a different elliptical plane to orbit around the sun. Perhaps, happy new orbit is technically more correct but calling it a new year is more human and convincing in the world we live in.

Be it a new year or a new orbit, let us make good moments out of it to cherish in our lifetime.

Mysterious Tunguska Bang

We have known that at some time, dinosaurs had existed on Earth but after a terrible asteroid impact, their species became extinct and it never happened to rise again. In the history of humanity on Earth, we have not been in a protective cosmos either. Though the outer universe appears to be extremely dark and silent, but this darkness and silence comes back on to us in a way more horrific that we can not think of.

One such event goes back more than a hundred years ago when in the emptiness of silent region near Siberia, called as “Tunguska” there was a mysterious BANG. A sky full of fire, a noise louder than the continuous gun fires and the energy thousands times than that of nuclear bomb which devastated Hiroshima. It was a pleasant morning of 30th June 1908 which turned out to be dreadful for the generations yet to come in Tunguska. Had this been happened some time later, possibly some populated city of Russia or Europe would be now buried in History. This event burned the forests of some 2000 square kilometers in a time of a flash.

If I assume that this had been happened by a comet or a meteorite then it is probable. These meteorites leave some debris in their orbit when they evaporate and are broken up. When their orbit and Earth’s orbit happen to intersect, events like this could happen if the debris is big enough to survive the friction in the Earth’s atmosphere.

Surprisingly even in the ordered cosmos, these point-scaled chaos can cause so much destruction to the tiny human race. We are preparing ourselves for the calamities happening to us produced by Earth. But, have we even considered  the foreign disasters that could wipe our entire race away in a blink of eye?