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I found this video and thought it did a better job at explaining a lot of intro to quantum stuff (orbitals and spin and what-not), so I want to save it and share it. It's a bit dated (the truth and beauty quarks weren't found when it was made), but it has good physics. Enjoy!

The Known Universe

I don't believe I've passed on this video to y'all yet. It was put together by the American Museum of Natural History through a program that was developed at the Hayden Planetarium calling the Digital Universe Atlas. You can download and play with the atlas here. It maps out all of the known galaxies in our universe.

The AMNH teamed up with some artists and used this atlas to create this awesome video:

Trip to e.214

Dear Livejournal,

Have I told you about hd-fractals.com yet? Because seriously, you should know about them. Below is a zooming in on the Mandelbrot set (which is just the equation z=z^2+C where z=x+i*y solved at every point in the real/imaginary plane. Blackness is when the equation goes to zero, color indicates how quickly that point is going towards infinity). If the starting image were the size of a proton and I zoomed into it until the proton appeared to be the size of the universe, that would be a magnification of ~e.42. This is the Mandelbrot set magnified to e.214.

I recommend hitting the mute button on the video and listening to your favorite classical music while diving into visual mathematics.


Brilliant Noise

Below is a compilation of videos taken from satellites of our sun. The video is converted to sound, which is what the soundtrack for the video is (similar to Seeing with Sound). More information on the video can be found here. Enjoy!


I love walking around outside during the day. I smell the flowers and watch the leaves that are growing. Leaves are incredibly fascinating. The recurrent substructures that make them up fit into amazing mathematical models. Hyperbolic geometry surrounds me as I walk down the block. Self-similar fractals on every plant, symmetry laden in all the birds, the insects, the people. Tiny strands of gooey proteins fold together into deoxyribonucleic acid and deliver instructions 3.8 billion years in the making to every single cell I encounter, every single one of the billions of cells that makes me up.

My body communicates with itself using electrochemical signals that my brain interprets as the smell of the winter air or the touch of my love's hand. There is so much happening all around us, all the time.

Gravity from the entire Earth is pulling down on me, holding me onto my bed while the electrons in the outter most layer of the atoms that make me up are repelling against those on the surface of the bed to stop me from falling through the mostly empty space that makes up everything. Those atoms are configured in ways that when touched send a cascade of information chemically through my fingers, passing through the never cluster in my armpit, picked up by my spinal cord and sent to various portions of my brain and is sorted to find if the sensation of 'soft' belongs in the reptilian core of my brain or if it is to spark memories in my hypocampus or send me thinking in ways I never have before in my neocortex.

The material in the bed comes together to have the emergent phenomena of spring constants that I can compress or depress by where I command the ecosystem of my body to move.

Cars pass by outside and I can hear the pitch change as they pass, the same basic phenomena that was used to determine that distant galaxies are moving away from us and led to the idea of an expanding universe.

Little crisps of carbon are being continually heated and mixing with paraffin molecules and oxygen to give off both photons in a spectral range greater than I can see and that causes the particles of the atmosphere to speed up their collisions into one another which then diffuse their new kinetic energy around my room to make it warmer.

There is so much going on around us all the time.

The introduction begins like this:

"Space," it says, "is big. Really big. You just won't believe how vastly hugely mind-bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the road to the chemist, but that's just peanuts to space."
-The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Chapter 8

There was a time where all of this, the building you're in, the city you call home, the planet we walk on, the mountains of the Himalayas, the moon, the sun, Jupiter, Pluto, the North Star, the Andromeda galaxy, every swirling collection composed each of billions of stars in that picture above, All of Everything was much smaller. Smaller than a baseball, smaller than the tip of a needle, smaller than a piece of dust you see floating in the morning light, smaller than the cells that make up your finger, smaller than a single link on the chain of DNA, smaller than a single atom.

All of Everything was once small enough to hold in what has evolved over 13.7 billion years to become your hand.

Now, this time didn't last very long. The Universe remained this tiny for about 10-32 seconds at which point it began to rapidly grow in an era that cosmologists call "inflation." To put this number in comparison, the average length of a human blink is on the order of 10-4 seconds. The amount of time the Universe was tiny was 0.00000000000000000000000000000001 second.

The Universe is still expanding today although it's nowhere near the expansion that happened during this inflation period. It was during this inflation that we got a huge portion of the space that we think of when we look into the sky.

We wouldn't have survived in this early Universe, though. At this point in time all that existed and filled All of Everything was an extremely hot plasma made of the most basic of elementary particles. As things began to cool down this plasma began turning into things that we are more familiar with: electrons, protons, and neutrons. It also turned into the antimatter partners of these particles: positrons, anti-protons, and anti-neutrons.

The vast majority of this mix of matter and antimatter destroyed itself, as happens when any type of matter meets its antimatter partner. This sent off a huge burst of light as Most of Everything annihilated itself. The burst of light was so massive that we can still make it out today, although it is not in the visible range. Turn on a radio to a frequency where there is not station. That static you hear is called the Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation. It's a remnant of an explosion that happened 13.7 billion years ago. It has been mapped recently by scientists and continues to be to ever greater resolution. You may have seen the image circulating and not have known what it was.

The Universe then began to cool and hydrogen atoms began to form. A hydrogen atom is made up of a proton in the center with an electron orbiting around it. Different types of hydrogen that are chemically the same are called isotopes, we get them by adding neutrons onto the proton in the middle. At this point there were no stars, no galaxies, just a bunch of space filled with the same material that we used to put in blimps. This time is called the Dark Ages.

Eventually these hydrogen atoms began getting closer together because of the force of gravity. Slowly they would coalesce into great disks of rotating gas. When enough hydrogen pulled together gravity acted on it so strongly that it could actually make two individual atoms of hydrogen (or, more specifically, the nuclei of two hydrogen atoms) fuse together to become an atom of helium. The huge amount of energy released during this nuclear fusion ignited the first stars.

Many of these stars were very large and burned through their hydrogen fuel extremely quickly and as such had short lives of less than a million years. When these stars would run out of hydrogen fuel they would be made up of helium, as that's what they had spent the million years producing. This helium would then come crashing inwards under the force of gravity and fuse into heavier elements. This would lead to lithium, oxygen, carbon, nitrogen, all the way up to uranium. The material of the stars was pulled inward and then bounced off of the heavier core of the star in massive explosions we call novae and supernovae and spew what used to be their material outwards into the heavens. These explosions happened again and again and filled our universe with much more, albeit in much smaller quantities, than hydrogen.

Eventually smaller stars with much longer life spans came into existence. Our own sun ignited about 5 billion years ago and it will be another 5 billion years before it dies out. A swirling mass of hydrogen gas mixed with the heavier atoms created during the death throes of massive stars eventually found its way to our little corner of the Universe and as gravity pulled these pieces together our sun and planets began to form.

One particular planet which gathered much rock and water and happened to be just far enough away from the sun so that the water didn't evaporate and not so far that it all froze managed to collect enough material to create an atmosphere on it of nitrogen, oxygen, carbon, and hydrogen left over from the destruction of ancient stars.

On this small, blue, wet planet, life began to form. In the oceans conditions were right for proteins to fold together in a way that created the building blocks of life. DNA formed and developed protective cell walls, these cells began working together and created larger organisms that adapted to each of their unique environments and changing to meet new ones. Over the course of millennia this lead to strange upright mammals whose brains were wired in such a way as to be able to look into the night sky and think about all that must be out there and ask questions as to where it all came from.

Happy Mountain Day!!

That is all.

Clear Skies!

Finally! Last night the skies were wonderfully clear and I was able to try out my new camera mount. It worked pretty well, as you can see here.Collapse )
Have you ever seen the Powers of Ten video? It's a bit dated at this point (since we can see billions of lightyears out as well as interact with individual quarks and even bits of matter that pop in and out of existence all of the time), but is still accurate for where it goes.

I've heard it said that at the sizes of things we're dealing with, a god being able to care about us would be similar to us being able to care about a single atom in our body.

Powers of TenCollapse )

Also, if you think these are neat and haven't looked at my other blog Glimpsing the Future recently, there's been some good stuff over there I've been linking to (although it's more about robotics, biology, medicine, augmented reality, and where I see technology taking us than size of the universe type things)