Hello class my name is Jonathan Montgomery, I wanna talk a little about physics in game design. As an aspiring Game Designer you might ask your self, “I make video games, these games are not based in real life, why would I need to know physics?” Well lets take a closer look at video games. I will use Skyrim (My favorite game) for example.

Image found at: ( http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=221572497 )

For those of you who played Skyrim, I must ask you, without physics how might a dragon act in the game? Well you could have dragons who fly backwards, or dragons who just fall out of the sky. How would landing look? Would the dragon just abruptly drop to the floor? There are so many small things within Skyrim that require physics. One physics feature I found amazing in the game was a dragon’s crash landing. If a dragon was flying and took too much damage it would come crashing into the ground.

Watch this video:

Dragon Crashes Into The Ground:

( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4W4NKz-cs-U)

(28 Sec. long, not the best video but its short.)

In this video you can see some of the beauty of physics in action. Notice when the dragon crashes into the floor rocks and dust go flying everywhere as well as the ground rumbles from the amount of force exerted from the dragons fall. Without physics a dragon crashing just wouldn’t look or feel like a dragon crashing.

But there is so much more in Skyrim that require physics, one that I find to be important is movement, You are going to be working with Kinetic physics when working with any type of movement. For instance Npc and Character movements, proper jumping, flying, bullet speed bullet drop, gravity, weather. Kinetic Physics affect nearly every aspect of the game. When I play a game and decide to move through water this should look and feel just like real swiming, in order to accomplish this you are going to have to have a general knowledge of the way physics work. You are going to need to know how the water is going to displace how the water is going to move, if where I decide to start swimming looks like a flowing river then I should feel like i’m being forced downstream.

Another style of physics you will see a lot of in games is Acoustic physics. Acoustic physics involve music, ambient noises, the sound of walking, etc. One thing the dev team of Skyrim did right (in my opinion) was their acoustic physics.

When walking through Skyrim you can hear the difference between walking on wood and walking on stone. something as small as this can really add to the elegance of the game you are designing/Playing. The sounds in a game help convince the players minds that they are not just playing a game. Which makes the game more enjoyable. When you’re done playing a video game and come back feeling like you have just taken a break from the world of reality you know you’re playing a good game. I’m not gonna say “You can’t build a good game without physics” this would not be true I am sure there are a few good games out there that have their own laws of physics, it just doesn’t beat the real thing.

Another acoustic physic that Skyrim did right was using doppler effects. “The Doppler effect (or Doppler shift), named after the Austrian physicist Christian Doppler, who proposed it in 1842 in Prague, is the change in frequency of a wave (or other periodic event) for an observermoving relative to its source. It is commonly heard when a vehicle sounding a siren or horn approaches, passes, and recedes from an observer. Compared to the emitted frequency, the received frequency is higher during the approach, identical at the instant of passing by, and lower during the recession.”

Found At: ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doppler_effect )-

When playing through skyrim you might have an npc trying to talk to you. However, you are on a more important quest so you begin to walk away from the quest giver, as you walk away you notice you still hear them they just sound distant. This is known as a doppler effect or doppler shift. This acoustic physic is amazing to me and adds a sense of realism that I have not felt from many games I have played.

This doppler effect can help a player within your game in so many ways. for instance say someone is playing one of your games, the player is going through a dark cave, by using the doppler effect you can help your player find his/her way through this cave as well as get him in the mood you want him in for this game scene.

{Game Scene:

Player: “I know that I am looking for _ _ _ _ ,

there is likely a Something protecting this _ _ _ _,

Player Hears a distant Growl forming to his north east

Player investigates the sound

as he gets closer the sound gets louder assuring the player he is on the right path… ”


You can use acoustic physics as a way to help guide your players through this dark cave you have made then you use acoustic physics and get just the right music and ambiance sounds playing and you have a player who is now starting to really anticipate what lies ahead for him in this dark cave. You could also just use the Doppler effect to add more realism to your game.

However, acoustic physics could be as simple as playing good battle music that properly fades in and out depending on the scene you go into. Music in a game for me almost always is my selling point, I don’t think I have ever played a good game with bad music in it. I see a connection here.

I am going to wrap this up now I just wanted to point out some of the things within a video game that truly require physics or a great knowledge of how the world around you works. My last question to you is, How can you create worlds if you know not of the way your own world works?

Jonathan Montgomery


You have made decisions all your life and many people just like you wonder what would happen if they did something differently. Now all those times you have thought, ‘I should have done this’ or ‘Glad I did not do that’ are all about to play out. In fact they may all be playing out right now.

I am speaking of the concept in Quantum Mechanics known as the Many Worlds Theory. Better known to most people as the concept of alternate realities, it is as amazing as it is terrifying if indeed it is real. See the concepts of the Many Worlds Theory undermine every concept that we have of linear time, since in this theory all time is happening not only simultaneously, but all possible variations of time as well. Thus a perhaps infinite number of variations of perceived time that would never be able to all be mapped since it would even go down the very decision of mapping all the time lines, thus a time line would exist where time was never mapped –
Before I make both our heads explode, I will move on.

In order to really understand the idea, imagine our timeline and everything you have ever done is a piece of paper. Now every time you have had a decision, add more sheets of paper – now add everyone else’s decisions – You keep adding under any event that could have happened any other way is cataloged. You now have a stack of paper which is too tall to see the top of.

It sounds virtually impossible right? However in practice it can be proven that indeed all manner of events could have happened any other way. But would not that mean all time could be happening at any time once you take into account that these events could happen at any time? Time is something we as humans attempt to measure, but in reality it is just a rate at which moments pass, not a clear defined way of stating something indeed was at a specific moment – since to know what happened is to have observed it.

We just crossed the threshold in the theory of thought known as Quantum Suicide which was the stepping stone to indeed prove that Many Worlds could indeed be true – plausible in fact. Quantum Suicide is the idea that an event can happen over and over again, but one of those times it will play out differently. Now imagine all variations of an event play simultaneously, thus thousands upon thousands of copies of you have died and lives and you never knew it. Since you are indeed one of the variations, you just haven’t come to the end of your timeline yet have you?

It may not be possible to travel between these timelines, but it offers an interesting outlook on time, decisions and events. It challenges us to look at everything we do and think of the far reaching implications of all actions – scientifically – as much as it does morally. Your decisions are shaped by other decisions in a network of events that could very easily be shifted in any direction unbeknownst to any of us. It is proven to us with every day events all the way to the most life changing; you decided to not speed through a red light, and luckily for you that keeps you very much alive… But in that decision, there is another place – another time – where you died. It is as disturbing as it is beautiful that the universe could in fact be so complex as to map all that happens, will happen and has happened at all times simultaneously.

Every little decision matters.

Clark, J. (2007). Do parallel universes really exist?. HowStuffWorks.com. Retrieved from http://science.howstuffworks.com/science-vs-myth/everyday-myths/parallel-universe2.htm

Clark, J. (2007). How Quantum Suicide Works. HowStuffWorks.com. Retrieved from http://science.howstuffworks.com/innovation/science-questions/quantum-suicide.htm

Section 1

Robert “Heath” Rushing

I have been racking my brain trying to find a topic that I found interesting to right about.  I’d take my computer to various places while I did research until my computer was on the verge of death.  When it would be near death I would put it away until I could get it back on it’s charger.  During this down time I would pull out my smart phone and continue researching.  My phone would start dying and this is when I remembered a new technology that I had read about quite some time ago.  This technology is a super capacitor known as “graphene”.

Very little searching took my exactly where I wanted to be on the Internet.  Graphene is a substance created by smearing a graphite oxide on a blank DVD.  After this is done the DVD is placed in a LightScribe drive.  The laser in the LightScribe reduces the graphite oxide into pure graphene.

By now you’re probably thinking “Cool story bro, but what is this graphene you speak of?”.  Graphene, to put it simple, is the most conductive material known to man.  It can be fully charged in a matter of seconds.  Of course that sounds phenomenal.  We could charge our cell phones in a matter of seconds and get back to watching YouTube videos or listening to our music while we play Flappy Bird and it would be happy days from here on out. The problem is that while it recharges quickly it can also discharge very quickly.  This may have lost a few of you, but bare with me.

So now we have this material that charges quickly and discharges quickly, well the good news is it would be fine for charging low power devices, like our smart phones.  If you wanted to use this technology just to power your phone, you are thinking on too small of a scale.

Santhakumar Kannappan at the Gwangju Institute of Science and Technology in Korea have been working with this material and have been focusing on electric cars.  So far they have been able to charge and discharge a graphene super capacitor over 10,000 times, with very minimal breakdown.  Their goal is to use this material to store braking energy.  If they can succeed with this that would put a super capacitor inside the braking mechanism of electric cars that would be charged every time you apply the brakes to slow down.  This would give you an electric car with a battery that is constantly being recharged by the super capacitors that are constantly being recharged by the brakes you are constantly applying…Talk about a mouth full.  Now we have something to be excited about.  While this may seem like it will take a long time to get into the general public for us to use for everyday use.  You may be right, but graphene is already being used inside Li Ion batteries, which has substantially increased their capacity up to 10 times.  While technology has been rapidly improving, it has been limited by the batteries we could produce.  Graphene is going to change all of that.

Graphene Supercapacitors Ready for Electric Vehicle Energy Storage, Say Korean Engineers (November 12, 2013). Retrieved from http://www.technologyreview.com/view/521651/graphene-supercapacitors-ready-for-electric-vehicle-energy-storage-say-korean-engineers/

Anthony, S.  (March 19, 2012).   Graphene supercapacitors are 20 times as powerful, can be made with a DVD burner.  Retrieved from http://www.extremetech.com/extreme/122763-graphene-supercapacitors-are-20-times-as-powerful-can-be-made-with-a-dvd-burner

Section 2

Ashly O’Shea

What do you envision when you think of what our world will look like in 5 or 10 years? What about in 20 years? It seems hard to imagine because, in the past 10 years, we have come so far in such a short time. In my parent’s generation, there was no option of color television. But now, they are using smart phones and computers. What a tremendous leap in science and technology in such a short time.

Today, physicists are calculating that science is doubling in advancement every 18 months. This means, careers in digital technology will continue to change at a rapid speed along with it. But at what expense? Myself being a graphic designer and learning about new technology such as the Internet contact lenses, I can’t help but wonder what will happen to my career when we can simply create with the blink of an eye? Should we be concerned with the fast advancements in discoveries and inventions? Are all of the definitions in new technology bound to take our intellectual freedom away? Within art and design, there is emotion attached to the ideas. When we start to replace visions with manmade versions of intelligence, we transform styles of art completely.

The system of equations, the nano, the micro, the laser, and the mind-blowing theories that are so true to life. The visions in my head are no competition for these things. As of today, the talented minds of physicists have created things like singing greeting cards. The singing greeting card has more computer power than all of the allied forces of 1945. These type of information’s has me asking, “What happens when that computer chip can do what I do”. That artificial intelligence is making our brainpower seem obsolete. All things such as money and medicine will be digital in our future. Will my skill be completed by a machine better than I can do it? I am not sure if it is fair to take the steps out of completing a project or a piece of art, such as swiping a large monitor or waving a wand to choose color, taking the work and satisfaction out of it?

One the other hand, will inventions like these take the world or artists to another level? Imagine at the point where the creation of the Internet contact lens are perfected and put on the market for sale? With in the lens, you can translate your thoughts into colors, images. Being able to edit photos with a single swipe like we switch pages on an ipad. The endless possibilities of multiple dimentions hanging on the walls of galleries and museums all over the world.

Depending on which side of the scale you find your balance on, the strong feelings on how digital careers will change through the waves of science are still quite a mystery. Will you be the type of artist who follows old school traditions and creates your path to success by sticking to your roots, or will you be on the cutting edge of technology and follow the trends to keep up with the times? The answer is yours!

Humaid, Al, Ali. (2013). Dr. Kaku [“What does the future look like]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_UgE-NhcmbM

Patricia Savala

From childhood I always looked up at the stars and wondered, how magnificent the sky is and what is out there? How did this universe even begin? Where did it come from? Is there more than one universe? How did the stars get placed where they are? I had so many questions as a child that no one could truly answer and the answers that I did receive just did not satisfy my craving for an answer because they all had some religious tie to them. As time goes by I realize that everything has to come from something. It had to start somewhere regardless of religion or philosophical views. So, I believe that the universe began at one singular point and expanded out to what we see today, better known as The Big Bang Theory. Scientists believe that at one time the universe was only one, hot, energy filled singular point that eventually became so dense that it expanded very rapidly outward causing matter to be able to form, it became less dense, and everything cooled down. Everything used to be one uniformed force, which became separated to what we see today. How they became separated, scientists are not sure on that yet but I am sure we will discover that in time. When I wrap my brain around the whole idea I think how small we really are in comparison to the universe and crazy amazing it is! How complicated and beautiful the universe is and how much more we need to learn about it. There is so much more to the sky than people really give the time to think about it. And unfortunately, humans are so closed minded that they do not look beyond their own beliefs and viewpoints to discover what is out there.

Recently I read an article on WND.com that a physicist by the name of Nathan Aviezer had proven The Big Bang Theory! The article stated that “One thing the announcement does do is make it clear that the universe had a definite starting point – a creation – as described in the book of Genesis,” he said “ To deny this now is to deny scientific fact.” He said that the announcement would not prove any existence of God however if he could match up one story to the theory it would be the one in the book of Genesis in the bible. He said it’s pretty close to what really happened. The article also points out that Alan Guths theory about inflation is correct. Basically he says that the universe was violently ripped apart when it was a trillionth of a trillionth of a trillionth of a second old. They also state they had proven John Kovacs theory that the ripples in the fabric of space-time, also known as gravitational waves, was a creation event. The New York Times said that if corroborated, Kovac’s work “will stand as a landmark in science comparable to the recent discovery of dark energy pushing the universe apart, or of the Big Bang itself.”

If you get some time take a look at the article. It’s pretty awesome!



Section 01


Justin Wheeler


Hey everyone!


I chose to write about the Big Bang theory because I have always thought of how the world came to be as an interesting topic. I learned about many creation myths that came to be based on speculation from all over the world.


For centuries scientists have wondered if the universe was set in a fixed state since the beginning of time, or if a significant event triggered the creation of the universe. Well the big bang theory explains how the universe began and that it wasn’t always like it is today. Scientists have deduced that the universe is expanding, which led them to believe that a massive explosion set the universe in motion. This explosion theory would explain the ever-expanding universe and is the most credible theory to this day.


Edwin Hubble first discovered the fact that the universe is ever expanding in 1929. Hubble saw that farther galaxies were moving away from us at higher speeds, proportional to their distance. He concluded that the expansion factor was roughly proportional to light traveled and depended on how far back you looked. For example, the universe was sized in relation to time; the earlier you looked the smaller it was. Along with the fact that the universe is expanding, there are other factors that add to the credibility to the big bang theory.


To name one, George Gamow suggested “nuclear fusion must have taken place at the beginning of the universe due to the amounts of helium and deuterium found.”  According to Ms. Yuki, the big bang theory perfectly explains this abundance of helium and other nuclei we have observed.


Lastly, astronomers had observed cosmic radiation from every direction in the universe, as if an explosion has occurred. Gamow had also predicted that any radiation caused by the big bang would have been too weak to detect. However, in 1964 radio astronomers Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson tried to remove background noise from their radio antenna signals. They found that regardless of where they pointed the antenna the signal was precisely uniform in all directions, which led them to believe that the signal had to be coming from far beyond our galaxy. Furthermore, according to Ms. Yuki, “…a satellite observatory named COBE, or Cosmic Background Explorer made a precise background radiation from Earth’s orbit and produced an absolutely beautiful result, in 1991.”


With these three facts: the expansion theory, nuclear fusion theory, and the levels of radiation, big bang theory was proved and mentioned as “The discovery of the century, if not all time” by Stephen Hawking. However, the big bang theory is the most credible theory there are others who believe that there are other theories that better explain the creation of the universe. One of these alternative theories is the ‘Four-Dimensional Black Hole’ theory. In this theory the universe expanded violently out of the wreckage of a four-dimensional star, which collapsed into a black hole, about thirteen-point-eight billion years ago. According to the Huffington post, “this black hole theory still struggles to explain what the singularity was like – what there was before. Some scientists also believe that this model fails to explain how our universe is such a relatively uniform temperature…” Regardless, I still believe that the big bang theory is the most logical answer to the question of how the universe was created.




Takahashi Y. D. (2000). Big bang: How did the universe begin? California Institute of Technology. Retrieved from: http://www.ugcs.caltech.edu/~yukimoon/BigBang/BigBang.htm


(2013). End of the big bang? ‘four dimensional black hole’ theory could explain universe’s creation. Huffington post. Retrieved from: http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2013/09/20/goodbye-big-bang-theory-_n_3960371.html


Sincerely, Justin Wheeler


Game Design BS



Section 02


Paul Korolenko


The Great Reveal


It was another typical day at work, fighting sleep. Harsh fluorescent light reflected off of the paperwork scattered across my desk. The bright glare pierced my eyes, flooding the canals of my brain, creating a dull headache. All I could focus on was the prospect of going home. Unfortunately, I still had 2 hours of work left. I slumped deep into my chair and placed my hands over my eyes. I could hear the rattling from the poorly maintained ventilation system hidden by the aged drop ceiling tiles overhead. As if resigning to my fate, my arms dropped to meet those of my chair and my neck bent at a near perfect ninety degree angle. Eyes affixed on the ceiling, I let out a sound that fell somewhere between a sigh and a grunt. The fluorescent bulbs buzzed tirelessly above me. As I stared up at the lighting fixture, I remembered something I’d once read.


When a light switch is flipped on, electrical current is sent to two electrodes at each end of the fluorescent bulb. The voltage causes atoms to dart through the inert gas within the tube. The energy of this action causes the mercury within the tube to change from liquid into gas. The charged electrons collide with the mercury gas. As the atoms crash into each other, the electrons get bumped up to a higher orbital and then snap back, thus creating a light photon. Mercury is used because of it’s high tendency to release light photons. The problem is that mercury releases light in a wavelength that our eyes cannot register, this is where the phosphor comes into play. A phosphor is a substance that emits light when it is exposed to light. So, when the light photons from the atoms hit the phosphors in the tube, white light is given off.


My thoughts that day weren’t merely about the inner workings of fluorescent lighting, as interesting as they may be. I was recalling a book I’d read about dark energy. Dark energy is, in theory, a force that physicists believe may be the culprit behind the accelerating expansion of our universe. While it is almost certain dark energy is at work, no one can figure out exactly how it works. So, we have fluorescent lighting and a theoretical form of energy that is causing our universe to expand at an increasing rate. At this point, you probably think I’ve lost track of what I’m writing, but bear with me.


The jump of electrons from one orbital to another that occurs within fluorescent lighting is a form of what is called a quantum vacuum fluctuation. A quantum vacuum fluctuation is, basically, a spontaneous change of energy on the quantum level. In 1948, Hendrick Casimir performed an experiment in which he placed two metal plates in close proximity to each other within a vacuum. Due to the plates being so close to each other, there were more quantum vacuum fluctuations outside of the metal plates than between them. The interesting part is that the energy from the fluctuations outside of the plates, actually pushed the plates closer together, this is called the Casimir effect. This experiment proved that the energy from quantum vacuum fluctuations could actually create force.  Physicists believe that the energy created by quantum vacuum fluctuations could potentially be the dark energy that is causing our universe to expand. Astrophysicist Zel’dovich Yakov actually went as far as to say that dark energy could be caused by gravitational interaction between the vacuum particles.


Those are some very big concepts that are very poorly and compactly explained as I am not a physicist, luckily the exact science is not the point of all of this. I stared at the fluorescent lighting that I had just cursed for contributing to my headache and I thought about the vacuum particles that could be creating the dark energy that is making our universe unfathomably larger. I thought it astounding how something that I stare at every day could have a connection to something so large and mysterious as dark energy. Life can easily become mundane when we get stuck in a routine. That day served as a reminder that we live in an amazing, confounding and exciting universe. Writer Arthur C. Clarke said, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” I believe that this concept applies to any form of science that we cannot understand. If that’s the case, then we are an audience to the universe’s greatest magic tricks, searching for each sleight of hand and trapdoor. Though, we may never know how these tricks are performed, our universe is a captivating spectacle that we get the privilege to witness every day.




·       Brooks, M. (2008). 13 things that don’t make sense: the most baffling scientific mysteries of our time. New York: Vintage Books.


·       Matthews, R. (2005). 25 big ideas: the science that’s changing our world. Oxford: Oneworld


·       Reucroft & Swain (1998, June 22). What is the Casimir Effect?. ScientificAmerican.com. Retrieved February 20, 2014, from http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/what-is-the-casimir-effec/.


·       Strassler, M. (2013, August 29). Quantum Fluctuations and Their Energy. ProfMattStrassler.com. Retrieved February 20, 2014, from http://profmattstrassler.com/articles-and-posts/particle-physics-basics/quantum-fluctuations-and-their-energy/.


·       Harris, T. (2001, December 7). How Fluorescent Lamps Work. HowStuffWorks.com. Retrieved February 20, 2014, from http://home.howstuffworks.com/fluorescent-lamp.htm.



Congratulations to our 1312 winning blog post entries!

Destin Perry (Section 1)

The Physics of the AURORA BOREALIS.

The Aurora Borealis is a phenomena that has captivated many since the beginning of time, illuminating the skies of northernmost areas of earth. These whimsical lights used to cause a conundrum among students and professors alike, since recorded time. There has been several unsuccessful theories in history, Seneca, the roman philosopher, wrote the first recorded thought about them, writing that he ‘Oft wondered whether they were below or above the clouds.’ Since then, several other big names in the science world have given their thoughts on the matter. Ben Franklin wrote that, “The Mystery of the Northern Lights..” was caused by a concentration of electrical charges in polar regions, but intensified by snow and other moisture. In 1962, the “Leaky Bucket Theory” was disproved, which was a hypothesis that stated the Aurora was just radiation overflowing from the Radiation Belt, which is an area around a planet where charged magnetic particles gather. In the end, we’ve come to the correct conclusion, which was the solution to curious minds everywhere.

Auroras result from the emission of photons in Earth’s upper atmosphere above 80km (or 50 miles, for all those obsolete Americans out there!) from ionized nitrogen atoms regaining an electron, and oxygen and nitrogen atoms returning from an excited state, to a ground state. They become ionized and excited by solar winds and magnetospheric particles being funneled down and accelerated through the Earth’s magnetic field lines. When excited, the only thing they can do to return to their “ground state” is to emit a photon. When this photon is emitted, our eyes percieve it as light, and we have experienced the beautiful Aurora that has captivated curiousity since the captivation of curiousity onto recorded texts (Ha!).

In an Aurora, the photons emitted vary depending on the type of air molecule returning to ground state. For example, in an oxygen atom, the color we percieve is a green or brown-ish red, depending on the energy involved. In nitrogen return state, the color we percieve is a red, or a blue. Blue if the atom regains an electron after ionized, or Red if returning to ground state from excited state. Of course, this is where color, and how our eyes percieve it can make the issue a whole lot more complicated. For example, it takes about a third of a second for an excited oxygen molecule to emit green. But in some situations, if left for up to two minutes, the energy let off will be percieved as red. This means that the higher up the Borealis is occuring, the more chance you will be seeing the dark reds and browns, as the air pressure is much thinner, and the oxygen molecules have an easier time waiting for the time to discharge their red.



But wait! Where do all these photons come from? How do they just hit the earth and make beautiful phenomena for the world to enjoy??

The answer is solar storms. Solar storms emit from the Sun fairly actively. Sometimes, several a day will emit, sometimes, once a week. These solar storms fly through space so fast, that it only takes about 6 hours to get to mercury, and 15-18 hours to get to earth. When arriving at earth, these solar emissions hit the earths magnetic fields, creating the magnetic disturbance as described before.

Whether you are interested in the physics behind how our earth works, or you want to experience a beautiful natural occourence, the Aurora Borealis is an amazing spectacle that should be witnessed physically (Well, as physical as photons get) by everyone.

Thanks for reading.

And here’s a pretty video to watch!


Sources ::





Emil Der-Grigorian (Section 2)

Daniel Bernoulli was a Swiss physicist who is best known for his work in creating the principles that the led to the shape of the airplane wing.  His father was one of the early developers of calculus, his uncle was one of the first people to discover the theory of probability, and he, himself, discovered the Bernoulli Principle, which states that “the increase in the speed of fluid occurs simultaneously with a decrease in pressure” (a theory that is solely responsible for what we know today about the generation of lift.

Bernoulli’s principle states that an aircraft can achieve flight through the shape of its wing.  The shape allows the air to flow faster over the top, and slower underneath, which creates lower pressure on top and higher air pressure at the bottom. The higher pressure pushes the aircraft up through the lower pressure, thus creating lift. To get this pressure difference, Bernoulli came up with the aerofoil shape from observing birds and their wing shape.  He noticed that the shape allowed for the object to overcome weight.  By creating a rounded leading edge, he was able to reduce drag and further facilitate the flow of air over the wing. By applying Newton’s three laws, we now have the physics of flight.

A funny explanation of this can be heard from my dad every Christmas when my nephew asks him how Santa flies (and I am certain that about five minutes in, the poor kid regrets asking an aerospace engineer how Santa’s sleigh flies).  The explanation goes as follows:

“Santa needs to get the sleigh to go really fast so he can generate lift.  That’s when the pressure under the sleigh is lower than above the sleigh.  The reindeer’s antlers are VERY aerodynamic and reindeer run very fast.  So as they run, they generate thrust, which then leads to air flowing over the antlers.  The top pressure gets lower and the bottom of the antlers generates lift.  Their large feet are like paddles that kick to keep the sleigh moving while they are in the air and that’s how Santa’s sleigh stays in the sky.”

The Bernoulli Principle can also be applied to more than just aerodynamics.  His equation also proves that when a fluid flows through pipes of varying widths, energy is neither created nor destroyed.  The wider the pipe, the slower the flow, but in the more narrow parts, the flow (velocity) gets faster. Think of how when washing the car or watering the lawn, one can get a higher-pressure stream by placing their thumb on the tip of the hose and constricting the opening (or for example when a cleaner hose tip is placed on the end, how that increases the pressure of the spray).

Bernoulli has contributed to the creation of things we use in our everyday lives that we do not really give much thought to.  Simple things that we take for granted, these pioneers and great thinkers could not take for face value.  Without their contributions and analyses, who knows where we would be today with our understanding of space and simple phenomena that occur in our backyards.




Congratulations to this months winning student submissions.


Section 1

Latisha “Snap” Lancaster

Faster Than A Speeding…Soundwave?

The Physics of Sound


By Tish Lancaster

 Have you ever wondered how sounds made their way to you? How do you hear a person speaking, a car beeping or a bird chirping? How does sound travel? Well lets find out!

Sound is made by the creation of vibrations that travel through the air. The vibrating body causes the medium (water, air, etc.) around it to vibrate. Traveling longitudinal waves are vibrations in air, which we can hear. Areas of respective high and low pressure called compressions and rarefactions make up sound waves.


Here is a traveling wave. The shaded bar signifies the varying pressure of the wave. Lighter areas are low pressure (rarefactions) and darker areas are high pressure (compressions). The indefinite repeating pattern called the wavelength is highlighted in red.


v = f • λ

The wavelength of voice is about one meter long. The wavelength and the speed of the wave determine the pitch, which is the frequency of the sound. The equation above shows the relationship between speed, frequency and wavelength (speed=frequency x wavelength). Sound travels at 343 meters per second (which is insanely fast!). Thus, frequency is determined by speed / wavelength. The longer the wavelength, the lower the pitch. The height of the wave is its amplitude. Amplitude determines how loud a sound will be. Greater amplitude means the sound will be louder.

Different sizes of wave compressions make for louder or softer sounds. A small compression makes a soft sound while a big compression makes a loud sound (like sonic booms). Again, Sound waves are longitudinal waves meaning they compress and vibrate in the same direction as they travel. Also, only the vibrations move, not the medium the waves hit or pass through. Vibrations occur via vibration of air particles, but the air itself does not travel. If sound waves are generated in the air they make a tone. To change the tone we would generate the sound waves at a different frequency. Higher frequencies make for higher pitched sounds.


Fun Fact

Man has been able to beat the speed of sound with super sonic travel. Breaking this sound barrier produces both an audible and visible effect.

Check out this video of an F35 Sonic Boom.



In this photo you can see the effects on the air as the plane blasts through the sound barrier. This occurs because as the plane travels it pushes the air out of the way, creating pressure waves that travel at the speed of sound. As the plane approaches the sound barrier, the air can’t get out of he way quick enough and it is squashed together into one big shockwave that travels at the speed of sound. This pressure is not much greater than normal air pressure, but since it is released at such a speed, it’s audible as a sonic boom!


So how do humans create sound?

Humans create vibrations in our pharynx. This is the area of the throat just above our windpipe, where our vocal cords are located.  More simply put, vocal cords are folds of tissue that vibrate when wind passes by them.


If you were to turn the throat on its side you would see how sound is produced.

When air from the lungs is forced across the vocal chords, vibrations occur. These vibrations squeeze the air creating areas of compression. These areas of air compression carry energy. The energy carrying compressions travel from place to place transmitting the energy. When they smash into an eardrum, they are heard as sound!

Here is a video demonstrating how the vocal cords produce sound. Notice how the difference in pitch affects the vibration of her vocal cords and how the vocal cord vibrations are faster than the human eye can pick up, so they look like paced, rhythmic waves.

So now you know how the physics of sound effect our lives everyday. Sound waves and vibrations are instrumental to our understanding of each other and the environment around us.

Using what you have just read, what do you thing would happen if one or both of our vocal cords were to enter a state of paralysis and cease to vibrate? (No Googling!)

(For Diigo sources click here.)




Section 2

Alexander “Alex” Henriquez

Hello class,

I honestly had no idea what to write about so I chose the first thing that normally comes to my mind when I think physics, rockets. While it may not be directly related to any formulas or numbers, I think they are neat and still relate to physics as a whole.

When you have an object moving through the air there are four basic forces that operate it; Lift, drag, gravity, and thrust.

Lift happens when the air above the object moves faster than the air below, causing less force against the top compared to below the object. You see this happen often in kites.

Drag is the force that rubs against the sides of an object as it moves upwards (friction). Smooth surfaces and streamlined designs reduce drag causing the object to fly higher.

Gravity is the force that pulls down while near Earth. It acts through the center of gravity of any object. This force’s strength is proportional to its mass and inversely proportional to the square of the distance between the object and our planet’s center.

The engine of the rocket produces thrust and is the forward force exerted on its body. Thrust must be more powerful than gravity in order for anything to rise vertically.

Newton’s three laws of motion also apply to the launch and flight of rockets, those being:

  1. Every object in a state of uniform motion tends to remain in that state of motion unless an external force is applied to it.
  2. The relationship between an object’s mass m, its acceleration a, and the applied force F is F = ma. Acceleration and force are vectors (as indicated by their symbols being displayed in slant bold font); in this law the direction of the force vector is the same as the direction of the acceleration vector.
  3. For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

Keeping all these things in mind we can now move on to the fun part of this article, building a rocket! This isn’t going to be a model rocket or anything too complex, it is a water bottle rocket many of you can build right at home.

A few things to keep in mind:

  1. You will most likely get wet. Wear a poncho to protect yourself from water if you are afraid to get wet.
  2. While this rocket doesn’t have a real engine or anything too complicated the same principles stated above will work here.

With that said lets get to work. Some things you will need:


Duct tape

Empty soda bottle

Bike pump

Paper (almost any kind will do)



You won’t need every item here; these are items I have used in the past to make a cool looking water bottle rocket. The absolutely essential items are the soda bottle, bike pump, and cork.

First you’re going to take the paper and roll it up into a cone shape. This is going to be the tip of the rocket and make it slightly more aerodynamic and reduce drag. Wrap the cone with the duct tape to make it more stable and water resistant. Attach the cone to the bottom of the empty bottle using more duct tape (the bottom of the bottle is the top of the rocket). Now you’ll want to cut the cardboard pieces into right triangles. These will be the fins for your rocket. You can attach them using some of the duct tape you have left over. Make sure you don’t cover the hole on the bottle (where the cap is normally screwed on). Fill the bottle up about 1/3 of the way with water. Now cut a very small hole through the center of the cork (not the sides) and very firmly push the cork into the bottom of the bottle. At this point if you’d like to build a stand or launch pad for the rocket (if you don’t chances are you’ll either make a mess or the rocket will fly towards a neighbor’s house) and set it up for launch. Attach the tiny needle-like valve of the bike pump into the hole you made in the cork and step back. Start pumping and get ready for launch!

The duct tape fins and rocket tip make the rocket smoother and will allow it to rise vertically easier. The less friction while rising the higher it will go, and although there is no complex engine, the force of the water shooting out from the bottom of the rocket should be more than enough to make the rocket rise continuously (until there is no more pressure inside the rocket).

Hope you had fun with this one (even if you only read though)!



Model rocket resource:


Newton’s three laws:





Section 3


Section 1

Perry “AGENTP” Austin

     When ever someone asks the question; who wants to be a superhero? I would always answer in the back of my mind; ME! In this day and age, a lot of people (especially fans of this type of thing) understand that it takes a lot more than just a fancy costume or a cool mask to pull off being a super hero. It’s a nice perk but there is a lot more to fighting crime. Sure you may figure out a theme for your hero and maybe even a catch phrase, but after all of that then what? Are you trying to get super powers? Do you know how to fight? What tools would you use in the battle against the forces of evil? A lot of questions come to mind and I am going to try my best to answer them. I will also try to apply physics to this subject to the best of my abilities. Maybe then we will know if being a super hero is possible.

I think I should start off with the second thing that comes to mind when it comes to being a super hero (the first thing would be the costume). I am talking about the super powers. Is it possible to actually become superhuman? Can we really obtain these abilities that can only happen in comics, movies, and TV? Some sources would say so. Thinking about this subject takes me back to weeks one and two of the physics class.  Dr. Michio Kaku’s lecture on “The possible vs. impossible” touched upon one particular ability, Telepathy. It was not in the sense of reading minds or lifting objects with your mind (that’s telekinesis). Dr. Kaku was actually talking about controlling machines with your brain. According to his research, it’s possible (with fine tuning and more testing of course), to surgically place a microchip inside the brain to control almost any electronic. Dr. Kaku gave an example about a man who was completely paralyzed and had this procedure done to him. Without have to move any part of his body, this man was able to “surf the web, check his email, and even communicate through texting, all with his brain”. Now keep in mind we are also talking about being about to absorb the data will doing these amazing things with a microchip implanted in your brain. Anyone with this type of super power would definitely be a force to be reckoned with because after all, “knowledge is power” right? Thinking about super powers also comes to mind where they would come from. I am pretty sure we can rule out any lab accidents or radioactive bug bites for now. I am also sure that somewhere out there, scientists are trying to crack the code and inject a serum like in “Heroes” or even “Captain America”. Being born with these special abilities seems more possible than anything. One website I found describes 6 people with special abilities. The site describes people with abilities that mainly involve endurance. It ranges from a person who can withstand electric shocks to a person who can “run forever”. One man in particular would be Ma Xiangang. Xiangang discovered his powers by touching a live wire in his fuse box while trying to fix his television. The article mentions that this ability is in his “body chemistry”. It also mentions how weight and mass play a part in how much the human body can take.  The site can be found here:http://www.cracked.com/article_19661_6-real-people-with-mind-blowing-mutant-superpowers.html .

One other super hero type subject I would like to touch upon would have to be Transformations.  I am talking about a power suit or super hero outfit being teleported on the body. The way I see it, we might see the teleportation of objects before we see the teleportation of people.  I am a big fan of Tokusatsu (Japanese live action with special effects). I have mentioned this a lot between talking with others whom share my interest to just blogging about it online. Seeing the hero transform into a super powered form has always been one of my favorite things about super heroes. So of course I enjoy “Power Rangers”. Personally I like the original Japanese version known as “Super Sentai” but that’s a whole other subject for another time. Some of the other Japanese heroes you may have heard of. Heroes like “Ultraman”, “Kikaider” (for those who were in Japan or Hawaii that watched that show), and my favorite series of all, “Kamen Rider”. Besides the fact that these heroes came from Japan, one big thing they have in common would be that they all transform. Whether it is by the press of a button, the flick of a switch, body motion, or just old fashion shouting out a catch phrase; energy wraps around the body then our hero is ready to fight. What really has gotten me interested in this would be that it is all a form of teleportation.  Now we all know that teleportation is still being studied. So far we have come close by teleporting things like particles and lasers. Unfortunately, there is that whole issue with the original object being destroyed at the starting point of the teleportation process. More information can be found for that at this website: http://science.howstuffworks.com/science-vs-myth/everyday-myths/teleportation.htm.

Speaking of starting points, your super hero outfit has to come from somewhere right? While the heroes I’ve mentioned transform with certain devices (whether the suits come from somewhere unknown or may be compacted in the device some how), one Japanese hero actually has a bit more detail in his transformation process. I am talking about the hero Uuchu-Keiji-Gavan (Space Sheriff Gavan).  The show is about a space cop named Gavan who protects the earth from evil aliens using a combat suit made of a special type of space metal. The way his transformation sequence works is that he does this motion with his body and shouts “CHOUCHAKU” (translates to equip)!  A signal is sent to his space ship hovering over the earth and these silver particles beam down and form the suit around his entire body.  The computer on the ship breaks down the armor into particles and teleports it down to Gavan and it reforms around his body. The series always has a narrator that will show us what the transformation looks like in slow motion. The narrator always says that the process “takes 0.5 seconds for the transformation to take place”.  While it is just a TV show, it still follows the laws of physics. In fact, there is another hero like Gavan who does the same thing. The difference is that his armor is red and he actually has a suit that he wears underneath his regular clothes. When this hero (Sharivan) does his transformation, his ship actually locks on to the suit and teleports the armor to it. The transformation can be seen for Gavan here: http://youtu.be/EovOLvwlaZg. The transformation for Sharivan can be seen here:http://youtu.be/rlmv296Vn7k. Both videos are in Japanese but you can see what I have described just fine.


Section 2




Section 3

Nicholas Shashaguay

            Ever wanted to learn more about the universe and to understand it more? Well, so do a lot of people and some of those people are on the right track.  A team of 800 physicists had made a breakthrough with breaking the quantum measurement barrier with a new technique called quantum squeezing, which will allow physicists to detect gravity waves. A lot of research is going on now to detect gravity waves with Gravitational wave detectors and quantum squeezing takes them a step closer to achieving, which might be, the greatest way to understanding our universe a little better.

The whole idea of detecting gravity waves came from Albert Einstein’s prediction, in 1916 AD, of the existence of gravitational waves. On the website www.ligo-la.caltech.edu they explained, further, Einstein’s prediction as followed; Albert Einstein predicted the existence of gravitational waves in 1916 as part of the theory of general relativity. He described space and time as different aspects of reality in which matter and energy are ultimately the same. Space-time can be thought of as a “fabric” defined by the measuring of distances by rulers and the measuring of time by clocks. The presence of large amounts of mass or energy distorts space-time — in essence causing the fabric to “warp” — and we observe this as gravity. Freely falling objects — whether a soccer ball, a satellite, or a beam of starlight — simply follow the most direct path in this curved space-time.Gravity waves are ripples in space generated by extreme cosmic events, for example, the Big Bang. Such events, like stars merging, induce ripples in the fabric of space-time but the ripples (gravity waves) are really weak and detecting them is extremely hard. So how does one detect these waves? Well, first you will need a Gravitational Wave Detector.

Gravitational Wave Detectors are out there in today’s world and they try to detect these waves. The problem is that the detectors aren’t sensitive enough to find any. Physicists know they exist but have yet to prove that they do with the “I need to see it to believe” method.  The most famous wave detector is the LIGO or Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory, will detect ripples using a device called a laser interferometer; this measures the time it takes for light to travel between mirrors. How the LIGO works is simple if you’re a Physicist but if you’re not one, like myself, it’s hard to understand.  The detector is made up of an L-shaped vacuum system, four kilometers long, with mirrors at the ends. Understanding this? No? It’s ok because www.ligo-la.caltech.edu, which is the website for LIGO, explains this for better understanding.  Two mirrors hang far apart, forming one “arm” of the interferometer, and two more mirrors make a second arm perpendicular to the first. Viewed from above, the two arms form an L shape. Laser light enters the arms through a beam splitter located at the corner of the L, dividing the light between the arms. The light is allowed to bounce between the mirrors repeatedly before it returns to the beam splitter. If the two arms have identical lengths, then interference between the light beams returning to the beam splitter will direct all of the light back toward the laser. But if there is any difference between the lengths of the two arms, some light will travel to where it can be recorded by a photodetector. Basically saying that if the signals are the same nothing was detected but if there’s a difference it’s worth recording and following up. Now we got that out of the way, let’s go on to how LIGO and the squeezing technique go together.

Like I said before, the equipment wasn’t sensitive enough to detect the waves in space so when Physicists came up with the quantum squeezing technique this was a very exciting time because now they are a step closer to detect gravity waves. Before they came up with this technique there was a problem, the problem was the Heisenberg uncertainty principle. www.ligo-la.caltech.edu states that we can’t know both the position and the velocity of a quantum particle perfectly–the better we know the position, the worse we know the velocity, and vice versa. For light waves, the Heisenberg principle tells us that there are unavoidable uncertainties in amplitude and phase that are connected in a similar way. They way the got around this to make the LIGO more sensitive was by using a crystal with non-liner optical property this crystal can convert a normal vacuum to a “squeezed vacuum” which has phase fluctuations smaller than a normal vacuum. The quantum squeezing technique makes the LIGO more sensitive by reducing the vacuum phase fluctuation.  So by eliminating a lot of noise it’s very possible to hear the gravity waves in the next few years while Physicists make the LIGO more sensitive.


phys.org (2013 August 16). ‘Listening’ to black holes form with gravity waves www.phys.org. Retrieved August 25, 2013, fromhttp://phys.org/news/2013-08-black-holes-gravity.html

phys.org (2013 August 01). Closing in on Einstein’s window to the universe. Retrieved August 25, 2013, from  http://phys.org/news/2013-08-einstein-window-universe.html#inlRlv

phys.org (2013 May 16). New method proposed for detecting gravitational waves from ends of universe . Retrieved August 25, 2013 fromhttp://phys.org/news/2013-05-method-gravitational-universe.html#inlRlv

phys.org (2013 May 03). New experiments set to detect gravitational waves. Retrieved August 25, 2013 from http://phys.org/news/2013-05-gravitational.html#inlRlv

Ligo.edu (no date). GRAVITATIONAL WAVES: RIPPLES IN THE FABRIC OF SPACE-TIME. Retrieved August 25, 2013 from http://www.ligo-la.caltech.edu/LLO/overviewsci.htm

Ligo.org (no date). The Quantum Enhanced LIGO Detector Sets New Sensitivity Record. Retrieved August 25, 2013 from http://www.ligo.org/science/Publication-SqueezedVacuum/index.php