Congratulations to the winners of the blog post challenge for FOP 1207.

Section 1

Tracey King

Theoretical Physicist and Cosmologist, Stephan Hawking is one of the great scientist of our time. He is most known for his theories on the Big Bang and Time Travel to the future. In an article titled How to build time machine he breaks down the simplicity and the possibility of traveling through space and into the future using wormhole and a rocket that goes really fast or a super train on the earth that circles at the near speed of light to travel into the future. In order to understand the possibility we have to look at the fourth dimension. We normally only think of three dimensions length, height and width when measuring physical objects. Time is considered the fourth dimension because everything has a length in time as well as space.

Physicists have been thinking about tunnels in time called wormholes, which are all around us but are to small for us to see. They hide in nooks and craneys in space and time. Wormholes have been a theoretical theory since Einstein and the theory of relativity that links to places in time. Physicist believes that if they could make wormholes big enough we might be able to fit through. The problem with traveling back in time is that it violates the cause and effect of the universe.

There are a couple theories on how we can move forward in time. One is through space and traveling around a black hole. About 26,000 light years away in the center of the Milky Way there is a massive black hole, which the heaviest thing in the galaxy containing four million suns crushed down by the gravity. The closer you get the greater the gravity and not even light can escape it. It has the greatest effect on time by slowing it down by more than anything else in the galaxy. This makes it a natural time machine. By creating a spacecraft that can with stand the gravitational force at the right angle not to be sucked in. It would take 16 minutes for the spacecraft to circle where as the people on board would only experience 8 minutes. It cuts the time in half as if they circled for 10 years they would have only aged five. I find this theory pretty extraordinary. The other theory is what is we created a super fast train that went around the earth. The cosmic speed limit is 186,000 miles per second, which is the speed of light and nothing, can exceed that speed so the train would have to be just near that speed to begin to travel into the future. If the train circled the earth for a hundred years the passengers would have only lived a week due to the slowing of time in the train. Even though, being able to build a train that travels near the speed of light seems quite impossible the best possible way to travel in time would be through space. So far the fastest space ship was Apollo 10 and it traveled at 25,000mph and in order to travel through time it would have to be 2,000 times faster than the Apollo 10.

I believe with the way science and technology is going it might be possible to create a time travel machine with in the next hundred of years. Physicist are always trying to find ways to challenge the laws of physics and this would contradict a lot especially if we go back in time. I don’t think that is a good idea though.

Section 2

Selina “GypsySprite” Harvey

“Gene Roddenberry: Creator of “Science Fantastical” or “Modern Nostradamus”?”

Just how much of yesterdays “science fiction” has become today’s “science fact” and how much of it was truly based on actual science?

Born in 1965, I quite literally grew up with Gene Roddenberry’s Star Trek (and all of its “descendants”) as a prevalent part of my life.  Little did I know, way back when, that I would live to see so many of his fantastical creations come to life!  Just look around you today…  Isn’t the iPad incredibly similar to the clipboard like devices used as “portable computers” used by the crew of the USS Enterprise?  What about the original design of earlier generation cell phones (“flip phones”) being so like that of their communicators?  Sometimes it’s very difficult to determine whether the scientific community is subconsciously trying to follow Roddenberry’s design concepts or he, himself, “foresaw” the evolution of the technological world.  But, is this similarity only skin deep or does it go even deeper than that?

Through a bit of research it can be easily determined that, while fantastical, much of Roddenberry’s creations are based on sound and/or proven scientific theories or extrapolations thereof.  For example, the well-known (to “Trekkies”, at least”) “warp drive” technology he developed fictionally is actually based on Einstein’s work on the space-time continuum in his special theory of relativity[1] which led him to the conclusion that an object in motion actually experiences time at a slower rate than an object at rest.  Scientists, who have sent atomic clocks out on high-speed rockets ships, have since scientifically proven this theory when the clocks returned slightly behind the clocks on the ground having “lost time” to this phenomenon. However, this would still not be fast enough, on it’s own, to account for the “faster than light” speeds required to achieve viable long distance space travel. For this, he added in factors from Einstein’s general theory of relativity[2] to utilize the premise that more massive objects such as stars can “warp” the surrounding space. Expanding upon (or, according to NASA, “stretching”) these two theories, Roddenberry created the concept of a (someday) potentially viable way to potentially travel faster than light provided our technology advances enough to actually utilize these two theories in such a way!

Given this basis, just how much of his other creations are potentially viable?  Once gain, just look around you today!  We have developed “energy beam” tools and weapons utilizing “directed energy pulses” which can be throttled up or down depending on the situation (set phasers to stun!).  Modern stealth technology, while not being quite a “cloaking device” as of yet, has led to the discovery of various substances which have the property of “bending light” around itself (an object), rendering it close to visually undetectable.  Scientists have created whole atoms of anti-matter, not only proving its existence but also leading to its potential use in a “photon torpedo” (if enough can ever be actually produced, that is!).  Additionally, they have successfully used beams to push and pull matter, on a microscopic level at least, which over time could potentially lead to “tractor beams”

I found it utterly amazing just how much of Roddenberry’s fertile imagination was based on scientific facts and, therefore, a possible glimpse into the future, much in the same way as HG Wells’ works did for an earlier generation.  Were these men scientists, creators of the fantastical in fiction or, in their own ways, modern “Nostradamus’”?  You decide!


Fuller, J. (n.d.). Einstein, relativity and the space-time continuum. Retrieved from

Gene Roddenberry biography. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Choi, C. (2009, May 06). Reality check: the science of Star Trek. Retrieved from

Hadhazy, A. (2009, May 6). The final frontier: The science of Star Trek. Retrieved from

Bergstein, B. (2005, July 13). Military mulls use of ‘star trek’ weapons. Retrieved from

[1] Postulates the following:

  1. The speed of light (about 300,000,000 meters per second) is the same for all observers, whether or not they’re moving.
  2. Anyone moving at a constant speed should observe the same physical laws.

[2] Einstein’s general theory of relativity describes how gravity affects the shape of space and flow of time.

Section 3

Crystal Sylver Reid – “Human Batteries”

Today, Scientists are working on creating batteries powered by human fluids called bio-batteries.  Unlike regular lithium-ion, nickel-cadmium, or other types of traditional batteries that use acid to produce a current, these organically powered batteries focus on harnessing energy from human fluids, such as blood, sweat, tears, and urine.  These natural batteries run off the electrolytes found in bodily fluids or sugar in blood glucose, mimicking the way the human body generates energy from food.

The blood battery is based on an enzyme that pulls electrons from glucose.  The way the human body processes sugar to obtain energy.  Researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York developed a paper-thin battery from 90% cellulose (which makes up paper products) and 10% carbon nanotubes that runs on electrolytes.  The nanotubes are imprinted in the fabric of the paper and is called ‘nanocomposite paper’.  This flexible battery, the size of a postage stamp can be implanted under the skin unlike regular batteries, which may leak or explode.  And as long as you eat, the battery has a replenishing electrolyte source.  The battery can even run on a sports drink containing electrolytes.  These low-powered, temperature resistant, environmentally friendly batteries can be used to power small medical devices that are traditionally powered by regular batteries that must be carried.  Devices such as battery powered pacemakers, hearing aids, and implants to monitor blood sugar levels in diabetics.  In the future these batteries could be used to power an artificial heart, ending the need to carry regular batteries that eventually stop working.

Scientists in Singapore developed a battery that runs on human urine.  The device is the size of a credit card and provides a brief charge from the electrolytes in the urine.  To understand the bio-battery is to understand the power of electrolytes.  Electrolytes are negatively or positively charged particles that dissolve in water and are carried in the human body- they consist of sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, chloride, phosphates, and bicarbonate.  These chemical compounds, known as salts, carry electrical charges.  When dissolved in water (inside blood cells), the salts exist as ions.  A concentration of electrolytes must be maintained within the human body.  To maintain balance, electrolytes are excreted through tears, sweat, and urine.  The credit card battery could be adapted to provide a small charge to an electronic device.  Someone who may be lost in the woods could use one to power a cell phone for an emergency call.

Scientists are also working on powering batteries by using heat energy from the body.  Within the last ten years, the power consumption of different electronic processors, sensors, and communications devices has been reduced significantly, making it possible to power devices from very low-power energy sources such as body heat.  Through a small device worn on an arm or a leg, 24-hour-a-day monitoring of blood sugar, or heart rate can be powered by the body’s temperature.  These devices have the ability to harness heat energy differences of one or two degrees, producing 100 microwatts of electricity, which is enough to power biomedical monitoring systems.

Although most of these findings on human batteries are in the experimental stage, some scientists believe that one day we will have the power to charge our cell phones or power our laptop computers by human energy alone.


“Human Batteries: Harvesting Human Energy”, Travis, 2012   

“Power from blood could lead to human batteries”, The Sydney Morning Herald, 2003

“Blood, Sweat Could Power New Paper Battery”, Marina Giovannelli, NPR, 2012

“Could blood be used to power batteries?”, Jacob Silverman, How Stuff Works, 2012

“Electrolyte Balance”, eNotes, 2012                                               

“Researchers harness heat to power electronics”, Darren Quick, GizMag, 2010

Section 4

John Larrauri – “Black Holes and Wormholes”

What do you get when you find a place in space where the pull of gravity becomes so extreme that all other forces of the universe, even light, cannot escape?  You get a black hole and since the pull of gravity is so great, what do you think might happen to you if you were ever to get sucked into one.  Is there another dimension on the other side, so to speak, or do you end up dead?

Many of us have watched movies and TV series where the characters traveled through a black hole and somewhat of another universe or an alternate realm existed with living creatures of various different species.  Does this really happen?  The truth is that as interesting as it might be to travel through a black hole in concept, in reality, as you enter the black hole, your body will first stretch apart and then be compressed into a single point of infinite destiny.  What does that mean?   Does this mean that you die?  Do you then travel through a wormhole and come out another black hole on the other side?  Can you ever get back?  These are great questions and although we will probably never know the answers within our lifetime, researching these things is an often interesting way to not only stimulate one’s mind, but also one’s imagination.

Now let’s discuss wormholes.  A wormhole is basically a shortcut through space-time.  It’s basically a fold in space that allows a tunnel to be formed.  It is sometimes said that travel through a wormhole is traveling faster than the speed of light, but that is not the case, you are just going through a kind of shortcut from one point to another and if you were traveling with a beam of light through it, the beam of light would still win.  Do these really exist?  There is no evidence that wormholes do actually exist, but there are solutions to equations of the theory of general relativity that do, in fact, contain wormholes.  Einstein’s theory of relativity says that time travel is possible through a wormhole, but how can that be proven.  A wormhole would basically be a connection between 2 points in space, but, if they really do exist, what points in space do they connect?  Do they connect 2 black holes on either end, and if so, if your body stretches and then compresses when entering a black hole basically seeming as if you would now be dead, then how would it be possible to then travel through a wormhole and out another black hole?  Is the other end of the wormhole actually a white hole with opposite gravitational effects of a black hole?  If that is true, can you get back to the other side when you are ready to go home?

Interestingly enough, we do know that black holes exist, but there is no physical scientific proof that wormholes do exist.  Although there are solutions to mathematical equations involving the theory of relativity, there is no actual physical experiment to support the actual existence of wormholes.  So, again, let us stimulate our minds and our imaginations by watching movies, television shows, and documentaries while reading various books about these subjects, but sadly, that is all we will probably ever be able to do within our lifetimes.  Will there ever be hard, scientific proof that wormholes do exist and what will actually happen if someone travels through them?  We may never truly know the answers to these questions, but the concept is very intriguing and definitely a fantastic way to simulate one’s thoughts on concepts of unproven but possible things.

Section 5

James Martin –  “How Fish Swim”

Water and all forms of water travel have long fascinated man. With his fascination and the realization that humans are ill suited for water travel that doesn’t involve remaining on the surface, an appreciation for a fish’s ability to move in three dimensions with relative ease was also developed. Although we may not fully understand the physics involved how fish swim, it is obvious from the fascination and the breadth of research that it will remain a goal of the modern scientist.

A fish’s ability to propel itself efficiently through water is paramount to its likelihood to succeed. But before a fish need worry about any of the complications associated with moving through water (hydrodynamic drag, turbulence, buoyancy, etc.) it must first solve the problem of locomotion. The most common method for solving this problem is by muscle contraction and relaxation.

The forward thrust force is created by the movement of the caudal (tail) fin and varying amounts of the surrounding muscle (up to the entire body for fish that swim similar to eels) in an undulating motion. The importance of this mechanism manifests itself in the fact that 80% of a fish’s body is composed of muscle used for propulsion and maneuvering.

Since fish live in an environment in which they need to move in three dimensions, buoyancy plays a significant role in determining a fish’s ability to swim efficiently. Fish use a couple of different strategies to solve this problem. Denser fish use their pectoral fins to create dynamic lift, similar to planes and birds. As these fish swim, their pectoral fins are positioned in such a way as to create a difference in pressure, which allows the fish to maintain a certain depth. The two major drawbacks of this method are that these fish must stay moving to stay afloat and that they are incapable of swimming backwards or hovering. The other solution that fish employ is to have portions of their body that are actually less dense than water, allowing the fish to rise towards the surface. The two substances used to accomplish this task are gasses and oils (lipids). Fish that use gasses to change or maintain their buoyancy usually do so by regulating the volume of the gas within their swim bladder. The compressibility of gas allows it to behave according to Boyle’s Law, which states that pressure is inversely proportional to volume at constant temperature. Lipids are the more common substance used to decrease a fish’s density. The incompressibility of lipids prevents them from being susceptible Boyle’s Law, which allows fish greater depth variation without the worry of compensating for pressure changes.

Fish experience significant opposition in their movement through water. One of the main opposing forces (acting in a direction opposite motion) is the drag force. All fluids have a certain viscosity, which is a description of the friction between nearby regions of the fluid moving at different velocities. Viscosity is responsible for the conversion of some kinetic energy to internal energy, which makes it act in a frictional manner. Viscosity can be expressed by Viscosity=(pressure)x(time) or Viscosity=(mass)/(length)x(time)

Tu, Xiaoyuan. “Structure of the Dynamic Fish Model”. University of Toronto

“How Do Fish Swim”. 

Section 6

Jacqueline Stickley

The way I came up with this is a bit of a funny story. As I was taking my evening bath, an empty shampoo bottle fell into the tub. This got me thinking (of physics, no less) and I decided to do a little experiment. I have always been fascinated by the sinking of the Titanic, so my experiment entailed what makes ships sink, and why did the Titanic sink so quickly?

I discovered that the mass of the ship (filled with air) has to be greater than the mass of the water for the ship to be buoyant. When the iceberg hit the Titanic, the ship obviously began to take on water. The water made the ship so heavy that it began to sink. The water filled half of the ship which in turn made the ship tip, and break in half. The other half began to take on water at that point. It started to tip with the opening going into the water. The ship bobbed up and down until there was no more air in the ship to keep in afloat.

Now, why did the Titanic sink so quickly? Ships today sink much more quickly than they did when we used wooden boats because of their mass. The mass of a steel ship is much, much greater than the mass of a wooden ship, thus making it much more heavy when the ship takes on water. The titanic sank so quickly compared to others of its time because it was one of the few ships that large that were made of steel at that time. Metal is heavier than wood. A piece of wood also floats a lot better than a piece of metal because it is more buoyant. It has less mass to pull it down.

When I was performing this experiment, the shampoo bottle did exactly what it was supposed to do regarding a sinking ship. As it began to take on water, the end with the opening tilted into the water until it was standing almost upright on it’s own. It then started to bob up and down until all the air was gone and water was all that was left. It then started to sink. Now it did not sink all the way to the bottom because it’s mass was not as great as it would have been had the bottle been made of wood or metal. The bottle floated in the very middle between the top of the water and the bottom of the tub.

I learned a lot from this experiment and had a lot of fun doing it as well. Everything is learned through experimentation and had it not been for experimentation, we might not have ever had ships at all, or anything we deem essential to our livelihood today.