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.

 

Sources:

 

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.

 

Sources:

 

·       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.

 

 

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