Home, My Views

My Views- Science Communication & Scientific Literacy

Hey Guys!

First of all, I’m sooooooooo sorry for breaking my promise and stuff. I know this is super terrible because yeah (breaking promises is bad). To make up for it, i will (probably) be writing more posts (so as long as Julian continues to pester me ceaselessly). I still want to aim for the 1 post every fortnight goal and i’ll still keep trying to achieve that someday.

Make sure you know what you’re getting yourself into before making a promise to a bunch of people

-Clyde Lhui 2016

Lately i have been getting into a lot of stuff. Stuff like learning Japanese, photography, music, cooking and a bunch of other stuff. I might be writing posts about those in future so yeah (i know i say this a lot and end up not writing but oh wells).

Well as you can probably tell by the title, this post is about science communication and scientific literacy (pretty self explanatory i guess). I feel very strongly about these 2 topics and that’s why I’m writing this post.

So first off, DEFINITIONS!

Science communication generally refers to public communication presenting science-related topics to non-experts. This often involves professional scientists (called “outreach” or “popularization”), but has also evolved into a professional field in its own right. It includes scienceexhibitions, journalism, policy or media production.

-Wikipedia

And…

Scientific literacy is the knowledge and understanding of scientific concepts and processes required for personal decision making, participation in civic and cultural affairs, and economic productivity. It also includes specific types of abilities.

-Literacynet.org

 

I know that you guys could have easily googled that but hey, 10 seconds saved is 10 seconds saved 🙂

So in short, science communication is talking to people who aren’t scientists about science and scientific literacy is knowing enough science to make logical and good decisions.

I think you are beginning to see how these 2 things are linked.

Perhaps i should further explain why i decided to write this post. In my daily life, i spend a lot of time with my friends (who are largely a group of nerds (who mostly take pride in their nerdhood)) and my family. Since i love science and i spend a lot of my time with my friends  (who are nerds), we spend a lot of time talking about science and related topics. As such, when i talk to my family about a ‘science related topic’ (I’ll explain the apostrophe later), i notice whenever something is off.

My aunts and uncles like to send long WhatsApp messages about stuff they hear from their friends and 95% of those messages that i end up reading are wrong in one way or another. My mum once showed me this video:

Well I think most of you can see why this video is wrong.

(In case you didn’t figure it out, your stomach is part of your body which is at 37 degrees Celsius for the most part)

(Also ice water warming up is kind of a thing)

I know some of you must be thinking: “I’m not stupid, i wouldn’t believe things that don’t make sense.”

Well there are quite a lot of things that people misunderstand.

For starters, nuclear power. I am a strong advocate for nuclear power. It’s clean, reliable and fairly safe. Unlike solar panels or wind turbines that stop working once the sun stops shining or the wind stops blowing, nuclear power plants can work 24/7 and supply enough power to support entire power grids. Furthermore, new nuclear plant designs which have improved safety features are constantly being suggested, making future power plants safer than before. Despite this, many people have a very negative impression of nuclear power.

Image result for nuclear power plant cooling tower

Does this look familiar?

Well it should. I have seen countless news reports about climate change showing images or videos these pumping out massive white clouds.

The only thing is these are the cooling towers of nuclear power plants.

Most people see these images and go “OH NO! We are pumping all that carbon dioxide into the atmosphere!?”. However, the white clouds coming out of the cooling towers are literal clouds: clouds of water droplets.

(Hopefully) by now you should understand the fact that we are prone to having a lot of misconceptions. It could be due to the way the media presents facts, the way social media promotes controversial content or any other reason out there. Regardless of the reason, i hope that you understand that this is pretty bad and it’s something that is extremely hard to avoid. I myself cannot claim that all the knowledge i possess is 100% accurate (in fact i do get things wrong pretty often).

What i hope you get out of reading this post is that knowledge is never absolute and that life and learning is all about constantly renewing our knowledge by being sceptical and challenging our own beliefs. We all need to keep reading and keep discussing so as to improve the accuracy of our knowledge. I think it’s also important for us to keep an open mind and not to immediately say “No that’s wrong.” when someone has contrasting beliefs (well you could but remember to provide your reasons and explain your views).

Never stop questioning your beliefs and perhaps one day there won’t be Geography teachers believing that the Earth goes around the sun in a day and rotates once around its axis in a year.

Thanks for reading!

Clyde Lhui 🙂

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Accountability-Time for more blogging

Hi guys!

So I just ended my mid-year exams (or MYEs as we like to call them) today and I have decided to start blogging once more! Yes, from now on I’ll be posting (or rather will be trying my best to post) regularly. Well in intervals of once a fortnight! (for those who have absolutely no idea as to what a fortnight is, it’s basically 2 weeks).

“Why is this post called Accountability?”

Yes I hear you dear reader.

So recently (while I was on my mega blogging hiatus) I have been doing a bunch of stuff. One of these things is, you guessed it, WATCHING YOUTUBE VIDEOS!!!

So while I was watching YouTube videos, I stumbled upon this channel called College Info Geek . He’s a dude called Thomas Frank and he makes these videos about productivity and study tips. There’s a video on his channel about how he was able to wake up at 6am every day:

So what I’m doing is basically what he’s doing just that I’m using the system with a couple of modifications.

So what am I going to actually do?

First, I’m posting this post which is basically a commitment. Every person who reads my blog will now expect me to post something 2 weeks later. And if I do end up not posting anything for 2 weeks, people gonna be angry.

So what if people are like:

Then won’t I just end up slacking off?

Welcome to part 2 of the system.

I made a deal with my friend. So if he sees that I don’t post anything for 2 week, I’ll buy him a drink and after 3 weeks I buy him a meal. It basically escalates to the point where I owe him a Starbucks drink if I don’t post for 5 weeks.

So yeah, accountability.

Well I actually have quite a lot of topics to discuss. Like I said I have been doing a lot of stuff while I wasn’t blogging.

From meeting Nobel laureates to playing piano and even watching anime.

Lots of anime.

Expect a lot more in the future. The next post will probably be something about black holes since it has been quite a while since I last did something on that topic.

Well, look out for the next post within the next 2 weeks!

 

 

Thanks for reading!

Clyde Lhui

Home, Science, Science Concepts

Superheroes, Crazy Clocks and Selfish Bosses: Einstein’s Theory of Special Relativity (Introduction: Part 1)

Hi Guys!

—————————————————————————————————–

This post is finally out.

After 12 months since i started this post and more than a year since the idea of this post was conceived, it’s finally out. I’m extremely sorry about the errors and having to repost but i cannot teach the wrong thing.

I strongly believe that it’s better not to know anything than to know the wrong thing for a human can talk, a human can tell other people things which may eventually lead to :

1. Awkward situations when you try to prove your physics teacher wrong but he ends up proving you wrong.

2. Trying to impress girls with physics knowledge but getting destroyed by the nerd sitting next to you

3. Writing the wrong answer in a test resulting in unsightly scores.

All of the above situations should be avoided at all costs. So i have rewritten the post. I have also realised that this topic has much more than i thought it had in terms of content so i have decided to split it into 2 separate posts. (the word count for this post approaching the 3000 word mark steadily) This is to prevent the “Too-Long-Don’t-Read” or TLDR syndrome from arising in some of my readers 🙂

This post is still pretty long but i hope you will enjoy it. Feel free to post in the comments any doubts you have and i will not hesitate to address them.

—————————————————————————————————–

This is the first part of another science concepts series. I will be introducing Special Relativity to you guys. This post is just to introduce you guys to the topic so don’t panic yet. Contrary to popular belief Special Relativity is actually very easy to learn.

Well here are some prerequisites if you are still feeling uncertain (like Heisenberg always was):

  1. Basic Arithmetic
  2. Basic Algebra Knowledge
  3. The ability to picture scenes in your mind
  4. An open mind to accept extremely counter-intuitive concepts
  5. A calculator, paper and pen/pencil
  6. A spaceship that can travel at speeds close to that of light (optional)

Yep that’s it! You can pick up the basics in a couple of minutes but i will going in some detail in this series.

I picked up this knowledge from my physics teachers so before I even begin my post, i would like to thank Mr Damian Boh for his support in my pursuit for scientific knowledge and as a friend. I would also like to thank Mr Jeffrey Goh and Ms Sonia How for giving me the opportunity to pursue further knowledge in the field of science and for being very supportive throughout this journey.

Okay so on to the the introduction.

In a previous post, I explained a little on reference frames.

If you haven’t read that post, go ahead and click the link to read it. Its pretty important in the understanding of this topic and i highly recommend that you read that post first (It takes only a couple of minutes).

So how are reference frames important in this topic?

As the name implies, Special Relativity relies on ‘Relativity’. An object’s relative velocity to another object. How does this all work? I shall explain the mechanics in a later post. As mentioned earlier, this post is just to give you a rough idea of how Special Relativity works.

Special Relativity works on the idea that time and space are variables and they alter themselves to keep 1 thing constant. The first letter of my name: c. The speed of light (in a vacuum of course but to keep this post nice and short I’m omitting all the ‘in a vacuum’s so yes). It relies on the fact that the speed of light is a universal constant and is constant to any observer regardless of his/her/it/whatever ‘s velocity and whatnot.

The idea can be represented by using a light-clock experiment but I’m going to use parabolic motion as an analogy first.

When you throw a ball upwards in a van, the ball, to you, goes up and then down, just as it would while you were standing on solid ground. However, to some guy who just happened to see you throwing the ball, he would observe that the ball was travelling in a parabola, aka a curvy symmetric shape. To picture this, you can type the function: y=-x^2 into your handy search engine, Google. The curve that results is a parabola.

The Parabola of the function y=-x^2
The Parabola of the function y=-x^2

Now from this example you can thus see that the same event can be viewed in different ways. All you have to do is replace the ball with a photon (particle of light) and you will roughly get the idea of what happens.

I know what all of you are saying, “But Clyde, light can’t go in a parabola like a ball!”

Well you’re right, it can’t so its time to end this post and forget about everything.

NOT!

We can explain this using an imaginary device. We’ll call it a “super-awesome-cool-type-thing-that-measures-accurate-time-and-is-generally-awesome-light-bouncing-time-changing-clock”

Alright. So this “super-awesome-cool-type-thing-that-measures-accurate-time-and-is-generally-awesome-light-bouncing-time-changing-clock”, (We can shorten it to SACTTTMATAIGALBTCC but let’s just refer to it as a light clock for now) what does it do? Let me draw this awesome device.

The Light Clock

There. Pretty neat eh.

The way this light clock works is by bouncing a photon (our light particle) up and down the box. Every time the photon hits the ceiling of the box, the clock ticks once. Every time the photon hits the bottom of the box, the clock ticks against. This happens several million times in a second and by the frequency of ticks, we are able to determine the amount of time that has passed.

However, the above is how the light clock looks like when it is stationary. When it moves, something crazy happens.

The Light Clock when its moving

The light now moves DIAGONALLY!

And if you still haven’t realized, the light has to travel a longer distance due to it moving at an angle.

Alright. Now take that in for a second.

So what happens?

The interval between the ticks get longer. And now the clock is reading time wrongly.

Or is it?

Remember the thing about the speed of light being constant? Regardless of what velocity the observer is travelling at?

Now its time to refer back to my post on reference frames

If you read my post, you would understand that the conflict between Galilean Relativity and Maxwell’s equations on electrodynamics has been resolved with Maxwell’s equations coming out ‘triumphant’ in some sense. So light does move at a constant velocity regardless of the velocity of the observer. Meaning if I were travelling at the speed of light (which is impossible and I will explain why in a later post) light would still move at the same speed as it would to someone standing completely still.

Perhaps I need to introduce some concrete numbers to make this clearer.

Say Flash (from DC) decided to challenge Nick Fury (from Marvel) to a race.nick flash 1

But of course Nick Fury has other stuff to do than to challenge some crazy dude in some race. So he decides to take a seat and chill. (If anyone gets the 21 reference then here’s a fistbump)

nick flash 2

But Flash is still in this and starts running. Like real quick. Like 250,000,000 ms^-1 quick. (Nick is busy with his Avenger stuff)

nick flash 3f

5 Seconds later, Superman (from DC) flies in and decides he’s had enough of this Flash guy. He stands beside Fury and starts firing his laser towards Flash.

nick flash 4

But Flash thinks that he won’t get killed because he’s running so flippin’ fast.

But poor Flash didn’t read my blog.

Flash thought that since he was travelling at 250,000,000 ms^-1m, the light would slowly approach him at 50,000,000 ms^-1. And with his 5 second headstart (which made him 1,250,000,000 m away from Nick Fury and Superman) the light would only reach him after 25 seconds, giving him some time to run away.

nick flash 5

But that obviously did not happen

4.2 seconds later, Flash gets fried. Although he was travelling at 250,000,000 ms^-1, the light was travelling at 300,000,000 ms^-1 to him, clearing the 1250,000,000 m distance in that short span of 4.2 seconds. Though Nick Fury was sitting down, he watched the light travel towards Flash at 300,000,000 ms^-1.

nick flash 6

This is probably very puzzling to you.

You might be thinking that the light got faster, since Flash saw the light moving at 300,000,000 ms^-1, the light should have been travelling at 250,000,000+300,000,000 ms^-1= 550,000,000 ms^-1

But Fury saw the light moving at 300,000,000 ms^-1.

“Where did all that extra speed go to?” You are probably asking yourself now

Let’s go back to that clock.

Since Maxwell was right, the above should happen. (If all those super heroes did exist and decided to do all that weird stuff.)

Let’s say Flash and Nick Fury were each carrying one of our light clocks.

nick flash 7

Since light travels at the same speed to Flash as to everyone else, his clock ticks along just fine.

nick flash 8

But if Nick Fury were to listen to Flash’s clock ticking and compare it to his own clock, since light travels at the same speed to Nick Fury as to Flash, Nick would hear Flash’s clock ticking much slower as compared to his own.

nick flash 9

Why? Because the light travels diagonally to Nick and travels a longer distance. Nick would see the light travel a much longer distance, thus making the clock tick slower, but to Flash the light still bounces up and down, ticking at the same rate as if it were stationary.

Do you see what just happened?

TIME SLOWED DOWN.

But wait.

Let’s take a step back from here. Let’s go back to reference frames. After all, relativity is all about reference frames.

The above is only portrayed in Nick’s perspective. What about in Flash’s perspective?

flash nick 11

Flash would see Nick’s time slow down too. Why?

In Flash’s reference frame, he can take himself to be stationary and Nick Fury to be moving backwards at 250,000,000 ms^-1

This is due to the fact that there is no absolute reference frame. Be it Nick running or Flash running, there is no difference.

To explain this, let’s go back to Nick Fury.

Now say Nick takes one of his S.H.E.I.L.D Helicarriers out for a spin.

So while Nick is having fun flying his huge flying craft across the globe, he gets tired and takes a nap.

nick-tony-2
Nick Fury sleeps with his eyes open. At least I think so…

Tony Stark decides to play a little joke on Nick by shutting all the windows. Perhaps he spent a little more time studying physics and knows how to confuse other people.

Ncik Tony 1

Nick then wakes up, realising that he can’t see what’s happening outside.

Ncik Tony 1

Now here’s the big question: Did the Helicarrier land or is it still in mid air?

And here’s the big answer: You can’t know.

The problem with this problem is that in Einstein’s theory of special relativity, it is impossible to tell if you are travelling at constant speed or if you are stationary for any experiment conducted in 2 different inertial reference frames will yield the same result.

This means that every reference frame is equally valid and equally correct regardless of the observation it makes.

So the question of who is right ultimately shouldn’t be a question, because both are equally right!

Whose time slowed down? That ain’t even a proper question mate!

If you really want to know what the clocks would say, the clock Flash is carrying would say 5 seconds and Nick’s clock would have said 9 instead. (These values are rounded down. I will discuss the mathematics at a later date.)

Flash’s time is passing by slower than Nick’s.

But that’s only half the story.

Say Flash ran next to Nick Fury. Nick would see an ultra thin Flash, almost like a Flash that had been squashed flat like a paper.

nick flash 10

Why? Because time slowing down isn’t good enough to account for light moving at the same speed.

I can hear all of you going “Huh?” right now.

Why does time slow down when you move faster?

It changes to allow light to move at the same speed to you as to some other guy sitting on the ground.

Let’s go back to the super heroes.

Earlier we mentioned that Light should in fact have been moving at 550,000,000 ms^-1 when it in fact was only moving at 300,000,000 ms^-1. Now i shall tell you where all that extra speed went to.

Since time slowed down, Light has more time to catch up to Flash.

That makes sense doesn’t it? Though we cannot imagine the perspective of light (due to the math which I will eventually get around to explaining)

So actually light moves at the same speed but time slows down to accommodate for people who decide to move.

But time slowing down isn’t enough. If you calculate the time change using the light clock experiment, it isn’t enough to account for the moving observer, so space also has to change, length has to shorten for light to move at the same speed.

Essentially light is like a super unreasonable boss. You have to conform to him, even if it means that you have to bend and change.

This is only half (actually 1/3) of the story. So far we have gone through Relativity of Space. There are two more parts of relativity which are sure to melt your mind (like it did to my mind when i tried to comprehend it). These are known as the Relativity of Time and the Relativity of Simulteinity. Look out for that in later posts.

And that is Special Relativity, a story about an unreasonable and selfish boss changing the fabric of our universe to make him the fastest thing in the universe.

I will be going through the calculations at a later date after i have completed the posts on the Relativity of Time and the Relativity of Simulteinity. In the meantime, if you have any other questions, go ahead and post them in the comments or send me a message via the contact page. If you find any part of this page to contain faulty logic/ wrong info, please post a comment or send me a message, you would be doing a service to everyone who reads this post after you.

Thank you for reading this and have fun changing space and time!

Clyde Lhui 🙂

P.s: My favourite Superhero is Spiderman. LOL

P.s: Tell me if you’d like to see more illustrations in the future.

P.s: Watched and loved Age of Ultron

Photo References:

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Re: Special Relativity Post

Hi guys,
As some of you have probably noticed, my previous post on special relativity has been taken down.
TEMPORARILY
Upon closer scrutiny, I have discovered several errors and also some areas which I have not covered well or fully. I will be revising the post and once it is back again, I promise it will contain more adventures with our superheroes. Perhaps more characters *hint hint*
But till then, please take that post with a pinch of salt. The one thing I absolutely will not be able to forgive myself for is for spreading wrong information.
So as a mother would tell her child, I am telling you now my dear readers, “This is for your own good.”
Till then, please send me anything you wish to tell me, be it a question or a suggestion, I will take it very seriously.
Thank you once again and sorry for the mistakes,

Clyde Lhui 🙂

Home, My Views

My Views- Lee Kuan Yew

Hi guys,

As you probably know, i am a Singaporean and the past week has been a rather sad week for us Singaporeans. On the 23rd of March at 0318 hrs, we lost one of our founding fathers, Mr Lee Kuan Yew. I know that this is a rather touchy topic but i feel that it is important for me to voice my opinion on the issue.

Since February, Mr Lee Kuan Yew had been hospitalized for (from my knowledge of the situation) pnemonia and since then, the Prime Minister’s Office had been releasing statements regarding Mr Lee’s situation. At some point in March, Mr Lee’s health began to deteriorate and many Singaporeans began to send in their well wishes, hoping that Mr Lee would make a speedy recovery. Some people on the other hand, criticized Mr Lee and the actions he took during his leadership. However, the situation continued to go downhill until Mr Lee sadly passed away on the 23rd.

Since his passing, thousands of Singaporeans have sent in messages to pay tribute to Mr Lee, some of which are posted on the Remembering Lee Kuan Yew website. An orchid species has also been named after Mr Lee Kuan Yew.

I personally feel that it is important for Singaporeans to understand what Mr Lee has done for our country and how significant the changes he made during his leadership are to us today. We are very fortunate to be able to transition from a third world country to a first world country and without Mr Lee and his team, we wouldn’t have been able to do so.

But I’m not here to prove to you that Mr Lee was a great man who did great things. (If you want proof, look out of your window. That’s proof.) I’m here to offer my opinion on how things went during the past few days.

Please note that these are my opinions which may differ from others.

The fact that Singaporeans still remain united during this period of extreme grief is very heartening. I think that the late Mr Lee would have been very pleased to see that Singaporeans, behind our busy, seemingly mindless selves, still remain united as one.

But that is the very thing i find weird.

If Mr Lee did not pass away, would none of this have happened? Thousands of Singaporeans thanking him for his service to the nation. If he hadn’t passed away, how many of those people would have thanked him for his service? Personally i am an atheist, i do not believe in the afterlife. Why do we wait until that person cannot hear us anymore before we give thanks to him/her? Even if you do believe in the afterlife, what if it doesn’t exist? You can only hope it exists. Why do we not thank him while he can still hear our thanks and see our messages? This does not only apply to Mr Lee but practically every single famous person who has passed? The famous suicide of Amanda Todd, why did everyone wait for her to commit suicide before saying she was beautiful? We should thank these great people while they are still alive. All of these people left this world without ever hearing the thousands of people thanking them, cheering them on. I feel that this situation shows us that we need to show our thanks and cherish those who are still alive. Crude as it may sound, there is no point waiting until someone is on their deathbed before telling them how thankful you are for their help or for their mere existence. Cherish the time you have left with these people, if you feel that you haven’t been thanking your grandparents enough, it doesn’t have to be a word of thanks, actions speak louder than words. Make them a cake, a nice meal or do something nice for them on their birthday. Don’t wait any longer, you don’t have the time to wait.

But yes, we must acknowledge that Mr Lee was a great leader who played a HUGE role in Singapore’s development. Several people have been criticizing Mr Lee’s decisions while he was in power. I feel that even if we disagree with anyone’s decisions, we shouldn’t be criticizing them while they are on their deathbed. Several people have also remarked that these people are not grateful for what they have today. I partially agree with that. Singapore has been sort of a miracle. We somehow managed to turn from a third world country to a first world country, not an easy feat especially with all the problems that arose during that period. Several other countries are trying to escape the third world status but Mr Lee managed to actually pull us out of that situation.

Now that Mr Lee has passed, i hope that Singapore will continue to develop further. This is what i believe Mr Lee would want to see.

“Even from my sickbed, even if you are going to lower me to the grave and I feel that something is going wrong, I will get up.”

-Mr Lee Kuan Yew

He will get up for his spirit lives on within all of us.

 

Clyde Lhui

Home, My Views

Is Everything a Miracle?

Hi Guys,

Yes, somehow i have managed to find time to blog yet again. This time I’m going to talk (or actually, write) about a quote and some things i have been thinking about lately. This post will probably include some science but it won’t be too content heavy. Rather, this post will be about how those science concepts apply to our life.

Now back to that quote.

The quote i am talking about is one by the famous theoretical physicist (and one of the physicists who i greatly respect), Albert Einstein.

“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”

-Albert Einstein

Pretty straightforward eh? Essentially, you can either believe that everything is predetermined or everything just happens magically.

The scientific concept that i will be including in this post is the quantum theory. Don’t get me wrong, i am no expert in this field of science and i am open to criticism (if i do write something wrong). And i feel that it’s because of this ‘quantum theory’ that ‘Newtonian Mechanics’ are described as ‘Newtonian Mechanics’. The quantum theory is what caused physics to change so much, to a point where an entirely new field of physics had to be created.

I was introduced to this field of physics in primary school. As you may or may not have read in my previous posts, my science teacher at the time referred me to this field in particular as i asked him quite a lot about how particles worked. This was the thing that i was trying to understand at the time and i failed so terribly to do so. I tried to find some means to figure out what this field of physics was and what it entailed, but every time i tried to poke at the topic, super complicated physics would just pop out and i would be confused about everything i was reading. As i entered secondary school, all of the teachers who mentioned quantum physics in their classes would describe it as a module they had to take up in university where the professor came into the room, wrote a bunch of mathematical equations on the board which they copied as notes, and left without understanding a single thing. When the teachers told me about this, i was extremely intrigued. What was this thing that was so difficult to understand? It was only when i entered CΩergy. I remembered the day of my first CΩergy lesson rather clearly. At the end of the lesson, i asked my CΩergy teacher, Mr Damian Boh, a few questions. If i’m not wrong, i asked him whether light had mass and he told me about quantum physics. He used the example of quantum tunneling (now a favorite joke among us CΩergy boys) where the idea that a particle could overcome an energy barrier just by chance or in some cases ‘teleporting’. From then on, i got really interested in this part of science, discussing it with the rest of the CΩergy group. And i have to say, it was one of the most CRAZY topics that i have ever discussed about with other people. It has led me to so many new discussions and debates due to its innate quirkiness.

And now i shall explain what i know about quantum physics.

Firstly, why is quantum physics called quantum physics? Because part of it describes practically everything to be discrete or in fixed units. An example would be length. Quantum physics says that length is discrete not continuous. In math, i can have as small a unit of length i want. 0.0000000000000000000000000000001 nanometers? In math, that isn’t an issue. Even in Classical mechanics (aka Newtonian mechanics), i can have infinitely small units of length. If i wanted something to be shorter, i could make it smaller. But in quantum physics, no. It’s not just about the fact that the most fundamental particles have some length and no matter could ever have a length smaller than that of those particles, but it’s about the fact that the idea of ‘length’ does not exist after a certain point. And that point is known as the Planck’s length. Nothing can be smaller than Planck’s length. You may thing ‘Well all we have to do is cut Planck’s length into 2 and we will have a smaller unit of length’ but no. In this UNIVERSE there is no such thing as length after the Planck’s length. What is half of Planck’s length? Nothing. Because it;s not called length anymore. Isn’t that crazy?

Another way to explain this is this. Imagine i shrinked you down to the size of a quark and now a quark is the size of a ball. You push the ball. But if you don’t push it with enough force to move at a certain speed, it would not move. It’s either it moves at speed x or it doesn’t move at all.

Secondly, quantum physics is about probability. The position of a particle is not definite. When you see an electron, it may not be there but it’s just a high chance that it’s there. This also applies to things such as electron clouds.

And it is due to the probabilistic nature of quantum physics that links to the above quote.

Since everything is made out of fundamental particles, and the way fundamental particles interact and behave is governed by the quantum theory (at least for now), you could say that everything is governed by the quantum theory. Though this effect is diluted by the fact that we are extremely large creatures (or objects rather) for quantum effects to take place, sometimes extremely small things can affect us in large ways. There is this joke i saw in a video about time travel (which i agree to some extent). It talks about a time traveler who goes back in time and accidentally steps on an ant which ultimately results in large changes in human biology. This could possibly be true. A small event (in this case the death of an ant) could cause something else to happen which causes another thing to happen which may result in large changes in the future (in this case changes in human biology). Therefore, quantum effects that affect the smallest of particles could have an effect on our fate. This separates classical mechanics and quantum mechanics.

In the past, people thought that with sufficient information, we could predict the fate of the entire universe. This was due to the fact that laws that were so well established were present at the time. Though these laws stand true i most cases, especially with large objects (aka things that are made of large numbers of atoms/molecules). However, when we peered into the quantum world, we discovered that sometimes things happen just by chance, in some cases defying the laws of classical physics like random particles appearing and disappearing in short periods of time due to the uncertainty principle for energy and time(which defies the law of conservation of energy). This was when we realised, maybe we aren’t doomed for things to happen exactly as the laws of physics predict, maybe we could break these barriers, maybe everything really and truly is a MIRACLE.

Einstein did not believe in quantum physics. He tried to defeat the theory but eventually failed. If even one of the greatest theoretical physicists failed to defeat this theory, maybe we should really consider it as very highly likely.

Do you believe that everything is a miracle? Well i certainly do. With chance becoming an element in the physical universe, i believe that everything really is a miracle.

Now that really is some food for thought.

 

Thank you for reading!

Clyde Lhui 🙂

P.s: This is only a very small part of quantum physics. It truly is an awesome part of physics, very intriguing, very fascinating. I would highly recommend you to go read up more about it.

Home, My Views

My Views- Why you shouldn’t hate science

Hi guys,

I decided to type this post because I’ve been thinking about this topic more frequently lately.

This year, i have had the chance to participate as a facilitator in an event organized by Singapore Chinese Girls’ School (SCGS) called Open Little Eyes (OLE). I participated in this event together with a few friends from my school. Through the event, i have made several new friends, who are either the same age as me (Sec 2) or one year younger than me (Sec 1). I have been talking to them quite a bit even though the event has long ended. When we talk, we usually talk about school and other stuff. However, whenever i bring up the topic about physics or science in general, they would all start freaking out. They have told me multiple times that they do not like science (or physics to me more specific). That made me think more why didn’t so many people like physics or science? Its not just my OLE friends, its practically everyone who I’ve met (excluding some people).

Let’s begin from the start. When Singapore was a very young nation, the government decided to implement mathematics and science into the education system so as to increase the rate of growth of our nation by rapid industrialization which required skills such as proficiency in mathematics and a basic knowledge of scientific concepts. This has to this date remained an integral part of our education system, training critical thinking and the ability of students to solve problems. However, this has caused some students to start feeling doubtful of the subject, some of them even strongly dislike these subjects. I myself have questioned the reason for us to study math and even engaged in a debate with my dad, finally conceding to the fact that mathematics is useful to me.

For a start, lets talk about mathematics. Math used to my second most hated subject in the 4 core subjects (Math, Mother tongue, English and Science). The reason for this hatred? The very nature of mathematics. Math is very repetitive in nature and requires a lot of practice. Without sufficient practice, one may find the subject extremely difficult. In fact, practice is the only way one can master mathematics. Sometimes math may seem useless. Algebra for instance seemed useless to me at the start of last year. I always wondered “Why would i ever need to factorize anything in real life?”. Over time i realized that math was actually very important in real life. Physics requires the use of a lot of math. I also found the fun in math. However it still ranks third in my 4 core subjects. (I still love my English and of course my science).

Now on to the core of this post, why do people dislike science? I found out that the reason lies in others’ perception of the subject. People perceive science as an extremely difficult subject and they stay away from it. In some cases, this fear of the difficulty of science causes their standard of the subject to drop. They get intimidated and they stop trying. I have to admit, i was daunted by secondary school mathematics at first. However after analyzing the subject at a deeper level, i see its beauty and its importance. This then motivated me to try to understand the key concepts rather than just learning how to do the questions. This is also another problem: the fact that students learn only what is required and not trying to progress further. Science is a very broad subject and there are may areas in which people might be interested in. I actually do not like parts of physics. Although its my favorite subject, i still hate certain topics (especially optics). If you stop at what is required of you, you might just miss the interesting parts. The only other reason why people might not like the subject is because of the way that it is being taught. As for this, you might want to consider approaching your friends or your teacher to further inquire. I used to ask many questions and that is what caused me to like science so much. To this day, i’m still asking plenty of questions and it certainly helps in my learning process.

To end off, I wish you all the best in your journey of scientific inquiry and i hope that you have an awesome times studying science. Whatever you do, don’t give up on science and it won’t give up on you.

Regards,

Clyde Lhui 🙂