Science

Why Is The Sky Blue?

Why is the Sky Blue

In order to understand why the sky is blue, you must first learn a bit about the properties of light. While the light from the Sun or an artificial source such as a light bulb may look white, it’s actually composed of many colors. A rainbow displays those colors by splitting the light through water droplets in the air. All of those colors, when combined, appear to be white.

You’ve probably heard the term “light wave”. Each of the colors that make up the white light have a different wavelength. It’s not necessary that you totally understand this in order to understand why the sky is blue. Just so you know that the different colors have different properties (wavelengths).

Waves can be affected by the world around them. Light waves can be reflected. That’s why you can see your “reflection” in a mirror. Light waves are reflected off your face, then reflected off the mirror’s surface, and then back to your eyes and you see yourself!

Waves can also be absorbed. Light waves can be absorbed by the gas molecules in Earth’s atmosphere. We mentioned earlier that the different colors in light have different wavelengths. Some wavelengths are absorbed by the atmosphere better than others. Therefore, some of the colors pass through the atmosphere (sky) and some are absorbed.

The color whose wavelength is most readily absorbed just happens to be blue! The other colors of sunlight pass straight through the atmosphere and illuminate the surface of the Earth and everything on it. The blue light, however, after being absorbed by the gas molecules, re-radiates away from them in all directions. So when you look at the sky, it is literally “shining with blue light”.

To put it in very simple terms … the sky is blue because it absorbs the blue light from the Sun while letting the other colors pass through.

So what makes a sunset look red or orange? Is the atmosphere absorbing orange lightwaves? The answer is no. The same effect that causes the sky to be blue causes a sunset to appear red or orange. Let’s look at how that occurs.

When you look at a sunset, you’re not looking at the sky … you’re looking at the Sun. You’re seeing the light waves that are least absorbed by the molecules in the atmosphere. The ones that pass through and make it to your eyes. The color that is least absorbed just happens to be red. As the Sun gets lower and lower in the sky, its light passes through more and more of the atmosphere before reaching your eyes. That results in not only more and more of the blue light being absorbed … the molecules start absorbing more and more of the other colors too. If you see the sunset in the flatlands where its light is passing through a maximum amount of atmosphere, all of the lightwaves are being absorbed more and more than the red ones. That’s why the color of the sunset changes as it gets lower in the sky!

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Posted by admin - January 7, 2012 at 10:37 am

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Who Invented Velcro?

Who Invented Velcro

It’s widely believed that Velcro was developed by NASA for the space program but that’s a myth. Velcro was actually invented in 1941 by George De Mestral, an engineer from Commugny, Switzerland. George and his dog were hunting in the Alps when George noticed something that most of us have experienced. There were dozens of these little sticky seeds all over his pant legs in in his dogs hair.

What George noticed that we didn’t was that while the seeds were nearly impossible to get out of his dog’s hair, it was relatively easy to remove them from his pant legs even though they were very firmly attached. Upon looking at the seeds with a microscope, George discovered that the sticky outer surface of the seeds was actually a huge number of “hooks” that got hooked to anything with a loop.

In a way, it’s not clear whether we should ask “Who invented Velcro” or “Who discovered Velcro”. Of course, even though something exists in nature, it’s seldom convenient to use in its natural form and the discoverer / inventor” deserves much credit for seeing the potential for making human life easier.

What if a product could be made that allows someone to open or close things in the snap of two fingers? Instead of tying shoelaces, for example, how about just snapping them “tied” in a moment? What about the possibility of hanging things on walls without having to puncture the wall? What about clothing that needs to go on and come off in a hurry such as a fireman’s heat resistant suit? There could be dozens or hundreds of such uses!

All George had to do was figure out a way to produce two simple items. He needed one layer of “hooks” and another layer of “loops” that were attached to something that could be sewn, glued, or in some other way attached to the walls, shoes, fireman’s suit, etc. For that he needed funding but, unfortunately, sometimes the inventor is the only one who sees that potential for his idea. Bankers couldn’t see the need for a product that filled a need that was already being performed by zippers and buttons. Of course, the bankers had made the same argument against the zipper just three decades earlier. Many people in the business community thought he was a fool for wasting his time on such an unneeded idea.

George didn’t give up though. He decided to do research on his own and with the help of a weaver from France to find an economical way to produce his “hooks” and “loops”. George nearly gave up when eight years later he had a brainstorm! He suddenly knew how to produce the product by machine in large quantities at a low cost!

In 1951 George Mestral received a patent for his invention. Very soon afterwards, Velcro was being sold in numerous locations in the US and around the world. Yes, George got the last laugh on the bankers and the business moguls and today Velcro is its own multi-million dollar per year success story!

Perhaps the most interesting reference to Velcro is the fact that it’s often blamed for the deaths of astronauts Gus Grissom, Edward White II, and Roger Chaffee during a test of the Apollo 1 spacecraft. Engineers had warned that Velcro, while extremely handy in space for keeping objects from floating around, was also dangerously flammable in an oxygen rich atmosphere. The Apollo 1 spacecraft contained a 100% oxygen atmosphere. Those engineers recommended no more than 500 square inches be installed but Velcro was so useful that the spacecraft ended out with ten times that much! In any case, it was the excessive use of Velcro along with the increased flammability of everything else in a pure oxygen atmosphere plus a spark from an electrical problem that caused the deaths. Velcro’s inherent flammability was only a small part of the problem.

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Posted by admin - January 7, 2012 at 9:56 am

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Who Invented the Television?

Who Invented the Television

Philo Farnsworth showing off his invention for the first time (1928)

As with many inventions, more than one inventor was working on the television nearly simultaneously. This often creates controversy as to who the actual inventer was and that is definitely the case with the television. In this particular case, the controversy was hotly debated during the “cold war” as one of the inventors was Russian born (although he did become a naturalized U.S. citizen the year after filing his patent) while the other was a farm boy from the state of Utah. So who invented the television? A son of socialist Russia or a true blue capitalistic American?

The Russian-born inventor’s name was Vladimir Zworykin. His contribution to the development of the television was extremely important. He was the first person to file a patent application for an electron scanning tube. He called his an “iconoscope” and it was the basis for picture tube type television sets that are still used to this day! The problem with Zworykin’s patent was that the device itself never actually worked! The theory behind it was sound, however and he was the first one to patent the idea.

The U.S. inventor’s name was Philo Farnsworth. His contribution was that he actually got television to work, using his own version of an electron scanning tube. He did so by displaying the world’s first television picture on September 7, 1927. Philo Farnsworth went one step further in his claim to have invented the television, however, as he stated that he had the idea for that tube independently and considerably earlier than Vladimir Zworykin’s patent. In other words, he said that he hadn’t simply improved on Zworykin’s design.

To add to the “cold war” controversy mentioned earlier, Zworykin had filed for his patent in 1923 but did not become a naturalized U.S. citizen until 1924. Therefore, he was still Russian at that time! So the argument (which continues to this day) is not simply over who invented the television, but also, which nation gets the credit!

In 1930, Philo Farnsworth was granted a patent for his electron scanning tube. In his case, a working model was provided with his patent application. Also in 1930, Vladimir Zworykin visited Farnsworth’s laboratory and copied his design. Zworykin was not able to get his “copy” working until 1934, however, and could not get a patent for that version until 1938. Even then, the quality of the picture was horrible and his employers even ordered him to “move on” to something more productive!

A law suit was initiated in 1938 between Zworykin (and RCA who now employed him) and Farnsworth over who invented the television. During the suit, Farnsworth’s high school teacher testified that Farnsworth shared the basis for his scanning tube at the tender age of 14, thus confirming Farnsworth’s claim to having the idea first. Of course, we’ll never know to what, if any, extent that testimony was true. The “cold war” aspect at the time would have been a great motivator for a “good” American to want to help claim the invention for his country. Or, of course, the teacher may have been totally honest in their recollection.

Anyway, Philo Farnsworth won the suit against the corporate giant (RCA) and the Russian. RCA was forced to pay him royalties starting in 1939. In other words, the court ruled that Farnsworth was the one who had invented television. Again, of course, we must keep in mind that was a U.S. court!

So, in conclusion, it would seem that in order to determine who invented television, we would have to determine the following things:

1. Who actually first developed the theory behind the operation of the electron scanning tube?

2. Does Zworykin’s 1923 patent get precedence or does Farnsworth’s working model and 1938 court ruling?

3. Are the two inventors contributions both substantial and therefore, should they be considered co-inventors?

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Posted by admin - January 7, 2012 at 9:48 am

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Who Invented the Radio?

Who Invented the Radio

If you think that what you learned about who invented the radio at school was just enough for you to come to terms with the fact that there was just one person involved, then you surely are mistaken. Despite the fact that most of us learned in school that there was just one person involved, there are quite a few candidates to whom the credit has to be given for inventing the radio. If you wish to know about the list of people who invented the radio, then here it is for you.

Guglielmo Marconi was an Italian inventor who was the first person to actually show the practical usage of radio. He was the first person who sent out and received radio signals in 1895. Later in 1899 he sent out a radio signal across the English Channel and in 1902 he successfully had the letter S telegraphed from England to Newfoundland. These might seem like minor accomplishments but all great developments begin with a wimper.

In 1892, Nikola Telsa came up with the basic design for a radio. He was also responsible for patenting a robot boat in the year of 1898. In 1894 Alexander Popov created the world’s first radio receiver with a coherer, which was simply a tube with two closely spaced electrodes that could detected the presence of a radio signal but could not convert it to audio. This did, however, allow messages to be sent in morse code via radio signals for the first time! The day of its launch is still being commemorated in Russia as the Radio Day. Though the coherer was in radio reception use for a very long time, it was Sir Oliver Lodge who actually perfected the device.

In 1900, Reginald Fessenden was responsible for sending out the first radio based audio transmission. In 1906, the very first two-way radio communication commenced and in the same year the very first radio broadcast of both music and entertainment took place.

Among all these people who invented the radio, Heinrich Hertz is still well remembered since his name is used as the metric for all radio frequencies. He was the first German scientist who proved the existence of electromagnetic waves. He constructed a system that detected ultra high frequency radio waves. Hertz as a metric system became internationally recognized in 1933.

The other notable people who invented the radio were Nathan Stubblefield, Amos Dolbear, Mahlon Loomis and James Clerk Maxwell. Though the actual invention of the radio cannot be attributed to these names, they did significant research with radio waves and contributed to the field of science and technology.

With the help of radio transmission, Amos Dolbear was able to patent the first telegraph through wireless radio communication in 1882. Mahlon Loomis on the other hand was actually called the first wireless telegrapher since he was able to construct a communication system that transmitted information wirelessly between two sites that were 18 miles away from each other.

In all honesty, it is believed that Nathan Stubblefield invented the radio even before Marconi or Telsa. He was the first person to have invented wireless transmission of the human voice through audio frequency induction. Maxwell on the other hand was the person who actually conceptualized the existence of radio waves.

So as with most inventions, many small discoveries were necessary in order to arrive at the radio we enjoy today! It’s rare when only one inventor is responsible for the entire project.

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Posted by admin - January 7, 2012 at 9:44 am

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Who Discovered Jupiter?

Who Discovered Jupiter

The simple answer to the question “Who discovered Jupiter?” is “No one discovered Jupiter”. Jupiter, you see, is visible without a telescope. The only heavenly bodies that are brighter than Jupiter are the Sun, the Moon, and the planet Venus (in that order). There are no stars brighter than Jupiter. The International Space Station (ISS) is the only manmade object in space that is brighter than Jupiter (and Venus!).

So technically, there was no “discoverer” of Jupiter since it’s right there for all to see. It’s very far away but it’s also huge. It contains 99% of all of the mass in our solar system except for the Sun, of course! No one had to search to find it.

A very similar and important question, however, is “Who first realized that Jupiter was a planet?”. After all, it simply looks like a really bright star to the naked eye. Even ancient people realized that there was something special about five of the “stars” they saw in the sky. They didn’t stay in the same place each night like the other 6,000 or so other stars that can be seen without any visual aids. They moved around the sky in wierd paths of changing directions. In fact, they were called “wandering stars”.

Then in the 16th century, Nicolaus Copernicus came up with an explanation for those weird movements. Up to that time, it was believed that the Earth was the center of the universe and everything else went around it. Copenicus postulated that if the Earth was actually revolving around the Sun and those five wierd “stars” were also rotating around the Sun, that would explain their erratic movements in the sky! But Copernicus didn’t actually call those “stars” planets. By the way, the five “wanderers” that could be seen with the naked eye were Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn.

The fellow who really derserves the credit for determining that Jupiter is a planet was Italian physicist, mathematician, philosopher, and astronomer Galileo Galilei. Now Galileo was one smart guy and is generally given credit as the father of modern science.

Galileo knew from Copernicus’ work that there were five things in the sky that were orbiting the Sun just like Earth. Were they planets just like Earth? Were they stars that orbit our Sun? Galileo would have to see them better than with the naked eye in order to find out.

In 1609 Galileo used something called a telescope which was, at the time, pretty much a novelty item. A parlour trick to amuse the rich. Intellectuals of the day even refused to have anything to do with the first telescopes. You see, they weren’t made by someone from the intellectual crowd, they were made by common craftsmen. At that time, most intellectuals felt that it was impossible for anything developed by a “common man” to be of any use in any intellectual pursuit. Luckily, Galileo and a few others saw the promise of what they could learn with the telescope.

Galileo was immediately amazed when he looked at two of those wandering “stars”. What turned out to be Jupiter had four tinier lights going around it! Kind of like the Moon goes around the Earth? And what turned out to be Venus went through phases just like our Moon! Galileo knew that meant it revolved on its axis just like Earth.

So anyway, nobody discovered Jupiter but Galileo gets the credit for at least confirming that it is a planet.

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Posted by admin - January 7, 2012 at 9:37 am

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Where Do Dolphins Live?

Where Do Dolphins Live

Most Dolphins live in the shallow water along ocean beaches but there are many species of Dolphin and each has evolved to fit in its own habitat. Some species of Dolphin live in warm water and some in cold water. There are even four species of Dolphin that live in fresh water and are generally referred to as river Dolphins! And, of course, some Dolphins even live at Sea World or at your local aquarium!

Dolphins can live to be as old as 50 years! This varies dramatically by location and species with the shortest life expectancy at about 10 years and the average about 25 years.

Dolphins actually evolved from land animals approximately 50 million years ago! It’s believed that their closest relative that still lives on land today is the hippopotamus! Because they evolved from land animals, Dolphins are not fish. They are mammals who bear their young alive rather than lay eggs. They also have lungs instead of gills. A Dolphin’s lungs have many more air sacs per volume than ours though so even though their not larger than ours, they hold much more oxygen. Their lungs also have twice as many capillaries as ours so they’re more efficient at utilizing the Oxygen from the air sacs. A Dolphin can hold its breath as long as 10 minutes or even a bit longer but they normally come up for a breath at least every minute or two.

There’s no doubt that Dolphins are really cute! It’s perfectly normal to want to interact with them but beware! In the United States it’s illegal to pursue wild dolphins. If they approach you it’s legal but remember that they are wild animals, not Flipper! Their tail can easily break human ribs or give you a concussion even if the Dolphin is just being friendly. Feeding wild Dolphins is also illegal in the United States.

Not only do most Dolphins live in very shallow water, they don’t even ever dive deep. The deepest dive we know about was 300 meters (990 feet) but that was by a U.S. Navy trained Dolphin. It’s likely that the typical wild Dolphin never dives much further than 2 or 3 meters (7 to 10 feet). That’s, after all, where most of their food is located and the water is warmer in the shallows. They don’t have to worry about getting “the bends” like human divers do either. That occurs from breathing compressed air and the Dolphins are simply holding their breath.

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Posted by admin - January 7, 2012 at 9:26 am

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When Does Fall Start?

When Does Fall Start

Some questions just don’t have simple answers and “when does Fall start?” is one of those. A totally unsatifying answer is that it depends on where you live and who you ask! So let’s get the least satisfactory answers out the way first.

From a purely sociological viewpoint, the Fall season starts on the day after Labor Day. For a few months we’ve been vacationing, participating in outdoor activities and sports, and our children have been out of school. Labor day kind of marks the border between that and a life of returning to work and school, a changing of the weather, changing from outdoor activities and sports to some indoors and to different ones outdoors, etc. There’s certainly little justification for this determination of when Fall starts except our frames of mind.

The definition of when Fall begins from a strict weather outlook is September 1st. Meteorologists actually define Fall as the months of September, October, and November. It’s just easier for them to keep seasonal weather pattern records by the month so that definition doesn’t mean much to each of us.

The most common answer to the question, “When does Fall start?” is that it begins at the moment of the Fall Equinox. That’s when the rays of the Sun are exactly perpendicular to the Earth at the equator. This year (2009), that occured at 5:18 PM eastern daylight time in the US on September 22nd.

That, of course, only applies to the Northern Hemisphere. In the Southern Hemisphere, that same moment marked the beginning of Spring! The first day of Fall there was on March 20, 2009 and you probably guessed that was also the first day of Spring in the North. This makes sense if you think about the fact that from the moment the Fall Equinox occurs, the intensity of the Sun’s rays will be increasing in the Southern half of the Earth and decreasing in the Northern half.

So even the most scientifically justified and most commonly accepted answer depends on where you live. But that’s not nearly the strangest fact about when seasons start. June 21st is typically the day when the Sun’s direct rays are the farthest north so shouldn’t that be the hottest day in the North? And yet, that’s simply the first day of Summer! Shouldn’t it be the middle of Summer?

Again, there’s a simple explanation. The Earth’s surface is approximately 75% covered by water. Water temperatures change at a much slower pace than land temperatures. It just so happens that it takes water temperatures about one and a half months to “catch up” with the warmer land temperature in Spring or with the cooler land temperature in Fall. Since the temperature that we experience is both from the land and from the air (which is influenced by water temperatures), the seasons are delayed from what one would expect if the intensity of the Sun was the only factor.

The distance between the Earth and the Sun also has a very slight effect on temperature. The Northern hemisphere actually benefits from this because the Earth is closest to the Sun in Early January and furthest in early July. Again, this is a very small influence on temperatures.

The Earth’s orientation to the Sun is the reason for seasonal changes. The Earth is tilted in relation to the Sun by a bit over 23 degrees. For one half of its year of revolving around the Sun, the Earth’s Northern Hemisphere is tilted towards the Sun and the North experiences Spring and Summer. The other half of the year, the Southern Hemisphere is tilted towards the Sun and the North experiences Fall and Winter.

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Posted by admin - January 7, 2012 at 9:23 am

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What is Global Warming?

What is Global Warming

Simply put, global warming is the increasing of the average worldwide temperature of the Earth’s atmosphere and bodies of water. The term “global warming” in and of itself does not insinuate what is causing that warming to occur. There is no doubt whatsoever that global warming is currently taking place.

The next question we need to answer is, “How much is the Earth warming?” Reasonably dependable measurements have been made of global temperatures for about a century. During the last 100 years, the average global temperature has increased by 1.3° ± 0.32° Fahrenheit (0.74° ± 0.18° Celsius). Obviously, this is a very small change. In addition, global temperatures have been much warmer than today at many times in Earth’s past. These factors account for the skeptical attitude on the part of some about whether global warming is really a problem or just a natural cycle. Again though, there’s no doubt that the Earth has been warming for the past century.

Next we have to ask, “Are the activities of mankind causing global warming?” The answer to this question is difficult. There are many other factors besides mankind’s activities that contribute to global warming. Many of those factors vary from year to year, decade to decade, century to century. And they don’t all change for the good or bad at the same time. That makes determining their influence very difficult. Computer models have convinced the majority of scientists today, however, that mankind has significantly contributed to recent global warming.

So is the current level of global warming something to worry about? Well, there are some things we know for sure. Relatively small increases in global temperatures can cause significant changes in weather. The past decade, for example, has seen an increase in the strength of hurricanes. There’s some evidence that ocean life is being harmed due to warmer water temperatures. Some species of land animals that are particularly sensitive to climatic changes are in danger of extinction. Rainfall/snowfall has been substantially greater in some parts of the world that already get too much and substantially less in parts that need the moisture desperately. There’s no doubt that the polar ice caps have decreased in size, adding to the oceans’ levels. This translates into the loss of coastal lands. These effects would, of course, be dramatically increased if global temperatures continue to rise.

In conclusion, the majority of the world’s scientists believe that there is significant reason to be concerned. More so, they feel that action must be taken now in order to ensure that the situation does not become disastrous in the future. While the evidence that global warming might destroy our world is not conclusive, it is substantial and the potential harm is just to great to not take any action at all!

What’s the worst case scenario? We only have to look next door to see an example of global warming gone wild! The planet Venus is the textbook example of the “runaway greenhouse effect”. Venus’ atmosphere is composed mainly of carbon dioxide, the very gas that mankind is adding to Earth’s atmosphere by burning fossil fuels. Venus’ surface temperature is more than 750° Fahrenheit (400° Celsius)! Not very hospitable to life due to that factor alone! The “runaway greenhouse effect” has the potential to do the same thing to Earth. As the amount of carbon dioxide goes up in the atmosphere, heat is trapped and can’t escape to space.

Up to a point, that effect is a good one. Without it, the Earth would be too cold for life as we know it. But as the percentage of carbon dioxide increases, so does the temperature. At the same time, the water on Earth would evaporate more intensely and the cloud cover would increase. Clouds also hold heat to the surface of the Earth, further increasing the surface temperature. At some point, the temperature goes wild and the Earth joins Venus as a planet like hell.

That’s why we must take global warming seriously! To do otherwise would just be foolish. If we are wrong and global warming was not at all due to our actions, we simply hastened the day when we will use other sources of energy, recycle everything, and stop chopping down all the trees. Those things are likely to be done anyway, so why not speed it up a bit?

If our effect on global warming is substantial and we do nothing, there truly will be “hell” to pay!

Update:

In January of 2008, President George Bush stated in his State of the Union address that we need to increase the use of environmentally friendly technologies to “confront the serious challenge of global climate change”. Proposals that President Bush has made to Congress since then would, according to the White House, “stop the growth of carbon dioxide emissions from cars, light trucks and sport utility vehicles within 10 years”. Recently, other former skeptics have now stated that they believe that Global Warming is real and it’s being contributed to in some degree by mankind. Some of the best known are Newt Gingrich, Pat Robertson, Richard Branson, and David Attenborough. Another former skeptic, Representative John Dingell (D-MI), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, stated in March of 2008 that Congress with be increasing regulations which will be designed to decrease our release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

There are now only a tiny spattering of scientists who don’t agree that artificial climate change is taking place. Many of that teensy group admit to being on the payroll of an oil company, coal mining company, etc. Even as far back as 1994, the database at the Information Sciences Institute (ISI) was searched using the phrase “global climate change” and rendered 928 science articles that were published between 1993 and 2003. Not a single article out of the 928 disputed that global climate change was occuring. Where were the skeptic scientists’ papers? Don’t any of them publish? More likely there is no valid scientific data that shows global warming is a myth.

Update:

Some scientists now feel that it is now too late to prevent catastrophic global warming simply by reducing carbon dioxide emissions. Large nations like China and India are rapidly expanding their burning of fossil fuels. Those scientists are beginning to urge research into methods of mass removal of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. They feel that this may be the only way to save the planet! And the controversy continues!

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Posted by admin - January 7, 2012 at 9:04 am

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How Do Hurricanes Form?

How Do Hurricanes Form

Hurricanes are extremely complicated weather systems that can only be formed when several conditions are absolutely perfect all at the same time. Even today’s top scientists don’t completely understand how hurricanes form but they do know mostly what’s necessary.

Hurricanes get their massive amounts of energy from warm, moist air. A Hurricane typically will only form when a storm passes over water that is at least 80 degrees Fahrenheit (27 degrees Celsius). In order to have enough warm water to fuel the hurricane, it should run to at least 150 feet deep (46 meters). The conditions for hurricane formation typically only between 10 and 30 degrees of the equator and the majority form between 15 and 20 degrees. They normally form off the west coast of Africa.

The warm, moist air rises off of the surface of the Atlantic, leaving a low pressure condition near the surface. Air from adjacent areas moves in to this low pressure area in a swirling motion due to the Coriolis force which is strongest near the equator. That new air is then also heated by the warm water, and also rises, adding to the energy of the hurricane. As the rising warm, moist air reaches an altitude where it begins to cool, the water in the air condenses and forms clouds. Because of the “swirling” action of the new air from adjacent areas, the cloud system begins to rotate and winds therefore increase. In addition to prevailing winds, the spinning action of hurricanes also causes them to move across the water.

As long as the storm/hurricane continues to move over warm waters, this process continues and can increase in intensity if the water temperature increases and/or the humidity in the air increases. When a hurricane moves over land it weakens due to the lack of moisture and lack of heat from the surface. While the surface of the land might actually be warmer than the water, it quickly cools just below the surface so the total available heat is much less. A hurricane can not survive with water temperatures below 79.7 degrees Fahrenheit (26.5 Celsius).

Lesser but nevertheless important factors required in the formation of hurricanes are low wind shear, high general humidity, and a pre-existing atmospheric disturbance (typically thunderstorms).

There is no doubt that hurricanes are one of the most hazardous and threatening natural forces on Earth but they do serve a useful purpose by keeping the Earth’s temperatures relatively constant by moving heat from the tropics to cooler areas to the North. Even though moving North generally results in considerable weakening, a hurricane can still retain enough power as a tropical storm to carry a huge amount of heat as far North as Canada!

You may have seen a weather report about a typhoon or a cyclone and thought that they looked exactly like a hurricane. There is actually no difference between them except their location. Hurricanes form on the west coast of Africa and move towards central America, Mexico, or the southern United States. While much rarer, hurricanes can also form in the Northeast Pacific Ocean to the east of the international dateline or in the South Pacific to the east of 160E longitude. Typhoons form in the Northwestern Pacific west of the dateline. A “Severe Tropical Cyclone” forms either in the Southeast Indian Ocean to the east of 90E longitude or in the Southwestern Pacific west of 160E longitude. A “Severe Cyclonic Storm” forms in the north Indian Ocean. Finally, a “Tropical Cyclone” forms in the southwest Indian Ocean. The only real difference between storms is that those in the northern hemisphere rotate counter-clockwise and those in the southern hemisphere rotate clockwise.

Not all hurricanes are alike, however. They are rated as category 1 through 5 storms with 1 being the weakest. A category 1 hurricane can result in a real mess due to wind and rain damage, power outages, and even deaths. A category 5 storm will nearly always totally destroy homes, take out power for weeks, and kill many thousands of people.

Category Wind Speed (mph) Damage at Landfall Storm Surge (feet)
1 74-95 Minimal 4-5
2 96-110 Moderate 6-8
3 111-130 Extensive 9-12
4 131-155 Extreme 13-18
5 Over 155 Catastrophic 19+

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Posted by admin - January 6, 2012 at 10:39 am

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What is Darwin’s Theory of Evolution?

Darwin's Theory of EvolutionIt’s perfectly understandable why a principle like Darwin’s Theory of Evolution can be overwhelmingly accepted as fact by the scientific community and yet have so many detractors in the general public. Even though most of us are reasonably well educated in basic science today, the evolution of man from lower life forms and ultimately from non-living substances is such a complicated matter that it requires considerable study in order to grasp it’s concepts. When a skeptic asks a supporter of evolution to prove it’s true, they really don’t understand what they’re asking.

That same person would never even consider asking a surgeon, for example, to explain how to do heart bypass surgery. It’s a given that the subject requires more than a few minutes or hours of explanation. But the surgeon became educated in that subject after about 20 years of education and evolution took four billion years to go from a chemical soup to man! There were billions of individual events that had to take place for humans to evolve … far more than the number of facts the surgeon had to learn. This accounts for why even scientists don’t know everything about how evolution took place. There’s just too much to know! You may not know how to perform that coronary bypass operation either but that certainly doesn’t mean that the operation doesn’t exist.

So if Darwin’s Theory of the Evolution of Man is too complicated for the typical person to grasp in a reasonable amount of time, why should they believe? Well, once again, you believe in the surgeon’s ability to perform an operation because you trust that they spent the enormous time necessary in learning the subject and procedures involved. When it comes to the theory of evolution, scientists are the one who have spent the enormous time necessary to understand the concept and completely analyze the evidence. So why are so many people unwilling to accept their overwhelming consensus that humans evolved from lower forms of life? Let’s talk about a couple of those reasons.

First, many religious people believe that the number one goal of scientists is to disprove the existence of God. That by trying to understand how the universe works, they are refusing to give God the “blind” faith that God deserves. And yet, it’s widely unknown that nearly 60% of biologists who firmly believe in Darwin’s Theory of Evolution also believe in God. They simply accept that God created life by using evolution as his method and that God gave us humans sufficient intelligence to eventually understand how he did it. Of course, that means that more than 40% of biologists do not believe in God but does any sane person really believe that they all have dedicated their life’s work to disproving God? It seems much more likely that they believe that evolution, among other scientific knowledge, makes a supreme being unnecessary to explain how everything got here. Presumably, however, very few of them are anti-religion fanatics who are driven to convert believers to atheism. In other words, they didn’t become scientists in order to disprove God. They became scientists to learn how the Universe works.

A second reason that some people might be unlikely to accept the experts’ opinion about the Evolution of Man is that they fear that their faith must be blind. That God will be angered if they question their faith in any way or if they “presume” to understand how God creates his “miracle of life”. But what kind of God gives his creation a mind capable of asking questions and then orders his creation to not ask questions? Would a God have an ego that demands such a thing? Doesn’t it seem more likely that God would want his “children” to make progress and use their “God-given” brains? Wouldn’t that make God proud? That certainly seems more likely to me. A God that requires total obedience with no questioning seems more like a God that was thought up by men in the Church who want to control other men.

Some other people may feel that all of the evidence that scientists see for Darwin’s Theory is false. They choose to ignore the fossils that clearly show a slow transition from simple life to more and more complex life because scientists can’t explain every single one of the billions of transitions. They say that the Earth is actually only thousands of years old rather than billions. In that case, Evolution would not have had time to take place. Only a “snap of God’s fingers”, magical, mystical creation could have produced the Universe we have today. But how do they discount the numerous methods of dating fossils and the Earth itself? How can they ignore the astronomical evidence that shows our Universe to be about 13 billion years old? These are not simple guesses. That dating is confirmed by several different methods that all give the same answers. Did God “plant” that false evidence to test our faith? That seems unlikely.

For any readers who don’t know what to think but have open minds, this author suggests that you spend the time necessary to resolve your belief about Darwin’s Theory of the Evolution of Man. A very pleasant way to do this would be to use popular media like the 1960 film, “Inherit the Wind” starring Spencer Tracy, Frederick March, and Gene Kelly. It highlights the fight by the “blind faithers” to keep the teaching of Evolution out of the public school system. Another great TV production was on PBS’s hit series, “NOVA” and was titled, “Judgment Day – Intelligent Design on Trial”. It’s about a court case where, as recently as 2004, the school board in Dover, Pennsylvania ordered their science teachers to read a statement to their students that said that there was an explanation for life that was equal in scientific stature to Darwin’s Theory of Evolution. It said that life was way too complicated to have evolved in nature so some intelligence must have created life. The teachers refused to read the statement and the case went to court.

That TV show is especially interesting because it explains that the Judge on that case was very religious and everyone assumed that he would be on the “intelligent design” side of the issue. Then it showed how step-by-step, the intelligent design witnesses gave what they claimed were “scientific evidence”. One-by-one the scientists showed the Judge that what appeared to be proof was upon further study actually flawed. Eventually, the judge was convinced and ruled that intelligent design was not science and didn’t belong in a science class. He also stated that “intelligent design” was obviously a reworked version of creationism so it did violate the separation of Church and State. In response, his former fellow “believers” then deluged him with physical threats to the point where he needed police protection. When the proponents for God creating the Universe in six days couldn’t win with facts, they resorted to threats of physical harm against a man who previously agreed with them but was convinced through a thorough examination of the facts to change his mind.

By the time you’ve watched those two shows, you will have seen how baseless the argument is for creationism even when it’s called intelligent design to try to get around the separation of Church and State laws. Those who wish to believe that God created everything in six days just a few years ago have every right to their beliefs but that’s pure faith with no scientific basis of any kind. No proof whatsoever and lots of proof to the contrary.

My final suggestion for those who are open-minded but not convinced about evolution is that you watch a PBS miniseries titled, “Cosmos”. It’s a 13-hour delight that presents all of the evidence in an extremely entertaining way in about the least amount of time humanly possible. You will understand how evolution was able to create the world we live in today by its conclusion. If you don’t believe that the Universe and life on Earth evolved through processes that follow natural laws by the time you’re done with that series then you are most likely someone who will never be convinced and you can stop worrying about whether or not you know enough facts to make a decision! You’ve made yours!

In conclusion, Darwin’s Theory of Evolution is accepted as fact by 99% of the people with educations and experience in areas that make them most likely to know. Believing that God created everything as we see it today in six days requires blind faith because there are no verifiable facts to back that up. Religion and science can live together in harmony if you accept that God created the Universe using natural laws over a time period of many billions of years. In that case, Evolution was simply a tool that God used to create everything.

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Posted by admin - January 6, 2012 at 10:04 am

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