Sunday, 16 August 2009

The Beauty Within

It is undeniable that nature is beautiful. Rainbows, Auroras, Lightning, Waterfalls...... and on goes the list. I have on many occassions experienced this beauty for myself but only recently have I realised that all this beauty that I experienced was just on the surface. I was missing out on a lot of things. When I looked at a rainbow I only saw the colours and the pleasing pattern in which they arranged themselves.

Over the holidays I read extensively on electricity and magnetism. In the process I learnt a lot about some natural phenomena that I never gave much thought about.

Lightning is one example. I now know exactly how lightning is formed in the clouds - not just about the charge on the clouds and all that but the nitty-gritty details. I then realised that the experiences of the people without this knowledge are limited. They don't see the true beauty, the beauty within.

Another example is the rainbow. From now on whenever I see a rainbow I will always verify that the colour red is indeed on the outer side of the rainbow and blue on the inner. I will always compare the section of sky inside the rainbow and the sky outside and confirm that the inside is always brighter than the outside. I will not be able to resist looking for the secondary bow outside the first one and observe that the colour sequence is inverted as compared to the brighter innner bow. It is a disease for which there is no cure. And of course I will always know that the light is very strongly polarized. I will then walk away from this experience enriched and enlightened knowing that I have experienced the beauty within the rainbow, the invisible beauty that very few have experienced.
Ah the joy of learning Physics!

Thursday, 13 August 2009


The world's largest particle accelerator ot the CERN is due to reusme operation in november this year.
The LHC (Large Hadron Collider) was shut down soon after it's first test run in the september of 2008 due to a technical problem. One of the superconducting magnets which control the path of the particle beam had a small problem. Fantastic amounts of current flow throuogh these superconductors and when this current encountered a small resistance it produced an extremely large amount of heat damaging a section of the LHC and other superconducting magnets nearby.

These magnets have been repaired and the tests are almost complete. The LHC will only start off with particle beams of lower energies (3,5 TeV).

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Perseid Meteor Shower

The Earth is entering a stream of particles emitted by the Comet Swift-Tuttle. You can expect metoer showers to light up the skies on August 11 and 12.

What causes meteor showers?

A meteor shower (some of which are known as "meteor storms" or "meteor outbursts") is a celestial event in which a number of meteors are observed to radiate from one point in thenight sky. These meteors are caused by streams of cosmic debris called meteoroids entering Earth's atmosphere at extremely high speed on parallel trajectories. Most are smaller than a grain of sand, so almost all meteoroids disintegrate and never hit the Earth's surface. Fragments which do contact Earth's surface are called meteorites.