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Chaos Theory – Part Two

Here is the second installment of the Chaos Theory post. If you haven’t read the first part, may I recommend you read Chaos Theory – Part One. To the rest of you, thanks for waiting for the follow up!

In this post I am almost going to diverge from chaos to talk about self-organisation. They are different subjects, but they do have parallels. Self-organisation is the name given to a process of organisation that is carried out by a system without external influence.

Electryfire bacteria

Self organisation in Electryfire bacteria

Self-organization is a process of attraction and repulsion in which the internal organization of a system, normally an open system, increases in complexity without being guided or managed by an outside source.”Wikipedia Read more »

Thoughts on the Length of a Day on Earth

I’d like to share with you my thoughts on day length and where it is headed. First, let’s just refer to Wikipedia’s definition of day length:

Day length… refers to the time each day from the moment the upper limb of the sun’s disk appears above the horizon during sunrise to the moment when the upper limb disappears below the horizon during sunset. Due to the diffusion and refraction of sunlight by the atmosphere, there is actually daylight even when the sun is slightly below the horizon. The period when it is still somewhat light even though the sun is below the horizon is called twilight.” – Wikipedia

Antarctic sun rise

Antarctic sun rise

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Chaos Theory – Part One

Strange Attractor

Strange Attractor

What is chaos? We hear the term often enough, what does it mean? There are many aspects of our universe that seem to have no order, make no sense and have no underlying structure. They just ‘are’, and will continue to ‘be’. This is satisfactory for some, but others struggle to accept that some things are just too chaotic for us to ever understand. These same people may also believe that there must be some underlying structure to these systems, that there cannot just be total chaos. Chaos theory is the process of trying to discover the structures and processes that are present within these systems and to understand and predict future outcomes. At this stage it may be useful to mention a few systems that are chaotic in their structure. There are changes in the weather, the movement of satellites in the solar system, ecology and population growth, molecular vibrations. There is also speculation over the existence of chaotic dynamics in plate tectonics and in economics. Ecology still remains one of the best examples of a chaotic system. Population growth and distribution, like all chaotic systems, are very dynamic and deterministic, meaning that future outcomes depend heavily on initial conditions. This is the basis of chaos theory: the hope that we can understand the structure and differences caused in various outcomes through differences in the systems initial input. Read more »

Doppler Effect and Red Shift

Today I thought I would write about the Doppler Effect and Red Shift. What are they? Why do they occur? Why do we refer to Red Shift in the field of cosmology and astrology?

Red Shift is the name given to the perceived ‘shifting’ of waves through the spectrum from our perception. It gives us a measure of speed, or expansion, as is often the case. It can also called Blue Shift, and this is essentially the opposite of Red Shift. However, for the purposes of this post I shall refer to both of them as Red Shift unless otherwise stated.

Have you ever noticed the change in pitch when an object passes you at high-speed? Let’s take an ambulance or a Formula 1 car as an example. As it approaches we hear a higher than normal pitch, but as soon as the sound source starts to move away from us we hear a sudden drop in the pitch of the sound emanating from the source. Most people are aware of this phenomenon, but not so many fully understand it. It is useful for us to understand this, as it is almost the same as Red Shift, or at least it shares enough similarities with the Doppler Effect to be very useful towards our understanding of it. The effect I have just described to you has a special name, the Doppler Shift or the Doppler Effect, named after Christian Doppler who first proposed the effect in 1842.

A visual example of the Doppler Effect

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Why is the night sky dark?

It seems obvious at first, the night sky is dark because there is an absence of light. There is an absence of light because the Sun has moved behind the Earth from our perspective as part of the daily rotation of the Earth about its axis. Simple. So why am I asking this question? Well, as you may have guessed, the answer is not as simple as it may at first seem.

We have different understandings or thoughts on the universe, we call these models. Albert Einstein was among those who believed in a static model, one that states that we occupy a static universe, that is to say that it is neither expanding nor contracting, rather that it is infinite and eternal.

If we are to assume this to be true, and also assume that stars are evenly distributed around the universe, then we are still left with our question: “Why is the night sky dark?”. This is known as ‘Olbers’ Paradox’. Why are we left with this question? Read on! Read more »

Thoughts on Time

I havclocke been reading and watching documentaries on space and time over the past few months. I am very interested in some of the concepts that I am presented with. Tonight I have been expanding my understanding of Time and I will share with you some of my thoughts.

Spacetime can be thought of as the combination of space and time into what is called a continuum. We are all aware of the three dimensions within the world we occupy: length, width and depth. Within the realm of Spacetime, time is considered to be a fourth dimension,  accompanying the three we already established. Read more »