Well this time of the week we can report on LIGO coming back online, 150th celebration of Mendeleev, relationship between the big bang scenario and inflation and finally review what California used for lighting before candles?
Ok, I don't know if you noticed or not how silent the Gravitational Wave event announcements have been but my GW Event app on the iPhone has been very quiet for the last month or so. What was going on? Well the whole LIGO network has been down for scheduled maintenance and upgrades. Then just this week, I heard the chirp signal on the iPhone again saying that all three LIGO observatories are back online. Now we can await more chirps as more and more gravitational waves are detected.
|Finally, GW Event App announces that all LIGO detectors are back online (Source: Palmia Observatory)|
In the meantime, as we wait for the GW to arrive, we attended the UCI physics colloquium, where we heard Professor Yoshiteru Meano, Kyoto University, discuss "150 Years since Mendeleev." Although there were other investigators at the time, Mendeleev is accorded the most responsibility for developing the periodic system, now just called the periodic table of elements. He used his periodic system, based on similarities between elements of different atomic weights, to predict the existence of elements, which would eventually be found.
|150 years after Mendeleev at UCI Physics Colloquium by Yoshiteru Meano, Kyoto U.|
Now Yoshiteru Meano, who is a recognized expert in superconductivity, maybe especially room temperature superconductivity, explains how the existing periodic table has not been the best help in identifying elements, whose chemical and superconducting properties, are very similar, but are no way located close in the periodic table. Yoshiteru described how the elements Copper and Cadmium, have similar superconductivity properties, but are placed far apart on the periodic table. Similarly for Titanium and Selenium. So recognizing that chemists had missed some opportunities to find superconducting compounds much earlier than actually occurred, he resolved to fix the periodic table so that elements with similar properties were always located next to each other. Then when chemists would try on element and find it worked or did not work, they could then easily identify a similar element to try, even if it were located way across on the current periodic table of the elements.
|Yoshiteru Meano, Kyoto U., a recognized expert in superconductivity, explains the short comings in the periodic table|
He called this new 3-dimensional table, the "Elementouch" in 2001 and has expounding on its benefits ever since. This new approach resolves the three problems illustrated in the previous slide.
As part of Yoshiteru's presentation he urged everyone in the audience to get some scissors and tape and build their own Elementouch, 3-D periodic table. He provided each of us with some scissors and some tape and a color Elementouch transparency that we all cut out and tried to tape together. We all enjoyed the chance to play with scissors and tapes again, probably knowing that there would be wine at the end of the colloquium, but nevertheless we all tried to construct our own Elementouch, with the helpful guidance of Yoshiteru and his slides and even a graduate student to two. Here we see, Science Nerd and Theatre Impresario, Scott, piecing together his version of this new table interpretation, while the old version of the periodic table is on the wall of the lecture hall. Thanks for the informative lecture and the scissors and tape and color transparency and fun, Professor Meano!
|All audience members tried to construct an Elementouch 3-D periodic table (Source: Palmia Observatory)|
Ok, so playtime is over and we need to get on to an interesting post from Ethan Siegel at his blog: "Starts with a Bang." Consider following Ethan if you are not already doing so because he always has clear and interesting perspective on what is going on in cosmology.
This time he caught my interest with this post, "There Was No Big Bang Sinularity." Ok, we know that general relativity breaks down when the solution indicates a singularity, but his point was more than that. We don't observe any data from that point of time so no one knows what was going on at that time called the big bang. String theory and other versions of quantum gravity posit some loosely connected region of spacetime that might have been the start of everything, but it need not to have been a singularity.
|What? Oh, ok, no big bang singularity! (Source: Ethan Siegel, "Starts with a Bang")|
But he goes on to correct an impression that many of us have of the big bang which has the start of the universe with the so called big bang and then inflation takes over and causes the universe to expand very quickly and then the universe evolves at a slower pace just as outlined in the schematic diagram below. But Ethan's point is that this view of the order of things is not correct. A better ordering of events would be that inflation, caused by some sort of quantum field fluctuation, expands the region of spacetime that will eventually become our universe and when the inflationary field dies out and as its potential energy is transformed to kinetic energy and it is then that fireball of matter and energy that we normally think of as the big bang actually occurs. Inflation has already done its thing by the time the fireball of the big bang, which can be measured today, occurs. So, in the diagram below we should switch places between inflation and the point of the big bang.
|The inflationary scenario (in yellow) doesn't have to start at time = zero (Source: Ethan Siegel, "Starts with a Bang")|
Finally for our last topic of this post we come to the emerging crisis in electric power distribution in California. A Facebook post illustrated the problem best by asking the question, "What did Californians use for lighting before candles? Well, the answer is of course, Electricity! We have been subjected to rolling blackouts due to the utilities, now shutting down the incoming transmission lines, in order to remove the liability of fires started by high winds causing short circuits and wild fires.
We have had only one power outage here at the observatory, so far, but wanted to do a little preparatory work for the next possible power outage. To that end, we purchased a low cost solar powered recharger for cell phones and iPads. So at least we can read our electronic books and use the calculator and maybe even play Solitaire in the dark and use the phone if the network remains energized.
|Low cost solar charging station with battery (Hiluckey 2500 mAH) for phones and Ipad (Source: Palmia Observatory)|
But the other issue we discovered on the morning of a power outage was that we couldn't have a second cup of coffee because the Keurig machine would not work. Well, I have a battery powered inverter, used to power my PC and telescope mount for nighttime observing, but its power rating was not enough for the coffee pot. Hmm, what to do about this? Well, we did consider a larger power rating UPS system like the one shown below, but in the end decided that this system would be used so infrequently that we could not justify getting the unit.
|UPS big enough to run a Keurig coffee pot, but its not for us (Source: Patriot Power)|
So what to do about the next time that the grid transmission lines get shutdown due to high winds and we are again one of those areas that suffers a power black out? Well, the power is normally not out for very long in our area and besides we now have the solar charger for our phones, etc. At least we could read our Ebooks or use the calculator even if the cell service goes out too. But what about if it happens again during the morning coffee time? No problem, we have adopted a "Plan B" which is to switch to Bloody Mary's in the morning. No need for any power there so nothing to worry about! That is just what we did after our previous outage that prevented us from getting a second cup of coffee. We did however have to scoop the ice out by hand from our automatic ice dispenser!
|Resident Astronomer Peggy switches to Bloody Mary's with no electricity for coffee (Source: Palmia Observatory)|