T-man! Welcome to my Packets post! I go by the name “mohini” here – hopefully that won’t confuse you.
I won’t tell you why it’s named “packets” – maybe you can figure it out later. OK, I thought it might be fun to first throw out a couple questions. You know the first one but you didn’t answer correctly, so let’s figure this one out:
If hot air rises why are mountain tops almost always colder than lower elevations? For you to answer, you need to understand a little bit about what heat and temperature are. I didn’t know those two things until I was 15, so no reason that you will. Let’s dive into this subject though, because it’s a good place to start a discussion about Physics.
What if you could build a perfectly rigid tower as high as you wanted? And what if you could take a fast elevator to the very top in very little time? And what if you were wearing a space-suit that allowed you to breathe and move your arms and legs around freely in outer space?
Now bring a baseball with you when you go up that elevator. Don’t forget your space-suit.
If you get high up enough you can throw the ball into an orbit around the Earth and it will stay in orbit for a very very long time. What I think is most interesting about that is this: you don’t have to throw it straight out in a direction that is level with the tower platform. You can throw it out at a bunch of angles including straight ahead which is the zero angle. You can throw it up at some angle or down at some angle and if you are high enough and throw it fast enough it will stay in orbit.
Why is that?
3 thoughts on “
Your dad said you wanted to know why I got into programming. It’s an easy answer … when I was in Physics graduate school in Boulder Colorado, I was working for a guy who studies the “solar wind” which is the study of all the extremely fast particles coming from the sun. He wanted me to make pretty pictures so he could present them during his presentations. So I needed to learn to program in order to make pretty pictures from his data. I realized how easy programming is compared to things like math or physics, so after that when I graduated and I needed money the best way to get money was to work in Silicon Valley where almost all the big software companies were at the time. I became a “User Interface” guy, which means that my expertise is presenting information to the user and allowing them to interact with it. Steve Jobs is kind of my hero, since everything he did started with considering the user’s experience instead of the programmer’s experience. For a lot of programmers this is a difficult way to start because they weren’t taught to do that. Since I’m always trying to solve programming problems by starting with the user experience first, I’ll probably always have a job in software whenever a user interface is involved.
Today, it’s almost impossible to do good science without knowing programming. The good news is that it’s really easy and it’s free. All the code and everything you need is almost always free to download on your computer.
These days I build things at home that start with experiments using a certain kind of micro-controller chip made in Shanghai China. The experiments are usually physics experiments that inform me about things that I’m building. So I need to know a lot of electrical engineering as well as programming. It gets really fun when the electrical engineering and the physics and the programming all meet together for the same goal. I’ll show you examples of that later. For now take a look at this micro controller that I wire up and program every day to build stuff and do experiments. This is a video that shows the simplest things you can do with the micro-controller. The stuff I do involves connecting a bunch of these things so they can communicate over the air. And I can control them with smart phone apps which are really easy to make. I’ll show you those later.
ESP8266 12-E setup and simple program
Your dad also said you wanted to know if physics is my “passion”. Yes – absolutely! I can’t think of anything more interesting. If someone figures out how to read minds that will be more interesting, but something tells me that will be done starting with a physics experiment. All the neat stuff I can think of that will be invented or discovered in the future will probably involve physics experiments. Chemistry and Materials science and electrical engineering and space flight and living on different planets are all mostly physics. More entertaining sports and entertainment and amusement park rides: those will all start with physics (For years I’ve been thinking about a way to make all these things better if you could go into a room with a large magnetic field and you could wear a device that changes it’s own magnetic field with a strong battery attached. You could fly around the room and play some fun sports. This is all physics.) Teleportation is all physics if it ever happens. Some people believe we live in parallel universes or multi-universes – this is all physics and if true could explain how people might be able to know things that happen in the future or read people’s minds. These are all things I’m interested in.
Specifically my interest has always been the weirdness of quantum mechanics, because it’s something no one really understands. The best physicists in history won’t agree about what “actually goes on” with an electron inside an atom for instance. My opinion is that some of the best physicists are so sure of themselves that they assume too many things – they think they know a lot more than they actually do. They are really really good at figuring out the math and how to do experiments, but they don’t always explain what is going on correctly. For me this means I will always have a valued opinion about “what’s really going on” if there is such a thing. And that’s because no one really knows for certain, even if some really important people think that they do.
I went into the field of Quantum Optics up until the time that I decided I didn’t like my research adviser at Boulder Colorado which is where I went to graduate school. NOBODY liked him, and I knew it wouldn’t work. Q.O. is the study of lasers and fiber optics and neural networks built from these things. One can build a quantum computer out of these things – you might have heard about qubits which is a really important field of study these days. What I learned from studying Quantum Optics is that the study of light has strong similarities to certain types of matter when matter is very very VERY cold. So I’m also interested in this area. Below is a link to the Nobel Prize winning physicist who offered me a position on his team 3-4 years prior to his award. I’m interested in these same things. It’s worth pointing out that THIS is how one finds out what’s really going on in the world of science: attending lectures or watching videos of lectures coming straight from the experts. This is quite different from almost every Youtube video you will see about physics, where the presenter is no expert and the audience doesn’t even exist. Ted talks can be just as bad or worse, since those are designed to dumb down the subject matter for the huge online audience. I’ve found that every Ted Talk I’ve seen about Physics is disappointing and sometimes very wrong. I strongly suggest you either stay away from watching things like that, or if you watch them don’t take them too seriously. Sometimes (many times) they aren’t intended to be correct at all – the people who make those videos just want you to watch them!
Things like the link below are much better even though they’re advanced. Nothing wrong with that at all. That’s what’s really going on: advanced stuff, and the more advanced it is the more need there is for smart people like this to be involved. So here is the guy I almost started working with. I made a mistake by not accepting his offer:
Here are some links about things that I’ve answered on the internet. You won’t understand much of it, but maybe some of it could be interesting for you. The very last link is interesting, because almost everyone else who answered this question got it wrong. It’s interesting that tens of thousands of people who think of themselves as experts completely get that answer wrong.
Should I study Physics, or Electrical Engineering, to eventually research quantum optics?
Who is bigger, a nucleus or an electron?
If an electron can be in two or more places at once, does that mean it has multiple position/coordinate properties?
Is there an infinite small distance physically?
Why do electrons in an atom keep a distance from the protons if opposite charges attract? Why don’t electrons crash into the nucleus?
If humans could see non-visible parts of the electromagnetic spectrum as well as we see visible light, how “bright” would natural and man-made sources of radiation in those frequencies appear to us?
Why does my light turn on quickly upon switching them on even though electrons have a slow drift velocity?
Trevor. Maybe you can help, because you might have already studied certain number sequences and sets. And programming. I need to create an algorithm that tests to see if two sets of elements have at least one element in common. As an example …
Set 1: “a,b,c,d,e,g,h,m,p”
Set 2: “h,x,y,z”
Comparing the sets above yields an answer of “true” to the question of “do they intersect?”. What’s the fastest way to prove this though? There is no ultra fast way to prove for the characters above, so instead of using alpha chars I was thinking integers of a sequence and adding them up and then checking the totals vs. some pre-established “map”. This doesn’t work for prime numbers, but showing you an example of how it doesn’t work might be instructive. For example …
Set 2:”23″ including 0 or more elements that are NOT in set 1
Add up the values of each set, and knowing the size of each set …
Set 1 sum: 244
Set 2 sum: 23 or more
Set 1 length: 7
Set 1 length: 1 or more
There is no way to prove 23 is or is not in set 1 by simply adding up the numbers, and that’s because 3+7+13 equals 23.
But I have a feeling there’s some other proof which can show that each set does or does not have a number in common. Each element must be a number of some kind of sequence though. Any ideas smarty pants?