What are Maxwell’s Equations?
Category Archive: AQA Unit 4 Fields/ Mechanics
Sep 19 2013
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Sep 19 2013
French physicist Léon Foucault celebrated in Google doodle
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Aug 07 2013
‘Critical phase’ for fusion dream http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-23408073
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Jan 30 2011
The story of cathode rays begins in 1855. In that year, Heinrich Geissler invented the mercury vacuum pump. With the pump he could remove almost all of the air from a sealed glass tube. Geissler’s friend Julius Plucker used the pump to evacuate a special kind of tube. Inside the tube were two electrodes. Plucker attached one electrode, called the anode, to the positive terminal of a battery. He attached the other electrode, the cathode, to the negative terminal. He noticed that the glass near the cathode glowed with greenish light. When Plucker held a magnet near the tube, the glowing spot moved. Plucker’s student, Johann Wilhelm Hittorf, put solid objects inside the tube between the cathode and the glow. The objects cast shadows. Hittorf concluded that the cathode was emitting something that travelled in straight lines, like light rays. The German physicist Eugen Goldstein named them “cathode rays.”
The English scientist William Crookes thought cathode rays were streams of molecules that had picked up a negative electric charge. Crookes knew from the laws of electricity and magnetism that a charged particle in a magnetic field would move in a circle. Since a magnetic field caused cathode rays to move in a circle, Crookes reasoned, they must be made of charged particles.
If cathode rays were streams of charged particles, an electric field also should have deflected their path. The German physicist Heinrich Hertz tested this hypothesis. He set a cathode ray tube between two metal plates. One plate was positively charged and the other was negatively charged. Negatively charged molecules should have been attracted to the positive plate. When Hertz connected his tube to the battery, the cathode rays kept going in a straight line. Hertz concluded that the cathode rays were a new kind of electromagnetic wave. Hertz’s student, Philipp Lenard, designed a cathode ray tube with a thin foil at one end. The cathode rays went right through the foil. Since molecules of gas could not go through the foil, Lenard knew that cathode rays could not be charged molecules. He agreed with his teacher that they must be electromagnetic waves.
Then Jean-Baptiste Perrin conducted a very simple but very clever experiment. He accelerated a beam of electrons in a glass tube. You can see at the start of my video how the spot on the glass tube is the impact of the electrons causing fluorescent on paint on the inside of the tube. He then setup a magnetic field at 90 degrees to the beam using coils of wire (Helmholz coils). As you increase the current flow inside the coils the field becomes stronger causing the beam to curve according to Flemings LH rule of FBI. Now as the beam is directed down to a collector which is connected to a gold leaf electroscope the leaf rises. This shows us that the beam is in fact charged. Further experiments show the charge is also negative. This is evidence that cathode rays are in not part of the EM Spectrum.
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Nov 15 2010
WASHINGTON — Astronomers using NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory have found evidence of the youngest black hole known to exist in our cosmic neighborhood. The 30-year-old black hole provides a unique opportunity to watch this type of object develop from infancy.
The black hole could help scientists better understand how massive stars explode, which ones leave behind black holes or neutron stars, and the number of black holes in our galaxy and others.
The 30-year-old object is a remnant of SN 1979C, a supernova in the galaxy M100 approximately 50 million light years from Earth. Data from Chandra, NASA’s Swift satellite, the European Space Agency’s XMM-Newton and the German ROSAT observatory revealed a bright source of X-rays that has remained steady during observation from 1995 to 2007. This suggests the object is a black hole being fed either by material falling into it from the supernova or a binary companion.
“If our interpretation is correct, this is the nearest example where the birth of a black hole has been observed,” said Daniel Patnaude of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Mass. who led the study.
The scientists think SN 1979C, first discovered by an amateur astronomer in 1979, formed when a star about 20 times more massive than the sun collapsed. Many new black holes in the distant universe previously have been detected in the form of gamma-ray bursts (GRBs).
However, SN 1979C is different because it is much closer and belongs to a class of supernovas unlikely to be associated with a GRB. Theory predicts most black holes in the universe should form when the core of a star collapses and a GRB is not produced.
“This may be the first time the common way of making a black hole has been observed,” said co-author Abraham Loeb, also of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. “However, it is very difficult to detect this type of black hole birth because decades of X-ray observations are needed to make the case.”
The idea of a black hole with an observed age of only about 30 years is consistent with recent theoretical work. In 2005, a theory was presented that the bright optical light of this supernova was powered by a jet from a black hole that was unable to penetrate the hydrogen envelope of the star to form a GRB. The results seen in the observations of SN 1979C fit this theory very well.
Although the evidence points to a newly formed black hole in SN 1979C, another intriguing possibility is that a young, rapidly spinning neutron star with a powerful wind of high energy particles could be responsible for the X-ray emission. This would make the object in SN 1979C the youngest and brightest example of such a “pulsar wind nebula” and the youngest known neutron star. The Crab pulsar, the best-known example of a bright pulsar wind nebula, is about 950 years old.
“It’s very rewarding to see how the commitment of some of the most advanced telescopes in space, like Chandra, can help complete the story,” said Jon Morse, head of the Astrophysics Division at NASA’s Science Mission Directorate.
The results will appear in the New Astronomy journal in a paper by Patnaude, Loeb, and Christine Jones of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., manages the Chandra program for the agency’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory controls Chandra’s science and flight operations from Cambridge.
For more information about Chandra, including images and other multimedia, visit:
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Oct 28 2010
Neutron star packs two Suns’ mass in London-sized space
Like all neutron stars, the object’s matter is packed into an incredibly small space probably no bigger than the centre of a big city like London. “The typical size of a neutron star is something like 10km in radius,” said Dr Paul Demorest from the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO), Charlottesville, US. The size is easy to understand but the densitiy is much more extreme than anything we know here on Earth.
“It’s approximately the size of a city, which for an astronomical object is interesting because people can conceive of it pretty easily; and yet in that space it has the mass in this case about two times our Sun. So the size is easy to understand but the densitiy is much more extreme than anything we know here on Earth,” the study’s lead author told BBC News.
The finding is important, says Dr Demorest’s team, because it puts constraints on the type of exotic material that can form a neutron star. Such objects are thought to be the remnant cores of once giant stars that blew themselves apart at the ends of their lives. Theory holds that all atomic material not dispersed in this supernova blast collapses to form a body made up almost entirely of neutrons – the tiny particles that appear in the nuclei of many atoms. As well being fantastically compact, the cores also spin incredibly fast. This particular object, classified as PSR J1614-2230, revolves 317 times a second. It is what is termed a pulsar – so-called because it sends out lighthouse-like beams of radio waves that are seen as radio “pulses” every time they sweep over the Earth.
The observations were made using the Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia. The pulses are akin to the ticks of a clock, and the properties of stable neutron stars make for ultra-precise time-pieces. This was how the team, observing with the Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia, was able to measure the object’s mass. Because PSR J1614-2230 also circles a companion star, its pulses – as received at Earth – are disturbed by the neighbour’s gravity.
“The way it works is that as the pulses travel from the neutron star past the companion, they slow down a little bit. And how we see that on Earth is that the pulses arrive a little later than we would otherwise expect when the neutron star is lined up behind the companion,” Dr Demorest said.
The team could use this effect to calculate the masses of both bodies. The group reports a pulsar mass 1.97 times that of our Sun – significantly greater than the previous precise record of 1.67 solar masses. The result is said to put limits on the type of dense matter that can make up the cores of these bizarre objects. Some scientists had suggested exotic particles such as hyperons, kaon condensates or free quarks could exist deep inside neutron stars. But Dr Demorest and colleagues believe their observations preclude this possibility. “It’s simply that if those particles were formed, the star would get too dense and collapse into a black hole prior to this point,” the NRAO researcher said.
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