Image from Alpha Building Consultants
According to The Times of India, in 2010 a group of German physicists claimed “to have measured the shortest-ever time interval by discovering the tiniest duration an electron takes to leave the atom.”
The scientists found that “when light is absorbed by atoms, the electrons become excited and get ejected from the atom if the photons carry sufficient energy.” However, when electrons are separated from atoms there is a time delay of 20 attoseconds, “which they claim is the shortest time interval measured to date.”
Reasonably, it is a bit difficult for us to wrap our heads around such a short interval of time, so consider this: one attosecond is one billionth of one billionth of a second. It can be written as 1 as, 0.000000000000000001 seconds, 10-18 seconds, or described as one quintillionth of a second. Still fuzzy?
To really help us envision this length of time, the BBC News painted this picture: “If 100 attoseconds is stretched so that it lasts one second, one second would last 300 million years on the same scale.”
Posted in Uncategorized Tagged 10-to-minus18, atom, attosecond, BBC News, electron, energy, light, million, photons, quintillionth, scale, The Times of India, time
from Scale of the Universe, an interactive website
As many of you know, Charles and Ray’s film Powers of Ten takes the viewer on an adventure of magnitudes. It is a journey that shouldn’t be missed.
This blog, which is based on the Eameses’ film, is another way to look at the relative size of things in the universe. It explores powers of ten through the lens of current events, scientific discoveries, and even the mundane–say, the amount of caffeine in your average cup of coffee (which happens to be 10-04 kg).
If you want to consider scale in another way still, check out a remarkably fun, visual and interactive website called Scale of the Universe, developed by Cary Huang at htwins. This site allows you to “zoom from the edge of the universe to the quantum foam of spacetime and learn about everything in between.”
Posted in Uncategorized Tagged 10-to-minus04, Cary Huang, charles and ray eames, htwins, magnitude, Powers of Ten, quantum foam, scale, Scale of the Universe, spacetime, Universe
Three Gorges Dam, Sandouping, Hubei Province, China. Photograph by w:User:Nowozin. File from Wikimedia Commons
China’s Three Gorges Dam on the Yangtze River is the world’s largest hydroelectric project. Built from 30 million cubic meters of concrete (10+07), it stands 606 feet tall (10+02) and spans 1.5 miles across.
While the Dam’s construction employed 60,000 workers (10+04), it also displaced 1.3 million people (10+06), leveled 1,350 towns (10+03) and destroyed 1,200 existing archeological sites–along with another 8,000 that were yet to be explored.
It was estimated in 1992 that the Dam would cost $8.3 billion to build. However, at the time of its 2009 completion, China reported to have spent $23 billion (10+10), while others say the figure might have been as high as $88 billion.
The Three Gorges Dam holds back 10 trillion gallons of water (10+13) and produces roughly 84 billion kilowatt-hours of clean electricity a year. That’s enough energy for one tenth of China’s entire population; nonetheless, this controversial project continues to raise concerns about the social, environmental and public safety impacts of such a large-scale venture.
Hats off to: Facts and Details, The Design Observer Group, and the Smart Museum of Art, whose curator, Wu Hung, organized the exhibition Displacement: The Three Gorges Dam and Contemporary Chinese Art.
Posted in Uncategorized Tagged 10-to-plus02, 10-to-plus03, 10-to-plus04, 10-to-plus06, 10-to-plus07, 10-to-plus10, 10-to-plus13, billion, China, dam, Displacement: The Three Gorges Dam and Contemporary Chinese Art, electricity, energy, Facts and Details, feet, gallons, hydroelectric, miles, million, Smart Museum of Art, The Design Observer Group, Three Gorges Dam, trillion, water, Wu Hung, Yangtze River
A detailed image of Messier 9, a globular star cluster. Image credit: NASA & ESA
“The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope has produced the most detailed image so far of Messier 9, a globular star cluster located close to the center of the galaxy. This ball of stars is too faint to see with the naked eye, yet Hubble can see over 250,000 [10+05] individual stars shining in it.
Messier 9, pictured here, is a globular cluster, a roughly spherical swarm of stars that lies around 25,000 light-years [or 1.47 x 10+17 miles] from Earth, near the center of the Milky Way, so close that the gravitational forces from the galactic center pull it slightly out of shape.
Globular clusters are thought to harbor some of the oldest stars in our galaxy, born when the Universe was just a small fraction of its current age. As well as being far older than the sun—around twice its age [and therefore 9 billion or 10+09 years old]—the stars of Messier 9 also have a markedly different composition, and are enriched with far fewer heavier elements than the sun.”
Learn more about Messier 9 at NASA.gov by clicking here.
Posted in Uncategorized Tagged 10-to-plus05, 10-to-plus09, 10-to-plus17, billion, Earth, ESA, galactic, galaxy, globular star cluster, gravitational forces, Hubble Space Telescope, Messier 9, miles, Milky Way, NASA, stars, Sun, Universe, years
Image courtesy of openclipart.org
On March 22, 2012, people across the globe celebrated World Water Day. Below are some interesting water facts from PBS.org and treehugger.com.
2.2 million (10+06) people die every year from diseases related to unsafe drinking water.
On average, humans consume 16,000 gallons (10+04) of water in a lifetime–that’s 256,000 8oz glasses (10+05).
The surface area of the Earth is 5.1006 x 10+08 km2. 70% of Earth is covered by water, but only 2.5% of that is fresh water while the other 97.5% is salt water.
1.2 billion people (10+09) don’t have access safe drinking water and half the world’s population is without adequate water purification systems.
500,000 tons (10+05) of pollutants enter U.S. lakes and rivers every single day. That’s 365 billion pounds (10+11) each year.
Out of 191 of our world’s nations, 10 of them share 65% of the world’s annual water resources. Americans take the cake, using 2,500 cubic liters of water each year, or double the world’s average. That is enough water to fill an Olympic-sized swimming pool for each and every one of us.
Posted in Uncategorized Tagged 10-to-plus04, 10-to-plus05, 10-to-plus06, 10-to-plus08, 10-to-plus09, 10-to-plus11, Americans, Earth, fresh water, gallons, H2O, humans, openclipart.org, pbs.org, pollutants, pounds, salt water, surface area, swimming pool, tons, treehugger.com, U.S. billion, water, World Water Day
Using German marks as wallpaper, image courtesy of Bundesarchiv
Due to hyperinflation in the 1920s, one dollar was the equivalent of one trillion (10+12) German marks. Learn more at pbs.org.
Can you help us identify these images? Go to the Eames Office Facebook page to learn more and share your insights!
The Eames Office is calling upon you to help with an exciting project. You might call it a treasure hunt—and it’s most certainly an opportunity to flex your cultural, art historical and mathematical muscles!
In the 1960s, the Eameses’ created a beautiful timeline of the history of mathematics from 1000 AD to the present as part of their exhibition Mathematica: A World of Numbers . . . and Beyond. IBM gave away the timelines to schools around the world for over 20 years. Teachers still swear by it, and the Eames Office gets frequent requests for it from people who assume it was made recently. The original version includes about 1000 images and other graphical elements.
For years, the Eames family has hoped to make this educational resource available to the general public in digital form. The advent of iPads and other tablets has created the logical means. Thanks to programming support from IBM, we are turning Charles and Ray’s original timeline into an interactive version called Minds of Modern Mathematics.
Now, here’s where you come in: if you visit the Eames Office Facebook page, you’ll see about two-dozen images posted that we need your help in identifying. We need to obtain the rights for all of these works or prove that they are in public domain, but before we can do that we have to track down the images themselves.
Our deadline is quickly approaching, so start looking now! We can calculate the order of magnitude of our collective knowledge once the app is complete, but in the meantime, you should know that our gratitude for your assistance is immeasurable.
Huli Wigmen in Papua New Guinea; Photograph by Chris Rainier, Click on image for more information
According to the National Geographic, “Every 14 days a language dies. By 2100, more than half of the 7,000 (10+04) languages spoken on Earth—many of them not yet recorded—may disappear, taking with them a wealth of knowledge about history, culture, the natural environment, and the human brain.” How can we attribute a specific Power of Ten to such a loss?
The National Geographic’s Enduring Voices Project (conducted in collaboration with the Living Tongues Institute for Endangered Languages), seeks to preserve endangered languages. Click here to read the National Geographic article. You’ll learn about the travels of the Enduring Voices team, and the group’s efforts to identify and document “the most unique, poorly understood, or threatened indigenous languages” across the globe.
Posted in Uncategorized Tagged 10-to-plus04, culture, Earth, Enduring Voices Project, history, Huli Wigmen, indigenous, language, Living Tongue Institute for Endagered Languages, National Geographic, Power of Ten