Saturday, September 26, 2015

Superhero Homework

Superman is one of the most well-known fictional characters in history, rivaled only perhaps by the likes of Mickey Mouse and Sherlock Holmes. His powers make him quite literally invincible on Earth, which is why he's from another planet in the stories. Superman is Kal-el from the planet Krypton, son of Russell Crowe-- I mean Jor-el. So I've done some research regarding Clark Kent, and there are some interesting explanations as to why his powers work the way they do.

Beginning with the obvious of the bunch, Superman's strength. The idea behind Superman's strength is that he came from a planet that had a stronger gravity than Earth's, so his muscles are naturally used to being strained by that gravity. It's claimed that the gravity on Krypton would have to be at -least- fifteen times that of Earth. Which means that since Superman weighs around 225 lbs (which is about the same that I weigh, and Superman is only an inch taller than I am at six feet four inches), he would weigh 3375 lbs or over one and a half tons on the planet Krypton. Since Superman and I are pretty close in height and weight, I figure I should point out the fact that he appears to be all muscle and no fat, which isn't the case for me, This seems to create a discrepancy between Superman's height and weight. Two hundred and twenty five pounds seems rather light to me for a Man of Steel, who appears almost like a body builder. It seems to me he'd be at least 250 to 275 lbs, but that's a minor detail. What I'd like to point out as a major flaw in Superman's story is that, yes he was born on Krypton and his body was probably used to the gravitational pull for a while, but he lived out most of his life on Earth, where his body should have become acclimated to Earth's gravity. Or, if he did manage to keep the same physique he had on Krypton, he would have to exercise constantly in order to maintain it just like Astronauts have to exercise on the International Space Station so that they do not experience muscular atrophy.

Superman's ability to flight is supposedly attributed to the fact that the civilization on the planet Krypton is millions of years ahead of Earth, and their bodies have reached evolutionary perfection. Since Superman is powered by the Sun, he can alter his own gravitational field with the energy he gathers and propel himself into the air any time he likes. Don't ask me how that works, I don't know.

The next ability is actually the most likely to make sense. Not so much as to how he has the ability, but more on how it works. The famous X-ray vision that young men dream about having. X-rays are outside of the visible spectrum and pass through your body all the time. Superman can see in this spectrum and look through buildings, clothes, people, skin, and all manner of other things except lead and other dense metals like Gold. In a similar fashion to being able to see in the X-ray spectrum, Superman can also see and utilize the Infrared spectrum to create heat and melt objects. Why they're shown as lasers is beyond me.

Source: SUPERMAN'S Secrets Exposed. By: Chiang, Mona, Science World, 10411410, 10/9/2006, Vol. 63, Issue 3

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Armageddon Homework

In the history of Earth, there have been five mass extinctions and arguably Humans themselves are the sixth mass extinction, causing species to die out at alarming rates and changing the climate so rapidly that many more are soon to follow. However, one of the most discussed extinction events is the asteroid impact 65 million years ago. The crater at Chicxulub, Yucatan is 180 kilometers across and 20 kilometers deep, taking the title of one of the largest impact events in the history of our planet with an asteroid of nearly 10 kilometers in diameter causing the most recent extinction event. Asteroid impacts are a very real threat and concern to humans. Objects the size of our moon float around in interplanetary space or the asteroid belt simply waiting for another stray rock to knock them out of their orbit and into ours. These rogue rocks and comets are known as Near Earth Objects, or NEOs and there are several organizations dedicated to finding, naming, tracking, and predicting these objects, and it's not a question of if we'll end up on one of these object's hit lists, but when.

There have been several proposed solutions to deflect or even destroy these objects before they can end up destroying our planet, including but not limited to; nuclear weapons, nuclear weapons, nuclear weapons, nuclear weapons, hitting it with something very big and fast to make it move slightly to the left, putting some sails on it and letting the sun push it away, attaching a probe to it and putting it into lunar orbit, and nuclear weapons. It seems to me that hitting it with a large object to change either it's speed or direction even the tiniest fraction to avoid a collision is the best course of action. One of my favorite science channels on YouTube, AsapSCIENCE, explains by way of guest host Bill Nye (the Science Guy) how changing the trajectory of an asteroid by altering it's speed or direction even the tiniest percent would work. Bill Nye (el Chico Ciencia) explains that an asteroid moving at 10 km/s toward Earth needs to be changed by 2 mm/s to avoid a collision. So a 10 kilometer asteroid is 10,000 meters, obviously, and one millimeter is one thousandth of a meter. So one thousand multiplied by ten thousand is ten million. So the object would need to be altered by one ten-millionth of it's original speed in order to avoid an impact, and of course, that's not very much. Yet, as Bill Nye (die Wissenschaft Kerl) points out; an asteroid with a mass of 100,000 tons is extremely difficult to move at all. It's going to take a lot of force to move something of that size even the tiniest fraction.

So as Bill Nye (le gars de la science) points out, the easiest and obviously the most scientific way of deflecting an asteroid is to take an enormous spacecraft and smash it into the side of the asteroid to change it's speed just a tiny bit. Now, the mass of a fully loaded Saturn V rocket is 2,970,000 kg, and during the third stage, the rocket is moving at 10.8 km/s. Assuming the asteroid with a mass of 100,000 tons (90909090.91 kg) is moving at 10 km/s, this means that the momentum of the asteroid is 909,090,909.1 kg km/s or 909,090,909,100 kg m/s and the momentum of the rocket is 32,076,000 kg km/s or 32,076,000,000 kg m/s, meaning the total momentum in the system is 941,166,909,100 kg m/s. If we divide the momentum of the rocket by the mass of the asteroid, we get a -.3528 m/s change in speed. This is far more than what is required to deflect the asteroid enough to avoid a world-ending collision.

Technically, this theory is feasible... If we could somehow get something with the mass of a fully loaded Saturn V rocket into space and on the correct course to slow the asteroid down .3528 m/s, though the size of a rocket needed to lift something the size of a Saturn V rocket into space would be unimaginably large for spacecraft standards, but still doable.

AsapSCIENCE video with Bill Nye (the Science Guy):

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Eraser Homework

Some people believe that certain weapons only exist in science fiction novels and shows. After all, a rail gun seems like a ridiculous notion even in SciFi movies, but it's real. The United States Navy has been developing rail guns for the last thirty or so years, and they've been very successful, even mounting two such weapons to a ship that will be tested later next year. The concept of a rail gun is relatively simple. More so than an actual gun that we use today. Much like bullets we all know about, the rail gun uses a force behind the projectile down a long and form-fitting barrel around the round to propel it past the speed of sound and hit a target accurately from a distance, but unlike the smokeless powder used in bullets today, its not an explosive decomposition of a substance that generates the force, it's electric current.

In the movie Eraser, John Kruger (Schwarzenegger) is a US Marshal assigned to protecting high-value individuals by 'killing' them and then hiding them away from those who aimed to do them harm. This is shown in the movie when Kruger stops a mob hit. He takes pictures of the already tied up couple with fake blood splattered all over them and sticks those pictures in the pockets of dead mobsters outside. Then he puts a gun in both of the mobster's hands to make it look like they turned on each other. He sets the house on fire and eliminates all other evidence, thus erasing that couple from existence as far as anyone else knows.

Later, Kruger is assigned to protect a woman who stole two copies of data about a top secret rail gun from an independent weapons manufacturer who sells to the Army. Plans are uncovered about the weapons being sold on the black market and the CEO of the company shoots himself in the head to avoid being arrested. Later, hired thugs use one of the rail guns to try and assassinate the woman who stole the data, but Kruger manages to arrive in time to stop them.

The rail gun in the movie is described as being able to fire an aluminum rod "close to the speed of light." The rail gun also has the apparent ability to knock humans hit by the projectile back a ludicrous distance. Something that would in no way be possible with any standard weapons and modern bullets. To prove this theory, we can use the law of conservation of momentum.

p = mv     or     Momentum = Mass x Velocity.

If we find the change in velocity of the gun when the bullet is being fired, (using the speed of light for reference, 299,792,458 m/s), we'd find that the gun would be shot backwards at -29,929,245.8 m/s. Now, I don't know about you, but I don't think any human could handle that kind of recoil. Not even Arnold. But just to make sure, let's calculate the change in momentum between the gun and Arnold. After calculations, a man of Arnold's size would be shooting back at -1,324,302.9 m/s. Even if Arnold is Mr. Olympia, he can't handle that kind of force. Now. On to the fun part. Would the victim being shot by this aluminum rod be shot back a ridiculous distance? After the initial calculations, it's extremely likely that's true. Let's put it to the test. After calculations, the man would be shot back at the velocity of -187,057 m/s. Now that is significantly less than what Arnold will have to deal with, but it's still enough to throw him back an enormous distance. Now the real question is.. Is momentum conserved? I think the answer is more than a little obvious. Not even close.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Mission Impossible III Homework

In the film Mission Impossible III, Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) is tasked with the mission to retrieve a supposed biological weapon of great power named the "Rabbit's Foot." Agent Hunt then proceeds to perform many humanly impossible stunts, but also some that are quite possible. We were tasked as a class to look at three of these scenes and use the laws of physics as we know them to determine whether or not these stunts would be possible in the real world, where the laws of movie physics do not apply.

The first scene I decided to take a look at is the scene where the villain, Owen Davian (Philip Seymour Hoffman) has been captured by Agent Hunt and the rest of his team and is currently being transported back to their base of operations when a drone attacks with missiles and a helicopter to evacuate Davian after the attack. The drone misses a target and hits the edge of the bridge instead, blowing a hole in it. Agent Hunt later leaps across this hole, just barely making it by the skin of his teeth.

The SUV that Ethan Hunt and his partner Luther are riding in is flipped and slides right to the edge of the hole, allowing for a loose measurement of the opening. The camera pans out below the hole, showing the front half of the SUV and the entire width of the opening. It appears that the circumference of the hole is roughly the same as the width of the SUV. An average Sports Utility Vehicle has a length of 5060 millimeters or 5.06 meters. Assuming the hole is roughly 5.06 meters across, we can then look at the world record for the long jump, which is held by Mike Powell at a length of 8.95 meters or 29 feet 4.25 inches. This means there is a difference of 3.89 meters or 12.8 feet between the world record and the jump that Agent Hunt made. The average long jump distance is around 16-17 feet for males or 5.02 meters. Realistically, it's easy to see how Ethan Hunt could have made this jump with his extensive physical training and conditioning as a special agent.  In conclusion, Ethan Hunt would most likely have the ability to leap across a gap 5.06 meters wide.

The second scene I've chosen to take a look at is the scene where Ethan Hunt is sprinting through the city streets to his destination. By my best count (which may or may not be wrong. I could not find a proper clip of the scene online anywhere), Tom Cruise is running for a total of 63 seconds. Taking into account that his destination was at least two miles away, this would mean that Ethan Hunt has to run 3200 meters in 63 seconds. Tom Cruise claims he can run at a top speed of 17 mph, or 7.6 m/s. At this rate over 63 seconds, Tom Cruise will only have run 478.8 meters, and not 3.2 km. It is highly unlikely, for all of Ethan Hunt's skills that he can run that fast in that little amount of time.

The third scene is one of the most recognizable of the movie. The scene where Tom Cruise jumps from one building to the next on a rope swing. In this scene, it is stated that the height of the target building is 162 meters, the second building is 226 meters tall, and the distance between them is 46.55 meters. In the scene, Ethan Hunt leaps off the roof of the 226 meter tall building until a rope snaps taut and swings him across to the 162 meter building. Through the distance formula and the Pythagorean theorem, the rope ends up being about 75 meters in length.